Playing on the swing set


Swinger's clubs are one of those things you hear about in movies, but just never expect to run across.  As such, I put them in the same category as other mythical Hollywood creations like wookies or Keanu knowing how to use a computer.  I never thought I would find my way to one, but somehow I did.

A couple years ago a friend of mine was having a birthday party at a restaurant in his Dallas neighborhood.  At the time I was relying largely on an already-antiquated GPS to direct me there.  Well, it got me close, but we ended up in the empty parking lot of a business next door to our actual destination.  There was this old-looking wooden building with no windows and just a sign on the side with the name of the place [which I won't mention here].  We realized this wasn't the restaurant we were looking for, so we backed out and found our way to the actual place.

Over dinner we mentioned our detour next door.

"You mean the swinger's club?" one of the guests asked, amused.

Dani and I were both like, "The what?!"  I was trying to get my mind around this.  I wanted to know more, but no one in attendance had been there... or at least no one would admit to having done so.

We went bar hopping much of the rest of the night, though not to the swinger's club.  Around 1:30am we lost track of the rest of the gang, so I talked Dani into going since it was only a block away from the other clubs we had just been in.  We only got as far as the doorman.

I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans.  The guy about my age working the door was okay with letting me in like that, but an older guy, probably the owner, came in just as the first guy was getting ready to take our cover and pointed out that I didn't have a collared shirt on.  That was one of the multitude of rules they had posted on a sign by the door.

Quick moral of the story up to this point: You have to get dressed up if you're hoping to get naked with relative strangers.

We (okay, I) left feeling defeated and that we really really missed out on something new and different.  Some of you know how I am about exploring out-of-the-way places, how I'll obsess over finding out what's just up ahead.  By some definitions, that's exactly what this was: urban exploration.

That night when we returned home, I found the club's website, and they were really insistent on the collared shirts, etc. there as well   There's always MySpace if you want to meet swingers, but I wanted to see them in their natural habitat.  I wanted the safari experience of mingling in the same space, not merely looking at them on the other side of the screen like a trip to the zoo.  The closest we had managed at that point was to see a few patrons in the parking lot on their way in, but since it was so late by the time we arrived that night, there wasn't much traffic.

We joked about going back to the club every time we were in the area, but a couple years went by without us ever having made a return trip.

One night a few months back, Dani and I were in Dallas to see a friend's band play, but they were done by 12:30 and left the bar themselves soon thereafter.  We didn't really care to hear too many more bands by that point, so we were at a loss for something to do on a Friday night.  "How about the swinger's club," I suggested to Dani.  Apparently the couple beers I had bought her earlier had kicked in and she said, "Sure.  What the hell."

I happened to have on a collared shirt this time for some reason.  Dani should have known better than to tell me what to wear that night.

We made it over to the club late in the evening once again.  It was around 12:45 or so when we got there, so the guy working the door just waved the cover.  You can join as a "member" of the club for an annual fee (I forgot the price), but we were only going route of the "single-night membership."  We signed statements avowing that we were neither cops nor journalists.  I knew from reading about the place that this club in particular had previously had dealings with both parties in that order, with the latter following up on the intrusions of the former that had disrupted the perceived privacy and safety of the scene some years ago.

Once Dani and I were inside the place, we found additional reasons why they didn't bother to charge the "new blood" to come in.  For one thing, there weren't a lot of people on the premises.  Further boosting our near-VIP status was our relatively young age.  Whereas at 33, I normally feel like I'm among the oldest in the room at most bars, here the crowd looked to be in their late 30s on into their 50s.  We went over to the bar and I bought a couple Cokes for Dani and me, then we picked a booth and sat back and people-watched.

Apparently Saturday nights are the better option to see a lot of action.  This Friday night was fairly thin, but having a smaller crowd gave us more of a chance to concentrate on just following the few people who were there.  The low numbers actually made it somewhat easier to keep track of the cards with only a small deck in play.

There was one table in the middle of the place with two couples who seemed to know one another, most likely in the biblical sense as well, but they didn't mingle with anyone else there.  They seemed almost to be detached from the rest of the patrons and left shortly after we arrived, though we couldn't find any reason to take offense.

Two or three other couples were near the bar and/or playing pool in the corner where there were a couple of tables.  I would like to say they were playing to see who hooked up with whom, but unfortunately no one did anything to support that fiction or just about any other I was composing in my head while we were there.

Besides us, there was another couple, a guy in his late forties and a thirtyish woman. They went off by themselves toward the back of the bar opposite almost everyone else there, and didn't really mix with anyone.  I tried to talk Dani into going with me to talk to them, but she chickened and held our position at the thirty yard line.

From there we were privy to the real show of the night.  In the middle of the bar was an open area that served as a dance floor.  There was a fortyish black guy who almost certainly was celebrating his release from the suspended animation capsule he had been encased in since the late 1970s.  He was doing some dirty dancing with his girlfriend.  Actually, she was doing most of the dancing by grinding up against him while he grinned and smoked a cigar.  Soon a couple of the other women from by the pool table came over and joined in dancing, though not really with the guy, even doing a conga line of three girls.  It wasn't anything over the top, but it was more than you would see at a Baptist wedding reception, certainly.

Once the dancing got going pretty good, one of the bartenders joined in, a very heavy blonde woman in her thirties.  This was when the clothes started coming off.  She took off her shirt and was dancing around in a bra that almost certainly had to have been featured one of those Discovery Channel shows with a title like "Engineering Marvels" or something.  She was huge pretty much everywhere.  I can say that without any qualifiers since we saw pretty much the everywhere when her shorts came off and she continued dancing with the rest of them in a thong.  Either this spectacle or the fact that their wives were already on the dance floor brought a couple of the other guys over from the pool tables.  Admittedly, they couldn't dance, but they played along.

It was like stand-up comedy without words.  Dani wanted to leave at one point because we were laughing pretty hard when the dancing was getting going, and it was getting really obvious that we were laughing at the people on the dance floor.  Honestly, I was laughing more at Dani than at the patrons.  And this was just a typical night, apparently.  According to the fliers on tables around the club, including ours, there was to be a "sexy dance contest" in three weeks from then.  I definitely wanted to check this out.  If the casual dancing was this wild, I couldn't imagine what we might find on a special event.

It was a funny scene, but at the same time, I thought it was nice that they had a place to cut loose without people judging them... except for the two of us.  A few years ago Dani and I went to a strip club for a friend's bachelor party.  I had never been to one before, and neither had most of us who were there with the bachelor.  Most of us had gone to dinner together before arriving and admitted that we were kind of nervous and not sure what to expect other than scenes from tv cop dramas, but in addition to the obvious enticement of naked women, the evening itself turned out to be surprisingly fun and not the least bit awkward.  I loved the fact that the strip club was a place where sexuality was thrown up so unapologetically in your face that you were desensitized about it by the end of the night.  People were completely un-selfconscious (especially the dancers, obviously), and for the most part that same attitude was what we found at the swinger's club.

As far as I'm concerned, it's great that these places exist, even though they aren't really my thing.  I haven't been back to either a strip club or the swingers club, but I would never rule out a return eventually.  I appreciated that it was sort of a mini convention for a group with a common interest.  I've been in comic book stores and run across the hardcore role-playing gamers sitting around the tables in the back.  They seem so out of touch that they likely don't have a broad circle of friends, just people who make fun of them for being different.  But the comic book store was a place where they had one another and got to live out their fantasies to some extent.  At least with the swinger's club it didn't require much imagination to empathize with the basis for the fantasy.

After maybe forty-five minutes or so of people-watching that night, we got up and wandered around a bit.  I talked to the bartender at the other end of the place.  She was more my type, although I don't know if the help is normally encouraged to or prohibited from flirting with customers.  She was in her early forties and was fairly small, maybe 5'2" or a little better and thin.  Whereas most of the patrons were dressed in causal but nice clothes, she was wearing a white see-through shirt made of some semi-transparent mesh material with nothing else underneath.

I asked general questions about the club, and I'm sure I must have come off like a vice cop considering neither Dani nor I were drinking or mingling in a club where the purpose is expressly to meet other people.  We talked to her quite a bit, but it was getting late and people were leaving with almost no new ones coming in.  It looked like we were down to the leftovers who didn't get picked for a team that night, so we left well before last call.  Yes, on our own.  Just the two of us.  Seriously.

I definitely want to go back and see what it's like on a night with heavier traffic.  I want to actually talk to actual swingers in their actual, real-life environment next time.  If I'm going to be scientific about it, maybe I could have a lab setting by opening up my own club.  I've already got the name picked out: Multiple Choice.



Copywrite 2007 Alexplorer.
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