Are Sex Parties The New Vibrator?

Are Sex Parties The New Vibrator?

Are Sex Parties The New Vibrator?

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What happens when a virgin partygoer spends a Saturday night swinging?

I walk down the street, passing clumps of smokers spilling from nearby nightclubs, looking for the private address I'd been given earlier. It takes two passes to find the right place, and then a friendly face at the door asks my name. I feel a sudden desire to whisper a pass phrase, like "melba toast" or "caffeine jitters," but instead I step inside and climb the long wooden stairway so typical of San Francisco's Victorian flats.

I have arrived at Club Kiss, one of several sex party series hosted by Kinky Salon founders Polly Pandemonium and Scott Levkoff. Polly is greeting new arrivals while Scott checks names off a list and collects entry fees. A pretty woman in a corset and boy-cut panties leads newcomers on tours of Mission Control, which everyone refers to simply as "the space." Down the hall, a bartender serves drinks brought by the guests; a couple relaxes on the smoking patio and others hang up outerwear in the do-it-yourself coat check.

I wander into a large room with soft couches, pillows the size of bathtubs and a strippers' pole; this is the dance floor, Polly says. The music is loud enough to make it a party but not so loud you have to shout, a blend of techno, disco, and hip-hop. Beyond the dancers, two smaller rooms offer semi-discreet accommodations; our tour pauses at the threshold so we don't disturb the couple starting off with a quickie in the blue room.

 

One little slip of a thing, naked but for a collar, engaged enthusiastically in a blow job with a fully clothed man in the cloakroom, while new arrivals calmly hung up their coats and got themselves organized.

It was early yet and the space was relatively empty, but couples were already slipping into semi-private spaces for quickies—appetizers to get them ready for the full meal. In one small side room, separated from the dance floor by a wisp of a curtain, a pair of newlyweds got busy making semi-public passionate love.

Club Kiss is a couples party with a swinger vibe, Polly tells me, smaller and more intimate than other Kinky Salon events. But single women are welcome, and I'm to make myself at home; no one will mind if I stay in the background and soak up the scene on this, my first time out.

Sex Parties Are for Girls

No longer a suburban secret, sex parties just might be the next vibrator, a sexual thrill once kept hidden and now gleefully embraced by women from all walks of life. And like vibrators, sex parties come in more flavors than Ben and Jerry's. From classic swinger events to nightclubs that provide beds, to pansexual celebrations of the erotic divine, people are coming together all over the country to flirt, fondle and fuck—however their hearts (or other body parts) desire.

What's more, it's women who are taking the lead in the new party scene, creating female-friendly communities that emphasize both safety and adventure. The rules are strict, and apply across all kinds of parties: condoms are a must, every touch must be consensual, and men are meticulously screened and expected to remain on their best behavior.

Why I'm Here, Now

I've been interested in sex parties for a long time, but until tonight, I have not ventured out to one. Not because I'm shy or nervous or afraid to ask my partner what he thinks about the idea. My hesitation stems from a rather quirky place: I didn't want to tarnish my own fantasy of what a sexual celebration could be.

I've always wanted to participate in an erotic festival where our lusty appreciation of food, wine and sex combine into a spiritual gestalt. In my story, the event centers around fecundity and involves bonfires and drums and oiled-up men dancing and mock-fighting to impress the women. Couples and groups slip into the fields to make love in all kinds of combinations, and details like marriage vows and promise rings do not matter for the duration.

Because this fantasy is so detailed, and so tailored to my own personal desires, I figured that no modern sex party could live up to my dream, and I would leave disillusioned.

And yet, if you read my Sex Drive column at Wired.com, you know I have spent more than a decade exploring sexuality online. And you know that on the internet, you can taste polyamory and group sex and public sex and sex with people all along the spectrum of gender, orientation and adventurousness.

And I wondered: What might it be like to have all of that available in person?

Doing My Homework

Before The Big Night, I spent some time researching sex party culture and the various venues and organizers. I might be the only one with a fantasy-novel idea of the perfect party; why do other people go?

"A lot of women go to parties for the opportunity to play with other women," says Vivian, a systems administrator in Oakland. "That's one of the reasons I go. It's not hard to find a guy to have sex with," she adds, laughing.

Voyeur Events, which hosts invitation-only club parties in New York, reports a significant upswing in female-to-female contact after Madonna kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Apparently, "situational bisexuality" is popular—but not required—at most sex parties.

Others go to try out fantasies in a safe, encouraging environment. "I think everyone has a fetish of some sort, even if you don’t know what it is yet," says Shannon, a veteran of several Fetish Factory parties in Florida. "Even if you just go to watch and have a night out, these events are fun and interesting, something to talk about."

For couples, going to an adult party adds mystery and variety to their sex lives. "You both have that

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