I feel so awkward I’m sure my face is red as a tomato – thank goodness it’s so dark in here. The only light is a faint, red glow that illuminates the play areas. I can’t see much, but I can make out two men, three women and a sex swing. Oh yes, a sex swing. Just another reminder that although this is Friday night, I’m not at my local – I’m at a sex club.
Two weeks ago I was enjoying an afternoon with one of my fave couples when, out of the blue, they told me that they recently visited a couples club.
I was stunned. To me, Matt, 27, and Zoe, 25, weren’t the type of duo to do such a thing. I mean, why would a rather geeky website designer and a bright law student, who recently bought a house together and are well on their way to Marriageville, want to visit such an establishment?
“We went for the first time about four months ago,” Zoe admitted, shyly. “Matt and I had hit a stale stage in our relationship. We weren’t having sex and it felt like we were more like friends.”
So then you decided to go to a swingers party and partner swap?
“No, it wasn’t like that at all!” said Matt. “We had a very open talk and we both agreed that, sexually, we wanted to experiment more. That’s when Zoe confessed she had always fantasised about strangers watching her while she, you know, had sex.”
“I would never cheat on Matt,” added Zoe. “I just wanted to spice things up, so I got online and did some research – and that’s how we found The Couples Club.”
No ordinary party
Tucked away in a tall, plain building in Sydney’s Surry Hills, and identified only by a very small sign bearing the club’s logo, The Couples Club hails as Australia’s only five-star swinger venue. For over 20 years it has been Sydney’s most popular sexual playground, and it hosts four parties every week.
One is the monthly Angels & Demons party, apparently popular with a young crowd of sexually adventurous couples and single girls.
“The Angels & Demons parties are so fun,” says Zoe enthusiastically. “You would like it.” Hmm. Even though, just like my friend, having sex in public has always been a fantasy of mine, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to do it. But I agree to go with her.
A few weeks later, as I’m outside The Couples Club feeling very nervous and self-conscious in my borrowed “horny devil” costume, I’m regretting my decision. I’m about to chicken out when the door to the club swings open, and a woman wearing fishnets and horns invites me inside.
How did she know I was there? There’s no bouncer, no peephole.
“I monitor the camera and make sure no single guys try to get in,” says the she-devil, ushering me inside.
Upstairs the party is in full swing. The club is packed with guys wearing black, feathered wings and girls in sexy underwear. Apart from the pole dancers and the porn playing on TV, it looks just like any normal nightclub.
“Sex isn’t compulsory, some of us just drink at the bar upstairs and have a dance,” says Zoe, before admitting that downstairs is where the real fun happens. “There are naughty play areas, although Matt and I normally muck around on the big communal mattress with other couples. But no swapping! That’s our only rule.”
Standing at the bar, I scan the room. I smile at a cute boy who winks at me. Was that the “signal”? Did I just agree to have sex with him? He was my type. In fact, there are a few guys I’d consider having sex with. When did sex-clubbing become so fashionable?
I start chatting to the blonde girl next to me. A regular at The Couples Club, Anita, 25, comes here alone. “I’m not looking for a relationship,” she says. “I come to have fun and, if I feel like it, have sex. I don’t see it as any different to a one-night stand.”
I ask her if she ever worries about complications it could cause between the couple she has sex with. Anita grins. “Well, that’s between them. If they can’t handle it, they shouldn’t be here.”
Our chat is interrupted by a guy wearing a halo and a tiny pair of white briefs. He introduces himself as Duke. To my surprise, he asks ifIwould be interested in some “shared love” with him and his girlfriend, downstairs. “Oh, thank you but no, I have…”
Before I can finish, Anita grabs Duke’s hand and leads him to the stairs. As I watch them walk away, Anita turns around and gestures for me to follow… I take a deep breath.
In the thick of it
Downstairs, the atmosphere is very different. The air is musky with the smell of sex, and it’s so quiet I can hear my own heartbeat. Naked people are everywhere, and I lose sight of my new friend in the dark passageway. Using my hands to guide me, I collide into two bodies. They’re sticky with sweat, and I’m certain that I can feel a penis brushing against my leg!
Making a fast getaway down the corridor, I come across a large square bed surrounded by sheer curtains. Dark shadows of people peer through the mesh, watching the action. I go closer, trying to count all the naked bodies intertwined. I feel like a perve, standing in the dark watching strangers having sex on the big bed. But surprisingly, I’m finding myself getting turned on.
Right then, I see a familiar face. It’s Zoe, head thrown back, straddling Matt. It dawns on me that I’m watching my two best friends have sex! Feeling more than a little bit awkward about seeing Matt’s penis, I decide to wait for my friends at the bar, and attempt to navigate my way back to the stairs. Along the way, I pass several other intimate alcoves, all occupied by people in various states of sex.
I walk past the giant spa, which is filled with floating man parts and womanly bits, and I smile as I hear the laughter. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves here. I take a peek inside the playroom and see a couple trying out a cross-shaped bondage board. Definitely time for me to make my escape.
Sitting back in the relative sex-safety of the bar upstairs, I think about how wrong I had been about this place. I’d been more than a shade judgmental. Sure, this kind of sex club isn’t for everyone, and itisundeniably naughty. But it’s far from the sleazy cliché I’d imagined it to be.
It’s clear everyone here is having fun – and embracing their sexuality in ways most people can’t and don’t. The atmosphere is playful and friendly, and personal limitations are respected. It’s a place where fantasies can become a reality, and anything goes.
Matt and Zoe both agreed that their first time at the club recharged their sex life. “We couldn’t keep our hands off each other afterwards. Even now I get so turned on just talking about it,” says Zoe, laughing.
But the thing is, no matter how much I think I’m sexually liberated, I couldn’t imagine myself getting down among the mattress masses. It’s just not for me. Although the experience did open my eyes to a world where no one is afraid of who they are and what they want – and I liked it. A lot.