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When you think of a sex party, you think of abandoned inhibitions and crazy S&M swinging, each room revolving around a different fetish. Think again. Nerve sat down with Scott Brown, self-titled Sexpert and founder of sexpressed.com, to talk all things behind-the-scenes. Read below to enter a world of dirty coupled consent.

How do you find out about attending a sex party?
Sex parties are more accessible than ever. A quick Google search for burner parties, swingers parties, play parties, or lifestyle parties will lead you to dozens of events happening in your area. It’s a small community, so once you get into one event, you begin to hear about the other parties by word of mouth. Some parties are more elite and have a secret society-esque invite lists and such, but they are a small minority.

How are they kept safe?
“There is a basic screening process in place for most parties. You are usually required to submit a photo, provide identifying information and explain why you’re interested in going in advance. However, this community uses an honor system. You go in knowing there are risks involved. It is your responsibility to be safe and use personal discretion.

If you think about it, people run the same risks at a sex party as they do when they take home someone from the bar and have sex with them. Yet the former is seen as wading into a cesspool of STD’s and the latter is seen as ‘normal.’ Go figure. Condoms, paper towels, regular towels, wipes lube and anything one might need to do the deed are made readily available.”

What should one bring with them?
Some parties are BYOB so if you have a beverage of choice you’ll want to bring that along with you. A lot of parties are themed as well, so you’ll want to be sure you dress appropriately for the theme. Common themes are white parties where you dress all in white, Halloween parties, 80’s themes, etc. Like I said before, condoms, lube, towels are usually provided, but if there’s a special brand you like to use you’d want to bring that with you.

Due to hygienic safety reasons, no sex toys are made for public use at a party, so any toys you want to use would have to be brought along with you. However, most people just show up in costume with some booze. That’s all you really need!

What are the rules?
Most sex parties have a buddy system in place that says you come and leave with the person you came with. This keeps everyone on their best behavior. Single girls sometimes get a pass, but in most cases, no one attends sex parties alone. Aggressive cruising is also a big ‘no,no’ at sex parties. The term cruising is a lifestyle word that essentially means “flirting with a purpose,” with the purpose being hooking up with that person. Cruising is a part of the sex party culture and everyone accepts cruising. But when you aggressively cruise it can get you in trouble or even kicked out. If someone is not interested, then you move on. But if they decline your advances and you keep putting the pressure on, they can complain to the party directors and you’ll be kicked out in no time. That kind of attitude is not tolerated.

There’s also a very obvious 100% consent rule: do not touch or do anything to anyone without their express consent first. Violation of that would also get you kicked out. And it’s important to keep in mind that this party community is small. If you get kicked out of one party, word will spread and your chances of getting into other parties will go way down.

Finally, parties are not huge money-making industries. Most staff on hand are either volunteers or being paid very little. So if you attend, being nice, courteous, and cleaning up after yourself is paramount.

Who is the average attendee?
Some parties cater to very specific demographics like Latinas, all women groups and every imaginable group in between. The crowd varies by host but in many cases the middle class to upper class, elite couples dominate the sex party scene. But there are parties that are more focused like BBW parties, senior citizen parties, fetish/kink parties, gay parties, etc. The more niche you are, the smaller the parties get. The more generalized parties tend to be more well-attended.

How many people are usually in attendance?
The number of people that attend the parties totally varies the way it does any other party. Some sex parties have big, open layouts similar to a crowded rave and others are very dark and intimate with only a handful of people. Some people want big parties, some people want small parties. There’s something for everyone.

What are the protocols of dress?
You arrive to every party dressed. Some parties have designated rooms for sex that are away from the main mingling room. Sometimes, to enter these more private areas, you will be required to undress to get in. They do that to prevent gawkers just standing around with their clothes on as people are going at it. They figure that if you have to get naked, the more timid couples will stay out. I’m not a big fan of this set up, but some people really like it. I prefer the parties that are just one big open space and whatever happens happens. But I’ve never heard of a party where you couldn’t get in unless you immediately undressed. I don’t think a party like that would be successful.

What is the “buddy system” in play?
The buddy system is being adopted by a lot of parties because it helps keep people in check. Think about it. If you show up alone to a sex party and cause a ruckus or generally are an asshole and get kicked out, what do you care? You just go home and forget about it. But if you have a buddy, you inherently understand that they will be kicked out too, which puts you on your best behavior. So a lot of parties strictly enforce that you come into the party with your buddy and leave the party with your buddy. It’s a good way to self-police. It also makes it so your party is not unevenly attended by one gender, after all, no one wants a party with 25 guys and 2 girls.

What sort of places are they hosted at?
Loft spaces and large hotel suites are the de facto party space in any city. Some parties are so successful that they are able to rent out their own club that is specifically designed just for sex parties, but these are rare. When you’re throwing a party like this your options are limited as far as space rental goes, so you’ll take anything you can that will work. I’m attending a party this weekend that takes place in a space that is a martial arts dojo by day. It’s kind of funny.

Are there parties for various relationship types?
Every conceivable demographic has a party they can attend. Most parties are, as one would expect, geared towards heterosexual couples. But there are a lot more parties recently that have been throwing that setup out and being far more inclusive of alternative relationship structures. I think it’s great, it makes the parties more fun. But some people are more “conservative” (if that word even makes sense to use in this context) and are only comfortable at parties where there are men and women having heterosexual sex. And that’s cool, too. There are plenty of parties for those people.

What does your average sexual interaction at one of the parties look like?
The sky’s the limit. I’ve seen guys sitting on couches getting a blow-job from their wife for hours straight, and then leaving. I’ve seen girls getting railed by 6 guys at once. I’ve seen clusters of men and women tangled together in a giant orgy where you can’t even tell who’s doing who anymore. I’ve seen 5 girls go at it together while their husbands/boyfriends just sat and watched. Whatever you can imagine, I’ve seen it. But the most common situation one sees is two heterosexual couples having sex next to each other and then swapping partners. You see that at every party. It’s funny, when I first started going that was pretty mind-blowing, but now I’m just like, ‘That’s all you’ve got?’

Lastly, what are your top tips for a first-timer?
The number one tip for a newbie is to talk with your partner(s) about what is OK and not OK before the party even begins. Some people go into a party with an ‘anything goes’ attitude, which sounds fine when you’re sitting at home after a few glasses of wine, but when it’s actually party time and the reality of your partner being sexual with someone else sets in, all of a sudden things are different.

If you come up with some reasonable rules for your first time to slowly work your way into the party world you’ll be far better off. That being said, you should also go into the party with an open mind. If things naturally start to lead into a certain direction for you and your partner, then go with it. You want to avoid one partner feeling excited and the other partner feeling terrified. That’s when things get bad. Try to be on the same page beforehand.

ScottSexpressedScott Brown is an author and recognized sex guru who specializes in none other than sex, relationships and couple intimacy. Brown works with individuals on a range of relationship issues and keeps nothing off limits on his unconventional sex education site www.sexpressed.com.