New York is a kick ass city for dating. In my time here I’ve been on some pretty memorable dates: Chinese massages in the East Village, live music at 2 a.m. on the Lower East Side, sneaking onto Greenpoint warehouse roofs for private Manhattan views…oh, and a sex party. Yes, friends, in New York City, you can take your dates to a sex party.
Before you go off about “what kind of guy takes his date to a sex party,” or “what kind of girl would go on a date with a guy like that?” let’s get a dash of feminism in here– this was 100 percent my idea. I like sex parties. There, I said it. I’m not necessarily an expert on them (I have been to two, including this most recent one), but…I dig it.
I had my first sex party experience about a year ago, when I was doing some “research” on hidden NYC, and I’m going to be straight with you: I was freaking out. I’m not a prude — I enjoy the occasional naughty URL, and I have had sex more than once in my life (maaaabye twice) — so it’s not like I don’t know where everything goes. It’s just that, to be honest, no one has a cute sex face, so I’d like to limit the number of people who see mine at a given moment. But, I like trying new things, so try it I did, and guess what? Pretty epic. It was everything and nothing like I expected. So, naturally, I wanted to do it again.
Round Two called for something different. I wanted to find a party a bit more specific to my own personal interests as a 20-something female who tends to align with hipster culture (but please don’t call me a hipster). Fortunately there are multiple party options for public sexing in New York. This time the choice was Chemistry, but more on that in a bit.
The next step was to actually find a date. As a single woman it would have been totally fine for me to go solo (typically men are not allowed to apply to Chemistry as singles, but this changes on a case-by-case basis depending on the number of single women that are attending each event). Still, I thought it would be better to bring someone I was already comfortable with. Translation: Someone who had already seen my sex face and would be fine seeing it again.
Of my pages and pages of potential dates in my little black book (anyone buying that?), I had just the guy in mind. He’s from Europe (topless beaches? Amsterdam? Europeans are chill on sex), curious about New York, and, bonus, already familiar with my sex face. Score!
Our little adventure took us out to a secret location in Brooklyn, where Chemistry hosts its monthly parties. Chemistry’s motto is to create a space of “playful abandon, a celebration both cosmopolitan and bohemian.” So naturally, it has to be Brooklyn. The discreet space is splashed with dim, sexy lighting, while deep bass thumps in the background creating a relaxed, club-like atmosphere. Guests are invited to wander and discover the sexy secrets pocketed away. It’s like any other Brooklyn party scene. But…better.
This is not your 1970s swinger club where mustachioed gentlemen, bedazzled with gold chains, creep on or objectify women. Chemistry likens itself to more of a “sensual gala,” if you will. It’s not about being a freak, or having a bizarre fetish. It is a pressure-free zone. That said, like any other club, it has to appeal to you. Put a hipster at The Village Pourhouse on Super Bowl Sunday and they are bound to feel a little uncomfortable.
Attendees to Chemistry run the gamut from committed couples to friends to singles. The only requirement is that guests become members first. To do so, you just have to answer a few (confidential) questions to determine your outlook on sex and sexuality (nothing scary…questions include, “What is your philosophy on sex? What role does sexuality play in your life?” and “What is your favorite nonsexual hobby, past or present? Why?”) Chemistry strives to create a safe, nonjudgmental opportunity for people who want to change the way sex is perceived. Though Chemistry refuses to put an age limit on sexiness, typically attendees are in their 20s to mid-40s.
The party kicks off in an open, expansive area. This particular event began with a live band and a burlesque show to break the ice and get people in the mood. “Europe” and I made our way across the room to scope it out. People were busy chatting, sipping cocktails, and dancing to the music. The only thing that made it obviously erotic was the scantily clad woman that lay on a table in the center of the room, inviting guests to run their hands up and down her body. As sexy as it was, this may be for the more seasoned sex party veterans — I awkwardly gave her hand a pat.
Parties are always designed with a fun, sensual theme. This one was titled, “Chemistry: Spanksgiving — Black Leather & Lace.” Saucy! Though you don’t have to dress according to the theme (Europe rocked a Joy Division T-shirt with jeans), guests like to get in on the fun with lingerie and other obvious erotic couture. Chemistry events are BYOB, as well, though a bartender is on hand to offer up a menu of mixers. In keeping with the theme of “safe” and “comfortable,” taking this opportunity to get wasted is not a great idea. It’s kind of hard to get in the mood when your date is slurring and drooling all over you, or worse…can’t get it up.
When (if) the mood strikes, partiers are invited upstairs to the “play” area, an elevated space decked out with sensually decorated beds. The play area overlooks the floor of the main party, which gives you a sense of being private but still part of the fun downstairs. From there, it’s basically open to however you feel. Dates can remain monogamous, swap, or invite others in on the fun. Just remember to ask first. And respect that word “no.” Manners, people.
If you do bring a date to an erotic party it’s always a good idea to be on the same page to limit potential drama. Europe and I decided that we were open to “whatever.” Or, actually, he said that and I just agreed because I wanted to seem cool. Sex for me isn’t exactly a team sport. Fortunately, though we were approached by several other couples, we let them move on and kept it monogam-ish.
And then it’s fun to just get lost. The bass is thumping, your senses are heightened, and groups of couples are clamoring with sensual, lusty sounds. There is no judgment, and you can lose yourself in the energy and vibe of the atmosphere. I’m not saying we were upstairs for hours but…well…yeah, it was hours.
That all said, if the sexual vibe isn’t right for you, there’s still plenty to discover at Chemistry, because by no means are you required to participate, nor will you be labeled “uncool” if you don’t. After the live band, a DJ usually takes the stage to spin a sexy mix of house beats, so dancers often take to the floor. Massage therapists also set up shop for anyone who needs to relax (and no, it’s not one of those massages). Beyond that, the group has been well cultivated, so you are sure to have at least one interesting conversation.
Bottom line? It is probably exactly what you are picturing. It’s sex. Right there. Front and center. And if you can allow yourself to get into it, it’s incredibly sexy and cool. A space to explore your interests, no matter how off-center they may be? What’s more New York than that?
Look, if you’re going to date, chances are it will lead to sex eventually, right? I was just cutting to the chase. And hey, if you think that it wasn’t lady-like of me, or that Europe was not a gentleman, relax. He totally paid for dinner after.