It was my friend, Sarah (not her real name, obviously) that served as inspiration for my sexual exploration.
During a quiet afternoon at her flat, where we lazed around on her sofa eating crisps and houmous, she confessed she’d had a threesome with her husband and another woman at a sex party.
Immediately, my interest was piqued as she detailed the sumptuous setting in a discreet East London location where she had her first multi-way encounter. The story put me right off my houmous, to be honest.
‘But wasn’t it full of seedy, old pervs?’ I asked, picturing a cascade of Hugh Hefners leering after girls in lacy underwear.
‘Nah,’ Sarah replied, continuing to dip her Doritos unabashed. ‘Everyone was in their late twenties, early thirties max. It was actually really fun.’
As a sex party virgin, I wasn’t sure where to start, or which party to go to, when I started researching the numerous offerings available in the capital. Killing Kittens was repeatedly suggested, and they were kind enough to let me attend their annual Summer Ball.
I was taken aback by the many steps necessary in order to head to a party.
Every guest has to sign up through the WeAreX app, under an alias (mine’s KimDeLaKum, if you’re interested), and agree to the numerous strict rules that Killing Kittens requests everyone abides to (only women, or ‘kittens’ may make the first move, and only kittens can invite men to parties).
As well as justifying why you’re joining Killing Kittens, you then also have to sign an agreement before attending that entailed rules about privacy and respect.
The rules also stressed this was a formal, classy affair, where you were expected to be dressed appropriately or face being turned away at the door. We were expected to wear white (‘To hide stains?’ a particularly crude voice said in my head as I spooled through the details).
I knew I wasn’t going to have sex at the party – I have a boyfriend, and no matter how easy-going he is in most aspects in life, even he would draw a line at letting me participate in group sex with a bunch of strangers. Instead, I kept telling myself this was for research, that I was Louis Theroux with his wry smile at the orgy.
Choosing something white to wear proved difficult – I had nothing particularly sex party friendly, so I opted for an off-cream jumpsuit that I’ve worn to job interviews. Anyway, any attempt to look sexy was straight out the window, as an enflamed tendon on my little toe meant I had to wear a thick white bandage, which bulged through my strappy gold heels. I was grateful that it was ‘essential’ that we had to wear a mask, so at least my face was mostly disguised.
The top-secret location of the ball was released the day before the event, and so I trekked with trepidation to the North East London nightclub with a sick feeling of nerves gnawing at my stomach. I’m certainly no prude, having licked my fair share of peanut butter in my time, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to react at seeing so much sex in such an enclosed, magnified setting. Thankfully, prosecco at the venue was only about £6, so I knocked back a few glasses for Dutch courage (despite being warned ‘not to drink and kink’).
It was a younger crowd, mostly couples in their 20s and 30s, mingled and chatted. Some of them were already kissing passionately in the small enclosed booths. I decided to let them crack on – no-one likes a third wheel, particularly not one with a dictaphone.
The people I did chat to were friendly; one woman, who was 29, told me she regularly went to sex parties to experiment with other girls. Another couple, who were in their thirties, found it helped spice up their sex life.
My injured foot was a helpful ice-breaker, with people asking what the hell was wrong with me after the initial pleasantries. One man, wearing just a black thong, told me off when I apologised for being distinctly unsexy.
‘It doesn’t have to be unsexy!’ he said. ‘You have to will yourself to make it sexy.’
‘Yeah…like, bandage before bondage?’ I wisecracked. He walked away.
Going to a sex club for the first time? Here’s what you need to know
Dr Chris Haywood, who’s a reader in critical masculinity studies at Newcastle University, has gone to sex clubs specifically to research them in person.
In his opinion, what goes on there is a bit more complicated than what we think of as swinging.
You can read more first time advice here.
As well as general mingling, a cabaret show played on stage, with a variety of acts to get punters in the mood. Memorable performances included the ballerina, who took off her tutu to reveal she wasn’t wearing any knickers, and a man dressed as a cowboy dancing to Jamaroquai and bursting balloons on a naked woman.
At 11pm, we were duly informed that the ‘dungeons’ were open, which meant that any sexual play could now take place. A DJ put on a house remix of Lana Del Rey and people started to undress. One woman, who had been in an elegant white gown, pulled down her sleeves to expose her breasts to an interested crowd. Meanwhile, two girls started kissing. A man who was part of their group whirled me around on the dancefloor.
After another hastily swallowed drink, I decided to visit the so-called ‘dungeons’. Immediately, I was confronted with a woman performing oral sex on a naked man, who lay spread eagle in a booth. I shuddered at the thought of his raw, potentially unwashed arse on the leather seats. It was a sign of things to come (no pun intended).
The orgy room, at the very back of the venue, saw several couples (and throuples… and more multiples) in a variety of clinches. Soft music played over the room of writing bodies, which had attracted interested onlookers. I accidentally made eye contact with one man, who was balancing a woman on his balls while another squatted over his face. Another man, who was bent over, had a dominatrix run her fingers up his thighs before whipping him with some sort of riding crop.
I was told the upstairs section was a little more private, but there was still plenty of action taking place. One square mattress had six people rolling around on it, while another adventurous pair were trying out the sex swing which loomed over us. There was no music there – there was no need for it, with people’s moans of ecstacy and wet sounds of slapping the soundtrack.
While a fair amount of people attending were in established couples or groups, I was taken aback by how few condoms there seemed to be. I wasn’t sure if they were more readily available at the bar, but for all the bare penises I saw winking at me, barely any were rubbered up.
It was around 12.30am when I returned to the dancefloor, which had mostly been cleared. I looked to my left and saw a man with his finger deeply inserted in another woman’s anus, so I decided it was time to go. The prim side of me hoped he had hand sanitiser before he touched anyone else.
As we weren’t allowed to take our phones inside, where I usually keep my bank card, I stuffed my Natwest debit card in my bra and found to my horror that it wasn’t in there. Terrified at what orifice it may have been wedged inside, I decided to just cancel it when I got home and rely on my Apple Pay.
Sat on the Elizabeth Line with some very drunk office workers, my heels now in my hand, I thought about what on earth I just witnessed at my first sex party.
I admired the space it provided for the adventurous and curious looking to try something new. While it was overwhelming at times, it felt safe thanks to the strictness of the rules and the attentiveness of staff, who all walked around wearing t-shirts emblazoned with ‘don’t be a creep’. This was further enforced with an aftercare email all partygoers received the next day.
The sex party fundamentally helped me realise my own sexuality too: I don’t find sex, in and of itself, sexy. What turns me on, seemingly, is the intimacy of the heat of the moment of being irresistible to someone else. Having a baying audience of masked watchers would not spice up my performance. If anything, I’d further wilt under the lights.
I get home and climb into bed with my boyfriend, who grunts in his sleep as I manoeuvre myself to be in his arms. Millennials may be bringing the sex party back, but for this millennial, I’m not RSVPing. One partner away from other prying eyes is more than enough for me.
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