Updated July 29, 2018
You’ve read about it in magazines. You’ve found a hookup and finally gotten an invite. But what things do experienced orgy-goers know that you don’t? Here are some pointers to help you feel comfortable & confident at your first sex party.
Note: We’ve made this resource generic, to benefit everyone who reads it. If you are attending your first Organ House event, please also familiarize yourself with our specific consent culture & house rules.
Know what you’re hoping to gain from this experience
What experience are you actually hoping to find? If the answer is just “sex” that’s okay, but your answer might be more complicated than that. “I’d like to meet other people who do this so I can find out if they are normal and I am normal for wanting to do this.” Or maybe, “I’d like to finally get to show off this amazing lingerie I bought and feel super confident in.” Or, “I’d like to watch my partner do something specific with another person.” Do some soul searching. What it is that intrigues you about this opportunity, and what you are hoping to learn or gain by attending?
If you’re attending with a date, talk to that person about this, too. What are they hoping to find? Are they looking for something completely different? Are your individual goals in competition? Example: I want to watch my partner play with someone else, but my partner wants us to only play with each other. Am I alright with that?
Knowing what you’re looking for is different than having expectations. Expecting things like “I’m going to get laid tonight” is pretty sure to disappoint. Most of our guests will tell you that they spent their first party making friends, not having sex. And having strict expectations may blind you to the opportunities that do appear: A fascinating conversation about exploring non-monogamy, a hilarious game of naked Twister, a lesson on bondage from an experienced rope instructor, etc.
Negotiate your boundaries
If you are attending with someone, set boundaries with your partner ahead of time. Even if you’re attending with a friend and not a lover, it’s still very important to be on the same page. Do you plan to play together, if the opportunity arises? What would you be happy to try, and what’s off limits? This list may be a different list than what you’d be down to try in the privacy of your own home, so make time to discuss it. (Even if you are attending alone, it’s good to ask yourself these questions ahead of time to see what you are and are not comfortable exploring.) Here are some questions to start the conversation:
- Are you comfortable being naked at the party? Are you comfortable with your partner being naked?
- Is kissing other people okay?
- Are you comfortable playing at the party? (“Play” is a common code word for having sex.)
- How do you feel about penetrative sex? Oral sex? Sex with specific genders?
- Are you planning on playing together? What kind of play is okay?
- Would you be upset if your partner played with someone else without you?
- Are you planning on playing together, and inviting others to join you?
- How would you feel if you ended up playing in two separate groups of people all night?
- How would you feel if your partner got tons of attention and you didn’t?
- What are you most afraid of happening?
- What are you most excited about happening?
Negotiating boundaries is crucial to your being able to navigate a play space. But also realize that you won’t think of everything. You’re choosing to walk hand-in-hand into a grey area. Try to agree beforehand that if something upsetting happens, you’re going to talk through it together. These are difficult conversations, but they are enlightening and empowering. Sometimes, sexual liberation takes hard work.
Important note: If you are attending as someone’s guest, know that you do not owe this person anything by attending. Don’t ever feel obligated to do something you don’t want to. You should know the person you attend with well, and you should be able to trust them in an intimate setting.
Organ House events have clearly codified rules around consent that are published publicly. We encourage everyone to use the standard of “enthusiastic consent.” Basically, make sure that the person you’re engaging with is not just saying yes, but really enthusiastic and excited about consenting to you! If you get the sense that someone is saying yes to be polite, or has had too much to drink, or seems a little distracted, they are not consenting enthusiastically. Now, this isn’t the law, this is just what we consider to be being a good person (and mandatory at events we host.) You may be at an event where the stated rules are different, but in our not-at-all-humble opinion, the minimum definition of consent is getting a clear, unmistakable “yes” from your partner(s) before beginning any new activity that escalates the level of physical risk or emotional intimacy.
Understand the risks
Sex is not risk-free. Are you attending a party where all guests have provided recent STI & STD test results? If the organizers didn’t ask you to provide recent test results, they didn’t ask anyone else to do that, either. (Pro tip — most parties do not do this, for lots of very good reasons.) What risks are you willing to take? Would kissing and cuddling be okay, but penetration is off-limits? Is penetration fine as long as you use condoms? Are you planning on using dental dams and are they provided, or do you need to bring your own? Were you tested recently enough to know that you’re not causing someone to take a risk they aren’t aware of? Do you even know what you were actually tested for last time you got a checkup? If you or your partner were to end up with a positive status, what next? It’s never rude to ask someone their status. Always feel empowered to ask how recently this person was tested, and what they were tested for. And you should be able to answer that question when others ask you, also.
Know how to take care of yourself and your partners. Seriously, brush up on safer sex. Science might have solved a lot of things since the last time you read about it. And you’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to properly use a condom. And remember to tie it off and dispose of it correctly, too! Don’t make others clean up after you. Have you used dental dams for oral sex before? Did you know that you can cut a condom to create a dental dam? (But don’t lose the scissors in the sheets!!!) Have you heard about female condoms? They’re awesome! Dental dams, male and female condoms, and even latex gloves are all types of “barriers.” Make sure to dispose of barriers between partners, and always use a barrier on sex toys, too! You can’t ask a magic wand when it’s last STI check-up was.
Interested in things like impact play (spanking, floggers, etc) or bondage? There are right and wrong ways to do this. If you do these things incorrectly, you can actually cause serious physical damage. But luckily, there are a lot of great classes and community events where you can learn more safe BDSM!
Have a plan
Know when to call it quits, and have a way to let your partner(s) know that you need to leave. Always remember, you do not have to check off your entire bucket list in one night. There WILL be other parties. You will probably run into the same people again. If one of you needs to end the evening, respect each other’s needs first and foremost. You want to negotiate your boundaries sober, ahead of time, when there is no pressure. Don’t try to renegotiate those boundaries in the heat of the moment. That is sure to backfire and hurt someone’s feelings.
Do you have a code word or a way to “check in” with each other if one of you is feeling uneasy? Even if your partner is a friend and not a date, you should have a way to get each other’s attention if one of you needs the other. Find something that works for you, and agree on it before the party.
Don’t feel obligated to shave it all off down there. Trimming is totally acceptable. For safety reasons, it’s unwise to shave your nethers immediately before a party. If you get a tiny cut while shaving, you may be making yourself more susceptible to STD or STI transmission. If you want it all bare, I recommend getting waxed or sugared the day before. And unless you are a seasoned flosser, I also don’t recommend that you floss day-of, for the same concern. Mouthwash is fine.
Viagra & Cialis
A lot of guys take Viagra before parties. Even young guys. Something about being in a crowd keeps your brain on alert and causes problems for a lot of people. Don’t be embarrassed if this happens to you. It happens more commonly at parties. If you think you’ll need it, talk to a doctor beforehand. Never take medication that isn’t prescribed to you, and never take medication from others.
Don’t fret over this! Just be clean and presentable. You don’t need to spend money on a new outfit. I would arrive fully clothed, and not only be wearing lingerie under a jacket. That’s a cool look, but if you get there and don’t feel comfortable baring that much, you’ll have a shirt to put back on. I usually end up in my underwear and a pair of stick-on pasties. I don’t like wearing a bra, but I also don’t like being 100% bare up top. Pasties are a great option. Expensive lingerie is usually not worth it. It comes off pretty quick, and clothing is frequently lost at these events. Don’t bring any jewelry or clothing that you’d be devastated to lose. It’s easy for items to end up in the wrong pile at the end of the night. If you’re on a tight budget but want to feel presentable, solid black underwear is a go-to staple.
Don’t assume someone’s orientation or gender
The men are not all straight; the women are not all bi. Be aware that the crowd may not conform to your expectations. You are going to a sex party to expand your sexual horizons, so be open to learning new things.
You may cause offense if you assume someone who presents as female goes by she/her/hers pronouns and visa versa. If you’re not sure how to address someone, just ask! “What are your pronouns?” It’s not rude; it’s appreciated.
Now, it might be a little awkward if you only ask 1 person out of a group of 4 what their pronouns are. A really suave way to do this to introduce yourself with, “Hi! I’m Kate and I go by she/her pronouns!” This gives that person the opportunity to introduce themself and their pronouns, if they choose to.
Do not take pictures
Never, ever pull out a camera and take pictures at a play party. You might have the permission of the people front and center in the picture, but what about people in the background? Even if they’re clothed, that pic could cost them their job. It’s extremely rude to start taking pictures in what’s supposed to be a safe space where guests can let their guard down. Many parties (including ours) will kick you out for a first offense. Some places say pictures are okay, but I advise you to err on the side of caution.
If you’re a journalist, and you’re specifically trying to get pictures, try telling the event organizers what you’re hoping to capture. If a journalist reached out to me, we’d simply host a party where everyone attending knows it’s being documented. Organizers can work with you ahead of time to keep everyone feeling good about the plan.
Don’t be afraid to say “no thank you.”
If someone asks to play and you’re not interested, you can always say “No thank you.” Don’t say “maybe later” and hope they’ll get the hint. They may not get the hint, but they’ll understand “no thank you.” It’s perfectly polite, and you don’t owe them an explanation about why you said no. If someone starts pestering you or approaching you after you’ve already said no, that’s a different story. Then you don’t have to be polite. But the best course of action there is to alert on of the event organizers of that situation.
Be vigilant of your surroundings, and trust your gut. Responsible, experienced organizers will have put a lot of effort into keeping you safe. But you should still be aware of your surroundings. Are the organizers sober and accessible if you have an issue? If not, have they designated someone as a safe person to go to if there are any issues? Are any of the guests creeping you out? Trust your gut.
If you’re driving home, pick a designated driver ahead of time. If you’re taking public transportation, check when that stops running to make sure you can get home.
Remember — you can just leave.
Let’s say you immediately regret this decision. That’s okay. Really, it’s okay. The most important part of any kind of sexual exploration is that you’re honest with yourself about what you want, and what you don’t want. These parties are not for everyone. You can just leave. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Don’t let anyone pressure you to do something you’re not ready to do. There will ALWAYS be more parties if you want to ease into it. As someone who regularly hosts these, I would be much more impressed with a guest who was emotionally mature enough to decide to leave than someone who stays to impress me and ends up drunk or crying in a corner.
Explore! And most importantly, have fun!
They’re called “play parties” because they should be fun! You’ve put a lot of work into yourself just to be able to attend this event, so enjoy it and reward yourself for that. Meet new people, try something you’ve never tried before, start the conga line, and make a memory you’ll never forget. Let yourself feel beautiful and awesome for being the kind of progressive, fun person that goes to sex parties. You deserve it.