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What It's Like At A Sex Party

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Ilustrated by Anna Sudit.
In our cultural imagination, sex parties are imbued with a particular mythic value. For many of us, the idea of doing something we’re raised to think of as private in public holds a taboo charge, and the accompanying ideas of sexual hedonism and abandon only further piques our curiosity. What’s more, a handful of pretty unrealistic depictions of sex parties have seeped into the popular consciousness (I’m looking at you, Eyes Wide Shut), meaning there’s quite a skewed understanding of what an orgy might actually entail.

As a result, when I tell people I regularly attend orgies with friends and partners, I’m often met with either appalled stony silence or total fascination. If you fall in the latter camp, but have never been sure how to go about actually attending a play party, below is some advice about how to get started.

Things To Consider Well Beforehand


Orgies and play parties can take a variety of forms, and being specific about the sort of experience you want to have will help make sure you end up at the right one for you.

For instance, swingers parties at a club are generally quite different to BDSM events that take place in 'dungeon' spaces. These in turn are different from bigger social events that have separate play rooms and private parties that people host at home. Most parties tend to last all evening until the early hours, although there are longer, weekend-er style events out there too.

If you’re looking for more traditional swinging parties, you might want to start with something like Fever or Killing Kittens (both of which do events nationwide), or try a sex club like Le Boudoir. These environments tend to include a lot of straight couples, and often market themselves on having a selective admissions policy. This can sometimes seem intimidating, but in reality, they’re pretty accessible for newbies. My friend and I once stood on a doorstep, knocked nervously and then had a frantic, whispered negotiation about whether we’d actually made a huge mistake and should do a runner. Happily, we stayed long enough for the lovely host to open the door and introduce us to the other guests, all of whom had similar tales about last minute panics.

In slight contrast to these are parties such as Kinky Salon London and Sparkle Hard, which are more playful and ‘arty’. These parties run more like a club night, with cabaret, DJs, social space and separate play rooms. The only entrance criteria for Sparkle Hard is that you like glitter and unicorns and it's generally a really body positive event. If cost is an issue (as it may well be, as tickets to play parties are often around the £30+ mark), events like Sparkle Hard and Kinky Salon often offer discounted tickets to volunteers. They tend to be more queer friendly too, although it’s also worth checking out Klub Fukk, run by Wotever World, if you’re looking for a really inclusive queer space. For those seeking glamorous femmes on femme action, Skirt Club might be right for you.

For the more kinky among us, I would recommend trying After Pandora or Subversion. If you haven’t already, It’s also worth joining Fetlife, where you’ll find lots of parties across the UK relevant to your interests. While not strictly a sex party, Torture Garden remains as visually spectacular as ever, and has enough play space to swing a pair of leather chaps.

Once you’ve picked an event to attend, check their membership policy and any online resources such as the event’s consent code or etiquette guide. A great deal of play parties require guests to pre-register or join as members, so you’ll need to get the admin side out of the way. Other events will also have consent codes online and further information about the event and what to expect. Be a nerd. Do the reading.

In The Run Up

If a sense of community is important to you, certain events like After Pandora, Kinky Salon and Killing Kittens also host non-sexual social events. These can which can be a great way to meet people before attending a more naked version of the same event, and assuage any nervousness you might feel. The same is true of munches – the term for a meet up for a group of people with shared kinky interests – which you’ll find in abundance on Fetlife.

On the subject of communication: I’d recommend having a full and frank discussion with the person (or people) you’re attending with. Perhaps unsurprisingly, sex parties can be a crucible of emotions, and the more you communicate in advance, the easier it will be to avoid any unexpected stumbling blocks.

If you’re going with a lover, some things to consider: What are your limits? What are your partner’s? Is playing with others OK? If so, to what extent? Is it OK for you to play separately from one another, or only together? What have you agreed about safe sex practices with new people? What’s the plan if one of you wants to leave and the other is having a really good time? The ‘let’s just see what happens’ approach may seem more spontaneous, but it can lead to some seriously crossed wires and hurt feelings later on.


On The Day Of The Party

It’s totally normal to be nervous! However, definitely try to avoid getting drunk or high to overcome this. It’s imperative to get and give consent when you’re sober, plus many events will ask you to leave if you’re out of it. Consent culture underpins these events, so I’d recommend reading something like this zine, which was created specifically for sex positive spaces.

At most events there’s normally plenty of socialising before you get down to brass tax, so don’t worry about walking into the middle of a naked pile on. There’ll also be a space for you to get changed if you opted not to wear your fetish gear on the 24 bus. A note on outfits – some places specify a dress code or fancy dress theme, but I wouldn’t get too hung up on this. You may well end up taking your outfit off fairly quickly. I once spent ages elaborately painting my face as a bumble bee, only for it to get smushed into a yellow mess after some enthusiastic oral.

When you’re chatting to other guests, be honest about the fact it’s your first time. There’s really no need to overplay your experience level, as everyone’s new at some point. It’ll mean that other attendees can be sensitive to any potential nerves you may have, and also be supportive and welcoming.

Just like any other night out, it pays to have realistic expectations about the occasion. It might be an amazing, transformative erotic experience, or you might end up having lacklustre sex and go home early. That’s fine. Not every orgy is going to be like Shortbus crossed with Caligula. A friend of mine recently attended a private event where the group chemistry just wasn’t right, and no-one ended up fucking. Instead they just ended up playing a relatively chaste game of spin the bottle.

Most parties will have their own safer sex supplies available, but it never hurts to bring some additional ones with you. You can also bring along a favourite toys, kit, kink equipment etc, and I’ve always found props like these to be a great way to start a conversation with someone you want to play with. If you spot someone sexy wielding a paddle, vibrator or rope that you like the look of, slink over, tell them you’re thinking of buying one yourself and could they show you how it works?

And finally, a crucial thing to remember is it is absolutely OK to go to a sex party and not have any sex at all. Your attendance is in no way a guarantee that you’ll play. Personally, if I’m feeling a bit uncertain about an event, I treat it like any other non sexual social event, and if sex happens, that’s a fun bonus – but in no way essentially to making the night a ‘success’. And of course, if you’re not feeling it, just leave.

Having said that, sex parties can be an opportunity to have incredibly hot sexual experiences. Orgies have helped me discover more about how I like to fuck, and given me experiences that are firmly lodged in my wank bank. They’ve made me more confident in my body, as well as more body positive generally. We’re so often presented with a limited version of how sex ‘should’ look, and it’s incredibly exciting (and hot) to be in a room full of different people, with different bodies, fucking one another. I’ve met gorgeous people, some of whom have gone on to become friends, and had significant shared experiences with partners and lovers. Above all, they’ve shown me of the value of feeling sexually playful and not taking it all too seriously.
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