After about five minutes, it’s difficult to distinguish who arrived with whom. I’m pretty sure the striking brunette wearing thigh-high leggings arrived with the man wearing the silver button-up; but she’s riding the Sybian while she services a man in a white polo and has her breasts fondled by a blonde woman. Silver-shirt guy is across the small hotel room, sharing a tattooed brunette woman with another man.
Two decades of vanilla indoctrination are struggling to make sense of the scene happening in front of my eyes.
After a few minutes of trying to remember which men were emotionally committed to which women, I remembered something more important: I was at a swingers convention. It didn’t really matter who came with whom. That’s kind of the whole point, isn’t it?
Hours earlier, I am standing in one of the hotel’s ballrooms with a man who has been active in the swinging lifestyle longer than I’ve been alive. He asks me whether I’ve ever had sex while someone watched. I tell him I haven’t. He clarifies, “Not that you know of.”
It’s a logical response, if a tad bit creepy, and it’s enough to call into question what I think I know about my sexuality. What if I have been watched – and that tinge of excitement at the thought of it, what does that mean?
He tells me he’s been attending swingers clubs and parties for decades. He likes to watch people, then go home and have sex with his wife. He dislikes porn and strip clubs. When you’ve seen the equivalent of a live sex show between consenting adults who are passionate about one another, glamorized fornication on screen and teasing strippers who only want your money just don’t cut it.
The same man tells me he’s been at parties where news crews have filmed a bit of the action and interviewed participants. He calls dissecting and explaining the lifestyle “impossible,” and after spending an hour talking to and observing people, I can tell he’s right.
While he might be classified as more of a voyeur than a typical swinger, the couple we’re talking to are harder to categorize. They’ve participated in swinger events before, but they don’t seem to embrace the label itself. They’re more curious, simply open-minded to new situations and possibilities.
After a while, a single male comes up to the table to chat. Based out of Las Vegas but originally from Arizona, he’d been introduced to the swingers clubs Red Rooster and Green Door. Enjoying the sights, sounds and overall atmosphere, he decided to check out the convention.
That there is even a place for a single male within the swinging lifestyle might surprise some, but here at the convention there’s a bit of something for everyone. Some watch. Some kiss and have light play with others, but only have full intercourse with their partners. Some stick to doing body shots off naked women on the counter. Then, there are those who explore the full gamut of pleasure.
The party’s guests don’t fit into any one demographic, though I am confident that being in my early 20s makes me the youngest person there. My date, who is eight years older than me, is probably the second youngest person. The group is diverse in terms of race, body type and level of exhibitionism. There are women wearing eveningwear and sipping wine and an old bottle-blonde woman in little more than dental floss.
The reasons why people enter the swinging lifestyle are as diverse as the people themselves. For some people it’s an attempt to save a dying marriage, a feat the 30-year veteran warns never works. Most, however, are drawn by curiosity, excitement and a desire to explore their own (and their partner’s) sexuality.
Later, in the Sybian room, I’m questioning my own sexuality as I listen to a vibrator that sounds like it has a motor that could power a small plane. The tattooed woman turns to me and asks, “Are you next?” The blonde woman’s legs are now shaking in ecstasy as she’s helped off the machine. I shake my head, no. As comfortable as this environment is, and as friendly as these people are for allowing me to watch their sexual exploits, I’m not quite ready to shed my clothes for a semi-public romp, even if it’s with the vibrator of all vibrators.
“You really need to try it,” she tells me, reminding me this is a $1,500 toy I’ll probably never be able to access this easily again. I decline again, this time with a pang of regret. Nobody picks up on it.
She turns, shedding the last of her clothes and putting the attention onto her tattoos, which extend to her lady parts. With the friendly suggestions out of the way, nobody is going to push me any further. This community isn’t about that. An hour earlier in the main hospitality suite, I’d witnessed a sketchy single male get kicked out for not respecting the women.
While the vibrator hums and guests writhe, I quietly slip out the door, head back to my economy car and my cookie cutter home in the ’burbs. There’s always next time.