My wife Lucy* has suggested some pretty unconventional things in the last year or so – not least becoming polyamorous. She now has a boyfriend, I have a girlfriend and we both also still have each other. So when she asks if I want to go to a “sex-positive” party with her, my mind races. Will this be a leap into the so-far unexplored world of swinging? Could there be sex with strangers? Or a threesome? Or even an orgy?
Before I get too carried away, Lucy assures me it’s not going to be quite like that. This is a club night with erotic performers who are likely to go beyond regular burlesque, and the fancy dress will be a bit more risqué than Halloween down at the White Horse, but things will stop short of sex in dark corners. Probably.
Mainly, it’s just great to be going on a proper night out with my wife. Polyamory means that these days our weekend evenings are often spent apart, while one of us stays at home with the kids (practicality always comes first). So it’s with some excitement and a little trepidation that I set about choosing a costume (while also budgeting for a big babysitting bill). It’s not easy, but in the end a black suit and Venetian carnival mask seems to be a simple enough solution, while Lucy looks seriously hot in a long dress with a plunging neckline.
When we get to the club it feels normal enough at first – a dark, empty dancefloor; a crowded bar. Many have come dressed, like us, in suits and sexy dresses. But as the rooms begin to fill up, I notice a shift. There’s people wearing rubber, collars, leather straps, and a few are topless. Far from intimidating, the atmosphere is friendly, relaxed and non-threatening. Lucy tells me she hasn’t felt so at ease in a club for years.
If the partygoers are unconventional, the performers are even more so. At one point, I find myself on the dancefloor next to a statuesque woman in her underwear, leading another similarly attired model on all fours by a lead. The crowd forms a circle as they writhe around each other. Suddenly, as I watch, I feel someone take my hand. It’s a pretty girl I’d been talking to a few minutes before, who’d been with her boyfriend. She kisses me, softly at first, then more passionately, and soon we’re entwined on the dancefloor.
Lucy watches from across the room, as does the boyfriend of my new acquaintance. Incredibly, everything’s fine. It feels really liberating to have a moment of no-strings fun, and I’m grateful to Lucy for being so relaxed about it.
Later, by chance, I bump into a friend of ours, Lara,* who we’ve not seen for years. It’s great to catch up; she is easy to talk to and incredibly beautiful. She seems fascinated to hear about Lucy and I becoming polyamorous. I start to feel like there’s a connection between us and, buoyed along by the atmosphere, my “luck” earlier in the evening and the assumption that everyone here is open to casual encounters, I try to kiss her. She instantly backs away, politely brushing me off with excuses and mumbling about a recent messy breakup.
I can’t believe how badly I have misread the situation. How could I have got so carried away? The informality of this setting – the “anything goes” attitude – has gone to my head and embarrassment flushes my cheeks like an awkward schoolboy. Lucy and I getting comfortable with poly is one thing. But, I’m reminded – and not for the first time – it really isn’t for everyone.