I recently went to an alternative lifestyle (i.e. sex) club for a free erotic art show. This was not my first time at such a club, nor my first at this specific one. I’ve been (mostly) passively circling alternative lifestyle events and groups for a number of months now – since spring when I began to consciously take healing from sexual trauma on with focus and intention.** You can learn a lot about your sexual triggers when you step out of the typical Western sexual paradigm and into one that lives by different rules – the primary ones being 1) “no” means “no,” 2) overt consent is mandatory, and 3) don’t be creepy.
Number three is a little tricky in my opinion. What I’ve observed is that almost nobody thinks they’re being creepy when they’re clearly being creepy in the opinion of most people in proximity of them. It’s a blind spot that crosses all lifestyles and paradigms and anyone is susceptible. In my alien-tourism of sex clubs, I’m always on the lookout for the creepiest of the creeps. Even though I, personally, feel safe in the club (or I wouldn’t go), the single guy – especially when he’s much older than the rest of the crowd – who stands off to the side and mostly stares at the younger women ignites hypervigilance in me like no other type of person can.
I went to the art show, which was free until 9 PM, with a paramour and we decided to stay for the paid portion of the evening afterwards. He’d never been to this specific club and was curious to explore all the nooks and crannies it had to offer.
The regular club night started just after 9 and a short Latino woman took to the dance floor immediately. She sort of resembled Snooki from Jersey Shore – she was short and round, but also she had these super muscular Beyonce-thighs and long brown hair all balled up in a loose, lovely bun with a rose in it on top of her head. She was wearing a tight black dress with halter straps, the hem of which went just above the black panties she was wearing, and the outfit was capped off with high heeled black boots that went up past her knees. She had a very pretty face with heavy but not tacky makeup. She was maybe in her late 20s or early 30s.
It’s very important that you have a visual of this young woman in your head. I want you to see her as I did.
The night starts and she and another young woman – also pretty, but not in the same sultry, lusty way – start dancing out on the dance floor. Now, bear in mind, this club is very female-centric and safety is strictly enforced. There are signs everywhere that say DON’T BE CREEPY. And there are sentries posted all around in case of danger. So, there’s this guy – mid-to-late 40s, stringy, shaggy blondish hair that is sort of in a bowl cut, thick Coke-bottle glasses, probably about 5′ 10″. He’s wearing a plain looking flannel button up, pants, and just, like, some whatever shoes. He physically sticks out like a sore thumb, right? He looks like an extra in Easy Rider or something.
So, Snooki and her friend are out on the floor dancing. And Snooki can fucking dance – hence the thighs. Then I see Easy Rider come up and starts dancing (tragically) all up in Snooki’s business. She and her friend are politely ignoring him.
I’m watching and I’m like:
At no point did I think if they don’t like it, they can handle themselves.
At no point did I think we’re in a sex club and people are here specifically to dance with other people.
Instead, I gyrated my way out onto the dance floor and danced myself between Easy Rider and Snooki. I literally bumped him out of the way with my butt in a super smooth dance move that I was particularly proud of. I danced up super close to Snooki. I towered over her by at least six inches. I looked down into her eyes and said, “Hey, is that guy bothering you?”
Snooki started laughing, hard, leaned in really close, and shouted up to me, “Haha. NO! That’s my husband!”
I was shocked for a brief second and then completely mortified. I jumped up and down laughing, my face turning red. “Oh my god! Oh my god!” I said. “I’m so sorry!”
Snooki was still laughing when I slunk off the dance floor, grabbed my date, and bravely ran to where no one could ever see me again.
For the rest of the night, I stole glances at the (in my opinion) unlikely couple, mystified by my own unmet expectations and embarrassed by my arrogant, if benign intervention. I saw this young woman dance up on other men all night, pulling up her dress and letting them rub her ass and noted how at ease her husband was about it. I realized: that’s just their thing. And if anyone was being inappropriate on the dance floor at the start of the evening, it was me.
I could easily write a 4000 word essay about just this one night at the sex club. In the half-year I’ve been orbiting this world, I’ve seen and learned a lot not only about myself, but about human desire in general. Yet, I still feel like a country mouse. The entire thing is a version of reality that typical, hetero, cisgendered couples cannot understand. Shit, out here in the non-altnerative version of life, if the exact scene I just described had been going on, my actions may have been heroic . However you can never predict what people are into sexually and so in an environment that is pure sex, the general rules of society kind of get flipped on their heads once in a while. I mean, I’m not rending my garments about trying to save a young woman from a creepy man. I would do it again, in fact. I can handle being embarrassed if I’m wrong. But still, it’s given me a lot to consider regarding my biases (two people have to look “right” together for me to be comfortable), personal triggers (creepy old dude preying on a younger woman), and own personal arrogance (why the fuck did I assume that young woman didn’t have her own agency and voice – especially in a place with so many trained volunteers who were bigger and stronger than I and who were prepared to step in the moment someone cried foul?)
In summary, sex clubs are fucking fascinating.
**The books I’ve primarily been referencing as I do this very personal work are: Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith L. Herman, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel A. Van der Kolk, and The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis