Fact: there is no more salacious word combination in the world than "sex" and "party." (Seriously. I dare you to think of one.) Within the scene, however, sex parties are known as "play parties," mostly because so much more goes down at these events than just sex.
Although they may have a salacious reputation, when done right, play parties can be some of the classiest and safest events out there. Organizers often implement a strict application process, dress code, and rules of consent to make sure that the atmosphere is both safe and sexy.
While a high level of scrutiny is required to throw any play party worth attending, organisers and attendees certainly know how to have a good time. We spoke with Daniel Saynt, founder and chief conspirator at the New Society For Wellness (NSFW), a Brooklyn-based private club, and asked him everything you’ve wanted to know but were afraid to ask about sex parties.
1. WHAT'S THE APPLICATION PROCESS LIKE?
The idea of applying to get into a play party may invoke childhood fears of being picked last for dodgeball: What if you don’t get in? But in order to ensure the safest and most positive environment at play parties, the most well-regulated events require some sort of application process. “The one thing that we look for as a red flag is if you’re only applying to have as much sex as possible, with as many people as possible,” Saynt says. The point of these parties is to explore your sexuality with other curious people — not to be a creep.
Thinking about applying? Saynt discourages prospective play party attendees from using fake photos in their application (people are going to realise they’re fake when you show up). If you get rejected, don't freak out: it just might not be the best party for you, and there are plenty of other fish in the sea.
2. WHAT DO YOU WEAR TO A SEX PARTY?
It depends on the event. While NSFW encourages members to show up in all black, other play parties may have a theme, such as Moulin Rouge or Prohibition-era costumes. (And yes, you have to follow the dress code.) Saynt encourages attendees to embrace the art of layering. Because things usually don’t heat up until later in the night (events usually start, as most do, with a round of cocktails), you should wear multiple layers that you can shed gradually throughout the evening. “Have some sort of robe you can throw on after the play experience is over, so you don’t have to jump into your clothes right away; you can lounge around,” Saynt says.
3. CAN I WATCH PEOPLE HAVE SEX WITHOUT HAVING SEX MYSELF?
One of the biggest misconceptions about play parties is that they're a giant orgy where everyone will have sex with everyone by the end of the night. While this does occasionally happen, you don't even need to have sex to attend a sex party. While different events have different rules about this, many come to revel in the erotic atmosphere — especially voyeurs, who specifically get off on watching others get it on. “There’s a lot of people who go to play parties to not play. They’re there to observe and enjoy the scene,” Saynt says. That's a good thing, too, because play parties often attract exhibitionists (people who enjoy being watched). That's why play parties often serve as a safe space for those who get off on being watched and those who get off on watching alike — it's a great way for both to consensually practice their kinks.
That said, consent is the operative word here. Saynt says that if you're watching a couple get it on, be mindful of their facial expressions and body language; if they look freaked out, walk away. The best way to know if people are OK with you watching is to ask. Don’t be the creepy guy masturbating in the corner.
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4. COOL, BUT CAN I HAVE SEX?
Absolutely. The easiest way to get laid at a play party is to come with a date you’re already sleeping with. (At many play parties, if you're a guy, coming with a plus one is required to maintain the ratio.) Especially if you’re new to the scene, it can be super hot to come with your partner and only have sex with one another, so you guys can get off on the new erotic atmosphere.
5. WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONSENT?
First and foremost, do not touch anyone without asking. If you strike up a conversation with someone that’s going well, and you feel confident there’s chemistry, ask them, “Hey, I’d love to play with you, want to check out the bedrooms upstairs with me?” If they say no, buzz off. If a couple (or group) is down with letting you watch, do not assume that means they want you to join in. Consent is key, both at play parties and anywhere else.
The play parties worth attending will make sure you’re well-versed in how to ask for sex before showing up by holding consent workshops or distributing consent guidelines to all members. You are often required to sign a consent form upon entering. Saynt says that if any organisation throws play parties but does not have clear consent guidelines, it's usually a red flag.
6. DO I NEED TO BRING PROTECTION?
Yes! Always bring protection when sex is on the table, whether it’s a Tinder date or a play party. While most play parties will have condoms, lube, and sometimes even sex toys distributed strategically around the space, they may run out, or they might not have your favourite brand available. So always show up with condoms in tow.
7. CAN I SHOW UP DRUNK?
Nope, not unless you want to get yourself banned. While some play parties do serve alcohol, events such as NSFW have guardians that look out for both consent violations and over-intoxication. “We’re here to make sure you’re safe,” Saynt says. While you should feel free to enjoy a glass or two while mingling, do not attend a play party with the goal of getting totally fucked up. That’s what frat parties are for.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health