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What happens inside lesbian sex clubs?

They're back, and they're lezbelicious. MEL STEEL reports on the growing lady-loving sex party scene

Mel Steel

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 16:39:26 GMT | Updated 5 years today

Hands up everyone who's been to a lesbian sex party. Keep 'em still while I count. That's a few more than I'd expected, but still not many of you, considering we're one of the few minority communities to be defined entirely by our sexual preferences. Ok, hands up everyone who's ever fantasised about going to a lesbian sex party. Aha. There you are. Right then; pay attention, dreamers. This may be of some interest.

Sex parties, play parties, call them what you will - they're back, they're busy, and they're lezbelicious. For years it seemed like it was the straight swingers and the gay backroom boys who got to enjoy all the fetish fun and sauna sleaze, while we lady-lovers just got to be really good at pool and salsa dancing. Throughout the 90s, while stories about the fabulous sex-positive dyke scenes in San Francisco and New York filtered back across the Atlantic, with the exception of a very small scene of urban sex sophisticates, we Brits tried but mostly failed to live up to the expectations of our own sexual fantasies. Even when the odd enlightened lesbian entrepreneur made a stab at opening a club with a cruisy vibe and the promise of hot girl-on-girl action, it felt like more of us were up for standing around a bit awkwardly in our stiff leathers rather than actually getting on with getting it on.

'J' has been to just three parties in the UK over the last 18 years. Now 38, she's a femme with plenty of curiosity but limited experience of playing in public - largely because her first experiences were less than inspiring. The first time she went to a club, full of anticipation: 'It was horrible. It was a downstairs room in a pub, which was cold, dirty and concrete, and it smelled of wee. There was a sling, and I think there might have been a cross on the wall, but there was no-one down there. All the dykes were upstairs in the bar in their leather chaps, wandering about a bit self-consciously and not really looking at each other.'

Somewhat disillusioned, even after a slightly less grim second outing, J says she'd reached a conclusion; 'Maybe we just weren't very good at this. Maybe the Americans could do it, but for some reason we couldn't. Or maybe there was lots of play happening in private or at parties I just didn't know about and wasn't invited to.'

Indeed. Who knows? I wasn't invited to them either, although I certainly fantasised plenty about what might happen if (heaven forfend) I were. But fast-forward to 2006, and there are no more excuses for not finding out. Lash for Lasses in Manchester, Klub Fukk in London, Steamy in Brighton, and now Purrr - a girl might suddenly find herself quite overwhelmed with possibilities.


So where to go? And what happens when you get there? Well, it really depends what's your cup of tea. First of all, let's get some things straight. In the eyes of the law, and certainly as far as licensed premises go, there's no such thing as a sex party or sex club. Sex in public is against the law - although you can do what you like (up to a point) in the confines of your own or someone else's home, or in a private members' club. Technically, and somewhat bizarrely, this means that although it's perfectly legal to get spanked or flogged in public while strapped to a cross, if you want sex afterwards you'll have to go home to do it. So the public clubs and parties we're talking about here aren't sex clubs per se. What they offer is fetish-play in a sexy play space - and a host of ways to indulge your imagination and creativity with like-minded women.

Rosie Lugosi is the organiser of Lash for Lasses in Manchester. Advertised as a fetish SM club for adventurous women, it's been running for six years now, although it's had to change venue several times in order to survive. 'It's hard running a women's fetish night,' says Rosie. 'It's hard finding a venue. One place we were in closed down, another caught fire, and in another we were asked to leave after just one night. We don't make money - in fact we lose on it, and subsidise it from our mixed nights. We do it out of love!'

Despite the fetish SM label, the club appeals to a wide range of women. 'I'd say about 50% are hardcore BDSM dykes and about 50% are Goths, performers, exhibitionists and people who just like getting dressed up,' says Rosie. 'It's a very safe, inventive and creative space. We try not to be up our own arses. We're open to all ages, sizes, body shapes, colours and abilities. We've had women come dressed up as evil rabbits and as fairies of the dawn! We get lots of newbies, and make sure they get looked after by our dungeon mistresses.'

Klub Fukk in London is a more recent venture with a slightly different vibe. Organiser Ingo, who's also behind the hugely successful Club Wotever, set up the space in the London gay men's bar Central Station in October 2004 'to have a queer play space where people could cruise and flirt and weren't scared of sex, and where it wasn't just all about what you wore. There's no control here over your sex/ gender/ sexuality, and there's no dress code: you can wear whatever you feel comfortable in. I don't like leather - but I really like sports gear.'

Fukk has an open mixed policy, but is run by and mainly for women and trans/ intersex people. 'It's very polysexual,' says Ingo, who identifies him/ herself (she likes to use both) as transgendered queer. 'I'd say it's important not to have any preconceptions about what to expect between someone's legs when you approach them. Basically, what happens here is very much up to the people involved: it's kind of DIY but with respect, humour, playfulness and lots of talking. People say they feel very safe and welcome. It's very friendly. It's also clean and warm, and it smells nice!'

The latest addition to the scene, Purrr, is a newly-launched women-only fetish club in North London run by the splendidly-named Mistress Vamp, an experienced, welcoming party hostess and dom, who's also a mean cook (she knows how to throw a party, girls, and makes those chocolate truffles herself). She says that after years of playing on the straight and mixed scene she wanted a space where women could feel comfortable enough to play and explore without having to worry about being interrupted by men. And judging by the reaction to the launch party in March, she's succeeded.

Purrr has certainly restored J's faith in her fantasies. 'It's the first time my expectations about what a party could be like have been fulfilled,' she says. 'I went on my own, and had the most amazing time. It was much nicer, dirtier, sexier and much more friendly than I expected. There were some very powerful scenes I felt privileged to watch, and there was lots of fun stuff happening too. There were leather butches, girls in fantastic lingerie, and a fetish Alice in Wonderland. There was a huge variety of body types. The chocolates were just gorgeous. I didn't really expect to play - but I did!'

How to organise your own sex party

Create an atmosphere: use lighting and music.
Make sure the space is clean and comfortable.
Have somewhere for people to get changed.
Have hostesses to show people around and explain the rules and equipment.
Follow a clear etiquette: don't interrupt when other people are playing, don't touch other people's toys or equipment, don't try to play with someone else if you haven't been invited to, and don't let people play under the influence of drink or drugs. You can't consent if you're not sober.
Organise a sexy performance, like a striptease.
Play porn flicks or have some sexy mags and pics around the place.
Make sure there's plenty of lube, condoms, gloves etc.
Have more experienced players there early to act as social butterflies and get the play started.
Have some nibbles available for when the energy dips.
Use the internet (websites & message boards) to reassure nervous newcomers, get advice from more experienced players, or meet up to plan scenes or outfits in advance.
After a party: check in with the person or people you've played with to make sure they're ok.
Make sure everyone is over 16 years old
Be creative, be safe and have fun.



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