Sex is great. Adding more partners into the mix should, on paper, make it even better. As someone already involved in the fetish world, I've watched the Tinder "dating apocalypse" and the "50 Shades of Grey effect" collide as people younger than your classic middle-ager move into kink and swingers groups. Now anyone who fancies it can download a fetish-based dating app and pose as "Dom4you" without actually knowing the difference between a cane and a riding crop.
By Daisy Bata
Illustrations: George Heaven
This article originally appeared on VICE UK
This week, the sad story of a man being turned away from a sex party reminded us all what happens when newbies dive in headfirst without reading the fine print—seriously lads, don't just show up on your own without checking with someone first. I decided to speak to some other swingers in their twenties to find out how they got into it, which nights were the best, and why two, three, or four heads can be better than one.
"Every other time is like trying to find that first-try high again"
VICE: When did you first get into swinging?
Roisin, 22: I'd always been interested and wanted to try it. My last relationship kind of fell apart because I had all this kinky stuff that I wanted to try and he refused to do any of it. I saw a documentary on Channel 4 about sex parties and asked my boyfriend at the time if he wanted to go—and he refused. So when we broke up about two years ago I googled "London elite sex parties" and it was all uphill from there.
What was the first party like?
It was really different to how I'd expected. It was this really glamorous, private event, with all these 30-somethings in lacy masks and suits and stuff. I went with this man I'd met online and spent a lot of the evening just watching him with other people. But when I eventually joined in it was incredible. I was licking this girl out and this guy just entered me from behind and I had no idea who it was. It was really a space to be very experimental and unselfconscious.
What about the not-so-great times?
It can be quite touch-and-go. My first time was definitely the best; every other time is like trying to find that high again. I've been in situations where people feel like they can just touch you or do whatever, and you have to be really firm and say no. I'm young and don't look like the back-end of a horse, so often at these events I'm the prize. A lot of people take a lot of drugs at the more kinky events, and I'm not into that either.
And the best times?
The best experiences are normally with a few couples or friends at someone's house. The people I party with are all in their twenties and are students and people I want to hang out with outside of the sex stuff, so it's easier to feel relaxed.
Why do you like swinging?
It's just loads of fun. And I don't really take drugs or do anything that crazy outside of the sex stuff. I guess it's just my vice.
"The best was a private hotel party, where everyone was fit"
VICE: When did you first get into swinging—and how?
Jay, 24: I was dating an older woman who'd been interested in swinging but was unable to explore it in her previous relationship. She was bisexual and wanted to try more with girls and have encounters with very well-endowed men. My first experience was going to a swingers club with her.
What is it about swinging that appeals to you?
It allows you to act on your primal desires and instincts, but not in a reckless way. It allows couples to be honest with each other, accepting that they can be attracted to other people while maintaining the integrity of their relationship. And it creates a deeper bond, especially when you trust your partner to play with other people.
Tell me about the good and bad times.
The best was a privately-held hotel party with seven couples and a few single girls and guys chosen for their age and looks. I feel like that's essential to swinging: mutual attraction is the key factor in making a successful party. It was also very relaxed, and there were no expectations for everyone to join in—even though the majority of people did.
The worst was a party at a couple's house. Most of them already knew each other. Given how small the swinging community is, this happens a lot. But some guests had previously dated or been involved in a dominant/submissive relationship, which caused a lot of tension. It made the environment really uncomfortable and it wasn't long before I left.
How does a love of swinging affect your relationships?
The way I see it, everybody has different kinks, and for those not comfortable with doing group play it does have a lot to do with jealousy. If a partner is jealous then they would never be able to get into swinging or have a threesome.
"The worst? This guy going down on me without asking"
VICE: Hi ladies. You've said you often go to sex parties together. How did you meet?
Jenny, 25: A year ago I went to Torture Garden with this guy I was casually seeing, and I spotted Fatima. She just had a really good look, and I said to him, "She's out of my league," so he approached her.
Fatima, 25: He beckoned me over and it led to this three-way thing in one of the rooms. Afterwards all three of us met up again and had a threesome and me and Jen got put in an Uber with a slice of pizza and just started chatting. It's our thing—post-coital pizza.
What are your relationship statuses?
F: I'm in an open relationship. I'm more into the fetish scene, and he's been to Torture Gardens but as an outsider. The open relationship idea is new to me, and kink and being with someone like me is new to him. I approached him on OkCupid as a joke.
J: I'm in what you could classify as a dominant/submissive relationship, it's not necessarily romantic. It's Total Power Exchange but not completely, which is where you have an "owner" and they dictate how you live your life.
Tell me about your last sex party.
J: When me and Fatima went to Berlin last week we went to [swinger/fetish night] Insomnia. It was a bit tamer than expected.
F: I got fucked in a sex swing. We were wandering around, wanting to be caned, even though we were absolutely destroyed from the weekend before. Then we were bent over this bed and these guys were spanking us with their belt and Jen was like, "I'm bored." Everyone there was having group sex and the whole event was just basic, normal sex. There was a basket of toys you could use, like double-ended dildos and stuff like that, but it was pretty much just a generic swingers party.
Any bad experiences at swinging parties?
F: I think Jen's worst was actually the first night we met.
J: I was really upset about it and crying because this guy went down on me and didn't ask. But apart from that I can't think of any negative experiences. I really enjoyed Killing Kittens.
F: Yeah! Killing Kittens is just like a normal swingers party. A lot of couples fucking other couples. Orgies aren't particularly sexy things. Normally it's just a group of people, all a bit drunk anyway, playing with each other. Fanny farts happen, people drop things, alarms start going off, people start talking about generic shit while others have sex nearby, there's squirting—which makes a mess—and you're trying to clean it up so other people don't have to lie in your squirt.
Do you think it's getting more popular with young people, or is it just easier and more open than it used to be?
J: It's definitely more popular with young people recently. The internet has quite a lot to do with it—it used to be more underground. Now your average person can do whatever.
F: I think a lot of people have had threesomes and stuff. My housemate is totally vanilla but has done a male-male-female threesome and doesn't even think twice about it.