Wracking my brains, I remembered a leaflet that I’d stuck behind a pile of free gym passes on my kitchen bulletin board. It was advertising a local ‘naturist health spa’ that had a Saturday Couples Night. Couples = Swingers. There was something about the pictures showing groups of unattractive naked people ‘lounging’ in a Jacuzzi seemed just the right side of might-want-to-check-this-out-sometime. I knew there was more than a 50% chance it could turn out to be a complete waste of time but I was a little desperate to please my boyfriend. Thankfully, he has a sense of humour. If it was awful, at least we’d laugh about it the next day.
The place was already pretty full by the time we got there – about 200 people, all completely naked, save for a towel wrapped around the waist. A little bar served free water and juice, tea, or you could bring a bottle which they’d put in the fridge for you. The barmaid wore a leopard print sarong and a pair of marigolds. £2.50 got you a toasted cheese sandwich. Nice touch, I thought. A toastie between mouthfuls, as it were.
There were Jacuzzis, steam rooms, saunas and a swimming pool. We wandered from one to another, getting hotter and hotter. You could tell by the eye-burning level of chlorine that the management were used to people fiddling with each other under all the bubbles in the Jacuzzi but it certainly didn’t seem to be the den of iniquity that we’d hoped for. Then we spotted couples being buzzed through a door which led upstairs. We asked one guy who looked like a regular what was going on to which he replied in pure BBC yokel, “Ooooh! You need an open mind to go up there”.
Our cue had arrived. My boyfriend grabbed my hand and led me up the stairs to the first floor. The place suddenly became quite dark, and we could see six or seven small rooms, most of them locked although a few had been kept open just enough that you could see inside. They were not much bigger than a single bed and that’s all there was in each one – just a small vinyl mattress on which you could see and hear all manner of things. This place, dear reader, is by no means the Ritz.
Next floor up there must have been about 10 or 15 couples writhing round in one big room. None of them were what I’d call beautiful but a few were attractive enough for a night’s entertainment. That’s the thing about swinging – it’s great for the men who are just so grateful for all the attention and just about bearable for the women if they really, really concentrate on their fantasies. Any half-sensible woman would be wishing herself away from there. Some women were nearly three times my size. In fact I felt positively stunning and slim.
What the hell. We found a little space on a cheap sofa and surveyed the scene. It was time for an icebreaker…
Hooked? Why not buy The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker: An Erotic Memoir, by Suzanne Portnoy, republished in April on Random House. Pre-order it here.