Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels
By Suzannah Weiss
Last summer, after my last relationship ended, a friend encouraged me to revel in my newfound freedom by going to sex parties. Yup, those are what they sound like — parties for sex.
But for me, they were much more than that. They were places for me to meet sex-positive people, overcome shame, and get to know my sexuality.
Over the course of the past year or so, I’ve attended upwards of a dozen sex parties, which put me on an emotional journey that ultimately increased my confidence, openness, and willingness to take risks.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way that have helped me progress in my sex life and my life overall.
1. Don’t low-ball yourself
During my first few sex parties, it would be an understatement to say I was awkward. The first time I approached someone I wanted to “play” with, as they call it, I told him “I kinda like you” then proceeded to hide my face in my hands.
I often didn’t approach people, or approached people I wasn’t even that into, because I was scared the people who really caught my eye were out of my league.
Surprisingly, I had a much higher success rate when I finally got up the nerve to approach people who actually interested me, probably because they sensed my genuine desire and I wasn’t so awkward (OK, I was still pretty awkward).
The more I did it, the less scary it got.
Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to communicate your desires. The more you try, the more your comfort level will increase, and so will your success rate.
2. Good sex is about respect, not relationship status
Before going to sex parties, I had a lot of hangups about casual sex.
In particular, I had this idea in my head that I shouldn’t fuck anyone unless we were in a relationship. It was admittedly an arbitrary rule: I’d do other things with people at sex parties, but not fuck them.
Then, around my 10th party, I met a guy who was really sweet and was putting a lot of effort into pleasuring me, and I decided to go for it — why not?
It turned out I actually felt more respected and had better sex with him than with some long-term partners of mine.
From then on, my standard changed from “are we dating” to “do they treat me with kindness and attend to my pleasure?”
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3. Sex toys are a great ice breaker and addition to play time
As you might imagine, getting turned on and having an orgasm is not always easy when you’re surrounded by a bunch of people. One trick I learned for that is pretty simple: to bring a vibrator to the club.
100% of the people I’ve introduced toys to have been happy to use them on me or watch me use them on myself, and this same trick comes in handy in any situation where my vulva may be a little shy, like with new partners.
I’d usually begin the conversation by asking a question like, “Have you ever used a Hitachi Magic Wand?” or “I have a vibrator in my purse, mind if I go get it?” That way, the conversation is about showing them a cool gadget, with no need to talk about my anxieties or insecurities.
4. Don’t knock things til you try them
In settings like sex parties, it’s important not to push yourself to do anything you’re not into. But sometimes, you don’t know if you’re into something until you actually try it.
For instance, I had no interest in spanking until a guy at a sex party asked if I wanted to be spanked, and I decided I’d might as well give it a shot. It turned out I loved the power play and the dirty talk that went along with it.
I also didn’t think I’d enjoy threesomes, but I surprised myself yet again when I accepted a couple’s invitation to accompany them to a private room.
If you feel comfortable and meet a person (or people) you trust to guide you into new territory, branching out can pay off.
5. It’s OK to ask for what you want in bed
When you're being intimate with someone you've just met, you have to be really vocal about what you like because they have no other way to know. That’s why, after a stranger offered to “worship my yoni” in front of several onlookers at a club in San Francisco, I ended up giving him highly specific fingering instructions: “firmer,” “to the left,” “wider circles,” etc.
Afterward, when I told him I’d felt a bit self-conscious about being so verbal, he replied, “No, you’re doing me a favor. Every woman’s different, so how else would I know?”
This validation gave me the courage to be just as communicative with all my partners. By teaching them how to please me, I realized I was helping them do what they wanted to do (worship my yoni), so everyone was winning.
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6. It’s OK to have whatever boundaries you have — and assert them.
Most of the sex parties I went to took place at sex clubs, which I usually found through people I knew, but I also found some through plain old googling.
In a world where women are already subjected to a lot of harassment and boundary violations outside explicitly sexual settings, it can be scary to throw yourself into a situation like that.
When you’re choosing a party, one way to get a sense of how you’ll be treated is to check whether they have policies set up around consent. For example, some clubs have applications where people have to answer questions around their understanding of consent, and some have online reporting systems for consent violations.
While you’re at a party, it’s OK to set whatever boundaries you have. I’ve told people, for example, that I just wanted to chat with them but wasn’t interested in playing with them.
I’ve been in a few situations where people tried to push my boundaries, and I spoke up. You should never feel bad about doing this — it’s the other person who should feel bad.
7. You miss out on a lot if you let rejection stop you
I have a lot of issues with body image, so approaching people at sex parties was nerve-wrecking for me. There were times I hesitated to say anything at all because I knew rejection would hit deep.
I did take rejections really personally at the beginning. I even asked a few people why they rejected me, desperate to hear that it wasn’t because they found me unattractive. It turned out they did have other reasons — like that they weren’t comfortable playing with anyone at the time — which helped me understand that rejection really isn’t always personal. But eventually, I just stopped asking, realizing it wasn’t fair of me to make anyone justify their sexual boundaries.
Even while I was terrified of getting turned down, I still asked, and I’m so glad I did. Some of my best sex party experiences came from pushing past shyness and telling people how I felt.
My all-time favorite sex party memory, for instance, was telling a couple I’d met right as the club was closing that I liked them so much I didn’t want to say goodbye to them. They ended up inviting me to hang out afterward, and we’re still good friends to this day.
When you’re debating whether to put yourself on the line like this, I always advocate for taking the chance. If it doesn’t work out, the sting of the rejection will pass, and if it does work out, it could become one of the most memorable experiences (and wildest stories) of your life. And that lesson applies far beyond the confines of sex clubs.
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