The first time I went to a swingers club I was terrified. I had no clue how my partner and I would:
1. Find another couple to have sex with and then
2. Actually do it.
Instead, we got the lay (pun intended) of the land, and ended up doing each other in a room full of other people doing it while doing our best to act as if we totally did this as often as brushing our teeth.
Since then, I’ve been back to enough “adult lifestyle clubs” to see how the social dynamics really work. If you’re thinking of hitting up a swingers club, either solo or with a partner, here’s what you need to know.
1. Not everyone is there to have sex with other people.
Before that first trip, I imagined the club would be one ginormous bed covered with a massive pile of writhing bodies. In the dozens of visits since, the vast majority of what I’ve observed is couples having sex with each either as a swap (a couple switches partners) or not (the couple that came together “comes” together).
While you may observe some ménages à trois, quatre and other numbers, the pas de deux is definitely the most common configuration.
2. Not all couples are on the same page.
With many couples, you can tell whose idea it was to come. One person will be looking around excitedly making eye contact or watching others getting it on, while the other will be intensely focusing on their partner, doing their best to forget they are having sex in a semi-public place.
In best-case scenarios, both parties fulfill a shared fantasy of expanding their sexual network. In many real-life scenarios however, especially among first-timers, one party is more stoked than the other. (For my first visit, I pretty much had to beg my partner to join me as it wasn’t his thing. FYI, he’s no longer my partner.)
If you want to play with a couple or more, always make sure all relevant parties want this as well before diving in.
3. Single women are a rarity.
There’s a term for a single woman in a swingers club: a unicorn. She’s a mythical creature that rarely makes an appearance and when she does, everyone chases her. For this reason, single women often get a substantial discount on the cover charge, if they have to pay at all.
Single men on the other hand, don’t have it so good. Most clubs allow them to attend only once a week, if that, and at a substantial premium. On these nights, the clubs can be sausage fests: great odds for the single, horny unicorn looking for a solitary mate, but bad odds for the single sausages.
4. Don’t worry too much about what to wear.
I once prefaced a visit to a club with a two-hour $100 hairstyle, a 60-minute make-over at MAC, and a six-hour quest to find the perfect slutty-but-not-too-slutty little black dress. At the end of the night, I had mascara streaking down my face, some serious bedhead, and my clothing had been off for hours.
Definitely take care of your hygiene, but don’t spend too much time sweating what to wear. No matter how much time you spend prepping for the big event, if all goes well, by the end of the night you’ll be a hot mess.
The one exception is theme nights. Whether it’s a back to school party, retro 80s night, or cyborgs and aliens theme (something I’ve never seen but would be hell’a interesting), do your best to come in costume. Costumes make great ice-breakers and in the super-charged sexual atmosphere of a swingers club most people need all the help making conversation they can get.
5. Play (and by play I mean sex) generally happens in one of two ways.
In theory it goes like this: You meet a person or another couple at the bar and talk casually for a while. One of you asks the other if they would like to play. If the swinging gods are on everyone’s sides, all parties say yes, negotiate some boundaries, move to a separate room apart from the main bar, and the festivities commence.
While the above does frequently happen, play can also happen like this: you and your partner are already getting it on in the part of the club where the sex takes place, and another party sits down next to you and tries to make eye contact. (Note: this can be unnerving if you aren’t used to random strangers sitting next to you while having sex.)
This “interloper” isn’t just taking a break. He, she or they are hoping you will ask them to join you.
If the swinging gods are on their side, you say yes, and you continue getting it on with a new variable thrown into the mix. If not, a polite “We’re just playing with each other,” should send them on their way.
6. You will at some point get rejected and that’s okay.
Finding one person you are attracted to is hard enough. Finding two people that both you and your partner are attracted to adds a whole new level of complexity.
I’ve rejected men who wanted me to play with their wives, couples who wanted to buy my partner and I drinks, and an older woman who, in the middle of what I thought was a platonic conversation, stuck her tongue in my ear.
I’ve also been rejected by plenty of men whose partners didn’t want them playing with me and/or who didn’t want to play with my partner. Don’t take it personally. It almost never is.
7. You don’t have to be a porn star to have good sex.
Sometimes at swingers clubs there is an unspoken pressure to behave like a porn star. As a result you hear all these groans of pleasure and the occasional dirty talk, but very rarely things like “Owe!” or “Is this working?” or “I need to pee.”
But that’s not how sex in real life works. In real life, sex can make funny noises, sex can be uncomfortable at a certain angles, sex can make you laugh, and sometimes sex doesn’t go quite the way you planned it.
I’ve been with numerous men who couldn’t get wood. (Given the intense pressure to perform this is normal and almost to be expected). And I’ve seen women climax from being manipulated in ways that made my vagina recoil into itself just watching it.
None of this meant that there was anything wrong with me or the other participants. Sex and pleasure should not be competitive sports.
If anything, going to swingers clubs can make you more accepting. I’ve watched fat people, thin people, old people, young people, hairy people, smooth-shaven people and everyone in between getting down and dirty with their bad selves, and doing so has helped liberate my own body image bullshit.
You don’t need a perfect body to be perfectly capable of giving and receiving pleasure. So enjoy your first trip to a swingers club, heed these tips, and keep your expectations in check. Like losing your virginity, your first time may suck but, like sex, I promise you it gets better with experience.