– REAL March 2002

The couples are professionals who arrive in expensive cars. They chat about babysitters and train strikes, eat Twiglets and sip wine – until the fun begins. Suzie Brooker, 30, and her husband Chris, 34, infiltrate an invitation-only swingers party that could be just up your street…

There’s an avenue in Farnham, Surrey. which is lined with the kind of mock-Tudor houses you see in affluent commuter areas all over Britain. There are two cars in the driveway – a people carrier for her, a weekend sports car for him. A Barbie bike lies discarded on the neatly groomed front lawn.


Normal. middle-class people with all the trappings of their normal, middle-class lives. Except one of these houses holds an unconventional secret.


Five times a year, the owners, a married couple in their late 30s (he’s a fund manager, she’s a lawyer), hold a party for around 100 couples. The guests arrive with bottles of wine and mobile phones, just in case the babysitter has a problem. Some, who’ve been here before, have brought bikinis for a dip in the heated outdoor swimming pool.


Inside, people are soon mingling and laughing. As Twiglets are passed around, Chris and I chat politely with another couple who, like us, are the parents of two young daughters.


But as the evening wears on, it becomes blatantly obvious that everything is not as it first seemed. One woman, who was previously wearing a blue Nicole Farhi dress, is lying naked on a sofa, kissing a man she definitely didn’t arrive with.


Outside, the previously floodlit pool is dark. But light from the French windows illuminates the silhouettes of six men and women. And let’s put it this way -they’re not practising their breaststroke.


Nobody is drunk. The majority, except for first-timers, shun alcohol. They want to be clear-headed.


For this gathering is a swingers party.


But forget the stereotypes. These people aren’t into S&M or fetish gear (M&S and fishing gear maybe). Most wouldn’t look out of place at your local neighbourhood watch meeting – but you’d never guess that just the night before they’d had sex with four people.
And this is not an activity restricted to the inhabitants of suburban Surrey. All over the country, married couples are dipping their toes into the swinging scene.


‘Put it this way,’ says 42-year-old Ian Reese, the owner of Scorpio, a members club for swingers. ‘One in three marriages ends in divorce, so young couples realise it’s a tall order to expect monogamy, no matter how much they love each other.


Couples are more realistic about fidelity. It’s OK for women to say not only “I enjoy sex” but also “I need sex’


‘Swinging allows married couples to fulfil their desires without the deceit and underhandedness of an affair. If anything, it keeps couples together.’


However, so closely guarded is this middle-class swinging scene, it’s almost impossible to know where it goes on – or who is involved. But this world of invitation only parties is now unfolding. Otherwise conventional couples travel the country every weekend to become what the in-crowd refers to as ‘players’.


“Swinging is no longer car keys in a bowl” says Derek Bromage, who runs the UK’s largest swing-scene and fetish club, Hedonism (which has no connection with the Jamaican resort or TV documentary of the same name). “Nowadays, married couples will go to a specific swingers party at a club or members house. We have thousands of members and organise both large and small get-togethers”.
Once you have joined Hedonism (there’s a £60 fee), you’ll be sent details of forthcoming swingers events. These can cost between £10 and £45 per couple, and some form of identification is usually required on the door.

“The real elite has their own scene” Derek adds. “There’s a place in Chelsea where you have to pay £1000 to get in”.


But money doesn’t necessarily guarantee you entry. is an upmarket members club that heavily vets applicants by photograph and won’t allow anybody over 40 at its parties.


The club’s website promises you wont end up swinging with unattractive people. “If you are a young, good-looking, sophisticated couple, seeking the thrill of sexual recreation amongst your peers, you’ve come to the right place” the blurb says.


There are also hundreds of UK clubs and hotels that exist purely for swingers. One of these is La Chambre in Sheffield. It has 4000 members and, from the outside, looks like an ordinary night club. But every Saturday night, hundreds of couples pull up in their expensive cars and come looking for a good time.


Once inside, members can undress and use the huge heated Jacuzzi, have a drink in the bar, or visit one of the playrooms, where instead of beds there are large elevated areas made of soft foam – enough room for around 10 couples to have sex together.


There is also a tiny glass window next to the door, just in case you want to check on your husband’s progress or remind him that the babysitter is only paid up until midnight.


The scene, like any subculture has its own rules and regulations. Sex takes place as a group, although is not necessarily an orgy, and going off with someone privately is seen as bad form. This, swingers argue, can be done at home.
Also, 85{de0e700efb291c2aec33cd5e24507c8f95e5229b49bb3a46af533857a42bcd43} of female swingers are bi-sexual, but homosexuality is frowned upon. The general rule is that what a woman wants, goes. Men follow their lead.


Back in Surrey things are hotting up. Downstairs, one woman is in her underwear, and on the table where nibbles were previously laid out, there are plates of multi-coloured condoms, lubricants, a box of tissues and a pile of freezer bags, presumably to place items after use.


Upstairs, in one of the five double bedrooms, four couples are on a super king sized bed; another room has six couples on a waterbed, with one pair simply doing it up against the wall.


This turns out to be Sandra and Luke, a husband and wife in their 30s, who have travelled from Dorset for the party.


“We’ve only been swinging for about 6 months” Sandra says afterwards, looking embarrassed. “We both found it difficult to imagine only ever having sex with each other for the rest of our lives, but neither of us wanted to have an affair. And it turns me on to have sex with Luke in front of other people. Swinging is a way to get back that sexual excitement you feel when you first sleep with somebody”.


Another couple, who wish to remain anonymous, back this up. “We are not conventional swingers” explains the husband, who’s a dentist. “I just enjoy watching my wife having sex with other men. She is on something of a roll tonight – 5 partners so far.
“These events are important because they allow us to pursue our fantasies within the marriage”. He looks uncomfortable. “You won’t mention my name, will you?”


Judging from the party, swingers aren’t a bunch of bored, middle aged couples. I fancied some of the men and Chris felt the same way about a few of the women. Nobody had body odour.

I was actually terrified to go upstairs where the action was because there’s an expectation that you’ll perform. Downstairs is safe. You can sip your drink and feign interest in the plants.


By midnight, we were among only a few couples downstairs, and even fewer with their clothes on. It’s odd, but after a while you get used to people wandering around naked.


I did feel conspicuous though. At one point I contemplated going topless, but feared it might look like a come-on.
To be honest, we must have had invisible neon lights above our heads saying: first-timers with cold feet. But there was never any pressure put on us.


When we were asked if we wanted to go upstairs, we found ourselves racing into apology overdrive – desperate not to offend. But nobody seemed to care. If anything, we got sympathetic looks and, at one point, a hug, with the reassurance that “next time will be easier”.


When I eventually found the courage to look in the playrooms, it was pretty surreal – and noisy. Apart from the odd porn movie, when they’re faked anyway, I’d never heard another woman orgasm. I must have heard 20 in just five minutes.


I must admit, the whole experience made me flinch. Yet I was also fascinated, and the idea of having sex with an attractive stranger turned me on – a bit. But watching my husband have sex with an attractive stranger? I suppose you never know how you feel about that until it happens. But by then it is too late, isn’t it? During the course of the evening we were approached by four couples and liked all of them, physically and socially. But we’d already decided that we were only going to observe.


In the car home, we felt strangely liberated. Entertainmentwise, it certainly beat sitting at home watching Blind Date. But could we ever become “players”?
We have only been married three years and are concerned that swinging might ruin the life we’re enjoying together with our girls Chloe, 3 and Georgia, 1. Neither of us feels the need to have sex with other people, at the moment, but I wasn’t put off for good by anything I saw.


So in the future, who knows?


Sex with strangers is fine, just watch the furnishings… Here are some rules from

No red wine
Guests are asked to bring a bottle, but red wine is not allowed as it might stain the hosts’ carpet.

No food…except nibbles
Food is not provided. although snacks are sometimes available.

Don’t leave your undies
Organisers advise guests to leave their clothes in a pile and remember where they left them. Items like trousers and dresses often have to be hunted down, but underwear is harder to find, as it’s easily ‘dropped behind and beneath things’. Unclaimed knickers, pants, socks and bras are regularly thrown away after a party.

No hogging the loos
Sex in the loos is not allowed as it forces guests to queue outside.

No dancing
‘Parties are usually held in plush domestic premises for that luxurious ambience of clean soft furnishings. Dancing is just too hard-wearing on our hosts’ wall-to-wall carpets.’

No smoking
Smoking is only allowed in the reception room, so no lighting up after sex in the playrooms.

No bickering
Arguing couples are asked to leave immediately.

Dress smart
There’s no strict dress code, although women often wear cocktail dresses. Men dress smart but casual.



Susan and Geoff

‘Monogamy was unrealistic’

Susan Taylor, and her partner Geoff Wright, 35, live in Derby. The couple have three sons from previous marriages.

We’ve been together four years and started swinging a year into our relationship. Geoff and I are both sexually adventurous and knew that although we loved each other, monogamy was unrealistic. Swinging is more responsible than having an affair. It takes maturity to recognise the difference between recreational sex and making love.

We go to a swingers club every third weekend. The first couple of times we came away without doing anything because we just wanted to have a look.

On our third visit, we decided if anybody approached us and we liked them, we’d go for it. But we agreed on a code word, Teletubby, to use if we wanted to bail out – though it was a bit difficult to work it into the conversation!

It’s just like going to a normal night club. You buy a drink, chat to people – but then, if you like somebody, you can go upstairs and have sex.

Jealousy is a problem. Most couples have self-imposed rules about what they find acceptable. We don’t have sex without the other person there, and we never disappear into a playroom on our own. Maybe in a few years, when we feel more comfortable, we’ll consider having sex out of sight of each other.

Geoff will have sex with the woman while I have sex with the man. Then I’ll have sex with the woman while Geoff and the other man watch. Then we’ll all go downstairs, have another drink from the bar, see how we feel and either go home or carry on. One woman broke the club’s record last weekend by having sex with 52 men in one evening.

Only a few of our friends know what we do. My sister is a born-again Christian – she’d be horrified.

Swinging hasn’t harmed our relationship. If anything, it’s made it stronger, because we trust each other implicitly.

There have been many times when one of us has liked one half of a couple and the other one hasn’t, but I wouldn’t do anything that made Susan uncomfortable. Its been great for our relationship – when we get home from swinging, we feel really turned on.

We both enjoy sex, together and with other people. You can be all moralistic about it and get your kicks from line dancing, but I know what I’d prefer.



Marie and Barry
‘We get a tremendous buzz’

Marie Calvert, 45, and her husband Barry, 48, live in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, and have been swinging for 22 years. They have two grown-up daughters.

Before we started swinging, we’d always had a conventional sex life. Occasional outdoor sex was as daring as we got.

It was Barry who tested the water and asked me about swinging. I didn’t feel threatened. I knew he wouldn’t have sex with another woman without me knowing – he loves me too much. But the idea did make me curious.

Six months later, we decided to put an advert in the local paper. A couple responded and we eventually agreed to drive to their country cottage one night.

I was worried about the effect on our relationship. You never know how jealous you’re going to feel about watching your partner having sex with somebody else until you actually see it.

We had dinner and chatted, but wasn’t until three hours later that John, the other man, made his first move. We were sitting on the sofa and he just leaned across and started kissing me.

I then saw his wife Judith lean over to kiss Barry, who looked like a scared kid.

This was the defining moment. But neither of us leaped up and ran out, so things just progressed. We all had sex and I did orgasm, but the sex wasn’t any better than with Barry, just different – although we did get a tremendous buzz.

After that, we started going to clubs. Some places were dreadful, but you gradually find a niche, somewhere you feel happy and comfortable. There’s generally very good protocol on the scene, and everyone is respectful of each other.

Obviously it’s important to lose your inhibitions, and there’s no point in being jealous. It would destroy your relationship.

I believe that if your marriage is already strong, swinging will only enhance it.

Of the 15 couples we knew when we got married, we’re the only ones who are still husband and wife.

The swinging motto is: ‘People who play together, stay together.’ And that certainly applies to us.

If we don’t both agree, nothing happens. And we both need to know what the other has been doing.

We always talk about things afterwards. That’s how we handle swinging.



Michelle and Rick
‘I’ll have 15 partners a night’

Michelle Roberts, 25 and her husband Rick, 30, live in Dillington, Derbyshire with their four daughters.

About three months into our relationship, Rick said he’d like to try a threesome. I’m quite open-minded but I didn’t feel ready. But I also couldn’t imagine sleeping with just Rick for the rest of my life, so I suppose it was only a matter of time.

Our first swinging experience was with my best friend and her partner. They’re very close to us and are like second parents to my girls. I’d confided in her that Rick and I wanted to try swinging, and she told me they were also thinking about it.

So one evening, we invited them over. We had a drink, played some music and ended up having sex in the lounge while the children were asleep. We enjoyed it and our friendship hasn’t been affected, but we wanted to meet other people on the scene.

Now we try to go to a club every few weeks, but it’s hard to get a babysitter – swinging is not exactly the kind of activity where you can guarantee to be home by midnight. My mother-in-law used to look after the children, but since she found out what we were doing – after we took part in a TV documentary – she’s refused.

I’m not ashamed of what we do. I get dirty looks, but as long as nobody takes it out on my children, I don’t care.

I’ve been known to have sex 15 times on a Saturday night. It’s a new partner each round and I always have an orgasm.

When we went swinging for the first time, it was quite frightening. Around 20 couples were having sex, and these blokes kept asking Michelle to join in.

She must have said no around seven times before this lad came up to her. I automatically said no, but Michelle kicked me. She’d obviously decided he was the one, so I left them to it.

It doesn’t bother me if Michelle enjoys herself more with other men than with me. That’s what we’re there for – to get as much pleasure as possible.



This is the advice gives to budding swingers…


– Sexually self-confident and adventurous couples.
– Couples where one partner cannot satisfy all the sexual needs of the other – perhaps the woman is seeking bisexual experiences.
– Couples where a partner feels the need to gain more sexual experience, possibly because of an age gap.


– Sexual variety within a loving relationship can reinforce intimacy between couples.
– Constant affirmation of the desirability of their partner from others.
– It removes the need for adultery and sexual deceit, the primary cause of relationship breakdowns.


– Acting out innermost sexual wishes and fantasies might provoke jealousy between partners.
– Many people are not sexually confident enough to watch their lover have sex with other people even when they do so themselves.
– Couples who try swinging because they’re bored and desperate to stay together may come unstuck. If there are other strains or difficulties in the relationship, swinging will not help. – Problems could arise if one partner goes to a swinging event against their better judgement. The keen partner might ask permission to join in by themselves, leaving the reluctant one feeling they’ve lost control of the situation.