Sex parties are exactly just that. They are parties, like any social gathering, except the people attending can (oftentimes) have sex. At some point in our lives, most of us have attempted to make out — or even get downright dirty — in the bathroom of a public venue, be it a nightclub, bar, or even an old-fashioned house party. (Plus, let’s be honest, many such locations are not safe places for women or queer folks.) Dancing and flirting are great, but if you’re looking to do more, know this: There are countless curated spaces that don’t just permit but encourage such mingling.

However, sex parties are not a monolith; they differ immensely from place to place, so I want you to forget what you’ve seen in the movies. While all such parties encourage sexual activity to some degree, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of what the party will entail — and to ensure that your own intentions, interests, and expectations align — prior to engaging in any activities (or even RSVPing). There are many differences between, say, a swingers orgy hosted at a person’s house versus a play party in a full-time dungeon, and both are quite unlike a warehouse party with beds in the back. My point: While your experience may vary for a number of reasons, the venue itself plays a big role.

Some parties encourage full-on orgies. Some are play parties that focus more on kink and not so much on penetration or heavy sexual activity. But all these events prioritize sex positivity, particularly play parties, also known as kink/BDSM parties.

“Play parties are often diverse and offer a protected outlet to explore diverse desires, specifically in groups beyond couple exchange,” explains Venus Cuffs, a nightlife entrepreneur and play party producer. “Swingers parties are typically, but not always, for couples in the swinger Lifestyle — with a capital L — meaning they like to play as a couple, often to varying degrees. But [they] will arrive and leave the party together and partake in couple-on-couple swaps.”

Cuffs says that people outside the BDSM community are often surprised to learn that most fetish or kink parties actually limit penetration, oral play, and, in some cases, even heavy petting.

What are some tips for a first-time sex party attendee?

It can feel daunting to go to a party where any type of sexual activity is encouraged. To ensure that you have a good time, below are three hot tip recommendations, straight from Venus Cuffs herself.

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