Sex on 27th deals with all matters of the bedroom. From sexual wellness to bondage, columnist, Julia Suarez, gets real and answers all of your most ~burning~ questions.
If you’ve never been to a sex party, what do you picture them being like? Are they mysterious and elite, featuring masks and satanic rituals? Sweaty orgies used to replace saying hi for the first time? Intimidating, cliquey get-togethers for more extroverted and ablest sex-havers?
Very elaborate sex parties do exist, but super chill, casual ones do too. Sex parties (or “play parties”) vary, but are generally understood as private or semi-public events where guest are allowed to engage in sexual activities or even just be a voyer. It’s a misconception that parties are just a nude, free for all. Plenty of people go out of curiosity or show up intending to join but change their minds when they show up.
I get it, any kind of sex party can seem intense and terrifying. It’s important to remember that everyone’s had to get their first (wink, wink) at some point. Parties can help you meet like-minded people who are into the same kinks and fetishes and those who may be willing to explore them with you. Whether you’re planning to go with a group, a partner, or explore on your own, you deserve great sex. So here’s the 411 on sex parties and what you can expect.
Since we have an advantage living in NYC- just goggling sex parties can lead to a myriad of options. Everything from Hacienda Villa, which is the equivalent of a BDSM Burning Man, to sex-related happenings like the Sex Worker’s Pop-Up this week. Some people might be more comfortable with going to something like a pop-up, rather than diving into a party head first.
WhatsApp is a great place to begin your journey into what may seem like this whole new world. I was a part of a group that provided all the sex parties happening in NYC that week and a sure invite to get in. Most sex parties I’ve been to were private and a few semi-public ones. A friend of mine (let’s call him Pete) threw parties at his apartment in Crown Heights every month that were themed- everything from aliens, to robots, to Valentine’s Day to rainbows. Themed parties are not only fun, but can be an ice breaker if this is your first time attending. You could either come alone or bring someone, but bringing somebody also means being responsible for this person, so make sure it’s someone you know and trust. Pete only allowed 28 people to attend because of the size of his place, so it’s always recommended to RSVP as soon as possible to these parties and secure your place. Most places also ask for donations to help fund fun fixtures, food, and maybe help with rent if it’s in a private place. Anything as little as $5 can help.
I was usually involved in helping Pete setup which included making sure snacks were available, all three bedrooms were supplied with lube, lots of condoms, and puppy pads (funny, but needed since things can get a little wet). All the sheets were cleaned and daybeds, pillows, and blankets were readily available. But bring your own (clean!) sex toys, like vibrators, impact toys, and restraints. Use condoms with dildos and change them after each partner and do not use other people’s toys without permission.
The opening of all parties are usually the same. If it’s a small enough group, we all make introductions including your name, your pronouns, your mildest fantasy, which is what you expect to happen (i.e. mine was to make friends with everyone) and your wildest fantasy which what you hope to happen that might take a little finessing.
Most parties, if you’re comfortable, will allow you to say how open you are with participating in activities. These parties are judgment free zones, which means you can say the least or the most you want to do. It’s always important to set boundaries with yourself before the party. If you’re okay with oral, but don’t want to have full penetrative sex, tell the other person that. Are you into dirty talk? Do you have a safe word when a scene gets too intense? Are you looking for a no-strings attached spanking? What are both of your hard and soft limits? Don’t be embarrassed to share these things, having this conversation can be as hot as it is important.
Pete has red, yellow and green bracelets for the attendees. Red means “I have to be the one to initiate.” Yellow means “I’m curious, but please ask me first.” Green means “I’m down for anything.”, But this doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind. Wearing a green bracelet isn’t a replacement for consent, it just makes asking if someone wants to participate, a little easier.
Nobody is entitled to sex, not even a place designated for it. If you show up with a partner, fully intending to have sex, your feelings may change once you’re actually there, and that is okay. Sex parties can be nerve-racking! Be extra gentle with each other.
Every place has different policies, and though alcohol wasn’t banned at Pete’s, you should not get wasted and know your limits. Alcohol should be used as liquid courage to talk to that hot girl or ask the fantasy of that guy who has been eyeing you from across the room. Not as a replacement for water or an easy way to get trashed.
Most parties have a PG space for people who need a break or just to chill and talk. This means no sexual activity in this area for the duration of the party to make sure everyone feels comfortable and safe. For Pete’s, that’s the living room. The other three bedrooms are also themed. One has a white board on the door to write your wildest fantasies- everything from playing with baby oil to getting flogged 70 times (can you guess which one was me?).
Then there’s the dark room, the name speaks for itself- the windows had thick shades and 3 layers of black cloth are hung over the door to ensure no light could come in. No penetrative sex was allowed, but it can be fun and sexy to not know who is touching you and if you didn’t like a specific touch, you could easily move that hand somewhere else, no questions asked. Again, consent of all kinds, verbal and nonverbal, are mandatory at parties.
The last room is decorated with string lights, daybeds, and a mirror on the ceiling. This is where anything could happen, no theme, just organic happenings. I won’t go into all the fun, dirty details that happen, I’ll leave that up to your imagination.
Most parties start at 9pm and end around 4am, with most leaving around 3am. If you’re going to a party with a friend or partner, make an exit strategy beforehand where you can remove yourself from the situation without having to explain or call attention to yourself, which might make you feel shy in the moment. It can be a code word, a nonverbal cue to signify to that you need to change something in the situation. Maybe you just need a minute to regroup, in which your partner can discreetly take you to another room, or that it’s time to leave the party altogether.
The key to all sex parties is to be respectful and open. And as a final rule, if you recognize someone that you met from last month’s sex party on the street (or even a job interview…), don’t go up to them and compliment them on their great shabari skills. If you do end up going to a party, check in with yourself and do the same for any friends or partner(s) who joined you. Did the party live up to your expectations? Were there things you liked and didn’t like? What could’ve been better? Even if you didn’t get a chance to explore everything you wanted, that’s ok- all the more reason to go back!