The 1970s are over, but some things seem to be making a comeback: lava lamps, wallpaper, Donna Summer's concert tour and ... swingers. The fascination with "the lifestyle" (as swingers fondly call it) is seeping into suburban, upper-middle class social scenes. Over drinks and dessert, discussions once focused on home renovations and restaurant openings are giving way to talk about wife-swapping and tales of key parties down the block.
Last month, I attended an end-of-the-elementary-school-year family barbecue in my woodsy suburban neighborhood outside of Washington, D.C. Sitting with four other couples as the kids played Wii downstairs, the parents' conversations turned from second grade teacher reputations and fourth quarter grades to the rumored "swingers" parties one community over. Those of us who had heard it before had a twinkle in their eyes. Those who hadn't heard it were shocked then extremely curious. I swear every mom and dad's ears perked up and hung on every word; even the most conservative-seeming mom of the bunch pepped up.
Fast forward to another dinner party one weekend later. A woman I'd just met went on and on about the new Swingtown television series. "You have to watch it. It isn't that good, but I am totally sucked in," she said. And the topic came up again on a recent "girls night out" sushi dinner after seeing Sex in the City. Four married, attractive, successful women/moms, we analyzed the swinger house party scenarios to death. Someone heard the people who threw the parties now had "facilitators" in there, too. What in the world for, we wondered!
Is this curiosity a throwback to the free-feeling '70s or are thirty- and forty-something married people getting restless?
Determined to unravel the mystery, I got myself an invitation to a swingers club. For one night, I was told I would have access to the entire club and get introduced to women who could answer my overriding questions of "why do you do it?" and "how can you do it?" The mystery began to unravel at every turn, down every hallway, and in between the many stares and smiles of strangers.