What’s a Play Party?
Let me start by saying Play Parties come in many different flavors. I consider a Play Party to be one hosted by sacred intimates or sex-positive leaders, who bring together a like-minded group of people for pleasurable and sensual exploration. While the exact nature of them will greatly depend upon the facilitators that run it, there are some characteristics that set them apart. Usually, there are icebreaker games or exercises, names are exchanged, conversation and socialization are not only encouraged, but structured to ensure a safe environment of sharing.
Play Parties usually can be attended by singles or couples. You need to read the description of a play party to discover if they are open to all gender presentations and sexual orientations.
What a Play Party Isn’t
A Play Party isn’t an orgy or a swinger’s sex party. These types of gatherings are similar to Play Parties, in that they all encourage sexual expression. But usually those attending are there for sexual release and pleasure and seldom have any agenda beyond the physical. While they can be great fun if you have the right mindset and are with the right people, if you are looking to make friends and meet potential lovers, you may be disappointed.
Swingers Sex Parties are more couple oriented. Often one is not invited unless part of a couple, though exceptions tend to be made for single women. Most of the swinger “permissive” parties I’ve seen tend to be heteronormative (i.e. mostly straight couples with the typical male fantasy of bi-sexual women thrown in). Again like orgies, the nuances of these are dictated by those that host them.
What Happens at a Play Party?
People are encouraged to engage in whatever pleases them in a safe, sane and consensual way. There is space for sensual relating, and sexual contact with one or many. Invitations are made, accepted or rejected.
I’d like to address the specific parties facilitated by Pleasure Evolution. For my part, I truly love hosting these parties. Nothing excites me more than waking people up and nudging them towards their true selves. When new and shy people that have a strong drive to explore their desires come to our party, they can undergo an amazing transformation. Words fall far short of the experience, as anyone who has had an epiphany or spiritual moment can attest.
The age range of our gatherings are varied, and the people that attend are real and seekers of their own truths. As heavy and emotional as this sounds, laughter is often heard at our party because fun is an integral part of play. As adults, we often have forgotten how to just let go of anxiety and expectation and just enjoy ourselves.
What Can You Get Out of Attending a Play Party?
The concept of being Present is a cornerstone of sacred sexuality. When a person can let go of guilt, shame, anxiety and stress it is a feeling of freedom that can be both liberating and arousing. An aroused person is a joy to be around. Even those that aren’t into sharing their body can find a place here. There are plenty of exhibitionists that need an audience and voyeurism alone is still participation. There is no stress or pressure to engage in anything you don’t want to do, and we’ve been very successful in creating a space to feel comfortable saying both Yes and No to what you want.
Something that is often pointed out is “how often do you get to see Real People having sex?” And this is an amazing thing to get to witness. I cannot stress it enough. We can intellectually tell ourselves that we accept our bodies and our sex is normal, but until you see it in person, it doesn’t get into your heart. Once you see, and more importantly feel, the energy and power of liberated sexuality it all makes sense. Our play party also encourages and teaches a variety of kink activities. A feeling of education and sharing abounds both with us and others at the party.
Though the evening goes late into the night, there is no mandate of staying to the end. We are fond of saying “sex is like a meal, when you are full you should get up from the table”. Often when people have had enough, are sated or just have to be home to let the babysitter go, they will leave our party before the final hour. There is nothing wrong with this and often there are hugs and smiles all around as someone that arrived a stranger leaves as a friend. Phone numbers and emails are often exchanged and promises for dates, coffee, or see you at the next party are made.
When the final hour does approach, the remaining party goers assemble in the main room and smiles are shared. We call it a closing circle. Final thoughts and emotions about the evening are shared. Gratitude and grins of enjoyment dominate the faces of those around. I often feel a touch of sadness that the evening has to come to an end. We thank those that have come and gone, and look forward to meeting them again, and if that is not to be then we wish them well in their endeavors.
Physically Preparing to Attend a Party
You’ve finally taken the plunge and registered for a Play Party. It’s a week or less away and you’re starting to get nervous. Having never attended one you’re wondering what you’re in for. There will most likely be time at the beginning to help people get comfortable with each other. Be sure to follow the arrival instructions and arrive at the proper time. Too early, and the hosts may still be preparing the space, too late, and you could get locked out. Most facilitators will close the door to new arrivals after a certain point to make the space safe.
Here are some things to think about. First, I strongly recommend raising your hygiene level. Much like a date, you should be freshly showered, appropriately clean in all nooks and crannies. As you will be meeting many people from all lifestyles, odorless hygiene products are best. There is nothing worse than the air of a room filled with a dozen perfumes and colognes battling in your nostrils for attention.
Be mindful to prepare your stomach. By this I mean eating and bathroom habits. I recommend going to a Play Party without hunger pangs or being too full. Avoid eating anything heavy the day before the party, and be sure you’ve emptied your bowels earlier in the day. These may seem like extreme preparations, but keep in mind people may be engaging with that part of you, and you want it to be enticing!
They say the devil is in the details and Play Parties are the perfect example. Each party has intrinsic rules and specific behaviors usually spelled out by the hosts. If there is a potluck prior to the start, you should not arrive empty handed. If the start time is very precise, do not be late. Being considerate goes a long way towards making sure you enjoy yourself.
Now remember the part about sex? Sex is definitely a possibility so it’s important you’re prepared. Condoms and STD prevention is paramount in Play Parties, and while some may be provided by the hosts, it would be wise to have your own as well. As long as you’re packing those condoms, feel free to come prepared with any other sexual aids you would enjoy. Lubricants, toys and accessories are a great idea, and even if you don’t get to use them, you’d be surprised how much of a conversation piece they can be.
Play Parties will use a variety of introduction methods. These icebreakers, or games, are to build a container of safety and community. The hosts will turn a group of strangers into fast friends and people with open hearts. A Play Party is a place for sexuality and sensuality to merge with spirituality. It’s a place to explore one’s desires and leave guilt and judgment at the door.
If you are attending with a partner, talk before-hand about your agreements and boundaries. Are you open to playing with other people? What activities are you agreeing on? If you are attending alone, what are your boundaries? What might trigger some upset? What are your hopes and dreams? You will have the most fun if you arrive with intentions, rather than expectations or demands.
Play Parties aren’t for everyone all the time, but it can be a strong emotional and growing experience to have. If you think attending one is for you, they can be found in the events listings of places like meet-up.com and fetlife. We may be coming soon to your city. In the meantime, if you are in Asheville I hope to see some of you at a Pleasure Evolution Play Party sometime soon.