We Came, We Saw, They Came, We Left: Swinging with Middle-Aged Sex Dorks
Meems invited me to a sex party at a swingers’ club. We weren’t going to sex—Meems is totally attached and I find her kinda gross—but to journalise. Meems was working for Vice and sought my expertise in blocking untoward approaches with a dash of moral support and a side of taking notes. Our destination was the linguistically ambiguous Chateau Vino, the Gold Coast’s only governmentally a-ok’d group-sex destination for the casually and committed polyandrous alike, a place labelled on their website as, “where the sexy* people meet”. We went to meet some sexy people.
Chateau Vino is rooted at the top of a cul-de-sac in an industrial state behind the swamps of the Gold Coast. It lies amongst mechanics of varying specialities with names like Mufflers to the Max and Gearheads, and if I was an amateur onomast (student of proper names – dictionary.com,) I’d find this aluminium-shed-flecked dead-end interesting in its own right. But the science of naming was the last thing on my mind when rolling into my first organised sex party; instead, I was plagued with self-doubt and trepidation as to what we’d encounter in the carnal unknown.
I’ve never swung, and have had a reasonably private, hetero and “normal” sex life. Officially, in talking to Meems beforehand, I said that I wasn’t going to swing that night – we were there for purely journalistic purposes. Privately, I knew that if I was aroused, I’d be a wimp to pass up an expansion of my sexual universe; subconsciously, I was DTF, a fact attested by my imbibing of overproof rum in the hours leading up to our entry – a sure-fire way to lower one’s standards with each fiery swig.
We arrived earlier than the time advertised on the website. Our plan was to check the scene out before it was full of sweaty ham pressers, but even at our early hour, there were a few couples leering and groping one another. This blatant display of thirst – turning up early, not fashionably late – showed that playing it cool wasn’t a necessary ingredient to getting off in this environment.
We were given a guided tour of the club, which was made up of a BYO bar, outdoor smoking area, pool room, dancefloor with pole, banner ads for adultfriendfinder.com and a bunch of “play” rooms.
Playing is how those in “the lifestyle” describe the various manifestations of sex that go down in swingers’ clubs, and the lifestyle is how this fraternity of frivolous wife-and-fluid swappers describe their predilection for post-monogamous pumping. We were given a glowing review of the lifestyle, with the practitioners praising its ability to solidify and reinforce relationships, as well as fulfil friendships forged through free fornication. The only warning we were given was against introducing rocky relationships to the root-o-dome, as seeing someone you’re trying to love again getting plugged by all comers could be the final nail in your racing-car single bed.
The swingers referred to us as “muggles” because, like the clueless civilians in the Harry Potterverse, we went about our mundane lives unaware of the parallel reality that surrounds us, one filled with wizards and witches and ogres and dragons and middle-aged people fucking each other’s wives. Mid-week, the swingers walk amongst us muggles, smirking at one another in Coles and in the workplace, filled with the secret knowledge that Geoff from accounts was chained, whipped and blown in front of 30 people last weekend. The lifestyle is separate from their day-to-day, with most we spoke to telling of hiding their weekends from friends and families. They just wouldn’t understand, we were told, and as someone who didn’t understand, I had to agree.
Marital longevity as aided by the lifestyle was a recurring theme, with most there claiming decades of wedlock. The couples most invested in the scene, the organisers and staff and regulars, had been together since adolescence, and started swinging late in their relationships, claiming to have remained monogamous until they decided to swing. I saw this as an interesting confluence of Stockholm syndrome and the inevitable bubbling over of their primordial urges to diversify the DNA they bond with – I can’t imagine life without you, frankly, the concept scares me, but by golly I’ve got a hankering for some exotic wangs.
And that’s at the crux of this sexually enlightened space – the wild oats weren’t sewn naturally early on, but polyamory is a normal human space, meaning that sooner or later, something has to give. If you’ve reached your flabby years only having been buried in one clam/impaled on a solitary stalk, then you’re probably a bit of a dork, and the idea of a rule-based sexual club, complete with clubhouse and regular pump pals, probably makes sense. If I ever wanted to diversify my sexuality, I figure I’d do so with my own rules, whenever I wanted to, wherever the fucking urge took me, without feeling like I had to be in a goddamn club, and as such, I wound out the night uninitiated into the lifestyle.
Adding can’t-get-a-root-in-a-swingers-club to the long list of places where I can’t get a root seems a little sad, but despite the devious designs of my id and the rum it insisted I imbibe, I remained sexually uninspired by the whole scene, and perhaps gave off the wrong vibe. Pretty early in the game, I realised that the flab-groping, cigarette-drenched tongue kissing and unwelcome digit slipping wasn’t for me, so built up an unwelcoming wall, and in that regard, the swingers were very respectful of my, and each other’s, personal space.
Swinging on these terms isn’t for me, but maybe it will be when I’m 20 years deep in a monogamous relationship (read: never). All in all, however, this was an overwhelmingly positive space for people to address some of their more uncomfortable urges in a space that was safe and respectful, free of unwanted advances and the physical and sexual violence that mar more mainstream mating markets.
Upon leaving, we noticed a mantelpiece covered in dick and vagina moulds, and a pair of couples swung up to us and proudly proclaimed that theirs were up there. As they groped each other in a four-way squeeze fest they asked if we wanted to guess whose were whose. I perused the bent erections and hairy vaginas, frozen in rubber like Han Solo in carbonite, and decided against it. I just really wasn’t all that interested.
* They qualify this by adding, “sexy is a mindset, not necessarily a body shape”. The attendees attested to this.
Cover from Eating Raoul; inset by Mimi and Gravy