When I first set out to write about swinging for an article about the lifestyle, the last thing I expected was to find myself nodding when a slim, curly-haired brunette asks if she may take off my panties. It’s a windy Friday night and I’m in a cozy, apartment-style swing club in Midtown Manhattan, my short, cherry-red dress folded down to my waist — all in the name of research, of course. The bartender, a curvy blonde, leans over to kiss me. My favorite black bra is on the floor. Still, I’m out-clothed only by the three men seated in chairs lined up against the walls of the tiny room, barely large enough to fit us all. Just an hour earlier, it was the smoking room, outfitted with an ashtray collecting cigarette butts next to a small television playing an ABC “20/20″ special on sexual offenders. The men, all uniformly dressed in slacks and button-downs, are quiet and make no attempts to join the three of us. It’s only when we’re interrupted by the swing club owner—”five minutes to closing,” he warns—that I notice a fourth man in the room, optimistically wearing only a condom on his penis, now half-heartedly erect.
Anywhere from 30 to 250 people, both singles and couples, can be found at swing clubs on any given night. I’m here on “Women Who Love C**k Night,” the one night a week that the club allows single, uncoupled men to attend.
One must be either penis-friendly or very assertive on such nights. Prior to finding myself entangled with these two women in front of a group of onlookers, I had spent most of my swinging evening as a broken record, repeating “thank you, no,” and “I’m just watching tonight” on a loop.
“Let me go down on you,” a tall, dark-haired single man in his 40s had pressed. “You won’t regret it.” I politely declined his advances, and his persistence annoyed me. I felt like a juicy rotisserie chicken in stilettos, spinning in a butcher-shop window: If I leaned too far into the playroom (a cozy bedroom equipped with two beds and a small cushioned viewing bench), strange male hands attached themselves to my body. Squeezed between two men in the foyer, just outside the small room where a couple sensually undressed each other, I felt a large hand on the small of my back. A different hand, belonging to the generous cunnilingus benefactor, rubbed my shoulders. I began to understand why most clubs only have one night a week, if any at all, that permit single men.
I started excusing myself to refill my drink, ducking through the crowd of men in various states of undress, to chat up the bartender. Our conversation got more flirtatious each time I returned. I wasn’t even aware I knew how to flirt with women—I’ve never had so much as a drunken girl-on-girl make-out session for the viewing pleasure of beer-guzzling frat guys. When I made my final journey to the bar, she was gone, and I followed the slack-jawed stares of the men in the room like breadcrumbs along the underground sex railroad. They lead me to the smoking room, where my new friend had made a new, now naked, friend of her own. When they spied me peeking from the doorway, they motioned me over to join them, waving me into the room like they were inviting me for tea. And just like that, I went from zero to threesome.
Forty minutes later, after gathering my undergarments and dictating my phone number to the brunette—she stores it under “NYC Swingers” in her contacts list—I make my way home.
I have yet to swing again, but if I do, I can probably get a group discount. Most of my friends have requested that I take them on a field trip to a swing club … just to watch, of course. Though, I’ll probably have to find a new partner once I’m there — I’m still waiting for the brunette to call.