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by Katie Peachesa April 07, 2020 9 min read

What is ‘swinging’?

By Ekaterina Mironova

‘Swinging’ was the term originally used to refer to male/female couples meeting and engaging in what might be termed ‘sexual liaisons’ or ‘recreational sex’  with other couples but is now more generally used  to cover a number of sexual activities that take place between three or more people. On occasion, you could hear swinging refereed to as ‘the lifestyle’ however this term is also sometimes used by BDSM and leather enthusiasts. Some people may still refer to ‘swinging’ as ‘wife swapping’ but this is certainly not in use within the swinging community itself. 

Experience indicates that the majority of swingers are heterosexual couples although many swinging activities can be regarded by their nature as bisexual. However, quite a number of female swingers enjoy female sexual but would not generally consider themselves bi-sexual. Male-male sex is not as common but does happen.  

Up until relatively recently swingers had, or were considered to be, from the ‘middle class’. However, the increased use of the internet has had the effect of broadening the ‘scene’ so that people from all walks of life are now enjoying this vibrant and exiting way of life.

You may also find the following definitions helpful:

Urban Swingers

The term ‘urban swingers’ was used to apply to a form of swinging which took off in the late 1990’s with ‘Fever Parties’. This ‘style’ of swinging generally is aimed at affluent ‘urban’ young people where the upper age limit may be around 40 and can sometime average as low as the late 20’s.

There are a number of clubs/organizations, which are said to cater specifically for this type of swinging (Fever, Club Liberty, Lounge Parties and Belle Baise) and hold events in ‘up market’ venues and ask guest to dress in evening attire. These events have been successful and are no longer exclusively ‘urban’. It is said that that ‘younger couples’ use the term ‘The Lifestyle’ to encompass swinging activities as they are uncomfortable with the traditional term ‘swingers’.

Bisexuals

Female bisexuality is very common in the swinging scene and considered 'normal' to participants.

Male bisexuality is less common in the swinging scene, but is becoming more common and more accepted. More openly bi men and bisexual couples (male-female couples where both partners are bisexual) are appearing on the scene. Whether this is due to increasing acceptance in the scene or greater numbers of men "turning bi" is open to discussion. Depending on the club or social situation, male bisexuality among swingers may either be frowned upon, or openly accepted. Generally, however, the open minded nature of the Lifestyle community as a whole is conducive to acceptance of bisexual men (though some choose not to engage in sexual activity with them or with their partners.)

Clubs for gay or lesbian couples, where available, operate quite separately from the broader swinging community. The organised gay community attempts to be tolerant of this to some degree, but also exhibits some characteristics of biphobia. Namely, they are hesitant to accept more "fluid" sexualities such as bisexuality, believing that it undermines the category of homosexuality as a whole. The primary difference, though, is that the Lifestyle has, at its heart, a focus on sexual activity while the gay community is centered around sexual identity.

Concordantly, a heterosexual male trying to fulfill a fantasy of having two women would be out-of-place in the lesbian community. Claiming to be "female seeks female" where a "couple seeks female" categorization is more appropriate may also draw negative reactions. Some groups for bisexual women within the organised gay/lesbian community, such as [6], therefore limit their membership to women only.

Polyamory

Polyamory specifically refers to individuals who sustain multiple emotional relationships with other individuals. This allows for some overlap within the swinging community. Polyamorists may engage in activity common to swingers such as group sex and partner swapping. Swingers, through extended sexual engagements with the same partners, may also develop strong friendships with these partners. Deeper emotional relationships, however, are not the norm and are considered a rarity. Most swingers distinguish between the multiple emotional relationships present in polyamory, and the multiple sexual relationships present in swinging.

Hot Wife

The term hot wife refers to a married woman who has sex with men other than her spouse with her spouse's consent. In most cases the husbands of these women will enjoy watching, hearing, or knowing about their wife's adventures. Often the husbands take part, sometimes by engaging in a threesome, or sometimes just arranging dates for their wives. A distinct subculture of Hotwiving is Cuckolding. This subculture is generally defined by a relationship in which the husband enjoys the humiliation of his wife being sexually satisfied by other men.

Singles

The acceptance of singles at swinging events varies from geographic area to geographic area. Some swinging 'clubs' have a policy of allowing only couples and females, but most do allow single men on selected nights. Single females are also often admitted at reduced admission price. Parties and events may differ, however, and are often restricted to couples or couples and single females only.

The reasons for this vary. Most (but certainly not all) of the people who pay to participate in swinger events are male-female couples and most swinging couples are more interested in interacting with other couples or with single women than with single men. Thus, swinger events strive to achieve a balance between male and female participants or have a (usually slightly) larger number of females than males.

A common complaint among swingers is that single men change the tone and nature of event. It should be noted that while outright hostility towards single men is rarely prevalent, an abundance of single males is rarely looked upon favourably in any swinging context. When single males are permitted their number are usually limited by high entrance fees or stringent membership requirements.

Conversely, some oppose the involvement of any singles of either sex in swinging due because of the fear that they might split existing couples.

Dogging

Dogging is a British term for swinging based in cars that takes place in a public but reasonably secluded area. There are several known dogging spots across the UK where people go after dark, typically to engage in voyeurism and exhibitionism but also to take part in group sex.

Swingers Terminology

Following are some common terms you may come across in the swinging scene, which, if you are not familiar with, you may find helpful.

Soft Swinging or Soft Swap: the term usually applies to kissing, touching/fondling, or having oral sex with a third or fourth person in a threesome or partner swap or during group sex.

Full Swap: - refers to what is considered (although isn’t necessarily) the most common form of swinging i.e. having penetrative sex with someone other than your usual partner

Closed Swinging this simply refers to a couple who do not watch each other have sex with other people.

Open Swinging – conversely partners have agreed not to have sex with someone else UNLESS the other partner is watching

Group Sex: - describes activities involving multiple sexual partners in the same location

Exhibitionism - : those who enjoy the practice of having sex (whether soft or full) with a partner or other swinger(s) while being watched.

Voyeurism: - is used to describe those who like to watch others have sex

The following are some specific terminology you may come across if you attend a swinging club or party swingers.

‘On Premises’ – this would mean that swingers will interact sexually with each other at the club or party, this may be allowed in the clubs main areas and would be referred to ‘as same room swinging’ or may take place in a separate room or ‘play room’, ‘play’ being the general term swingers use to refer to sex.

‘Off Premises’ – is the term applied where swingers may meet at a club or party but go back to a home or hotel room to ‘play’.

Swingers Etiquette

There is no swingers rule book as such, however, the overriding rule is that ‘no means, no’, simplistically if a sexual advance is rejected then that is that.

By nature swingers are considered to be open minded but along with that friendliness and a sense of humour might be said to be essential qualities for enjoyable swinging. Allied to this is general respect for others wishes and the way you behave towards them. This respect would apply to other swingers you may meet, the hosts of any party you may attend as well as your partner. It is extremely important that your partner’s feelings and comfort are put ahead of your own even if this means missing out on some of what you might consider to be ‘fun’ – there’s always next time!!

What happens at swingers clubs and parties?

Swinging is an extremely social activity.  Meeting new people, starting a conversation, enjoying a drink with them is really no different than what you would experience at a ‘normal’ bar or night club. Obviously, a key difference is that you might decide to have sex with that person or persons with a relatively short space of time and been in a place, be it as a club or party, that would actively encourage that and provides the environment to facilitate that. Like all activities it is always easier to engage in them with people you know or are at least in some way familiar with. Certainly, on your first visit to a club, you might simply like to watch people, observe how different individuals and groups interact with each other, and perhaps get a feel for the flow of conversation.

Not everyone who attends a swingers club or party will want to have sex the first time they meet someone, they might just want to engage in flirtatious conversation and enjoy a drink or two!! Some may wish to make a date to meet up on another occasion or decide they don’t ‘fancy’ each other. Don’t be surprised if you do not have sex on your first visit to a club or attendance at a party. However, if you do, you should be aware that different couples or individuals set their own personal boundaries, which may be different from your own or from others who might be participating in ‘play’.

They may participate in threesomes, foursomes or other group scenes; however, their limits prevent this going any further than enjoying oral sex. The scene would typically climax with the woman being fucked by her regular partner possibly engaging in oral sex with another male or female.

Some couples have individual limits that differ where one will engage in full sex whereas the other will only have non penetrative sex  Finally, others where one partner does not participate at all but derives enjoyment from watching his or her partner enjoying sex with other individuals or groups.

The only hard and fast rule is respecting others, their boundaries, be courteous…..and HAVE FUN!!

What should you wear? - There is no swinger’s uniform as such. You should wear what you normally expect to wear when going to a club or party. Some clubs do have a dress code and you should make sure that you ascertain what that is before going, to either the disappointment of not going in or the potential embarrassment of being noticeably differently attired to everyone else. Both clubs and parties, being adult in nature, may present the opportunity for you to wear something more exotic, if you feel comfortable doing this.

Some general hints for enjoyable swinging

If you attend a swingers club or party event at some point during the evening, whether you have sex or not, you will be getting close to others. It goes without saying that a good standard of cleanliness is more than desirable. Take a shower before you go, brush your teeth and shave, where appropriate. Ensure fingers and toe nails are nicely manicured!!

Most clubs will also provide facilities to ‘freshen up’ during the evening and it is sensible to take your own towel to use if you decide to wash or shower during the night.  

Don't be afraid to socialise, ask questions, most people at swinging events are more than happy to answer questions and talk about their experience of the scene. 

If you attend with your partner, unless you have decided beforehand to split up, don’t just abandon them, an abandoned partner can quickly became a jealous and emotional partner. 

Another aspect worthy of consideration is whether or not alcohol consumption is conducive to enjoyable swinging or not. At then end of the day it really depends on how you handle alcohol and what effect it has on you. It is certainly not recommended that your drink excessively, particularly on your first visit to a club or attendance at a swingers party .Too much alcohol will leave you wondering whether you had sex with someone because you were pissed or whether you exercised freedom of choice in a conscious effort to broaden your horizons.

To really enjoy the experience it is essential that you know where you are and where your partner is and that you are both within the limits that you set yourselves, that you are doing what you want whilst respecting the wishes and personal boundaries of others you encounter. Experience indicates that alcohol is not always the greatest aid to maintaining the proper sense of awareness and has been known to impede performance!!

Always remember the golden rule, no means no. If you do not wish to have sex with someone just, politely, say no.

Katie Peachesa
Katie Peachesa

Katie Peachesa is a sex and lingerie blogger based out of the urban chic Wapping in the heart of East London, United Kingdom. In her spare time, Katie enjoys photography, yoga and fitness, a bit of boxing, traveling, keeping up with the latest fashion trends and mudlarking and exploring pastoral settings. You are likely to find Katie in an artisan cafe in Brick Lane on a Saturday afternoon furiously typing her next article on her laptop whilst she is sipping on her flat white and drawing inspiration from the hustle and bustle in the heart of creative London. Katie runs the "Fashion Life Mag" and has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Allure, Grazia, Tatler, Evening Standard and other popular media outlets.


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