To swing or not to swing? ...
Keys in the bowl at the entrance. Everyone recognises that as the cliché signal for a swingers’ party, where you get naked and have sex with the neighbours. It’s a universal joke.
But swinging isn’t quite like that, and it’s also not just a thing of the 1970s. According to a recent survey, one third of Australian couples are open to it, with the most active age group between 30 to 45.
What’s totally modern about swinging is that non-monogamous, less-traditional relationships are becoming more normalised in our society. Millennials especially are open to the fact that there’s more than one way to be in a relationship.
So, what is swinging? Usually, it is married or de facto couples that have an open relationship, allowing their partners to have sex with other people, with their permission and enthusiastic consent.
It could be a foursome with another couple or swapping sexual partners within a larger group. Then there’s also the unicorn in the Swinging Lifestyle, which is usually a single, bi-sexual woman, man or gender-nonconforming person who joins a couple either for a one-night stand or an ongoing relationship.
Sexologists say that swinging can be a healthy way of spicing up your sex life. It has all the allure of an affair, but without the betrayal.
"Swinging can add excitement to a couple's relationship when they have a solid foundation of trust and connection," explains Dr Tammy Nelson, a renowned sex and relationship expert and author of The New Monogamy.
“Couples are negotiating monogamy in new ways, defining fidelity through transparency and disclosure rather than by maintaining sexual fidelity.”
She says that if you're looking for ways to expand the horizons of your relationship, and you and your partner decide to experiment with new people, it may seem like a win-win but, an open relationship takes a ton of maturity, honesty, and openness between you and your partner.
“If you are trying an open marriage to test your relationship to see if it can survive a heartache, don’t do it. Being on shaky ground is a bad foundation for trying new and edgy things. A polyamorous relationship is not an experiment in testing the boundaries of your commitment,” she says.
The best sex of our lives
Sydney couple Shayne and Dayna have been swinging for about three years.
“We have been to all sorts of parties. But in not one where we have put our keys in a bowl,” laughs Dayna.
They fell into it when they were invited to a swingers party one night, which opened up the conversation.
“Although we had a giggle about it first, we soon realised it was really turning us on. We had an open and honest talk about it, and found that we were both excited about the idea, and comfortable with allowing each other to have different sexual partners,” she says.
“Giving in to another man, right in front of my husband, and seeing him with this man’s wife was the most erotic thing I had ever experienced. It was the best sex of our lives that first time and since then, we got full into the swinging scene.”
Dayna says that swinging has nothing to do with being unfaithful or feeling dissatisfied.
“It’s the opposite in fact. There is trust, honesty, and we are fully enjoying it. We have found is that it enriches our sex life.”
Shayne agrees, though he sees that there is potential for harm in relationships when one of the partners is not fully into it.
“Never before would I have imagined I could watch another man have sex with my wife, see her orgasm, and be totally okay with it. Dayna and I are on the same page, but I can see how it would be a nightmare if one of the partners was unsure or felt jealous. It works for us, but I don’t think swinging is for everyone.”
While most swingers parties in previous decades were held in secluded suburbs and private homes, more nightclubs now specialise in swingers parties, too.
“I think this is a good way to get into it if you are curious about the scene and want to explore it. We were lucky that we just fell into it but, if you want to see what it’s all about, I’d say check out the clubs,” Dayna says.
Sydney’s Our Secret Spot is one of the country’s most popular swinging nightclubs. In the leafy suburb of Annandale, the three levelled luxurious club can host up to 400 people a night.
It has a dance floor, private rooms, a large open 4-bed orgy room, a one-sided mirror voyeur room, open shower spaces, and a fully equipped dungeon. Owners Jess and Lawrence provide a sexy, fun and safe space for people who want to explore their pathway to fantasy, seduction and satisfaction. They share some of the fascinating stories in their podcast.
For most people who swing, including Dayna and Shayne, it’s not just about the sex. It’s about community, too.
“We socialise, go to barbecues and family functions together, and we have become close friends with some of the couples we’ve met through the lifestyle,” Shayne says.
To celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary recently, the couple decided to host a swingers party at their home.
“Just for fun, we made a big thing out of the keys in the bowl thing and told everyone to bring a potluck dish, which is another cliché of a swingers party. We invited mostly people from the scene, but also a couple we have known for a while who were new to this.
Dayna said they were a little worried that they would freak out and run off, but their fears were unfounded.
“They both really loved it. Let’s say they got stuck into the potluck dishes, and they have told us they are keen to do it again. One of the other couples must have had a few too many wines, or maybe orgasms, as they left without their keys!”
Swinging can be great for people who are looking to explore their sexuality with other people, but rules are an important part of the lifestyle. First and foremost, being clean and respectful at all times is hugely important.
Rules aren’t meant to be broken at a swingers party. They’re there to keep things safe, fun, and consensual for all.
7 golden rules for first-time swinging
Make sure you’re both on the same page and know each other’s expectations.
Agree beforehand on what is acceptable and comfortable for both of you.
Don't insist on swinging with a couple if your partner isn’t into it.
Decide if you want to play on the same room or prefer different rooms.
Before you touch anyone, you must make sure you have their permission.
Set a codeword or signal for when one of you isn’t feeling it.
Go easy on the booze as when the lines are blurred the rules may be broken.