This is just a sneak peek from Louise’s feature in SCENARIO 4:2015. If you are not a current subscriber to SCENARIO or a member of The Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, then subscribe or get in touch with us here.
Sex-positive parties are one out of a number of examples of eroticism becoming more and more prominent in society, and the sexual becoming an increasing part of our self-presentation and identity. Perhaps, after a period of neo-puritanism, we can even talk about a return of eroticism? We went to a sex club to take a closer look at the phenomenon sex parties & the return of eroticism.
Coattails cover naked buttocks. The host of the evening is surrounded by women in sparkling dresses and headgear with feathers, and men in suits and top hats. Many are wearing masks decorated with sequins and pearls or with distinctive features. Here are hoods, floor-length capes, and corsages. The host draws a slip from the bowl. Deliberately slowly, and with exaggerated gestures and a deep and sonorous voice, he reads aloud the wish that is written on the slip. The one whose wish has been drawn steps forward, and with her eyes bandaged, she yields to the touches of the men who gather around her.
I am at a sex party on a friday night in central Copenhagen. The scene could have taken place in many other cities, for the parties are a growing phenomenon in line with a general sexual openness. We look at naked breasts on busses and in fashion commercials. The international bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey has brought erotic literature into view and created debate. We share and act out our sexuality on the social media, and with the internet, porn has become much more accessible and visible than ever before. At the same time, we see reactions against this sexual liberation. Naked breasts are not allowed on facebook or iTunes, and people are offended when mothers breastfeed their babies in cafés.
I will take a closer look at the eroticism represented by sex parties. Are they an expression of a more general tendency in society? And can we talk about a return of eroticism after a period with more straight-laced, puritanical attitudes? To answer these questions, i have, in addition to visiting a sex party, spoken to some of the participants who will remain anonymous in this article. i have also spoken to the organisers of a couple of sex parties, and a sociologist and sex researcher who can put the phenomenon of sex-positive parties into a wider perspective.
hellfire Society, Manifest and Kinky Salon are all parties or clubs that organise parties where sex or eroticism is an explicit premise of the gathering.
Whereas hellfire Society is about playing with dominance and submission practiced between gentlemen, Roman slaves, libertines, or just people wearing masks, Kinky Salon is about exploring and being creative in a sexually open and playful community. Manifest is a club that organises fetish parties with rubber clothing and specially designed furniture for having sex.
The parties and the events are sex-positive. This means that they provide a framework for sexual experiences that do not necessarily include regular sex such as penetration and oral sex. Sex-positive parties are, above all, about eroticism; about feeling your sexuality, says “Peter”, who is the founder of the hellfire Society. “It is about establishing an atmosphere for the sexuality that people want to live out. We offer a mystical and cultish sexual atmosphere; deep eroticism rather than superficial shagging”.
The sex parties want to offer a setting that gets you in the mood; creating encounters through a number of activities from seduction games to regular sex, and where the participants engage in fetishes and kinks (activities that are experienced as erotic or sexual, ed.), power games and erotic role-playing games. As such, they are not identical to swinger clubs, which are about sex in a more traditional sense.