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So, I went to a sex party. I did this on behalf of the Passionfruit Tribe (thank you Passionfruit!) in search for something a bit more sensual… (taking one for the team, so to speak).
’Curiosity’ is the name of the party. It is run by workshop organisers ‘Curious Creatures’ out of a venue in Brunswick. It describes itself as:
‘a very unusual exploration of sexuality, self-development, and liberation... an experiment in community and self-development that uses sexuality as a starting point.’
It sounds like an orgy with a personality and a degree. I’m nervous, but, as the label advises, curious…
‘Curiosity’ is divided into three parts. Firstly, a pre-party consent workshop from 1pm to 6pm. This is compulsory to attend the party. Then the party itself from 8pm - Midnight. Finally, a debrief and integration session on Sunday, 11am - 2pm.
Note : they refund you for the party portion if you do the workshop and realise this isn’t for you. #ethical-orgy
PART ONE : THE CONSENT WORKSHOP
Well I was freaking nervous as I walked up to the venue (very non-descript from the outside on a quiet road off Lygon Street). My brain was spouting all the orgy stereotypes: ‘This will be so tacky... get ready for leather-clad older swingers and shower-averse hippies’ with a smattering of my own insecurities: ‘everyone will be so much more sexual and attractive than you… no one will want you… you’re going to look so out of place’.
Am I about to walk onto the set for Caligula…?
A lot of my myths were smashed by first impressions alone. Comfy cushions on the floor (as well as chairs for those that prefer them), bare walls, it has a yoga studio meets minimal living room vibe. And then there were the people attending (about 30 of them). It looked like the number 9 tram diverted and plopped a carriage of folks into the space; all body types, hair styles, clothes styles and ages (over 18 only of course). It did skew towards an older crowd, probably late-40s as an average age. A cross section of Melbourne and everyone looked, well, ‘normal’.
We started with conversation exercises in groups, asking each other why we were there, and if we were worried about feeling unwelcome in any way. It became clear we all had our own hangups and shame we were grappling with. We all had stories around why we would be unwelcome or invisible in a sexual space. Generally it felt like we were all there for similar reasons around two themes : permission to feel ok about sexy stuff, and to learn something new about ourselves.
Then we moved on to partnered exercises. Nothing sexual happens in the workshop. Instead the partner-based exercises are to learn consent through simple touch and employing the traffic light system : Green (keep going), Orange (change to something else), Red (stop everything). For example, asking your partner if you can hold their hand : if they say Green you hold it, Orange you would see if they wanted a shoulder massage instead, Red you stop everything and thank your partner for calling Red.
These exercises were more powerful than I thought they would be for two reasons. I loved having someone enthusiastically Thank me for saying No to something I didn’t want. I feel pretty strong around my boundaries and consent in sexual situations however there is often a nagging feeling that ‘thanks but no thanks’ will be met with a sulk or an inquisition. The touch-based exercises also got me thinking about the simplicity of nice touch on other parts of the body away from Genital Central. It feels like the workshop is designed like a dojo gym for consent and to move us past the idea of ‘sex’ being ‘genitals’.
It was a long workshop but also well facilitated so there was never a break too far away and a good mix of sitting versus moving about exercises.
Loved most :
- The Consent Cards : A wallet-sized card with a series of questions to get you and your partner talking about the kind of experience you actually want to have together, sexual or otherwise (Do we want to dance? Do we want massage? Do you like your arms being squeezed?). It’s like foreplay to foreplay, or consent porn. Once you’ve gone through these questions with a partner you can’t help but feel very excited and relaxed - you are on totally the same page. (Luckily I was paired with someone for this exercise who I had a lot of connection with and this game was like pouring gasoline on that initial spark!)
- Always, always thank people when they say No. I want to make sure I go forward treating people like this in any situation. It removes your ego from the equation and gives the person holding up their boundaries a huge sense of relief and trust.
- Even if you have no intention of going to a sex party, get a hold of the consent card and use it with a partner to instantly upgrade your sexual experiences.
If you would like one of the consent cards and to discover new sexuality events in Melbourne, please sign up here (we will keep your Consent Card behind the counter for you).
PART TWO : THE PARTY
After the workshop I felt a bit drained, it is a lot of information to take in at once, so I had a quick light dinner (a strategic salad) and grabbed my pre-arranged ‘sex party outfit’.
I felt the nerves once again approaching the venue, but ‘excited-nerves’ this time. It was easy to talk to people in the queue about these feelings. Everyone was a first timer at some point. There’s a room for getting changed and it struck me how many more people there were than I imagined. There’s about 80 people at the party and a real sense of community. Some people here have clearly felt at home in the space for years.
We gathered in the largest room where we’d had the workshop earlier. In an impressive turn-around the space was softly lit with more cushions than before and also, 100% more sex furniture and equipment. Every corner seemed to have an interesting something going on, it felt a bit like walking through an art exhibition titled ‘what even IS sex?’.
Roger (the main facilitator and driving force behind Curious Creatures) welcomed everyone to the space and pointed out Emotional Support crew for the night, two people with counselling backgrounds there to offer a chat, or answer any of your questions about the interesting furniture and activities around the place - the sex party fairy Godmothers.
And so it began…
My biggest misconception about the party was that it would be a whole load of fucking, like a big Roman orgy. There is every single sexual - and gender - expression under the sun in this space : lots of kink, threesomes, foursomes, a guy in a cage, floggings, spanking, there was even a Sybian for riding (imagine a lawn mower vibrator that you sit on), and yes, good old fashioned fucking, but that felt like just one bit of the buffet rather than the baseline. I started the night with some incredible open conversations with people about sexuality in general…… and then stumbled upon my consent-card partner from the earlier workshop. And by encounter, I mean Sexual Awakening. We agreed to not do anything with our genitals and just played with touching, breathing deeply, and kissing softly. My whole body was lit up like a Christmas tree. I got completely lost in a time warp with no sense of ‘rushing towards a goal’. It became a game in making every touch even more pleasurable, slow and playful.
I also had another misconception smashed during the night, the fear of the ‘creepy dudes’. There were clearly some guys who came alone in search for fun and play. But the workshop pointed out that this can be another type of sexual stigma to carry around, men worry about being seen as creepy perhaps as much as I worry about being creeped on. In the end I felt very sure of my ability to consent and that my ‘thanks but no thanks’ would be thanked back, so it wasn’t a problem.
The experience in true X-Rated Cinderella style ends at midnight. I emerged from my time warp shocked that the sensual touch paradise I was dissolved in had gone on for 2 hours! They lit up the room, pumped out some 80s music and everyone danced together to signify the end to the magic. Yes, the orgy finishes as a dance party. This is one well designed event by any standards.
Loved most :
- The Museum of Sexual Possibility : the sheer variety of sexual acts on display makes the idea of ‘sex’ now much more fun, playful and creative. You see some intense stuff (depending on your version of ‘intense’) but it’s all consensual and clearly fun for the people involved. A memorable cry out of ‘GRREEEEN’ that I heard during a genital-cropping scene sums it up nicely.
- The Safety. At no point did I feel unsafe or vulnerable. Amusingly, I felt safer here than at house parties and clubs where I am way more clothed! This is in large part to the culture of consent the space is built on, plus the extra (consensual) touches like the emotional support crew.
- Weirdly, there was no feeling of obligation to have sex at the sex party. I could easily and happily have spent the night voyeuring different sexual ‘scenes’ (a kink lingo word I learnt to mean an intentionally thought out sexual/sensual experience).
PART THREE : ‘INTEGRATION’
At 11am the next day, we gathered back in the space (all the cock rings and cobwebs swept away from the night before). We split into groups of three and asked each other questions like “what did you most enjoy/find easiest about the experience? How did you feel you conducted yourself last night?’. This experience is as much a lesson in empathic listening, self-development and ‘skipping the small talk’ as much as it is about having a nice slap and a tickle.
The rest of the time was spent as a big group sharing stories and reflections on the night. They also asked for feedback about the event for general improvements. One piece of feedback I would agree with was to set up the workshop to prepare you better for the ‘intensity’ of the party. The workshop I would recommend for anybody, it's all about sensuality and touch-based. The party is a Level 5 to that Level 1 in terms of the intensity of some acts (which of course you do not feel pressure to partake in and I found fascinating to observe. But it would have been good to have a heads up that you will see some eye-popping stuff! To emphasise again, these are all consensual, and hey- each to their own).
Loved Most :
- There is a real sense of community and people are very respectful of each other. It is relieving to hear someone feels the same way as you do when we live in a world where what what we really think and feel during sex is rarely discussed.
- My Type A personality really enjoyed getting the chance to debrief and hear what other people learnt and experienced. People voiced their experiences around shame, discomfort, dealing with rejection, dealing with the drops that can follow after having such an intensely pleasurable time. There's a lot for the life long learners here.
- People who are nuts about self-development. The workshop and integration are perfect for reflectors. Even if you go to the party and do nothing but observe you leave with a fresh new perspective on sex.
- Couples who want to break their sex routine.
- People who know they have a pervy/slutty/kinky/sensual side to explore but are feeling nervous about attending a sex party for the first time.
- People who want to try out a sex party alone but are nervous about creepy dudes or safety. Consent is the philosophy and language of the space, so that despite having some 800 people involved over the last three years, people’s behaviour has been near to impeccable.
- People worrying that they are too ‘old’ to go to a play party.
This experience would not suit :
- People working through big hang-ups around sex, the workshop alone would be perfect if you know you’re carrying around a lot of narratives, bad experiences, cultural baggage to do with sexuality but the play space felt like a Level 5 in terms of visual intensity compared to the Level 1 touch’n’consent workshop.
- People who do not want to be in a space with an older sexual crowd. There is diversity here but under 30s are the minority of attendees. There are a lot of regulars who are over 40, embracing and loving their sexuality. I personally wasn’t put off by this and didn’t feel the space wasn’t appropriate for me because of it, but if you know that would affect you then give this one a miss.
Those feeling nervous about sexuality might find some of the differences challenging but that can be rewarding to think about afterwards, and the integration section is there to help you process that. Otherwise attending the workshop alone is rewarding in itself. ‘Curiosity’ is definitely spot on branding for this event.
The next Curiosity Consent Workshop is on January 7th. The next Curiosity ‘Full Experience’ (workshop, party and integration) is on February 10th.