“Nothing I can say will prepare you properly for it,” were the exact words I was told before heading to my first sex party at the ripe young age of 24. While I did feel woefully underprepared at my first official group sex event, that’s not because sex parties are mysterious and ineffable. They can indeed be described, and they should be for newbies looking to get into the scene.
The thing is, each sex party is drastically different, and therein lies the problem. I’ve been to parties where before getting down to business, all the guests sit in a circle, say their names, sexual orientations, pronouns, and what they’re hoping to do sexually that evening, even specifying with whom. These parties are typically for people of all genders, and there’s an emphasis on consent and creating a warm, welcoming space. They have moderators you can talk to if you feel unsafe or if someone is harassing you. If someone is being a creep, they get kicked out. Period.
Then I’ve been to sex parties where asking to touch is actually frowned upon, since it “takes people out of the moment.” These parties are typically cruiser, black-lit, gay sex parties. I even went to a party at a club in Amsterdam where all the bottoms (receptive anal sex partners) agreed to bend over and be blindfolded. The whole “schtick” of the event was that these men could not see who they were having sex with.
Depending on your sexual interests, this either sounds incredibly hot or downright terrifying.
Obviously, the two sex parties I described above are very different. Being bi, I like to attend numerous sex events that fall on both ends of the spectrum (and everywhere in between). I like the Kumbaya-styled, let’s get to know everyone first type of sex party, but I also like that bend me over the desk, I don’t know who you are, please God take me Daddy type of sex party.
Recognising the diversity of the scene, here’s what you should know before attending a sex party, according to a guy who’s both hosted and attended close to 100 parties.
1. Learn the sex party rules prior to attending.
If this is an official play party, there will be clear rules about what you should wear, how you should behave, how to specifically ask for (enthusiastic) consent, and what happens if you violate those rules. (Spoiler: You’ll be kicked out and never be allowed to return, so don’t be a jackass and respect people’s boundaries.) Familiarise yourself with the rules prior to attending, so nothing catches you off-guard.
2. Bring a partner in crime.
A number of mixed-gender play parties won’t let single men attend by themselves. You need to have a sexual partner with you. Even if they don’t mandate having someone, I highly recommend you attend with a partner. That person can be someone you’re sleeping with or simply a friend. It can feel a bit awkward walking around by yourself at these parties, and some folks may unwittingly judge you—assuming you’re a creep—if you’re out on the prowl by yourself.
Also, sex is not guaranteed at these parties at all. By going with someone you’re sexual with, there’s a lot better chance you’ll get laid, both by your partner but also by others. Most folks at these parties are coupled up and are looking for another pair to swing with. They’re not (often) looking for the rogue stallion.
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3. Wear something that makes you feel sexy.
Do you know what’s no fun? Being the guy who goes to a sex party in a frumpy t-shirt and jeans. Whether it’s a harness, a collar, or a goddamn jockstrap, wear something that makes you feel empowered and sexy. Look like you’re supposed to be there, ya know?
4. Bring your own condoms and lube.
Nine times out of 10 there will be condoms and lube at the party. However, they’re often those free condoms that clinics give out that are thicker than plastic bags. Bring your own high-quality, thinner condoms. It’s also wise to bring your favourite type of lube as well. You’ll thank me later.
5. Be friendly and direct.
You don’t need any corny pickup lines at sex parties. (I mean, you really don’t ever need pickup lines, but I’ll save that for another piece.) You can go up to someone you’re attracted to, introduce yourself with a smile, and ask how their night is going. It will become very clear if they’re interested in talking to you or not. If they reply, “My night’s going better now,” or, “I was bored until you came along,” it’s a good sign they want to bang. If they respond with, “It’s going fine,” and are looking around the room for someone else, then simply reply, “Same here. Great to meet you,” and walk the hell away.
6. Enjoy the show.
Watch what other folks are doing. I’ve noticed more and more that play parties hire hosts, rope bondage experts, dominatrices, and other types of performers to do something sexual for the attendees. Watch someone get tied up and flogged. Try sexual electrostimulation if they have it. Or at least watch other couples getting it on.
7. Remember, it’s okay to laugh.
Alright, while you’re in the back, dark room, I wouldn’t recommend letting out a loud and hearty roar, but in most spaces at sex parties, it’s 100% okay to laugh. Sex is fun. Being at a sex party is fun. Sometimes hilarious things happen during sex. Laughing is the only appropriate response when this is the case! Just don’t laugh at others especially as they’re doing it.
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health