September 20, 2008 catherinetownsend

The Independent/Sleeping Around


I’ve always thought that sex parties were a great idea for sexually adventurous women. If a girl wants to fulfill a fantasy of a one-night stand or multiple partners, it’s much safer to hook up in an environment where guests are vetted beforehand, security is on the door, and condoms are plentiful, than to pick up random people in a bar or car park.  But going to my first one alone was still terrifying. There was the anxiety of dressing for the event, which combined the usual stomach-flip of choosing a first-date outfit and lingerie. The fear was multiplied exponentially because I was aware that a roomful of strangers could potentially see me naked.

In the end I chose a silk, knee-skimming white dress with a plunging neckline that allowed me to wear my Agent Provocateur demi-cup bra and knickers, and killer heels. I know that a lot of women choose to skip underwear, but I live in fear of having a pornographic Marilyn Monroe moment in a wind tunnel.

By the time I arrived at the unmarked door in a smart west London mews, attractive young couples were already streaming into the party in cocktail attire.

The first clue that it was an orgy, rather than a book club meeting, came after I walked past the main room’s champagne bar and wound my way through the labyrinthof dark corridors toward the bedrooms at the back.

There, I found countless naked couples writhing on beds the size of swimming pools.

Recently, swinging has gone way beyond the clich of middle-aged hippies circling a bowl of keys. These days, it’s a socially accepted pastime, and many of the parties are largely driven by women.

As I worked the room, I frantically tried to remember what friends had told me: not to discuss what anyone does for a living, or politics (and if I saw anyone I knew, the first rule, much like Fight Club, is that nobody talks about it).

Though I was terrified when I buzzed the door, I found the atmosphere very welcoming, and not at all lecherous. The guests were very attractive mostly mid-twenty-to-forty-something men and their well-toned companions in designer dresses. (Single girls are welcome but, unsurprisingly, single men were banned!)

Within about 10 minutes, I’d met Taryn, a lithe, twenty-something brunette with amazing curves, and her partner Dan.

They led me through to the playrooms, where I nervously watched them join the other couples on the bed. I tried to mimic them, and noticed that a lot of moves were initiated through eye contact I kissed and played a bit with Taryn, but wasn’t prepared to go much further than that on my first time out. Both were fine with that.

Over champagne breakfast the next morning, Taryn and Dan talked to me about their relationship.

They don’t consider lifelong monogamy a prerequisite to a happy relationship. As Taryn explained to me: “Physical flings are one thing, emotional infidelity is another.”

Attending an orgy isn’t like watching Caligula; it seems that the happiest long-term couples negotiate the rules beforehand.

For example, many agree to “soft swaps”, but no penetrative sex, or agree that the woman will only hook up with other women.

Ultimately, I’m too jealous ever to share a serious boyfriend in the same way, but I’ll always be grateful for my time in sex parties. I learnt a lot about myself, and about my boundaries.

Sex parties aren’t for everyone, but, personally, I’m much happier sitting at home with a monogamous boyfriend now that I know that I’ve satisfied my curiosity about what lies behind the unmarked door.

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