The best preparation for going to a swingers’ club is to be in a loving heterosexual relationship. The long-standing kind is ideal, with good communication skills and enough years under your belts for it to be kind of boring if you don’t work at it. Perfect swingers are also seeking people to fuck who share these characteristics.
This realization dawned on me during my night at Mexico City’s first swingers’ lounge Club SW with my friend Adrián. An attractive woman was playing with his dick while her male companion urged me to do the same. I found him unattractive. After I said no to dude’s proffered condom, I gestured to our happily occupied companions next to us on the white leather couch. We could watch? But the wife swapper was looking for a straight trade. He opened the condom, looking at me hopefully. I responded in the negative, more strongly this time. He roughly pulled his girl off my date’s penis and dragged her off to more welcoming vaginas. (Sorry Adrián, ¯_(ツ)_/¯ )
There are exceptions to the couples rule. I’ve done a little research and most swingers’ groups and clubs are definitely down for single women. Single men can sometimes kick it if they pay a higher entry fee to party houses, circles and socials, bars and cocktail lounges (all forms of swing clubs recognized by the North American Swing Club Association, or NASCA). Same sex couples, genderqueer folks, people who like to keep their genitals to themselves — this may not be your scene. On the night that Adrián and I went to Club SW for its 22nd anniversary party, entry was restricted to female-male duos, presumably ones that fuck each other. Since that meant that basically none of our friends could come, even if they had been down to pay the steep cover (700 pesos, or approximately $43 USD per couple), we spent a lot of the night checking out our new party crew. It was our first night as swingers.
Club SW is only a block from my house and kind of famous in the neighborhood for being that mysterious building that’s surrounded by security guards at night. Who would have guessed that those upper middle class couples they usher in come to give and get pounded in crowded, couch-filled rooms? But so it is. There’s a preponderance of these places in Mexico City – for a lazy comparison, Timeout’s most current guide to swingers’ clubs lists as many as it does for New York.
This should come as no surprise because “the lifestyle” has adherents all over the world. The NASCA website lists certified clubs in 26 countries, including Paraguay and West Africa. Over the past decade in China, swinging has been the subject of a series of scandals that Western media rather overenthusiastically hailed as harbingers of a sexual revolution, from a college professor accused of orchestrating 18 orgies in the house he shared with his mom in 2010, to a 2012 outrage over photos supposedly showing three male and two female government officials having a sex party in a hotel room. Not to mention resorts like Cancun’s Desire or Negril’s Hedonism II , where people drop cash to hook up on canopied beds by the pool, etc.
Club SW’s main area is basically a salsa club. There is a light-up dance floor in the middle of it and even though clothing is optional and sex allowed throughout the venue, people seemed to save their XXX for the smaller dark rooms. Club SW’s assistant to the director (she is also married to him. She told us that they are not swingers and I die to know their story) knew we were coming and escorted us to the table that had been reserved for us because journalism. Since it was the anniversary party, things were extra festive and we were required to buy a bottle of booze. We ordered a vast amount of vodka and mixers and started checking out everyone around us.
For what seemed like a very long time, there was zero sex happening, but people were killing it on the dance floor. A garrulous man hosted a raffle, and announced a six person team of languid male and female strippers. The entire staff at one point came up to congratulate the founder on his decades of swinging success. Every once in awhile there’d be a contest to see what woman would take off the most clothing while shimmying around in front of a live band that occupied a stage over our heads. Sometimes band members would also take off their shirts.
But no sex. We couldn’t even figure out where the sex rooms were until we asked a waiter. That being said, Adrián is really hot, neither of us are shy, and given a bottle of alcohol and a couch to sit on we’d probably start groping each other at a family reunion. Being in a room full of strangers all dressed up to fuck each other wasn’t really a problem for us.
At some point a woman came up and started rubbing our hands. She had impressively round tits, and a form fitting dress with a cut-out over her cleavage. “You know, you’re attracting a lot of attention,” she said. She complimented Adrián and I the same amount of times. “Come meet my friends.” She promenaded us past a series of couples sitting at their own round tables with their own bottles. (What do people do at SW if they’re sober?) We shook hands, they smiled politely and we went back to our table. An enthused Adrián took his shirt off, becoming the only man to do so in the dance room that night besides the band and the strippers.
By 1 a.m. there was still no signs of anything but dancing, and I was getting to that point where I wanted to have sex or get wasted but probably not both. And so we became some of the first people in the dark room. We were by ourselves for about one second before I felt four hands on me, and heard the rustle of a small crowd forming behind us. “Remember, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do,” our buxom hostess had assured us while parading us around earlier. But we were down. The only problem was we couldn’t find the big bowl of condoms I’ve come to expect from sex clubs, and dudes who had them would only give you one if their dick was going to be inside of it. (Rude.)
By the time we returned to home base for a drink and an intermission, the main room was a ghost town, a lonely couple of undulating white pieces of sex furniture having replaced the people on the dance floor. It was only 3 a.m. though, and staff was telling us Club SW was open ‘til seven that night. We decided we could go one more round.
Let it not be said that I didn’t have a great time at Club SW. But for all its wildness, I found it to be pretty predictable. Swinging is couched in a pretty heteronormative, monogamous worldview. Like a lot of “progressive” things that bubbled up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, it’s freaky without getting rid of sexism and despite what some websites will tell you, adherence to gender roles. Wives were definitely initiating sex at Club SW, but only when it was cool with their husbands. But Club SW’s 22 year tenure confirms that it has been successful in creating a different kind of community. The extended network of people comfortable enough with their bodies and relationships needed to make that possible is truly impressive – clearly they get something there that they don’t in their lives. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was basically an XXX rated country club.
After the brief unpleasantness of the surly wife swapper (detailed above), we took some one-on-one time. Adrián came, and we were sprawled out in the afterglow on the gleaming leather couch when our hostess from earlier in the night popped up. Ever the tour guide, she said she wanted to take us to where the “real action” was. Adrián, suddenly as re-energized as she promised he would be upon seeing this mysterious hot spot, jumped up with surprising quickness, re-buttoning his pants and following her into the deepest dark room. A few steps behind them, I realized when I entered that the place was sweaty with sheer fuck mass. I watched Hostess part the crowds to present Adrián to a group of thirsty older women. Suddenly, I was too tired to see which entitled husband would approach me. I didn’t want to cockblock my date but I also didn’t feel comfortable walking off by myself. And I definitely wasn’t down to buy any more 35 pesos condoms from a waiter. I had passed the apex of my swing and I was coming back down. (Sorry Adrián, ¯_(ツ)_/¯ )
We headed out, the half-empty Smirnoff bottle with the neon green “Club SW” sticker to serve as our souvenir. But we were not leaving without having learned an important lesson. “I get it now,” Adrián told me on way home. “You just grab someone and ask them to fuck you.” The statement’s truth went beyond the unique social mores of Club SW. Even if you never have a wife to swap, the swingers could teach us all a thing or two about being proactive re: dreams. Or at least, re: genitals, and who is to say which is more important?
Images: Club SW