The first time I saw a dental dam was in eighth-grade health class. The second was at a sex party in New York City's Lower East Side.
I never thought I'd go to a sex party. Sex parties, to me, were the sort of in-real-life bacchanalia that you only see in porn. Not really my thing. I mean, I identify as a confident and fairly sexually adventurous woman, but I'm very tame in the sense that my preferences are strictly male and I'm partial to monogamy.
So, why did I go to an upscale, ladies-only play party last weekend?
Maybe it was the voyeur in me that agreed when the idea was sent my way, but the apparently feminist undertones of the company hosting it solidified my decision.
Touted as an "empowering female experience," the London-born Skirt Club was founded in 2014 to bring together "smart professional women looking for empowering exploration in a private, safe environment." I'm a smart professional woman, and I'm down with "empowered exploration." Why not give it a go?
The party started at 9 p.m. at a penthouse on a Saturday night. My friend Kristin, who I harangued into coming with me, and I showed up 20 minutes late. We didn't want to be the first ones there, forced to make small talk longer than absolutely necessary. When we got to the door, a beautiful English woman wearing a chain-adorned corset ushered us into the dimly-lit loft, which was decorated with rose petals and candles.
We were handed glasses of champagne and the first person I noticed was the bartender. She was wearing a bodysuit completely exposing her breasts, except for her nipples, which were covered in silver sequin pasties. Kristin and I explored the apartment, giggling as we noticed yet another bedroom, the hot tub, paddles, bed restraints and dental dams.
The first few hours were strictly mingling. Roughly 50 women, all between the ages of 21 and 49, sipped cocktails and chatted while two chocolatiers walked around passing sweets -- as well as pourable cocoa butter. All I could think was, "here we go."
I should probably note now that bringing a friend to a party like this isn’t something to be taken lightly. Why? Well, I think this text message sums it up:
About two hours into the affair, the chocolate tastings and general mingling wrapped up with the arrival of a burlesque dancer -- a lithe brunette with heavy eye makeup and a feather boa. At the end of her set, things began to move from observation to action. The dancer let someone lick chocolate off her barely-clothed body and afterward, two women wearing only black lingerie came into the room and invited us to take body shots off of them. We all took part. After all, I went to college. What’s a little sugar-licking off a stranger’s ass?
This led to a distinct shift in the mood of the room, leaving a lot of the women more emboldened to proposition one another than before. Two women began making out in the middle of the living room while others disappeared into various rooms. No doors were closed and anyone could enter and exit as they pleased.
Kristin and I set up camp in the upstairs bathroom. She drew a bath, got in, and I sat on the counter with my champagne. We stayed there for about 90 percent of the night, really only leaving to refresh our drinks or scope out what else was happening so we could report back to one another.
The bathroom became our living room, because virtually every other surface -- couch, counter, or bed -- was occupied. I didn't really want to interrupt a lot of the goings on in other rooms, and the transitory nature of the bathroom made it an extremely interesting place to be. Women would come in to use the restroom and stay to chat... or get in the separated shower for other activities.
While the bathtub did become a spot for sexual activity in the wee hours of the morning -- after we vacated -- for the majority of the night it functioned like a table we were all sitting around.
I wasn’t nervous to go to the party until earlier that day. A friend asked, “Wait, so it’s a sex party for straight girls to have sex with other straight girls?” I stuttered while trying to explain. Skirt Club founder Genevieve LeJeune positioned the event as a place where “straight girls experiment, and bi girls find a home where they can meet other bi girls.” That made sense to me until someone else said it out loud. My friend’s confusion became mine. I didn't quite understand why straight girls would want to hook up with other straight girls.
As the night progressed, the bubbles in Kristin’s bath got higher and higher and the sounds of moaning in the next room got louder and louder. Women started coming in and out of the bathroom – each time with less clothing on. My crop top survived for three hours, and my skirt only 30 minutes longer.
There wasn’t pressure to be naked, but when I had more than a bra and underwear on, other women assumed I was nervous to participate -- that I wanted to, but couldn’t find the courage. They asked me why I wasn't in my bra and panties -- or just plain naked -- to be inclusionary, not to criticize. This level of respect was consistent all night.
By the end of the night I barely noticed that everyone was in varying stages of undress. The nakedness became completely insignificant. I mean, when someone is being tied up with a red bungee cord and bent over in front of a large window, their nakedness seems not so noteworthy.
There’s a certain confidence that comes with stripping down to your skivvies when everyone else is next-to or entirely naked. I haven’t felt that confident about my nearly naked body probably ever.
This comfortable and freeing environment sort of justified the $180 per ticket price tag -- it’s fairly easy to let inhibition fall to the wayside when the conditions allow it. The ticket also bought the privacy of a luxury apartment and a mutual understanding of “anything goes” for all attendees. But it was also clear that Skirt Club caters to a very specific class of women. It's an empowering experience, but an "elite" one, only available to women who can afford it.
My only real critique of Skirt Club is the labels they use to market their events. LeJeune has insisted that her parties are not “lesbian sex parties,” but gatherings for “straight and bicurious women.” What I hadn't understood before the party, but now do, is that this distinction was made to be inclusive to women who might want to have sexual experiences with women but who don't necessarily define their identities as bisexual or lesbian. The intention seems to be inclusive, not alienating, but that supposed inclusivity doesn't come without its issues.
LeJeune has gone on record to say that queer women, specifically, "often find that they are not looking for what we offer" as a reason it's not marketed to them. But when I told a queer woman, who is a dear friend of mine, where I had gone the day after the party, her only response was: "Where was my invite?"
By night's end, the apartment had become a den of a thousand orgies. The large glass box of a shower had eight women in it at one point. The bathtub had six. The hot tub was littered with broken champagne glasses. On each bed, it wasn’t entirely possible to tell where one woman ended and another began. Kristin and I eventually went into a closet to discuss when we should leave, only to be interrupted by two women feverishly kissing, one pushing the other’s head down.
Ultimately, Skirt Club is excellent for women who want to push the envelope on their sexuality and are looking to experiment in a totally private, safe space. As a straight woman with a bit more insight into girl-on-girl sex than I had before, would I go to an all-female sex party again? Probably not. However, I would wholeheartedly encourage other woman to attend at least one in their lifetime.
Some adventures are just worth having, especially when clothing's optional.