I recently took a date to their first sex club, and that experience helped me see the place through a beginner’s eyes all over again. I remember how scared I was before my first time; I asked a series of questions in an online forum, everything from what to wear to what to bring with me. From talking to my recent date I got the idea that he thought we’d be walking directly into a scene from Eyes Wide Shut, rather than what it really was, a club that looked like any other, with a bar and dance floor by the main entrance.
Given how rarely we have open conversations about sex, it’s understandable that people would have fears and misconceptions about spaces that host sex parties, and wonder about what happens there. And not all sex parties or clubs are the same, so it’s definitely not ‘seen one, seen them all.’
Before your first sex party, gather as much information as possible. If it’s at a club or semi-public space, read through all the information on the website. Most clubs will have a clear list of party rules, as well as pictures of the space. Taking a look at all of this information will help you understand what you’re walking into, and help you know if the space or event is a good fit for your needs and desires.
If it’s a private party at someone’s home, read through the invitation carefully. Most seasoned sex party hosts have learned to include explanations and guidelines in their invitation.
What are you looking for? For starters, the same information you’d want to know about any event: when it starts, what you’re expected to bring, and the dress code. But when it comes to sex parties, each of those points can have special considerations.
First, the start time. Some parties have a ‘doors lock’ time, so be sure to note that. There are a few reasons for this. For one, it helps to have a critical mass of people before play starts. For another, many private parties have some kind of opening circle where people can introduce themselves, and the hosts can go over rules, and they won’t let people in who have missed that. And lastly, it can simply be disruptive to have people walking in late, once people are playing.
As for what to bring, you’re probably used to potlucks, or pool parties where you need to remember your bathing suit. With sex parties, you’ll want to know if safer sex supplies are being provided or if you need to bring your own. Even when some are provided, it’s always a good idea to have your favorites with you. In public or semi-public clubs, condoms are often provided. But I rarely see gloves outside of queer play spaces. So if you’ll want gloves or dental dams, be sure to bring your own. Some spaces have lube and others don’t. But this is another personal choice and it can be nice to have your favorite lube on hand.
When it comes to dress code, that’s another one to pay close attention to. Some clubs have a strict dress code policy and they won’t let you in if you don’t meet it. So make sure to read the fine print and don’t risk getting turned away for your flip flops or yoga pants.
Most parties will have a host that will welcome questions. So don’t hesitate to reach out before the party – or during – to get your questions answered. Most party hosts want people to feel at ease, and would certainly rather you ask questions than accidentally break a party rule.
Speaking of rules, this is where parties can be very different. From different clubs to different homes to different hosts, everyone’s got their own way of running a party. One of my favorite rules from my local sex club is “don’t be creepy.” And even though that’s got a nice ring to it, there’s also a lot of room for interpretation. Make sure to read the rules carefully because the culture of each space can be very different.
Find out how the space you’re planning to attend handles consent. Most of the parties I go to require you to ask before you touch someone – even a hand on the shoulder – so be sure you know what’s expected before any potential miss-step. This is also a great way to see if a party or venue is a good fit for you. Make sure their rules are in line with the kind of experience you want to have.
If at all possible bring a friend or two. Sex parties are a great time to revisit the buddy system. Just make sure you have agreements with your buddies about whether slipping off to play alone is acceptable, and also whether you plan to leave together. Don’t leave any high stakes decisions for the spur of the moment.
You should also decide for yourself what kind of participation feels good to you. And remember, voyeurism is participation. Any party that pressures you to play isn’t a party you should attend. So if you just want to watch your first time, do that.
If you are going to play with others, plan in advance what points you want to negotiate. Know what safer sex looks like to you, everything from what barriers you want to use to what conversations you want to have about testing and partners. Don’t leave yourself room to make last minute decisions.
If the party allows alcohol or other substances, think very carefully how you feel about that. Personally, I want my inhibitions right where they are for environments like these. I think sober play is the way to go, but if your comfort level is different, this is also something to decide in advance.
Be prepared to say no! It can be flattering when someone asks you to play, but make sure you’re comfortable saying no so you won’t feel pressure in the moment. Any sex party worth attending will be full of people who can take no for an answer.
Most of all – have fun! Enjoy watching things you’ve never seen before, talking to people you might otherwise never have met, and simply enjoying the experience. Don’t feel like you need to squeeze everything into one night. You can always attend again another time. Because now you’ve done it – you’re a sex party person.