Inside a new swingers club on the Lower East Side

An urban adventurer and some open-minded friends explore a new destination for group sex.

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I imagine that there are many good reasons why you should never attend a swingers’ club. With the opening of Bowery Bliss—a 4,000-square-foot, multilevel sexploratorium at the nexus of the Lower East Side, Chinatown and Nolita—an unfashionable location need not be one of them. The strip formerly known as skid row continues its lurch toward reinvention in scattershot fashion. Whole Foods, Pulino’s, the General, DBGB, the New Museum, the Bowery Diner et al. are so cozily nestled between lighting stores and commercial-kitchen outfitters that the newcomer might assume this is the way it’s always been. Now the prospective residents of the new 250 Bowery, which offers “boldly inspired living” at even bolder prices, will have an entirely new way to dispose of their money sensually (and locally).

Traditionally, sex clubs simply don’t pop up in New York’s hipper, younger neighborhoods, and that made me wonder why this one has. Maybe, just maybe, Terry Richardson will pop in with a flock of nubile foals ready to do anything in front of his Kyocera T5, I thought. European models might teeter in on the way back to their Mott Street garrets! I allowed myself to become excited by the possibilities. YOLO and all that.

Bowery Bliss has parties on Friday and Saturday nights. I R.S.V.P.ed online for the next Friday, and a day or two later, I received an e-mail confirmation with the rules and regulations. Some of these fed my anticipation, like the request that those arriving via limousine be discreet and instruct their drivers not to wait outside the front door. How fancy. Would I be rubbing elbows, at minimum, with Suriname’s ambassador to the U.N.?

Owning a penis is fantastic fun, but when attending any straight sex event, it’s going to cost you. At Bowery Bliss, a single woman pays a $20 cover. The single-man tariff is six times that. Couples pay $100. I decided to try to bring a female friend and attend as a couple. Not because I’m thrifty—it’s just nice to have someone to talk to at this sort of thing. I invited four different female friends—including K, a girl I’m dating—hoping that at least one would join. Incredibly, all four said they were curious. At $20 a pop, I guess they didn’t have too much to lose.

I anticipated dropouts and confirmed with all. Imagine my surprise when Friday night rolled around and one by one, A, P, K and M strode into our pregame spot, an inviting little Turkish tapas bar on Elizabeth Street. M even brought along a female friend, N. I gave a brief speech in which I tried to absolve myself of any responsibility should the experience be anything less than awesome, while claiming any and all credit if everyone had a wonderful time in a throng of beautiful naked young people. They all seemed to be on board. As we left the tapas bar at 11:15, the evening was brimming with promise.

Through a door, up some stairs, behind a curtain went the six of us. The maître d’ seemed taken aback by the influx. “It’s definitely warming up in there,” said the girl taking the coats. “I don’t know,” said M peering beyond the reception area. “I may need to go out and have another drink, then come back, okay?” “Sure,” I said, and off she went, taking N with her. The maître d’ asked if I’d been to any swing clubs before, and I said that I had. She asked which ones, and I told her. In exchange for this information, she waived my $20 annual membership fee.

A, P, K and I were given a tour. The first room, a sort of lounge, was long, skinny and windowless; exposed brick was at the far end and old wood paneling on the room’s long sides. It contained about ten sallow souls, mostly men. The scene was barely illuminated by flaming logs in the hearth—technically, the coat-check girl wasn’t lying when she said it was warming up—along with shimmering disco lights, color-morphing wall sconces and a neon beer ad. The room said seedy without saying sex.

Bowery Bliss is BYOB. I checked my bottle of vodka at the bar. The next floor up contained three king-size mattresses, each separated by curtains with palm trees on them. On the top floor, a radio interview with the party’s management was taking place, and beyond that was a collection of mattresses shoved together to make a sort of megamattress.

We went back to the lounge. My remaining companions sat by the fire, and I went to get drinks. “Will it get busier tonight, you think?” I asked the woman behind the bar. “Maybe,” she said. “It depends on how many people show up.” I gave her the benefit of the doubt and just assumed that she was a comedian with truly arid delivery. “We’re still new so…word has to get out, y’know? Last week it was rammed in here. Tons of hot people, you couldn’t move.” This all sounded promising.

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  • Photograph: Allen Tannenbaum

    Plato's Retreat, 1977-1985

  • Photograph: Allen Tannenbaum

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Plato's Retreat, 1977-1985

Users say

10 comments
Henry T
Henry T

hi, will be in NY on 4th & 5th  Sept - pls let me know the address and location coconsultants@yahoo.com . Thanks Henry

JJ B
JJ B

The low lighting sets the mood...it also conceals a multitude of body blunders. Queen sized mattresses line the walls side-by-side, like summer camp. On them, naked men and women gyrate, bodies stuck together by sweat. Despite the lack of air conditioning, the couples are all getting busy, moaning, kissing. Avalanches of peachy, moist flesh, combined with and the faint odor of sweat and sex in the and the sweltering heat makes my head dizzy. For once, I'm glad my eyesight isn't 20/20. Saved by the blur. As I back-pedal toward the exit, I bump into a man in a robe. He looks inebriated. High as a kite. No, the moon. He takes my hand, looks appreciatively at my body -- I'm wearing my guy's white button-up shirt, leather hot pants and 5-inch stilettos. Sex on legs...


Full reviewhttp://killthetiger.blogspot.com/2014/06/swing-at-your-own-risk-part-i.html

new york s
new york s

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Jaclyn F
Jaclyn F

Based on the way this article was ended, it sounds like your primary issue with the venue was that its patrons were not "hot" enough by your shallow standards. Poor thing!

Nai
Nai

Try Subspace Swingers. Its in Murray Hill. Private Loft, I had a great time. Would love to hear your review

Swingin Door
Swingin Door

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Mac
Mac

Veteran voyeurs will tell you it is always hit or miss at swing clubs especially if they admit single men. Much of the action traditionally occurs after hours between 3 and 5 when steamy couples make the scene to get their exhibition on. The best strategy is to bring a date who's into it.