As the pandemic has eased and many vaccinated Americans have safely resumed packing into bars and traveling, sex with near or total strangers in public spaces is back on the menu of epidemiologically defensible fun.
Over the July Fourth weekend, I barely had to leave my block to find it.
On Saturday, I visited Chemistry, a “female-energy-centric environment” space and sex party within walking distance of my Bushwick apartment. As a man with a boyfriend, I knew going in that I wasn’t exactly their target demographic, so I posted in my “sexy friends” group chat: “Any woman want to go to Chemistry and have sex with me?”
My friend Robin—this, like those provided for other characters in this story, is not her real name—responded, indicating she’d love to attend. She’d heard so much about the sex club, but had never been to one of their play parties. Besides, we’d been friends for almost a year now and hadn’t had sex; given that we’re part of a bisexual, polyamorous, (rather) incestuous friend group, it was almost strange that we hadn’t yet crossed that threshold.
Then again, the pandemic has made everything more complicated.
Before March of 2020, I attended roughly one sex party a week. Either an official one, at somewhere like Hacienda or NSFW, or I’d just throw my own sex party. Fifteen friends come with their partner (or a date) and we do whatever the hell we damn want since it’s at my apartment.
COVID changed that. Sex parties shut down and of course, we were all worried about getting and spreading the virus. But now fully vaccinated, my friends and I are back in full-throttle. And so, too, are many others, even those who’d never previously attended any such sexy event.
Robin and I submitted our proof of vaccination prior to the party. Then we got ready together, decking ourselves out in red, white, and blue sparkles and stars (the evening’s theme was Fourth of July/Fireworks).
The party started at 9 p.m., and by the time we arrived at 9:10 it was already crowded.
Never had I been to a sex party where folks showed up so punctually, almost aggressively so, but if I had to guess, roughly half of the folks in attendance were first-timers at Chemistry; the other half had been coming for years, excluding the mandated lockdown hiatus. (At least this was the breakdown of the people I spoke to.)
After labeling our bottles and giving them to the bartender (bringing one’s own bottle was required, but the bartenders were happy to serve liquor for free), we scoped out the space. It was four stories, excluding the basement. The basement and top two floors had beds galore—too many to count—and the second floor was where the majority of attendees socialized. It featured the bar, the band, the burlesque performers, and the massage table. The first floor had the coat check, snacks, and “icebreakers,” which we headed down to after getting a drink.
When I asked Jennie, a fortysomething-year-old woman in the icebreaker circle, if it was her first time attending, she replied, “Yeah, my boyfriend and I have wanted to come for a while and were thinking about it before lockdown, but then, obviously, had to wait. We knew the moment Chemistry officially reopened, we’d have to attend.”
Jennie was far from the only newbie who finally pulled the trigger on attending. She was one of several people I spoke to who’d always had a passive interest in attending sex parties. After a year and a half of being cooped up inside, they’re now taking the leap into the world of public sex.
Once the icebreakers wrapped, Robin and I pivoted to socializing in earnest. It felt like virtually everyone was friendly and excited to be there. No one was stand-offish or clique-y; most people at sex parties aren’t, but often, anxiety-induced awkwardness can easily be misconstrued as a lack of friendliness.
We didn’t run into that issue. Instead, Robin and I quickly found ourselves chatting with two stunning women, Sharon and Maria. They were standing next to us while we watched the burlesque show, and Robin easily struck up conversation. It turned out Maria had been going to Chemistry for years, whereas it was Sharon’s first time.
They mentioned they wanted a drink, so we went to the bar after the performance, and I shared the vodka I had brought with them. Then Robin suggested we head downstairs to the basement to “check it out.”
If there were any lingering doubts about pent-up sexual energy being exorcised at this party, they were snuffed out quickly downstairs.
The basement was absolutely packed with naked bodies. Sex was happening any and everywhere. People up against the wall getting fucked, riding cowgirl, missionary, threesomes. It was a cornucopia of flesh and a cacophony of moans.
Robin, I soon realized, had been winging me the whole time, which is how I ended up fucking both Sharon and Maria. I ate out Sharon while Maria rode me. I fucked Sharon from behind while she ate out Maria. All of us made out the whole time, until we all came and just laid there in a cuddle puddle before the lights began to turn on slowly.
Suddenly, it was 3 a.m. Time had flown, and since I wasn’t checking my phone—phone usage was forbidden—I had completely lost track.
I invited Sharon and Maria back to my place with Robin to see if they wanted to continue. Maria had to return back home to be with her partner, but Sharon joined Robin and me. Back at my place, Robin and I had sex for the first time, and it was all I had hoped it would be. Around 5 a.m., Sharon headed back to her place, but before she left, she said, “You’re the first guy I’ve fucked since COVID. I really needed that.”
I suggested the pleasure was all mine and asked if she might like to hang out again.
“Yeah, I’d like that,” she said. “I’d actually like to start going to all the sex parties now.”