Editor's note: Hump Day is The Daily Texan's weekly sex and sexuality column.
A Craigslist search for “swingers” in the Austin area yields results that range from “soft swinging,” “house parties,” “first time swingers” and a variety of types of couples looking to have some fun. Some listings are more explicit than others, but one thing is common in all of them — the couples are all looking to add other people to their sexual encounters.
Not to be confused with polyamory, which is when a person practices both sexual and emotional relationships with multiple people, swingers are usually couples looking to have sexual relations with other couples or with other single parties. Some couples will keep swinging with their same partners multiple times, while other couples will choose different partners each time they swing for different experiences.
The methods that couples use to find their other partners differs within swinging culture. Craigslist, although very direct, can be fruitless when people replying to listings may not may not be as be physically stunning as they advertised. A more personal and natural way of exploring swinging choices is to go to either a swingers club or a house party.
Clubs tend to be more open to new members, but house parties require an invitation. There are also membership fees for clubs and the atmosphere in clubs and house parties tend to differ.
“House parties [and clubs] are two different things altogether,” said Mark, manager of The Friends Club(NSFW 18+), a private, members-only swingers club in Austin. He declined to give his last name. “From the club scene, I think it's a good environment all around. It's not amazingly intense because the clubs in Austin, to my understanding, are all off-premise.”
“Off-premise” means that sexual activity is not allowed on the actual club property. Since swingers clubs tend be private, with annual memberships and more of a nightclub atmosphere, they are a often a better fit for beginning couples than on-premise house parties, where rooms are designated for sexual activity and swinging may be less discreet.
Although the setup of the swinger lifestyle makes it easier for newcomers to get involved and feel comfortable, some still aren't OK with the idea of letting in others.
“I would say no [to swinging] if I was in a serious relationship. To me, being in a sexual relationship is about a commitment between two people with no one else involved,” said psychology junior Sara Moses.
Still, others such as Austin resident Luis Ruiz keep an open mind and a curiosity toward swinging.
“It wouldn't matter to me. If [my girlfriend] wanted to try something new, I guess it would be a pretty cool thing to try out,” Ruiz said.
Swinging etiquette is almost identical to regular sexual etiquette in that partners value good hygiene, respect and the use of protection. The most important thing to keep in mind are the feelings of your partners and how responsive or unresponsive they can be to sexual advances. As far as other restrictions go, “rules” can vary from couple to couple.
“A lot of things are allowed, but nothing is required. The biggest things that you have to have in order to do this are communication and trust,” Mark said. “If you think you're doing something approved and it's not, that's not a good thing. This is not a way to save a relationship; it's a way to enhance it.“
Whatever your method may be to find swinging partners, whether it's a house party or searching for clubs online, be sure you and your partner are both comfortable with your choice. Most clubs have events every weekend, and when done right, swinging may be exactly the thing that can turn your sex life from frigid to molten hot.
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Printed on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 as: Trust, communication key in swing culture