At midnight on a Saturday, I arrived at a house in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Downstairs, someone was being whipped while another rode a MotorBunny, a popular sex machine. Upstairs, people hooked up in rooms with doors cracked open. On the ground floor, people strutted in lingerie and BDSM gear. This was PlayDate, a "play party" sponsored by the New Society for Wellness (NSFW). And I would be in for some surprises.
For about two years, Playdate has provided "a judgement free, safe-space where people can experience different lessons in sex, whether it be impact play or submission, an instructional on squirting or sensual touch," NSFW founder Daniel Saynt tells Bustle. "Not everyone is there to have sex. They are there to learn, to discover, and to connect to others. If that connection involves locking genitals, that's cool too, but it's never expected or required."
I personally didn’t hook up with anyone and felt no pressure. It felt a lot like any other party, except for the fact that there was a squirting class in the basement and sex dolls sitting behind the bar.
It’s hard to prepare yourself for this kind of environment, so for the sake of anyone thinking of attending a sex party, I asked Saynt and NSFW's publicist and media director Melissa Vitale what to know before entering one.
1Make Sure The Party Has A Policy Around Consent
Be wary of any sex party host who tells guests nothing about consent. Those events tend to attract people who think they’re paying for sexual access to all attendees, Saynt says. If you're not given any ground rules in advance, ask the host if guests will be. Sexually-charged environments need to be clear on their policies, because there’s a lot that could go wrong. Guests need to understand that attending a sex party is not consenting to sex.
2Dress In Layers
Layering means something very different when you're going to a sex party than when you're venturing out in the cold. First, you may want to wear underwear you’d like to be seen in. Over that is your outfit, and over that, you’ll want a jacket. Then, there are the accessories, which might include a flogger or a whip, which Vitale jokes she uses to keep the creepers away. But that’s just one way to have fun with it — you can really wear whatever you want within the party’s dress code. (PlayDate's was to wear black, so I just wore a black T-shirt and jeans.)
3Keep Track Of Your Stuff
If you plan to take your clothes off, you’d better have a bag to put them in, or you’ll find yourself fishing for them under other people’s stuff... or potentially under other people. Your clothes can very easily be confused with the dozens of other items being thrown off left and right if you don’t keep them all together, says Vitale.
4Respect Others’ Boundaries
If someone's having sex in public, it’s pretty safe to assume that they’re OK with being looked at. But if someone’s in their own room, even if the door’s open, it’s most polite to ask first. Same thing goes with touching anyone, obviously. Remember that not everyone’s there to hook up, and even those who are may not be interested in hooking up with you.
5Look Out For Others — And Have Them Look Out For You
Every safety precaution you might take at a frat party also applies at a sex party, says Vitale. Come with friends, or if you don’t, ask the friends you make there to ensure you get home safe. And look out for them, too. If you see anyone disregarding someone’s boundaries, speak up. The more people are held accountable, the more respectful people will be.
6Decide How You’re Getting Home In Advance
Sex parties can last until early in the morning, so make sure you have a way of getting home. Vitale recommends deciding in advance whether you want to go home with someone else, since your decision-making abilities might be compromised after having the best orgasm you’ve ever experienced — which she and Sant hope everyone does.
If you don't hook up with anyone, that's OK, too. These events are meant to be low-pressure, if not exactly low-key. And even if you don’t meet a new sexual partner, you might make a few new friends.