Popular culture hasn't been kind to swingers' parties – invariably anything you see on screen will involve paunchy suburban couples in cheap underwear – but trust us when we say there's something out there for everyone. (If you enjoy public sex, anyway.) Time Out sent out fashionable young twenty-something Merran Reed to investigate, and she returned in one piece without a new vocabulary of "frisky", "raunchy" and "risqué". Thank god.
Melbourne's swingers parties
Paul’s been running this anything-goes event for over two decades and he says, “We get a wide range of attendees, usually between the ages of 18 to 55. Obviously it’s skewed towards people who have a lot of confidence in their sexuality, but there definitely are some people we don’t want there. We don’t want single guys or groups of single guys because – and as a male I hate to admit it – they act like pigs in an environment like Saints and Sinners. We want people to be relaxed no matter what their kink is.”
The advice from Paul is to “go with an open mind and do as little or as much as you feel comfortable with. There is no requirement for newbies or indeed anyone to interact with others there, either sexually or non-sexually.”
The only real requirement in attending the Saints and Sinners Ball is that you wear erotic dress. This means lingerie for the ladies and decent underwear for the men. "Generally speaking, if you could walk down the supermarket aisle in it, it’s not erotic enough.” Most people get changed into their outfits once they’re at the venue as there’s a guarded cloakroom where you can leave your ‘streets’.
"The first couple of hours are spent socialising, then at around 10.30pm the first stage show kicks off," says Paul. "There are open areas around the venue where people are talking, dancing, drinking, and so on, plus there are more secluded areas where people can play a little more discreetly. There’s also a B&D (bondage and discipline) area where people can watch others indulging, or can join in themselves.”
Best for: Shopping for new kinks and playmates
If you’re not quite ready to swan about in the deep end, then you’d probably be into something like Minx. Their parties don’t have any erotic dress requirements and they host drinks nights as well as play nights. Jess runs the events and say, "We usually recommend that you attend a meet and greet (drinks) night first before you come along to a party, just so you can get an idea of what the swinging scene is like.”
The Minx parties are aimed towards a younger crowd and as Jess observes, they're pretty strict about that. "We want you to feel at ease and we don’t want people there who are old enough to be your parents,” she laughs. Minx’s play nights are at a private residence about 20 minutes west of the city. “Usually around 11 or 12pm is when people have a little bit of liquid courage, and one or two guests might start to drift off to a play area – be it private or public – and then generally everyone follows after that.”
If the idea of disrobing down to your underwear irks you out, then you’re gonna l-o-v-e Jess and Minx. “We don’t believe in dressing down, I find that saying, ‘OK, it’s 11 o’clock now, time for everyone to strip down to your lingerie’ is quite uncomfortable. We do tell guests that if they take their gear off to put it to the side. Just so it’s not a tripping hazard. But you definitely don’t have to dress down.”
Best for: Casual erotica for curious young things
You remember Paul from before? From the Saints and Sinners Ball? Yeah, so he runs Debauchery too, which he says is “by far and away the biggest swingers’ party in the whole country.” It attracts roughly equal numbers of people in their twenties, thirties and forties, plus a few guests in their early fifties.
"The people in their twenties tend to be from the latter part of that age range, because swinging – as opposed to sex in general – is usually not on the agenda for most females under 23-24," Paul reflects. "At our parties we try to create an intimate atmosphere. The whole venue is bathed in candlelight, with good background music playing.”
Just like the Saints and Sinners Ball, there’s an erotic dress code. When you arrive, you’ll be given a tour of the venue and after that you have to dress down into your lingerie, your Calvin Kleins, your G-string, whatever. Just make sure the threads are erotic.
"We understand how difficult it is for first-timers to even walk through the door, so we try to make it as painless as possible,” Paul assures Time Out. "For the first couple of hours it’s very similar to a normal party except that everybody’s standing around half naked. Or if they’re in the spa, they’re completely nude. At about 11pm the sex tends to start happening. It’s not compulsory to swing but it is a swingers’ party so most people do. But it’s fine if you don’t – you might find it more relaxing and satisfying just being with your own partner that night, all the while surrounded by others going at it like rabbits.”
If you dig meeting people through all the age ranges and if you wanna check out the biggest swingers’ party Melbourne has to offer then Debauchery’s for you.
Best for: A ribald get-together with loads of likeminded folk
By Merran Reed