Supposedly more glamorous than sleazy, sex parties are now springing up all over the UK. But what really happens at one? One very nervous writer and her husband booked a babysitter and took the plunge
As we reported in June this year, sex parties have become not just accepted but commonplace in some circles. They hit the headlines again later that month when it was revealed that taxpayers had become shareholders in Killing Kittens, a big-name sex-party organiser, as part of a government rescue funding scheme set up during the pandemic. However, most of us would still be terrified at the prospect of actually going to one. So what’s it like? An intrepid 38-year-old writer reports…
I’m sitting in a Jacuzzi, while a woman next to me in a bikini gets spanked by a man with a paddle. On a nearby sofa, two women and a man are having sex in various forms. I start kissing my husband Paul, while a man I’ve never met stares at us intently. It’s quite a change of scene from where I was just a few hours earlier – singing nursery rhymes with my two-year-old daughter, cutting grapes in half and playing peek-a-boo.
When I had my daughter in 2020, I knew life would change, but I was unprepared for how differently I’d feel about my body. I didn’t feel confident or sexy. Mentally I was exhausted and preoccupied with baby stuff.
When Paul and I made love, it didn’t feel the same. Things I used to find a turn-on now felt annoying and onerous. I knew it wasn’t uncommon for people’s sex lives to dwindle when they became parents – I know friends and colleagues going through menopause who are experiencing a similar thing – but it was still hard to accept.
When I first met Paul in 2015, sex was passionate, intense and a big part of our attraction to each other. This felt like a big loss and I knew I needed something to jolt us out of our routine.
One evening, after my daughter went to bed, I booked us tickets to a Killing Kittens party [killingkittens.com]. I’d read an interview with the founder Emma Sayle, who was a school friend of the Duchess of Cambridge, and I liked the fact that the parties are female-focused (men can only attend with a woman and women must instigate any contact). It seemed like a safe and ‘light’ introduction into the sex-party scene.
I bought some black satin Agent Provocateur underwear along with a black lace mask, wrapped them up and gave them to Paul for his 40th birthday, along with two ‘tickets’ I’d mocked up. He was surprised but excited, and in the months leading up to the party our sex life got better and better as we talked about our fantasies for what might happen. We imagined what it would be like to have people watch us, and what we’d do if another woman joined us.
I had to upload photos of us to buy tickets and they weren’t cheap (£75 each), but I felt a thrill when I got the email saying that we’d been approved. The vetting process was quite extensive – we had to fill out a contract agreeing to various conditions of membership, such as no photography or men making the first move.
I prepared more carefully for my first sex party than I had for my wedding day. I was nervous that all the other women would be model-esque and I’d look like a frumpy mum, so I had everything waxed, I got my hair done, I stepped up my yoga and pilates routines. Paul was self-conscious about his ‘dad bod’, and he stopped drinking beer and went to the gym, which made me fancy him more.
When the big night rolled around I had the queasy feeling you get when you’re excited and scared. I spent the day doing my usual mum duties with a tingle of anticipation. We told our nanny we were going to a 40th birthday party, and I booked a hotel so we could make a night of it. It was the first evening we’d spent away from our daughter so that felt momentous in itself.
The dress code for the party was ‘cocktail dresses, suits and masks’. I wore a long black dress over my Agent Provocateur underwear and Paul wore a black linen suit. The venue was a secret Central London location, texted to us on the evening of the party. We had dinner at our hotel ‒ I drank a lot of wine for dutch courage ‒ and we took a taxi to the address.
I confess I was initially deflated when the venue turned out to be a sauna. I’d been entertaining visions of the film Eyes Wide Shut ‒ a grand ballroom and an orchestra. This was more a dark and dingy basement club.
But once I’d readjusted my expectations, I realised the space was intriguing: cavernous with a room for mingling, lots of velvet and leather sofas and a bar. There were also smaller rooms for intimate encounters, plus a sauna and a Jacuzzi. Hosts handed out champagne, and it was a real mix of ages and body types. I noticed a very elegant woman in her 50s wearing high Louboutins, and a young surgically enhanced trio who wouldn’t have looked out of place on Love Island.
There were around 60 guests ranging from nervous-looking couples who kept their black tie on the whole evening, alongside hardcore regulars who had already stripped down to harnesses and corsets before I’d even finished my first glass of fizz.
At the start it felt comical ‒ making small talk with another couple about their train journey, while trying not to look at their bondage gear. Paul and I kept whispering and nudging each other as we walked from room to room, where it felt like a live-action porn film was being enacted for our benefit. It was fascinating, sexy and strange in equal measure.
A few drinks later, I decided we needed to throw ourselves into it. I took off my dress, we got into the Jacuzzi (I tried not to think about the germs) and started kissing. It wasn’t long before we were having sex, and I found it a turn-on that people were coming to look at us. It was surreal how quickly it felt normal to have sex in front of strangers, and to watch them as well. What had at first felt shocking soon felt deeply unremarkable.
After about four hours of exploring different rooms and watching people, I started to feel tired, my tight underwear digging in and my heels ‒ which I hadn’t worn in years ‒ killing my feet. We stumbled back to our hotel room, had sex again and woke up feeling hungover but more connected as a couple than we had in a long time.
Now, sex parties have become a twice-yearly fixture, breaking up the monotony of life and work, kind of like a holiday. At a party I can be more like my old self. We chat to other people – and watch them ‒ but mainly it’s about each other.
At a recent night, I kissed a woman in front of Paul and I know that’s something we’d like to explore more. I’m intrigued by the idea of inviting a stranger to play with us, although I can’t ever imagine having an open marriage (I’d get too jealous).
Sex parties make it easier to get into that frame of mind at home too. since we started going, we’ve been having sex in the shower, in the kitchen, in the garden. It’s like it’s unlocked that more adventurous side of us.
Recently, a friend with two children confessed she hadn’t had sex with her husband for six months and that they’d lost the spark. She wondered if they should have couples therapy, but I told her to try a sex party instead ‒ it’s cheaper and a lot more fun. She was surprised and I think a bit jealous when I told her that Paul and I go.
It’s not what you’d expect if you met us in the playground, but that’s precisely why we love it.