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Behind-The-Scenes: at a London Sex Party

Sex party. The words create images of black silk, candles and masks; something seductive and clandestine. Kinky Salon London is nothing like that. Kinky Salon is a non-profit, volunteer run organisation that hosts erotic, playful, silly parties in London and other areas of the world. Their parties have extravagant, bright, quirky themes, which have included B-movies, Toybox and, in our case, Comic Strip. The classic sex party can seem sleazy, plagued by rich accountants and their “girlfriends”, with intimidating and off-putting policies that only allow the attractive to enter. Kinky Salon laughs in the face of that idea. They’re open to everyone who’s open minded, and that’s for the best. Inclusivity is their ethos, and with gender-swapping actively encouraged, it’s not a place for the narrow minded. That being said, they pride themselves on having a welcoming community, so we suited up in our superhero gear and headed down to Marvel (#sorrynotsorry) at what the night had in store.

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(c) Dafydd Owen

At KSL you had to arrive between 8-9pm, a stipulation many of us might wish we could put on party invitations, but not one I’ve encountered before. While it led to a bit of last minute fretting about being late and not being allowed in, it worked very well in regards to making sure the event felt busy from the start and stopping anyone from doing the anti-Cinderella (arriving at midnight, in a terrible mess due to aggressive pre-drinking). We arrived at 8.30, and queued outside with a mixture of well-costumed, friendly people, including a gentleman playing the Batman theme tune on an accordion. Unlike Torture Garden and other fetish clubs, where any theme goes side by side with reams of black latex and leather, everyone at Kinky Salon dresses to the theme. This time, the queue felt a bit like a comic convention, until I saw someone dressed as Loki with a glowing green buttplug on the end of his staff.

The event opened with a short talk on the KSL house rules. The rules all seemed well thought out, and deliberately geared towards creating a good environment within. Their focus on a continued level of consent was sensible, and they avoided the usual fetish club rhetoric that can push all the blame for bad behaviour onto men, and imply women are welcome to do as they please. KSL prides itself on being an equality focussed space, and it was nice to see that backed up in person. 

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While the description on the website, advising against generic store-bought costumes, had made me nervous about unreasonably high standards, the atmosphere was more laid back on the night. Some people sported costumes that were obviously expensive, and the body paint on a girl dressed as Mystique topped anything I could have achieved at home without 9 hours of YouTube videos and tears, but most people had made their own outfits, and we felt like we fitted in well. Outfits based on characters like Tintin that were easily put together with everyday clothes, but looked fantastic, seemed popular. Equally so, quite a few guests had actual comic strips printed on their clothes, or stapled on, which fitted the theme and a wide array of budgets well.

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(c) Gavin Mecaniques

KSL run socials throughout the year, to allow you to meet the community, who attend their parties regularly, beforehand. We didn’t get the chance to go, but thankfully already knew a few people there who eased our nerves along with a few decently priced G&Ts. The totally new couple would really benefit from making a few acquaintances in advance, as, while people are friendly, I could see how the community could feel difficult to break into on the night. Luckily, KSL make it as easy as possible to meet people beforehand to provide those vital first few connections that stop anyone being left on the sidelines. On which note, the creation of social spaces was clearly something the organisers had carefully considered, and they worked well. If the costumes weren’t enough to get people chatting, they’d created a number of smaller environments that encouraged people to talk outside their groups. The hot tubs were the most alluring, but there was also a good sized Snoopy themed Wendy house that seemed popular, and a Calvin and Hobbs treehouse just off the dancefloor. Mask making tables, and a stop motion camera by a table with some modelling clay also encouraged people to get arty and chat with strangers while they were at it.

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Todd Hartman

 

Both the BDSM and sex areas were carefully cordoned off, which meant that they didn’t dominate the club and offered privacy to those inside. Once inside, the sex area was a bit like a huge tent with lots and lots of beds. The lighting was at a relatively good level, kept low enough to be flattering but high enough to correctly identify your partner/s, and it wasn’t too noisy. The tent made it not entirely unlike a sleepover I once had at Girl Guides, although sadly there were no marshmallows. The nice lighting and low noise makes it stand out from other sex areas, however the difference wasn’t entirely positive. The sense of sexuality and seduction wasn’t overt here, which wasn’t helped by the rolls of blue paper towels around that reminded us of office supplies. Perhaps given that creating private boudoirs with silk and lace might stretch the budgets of these clubs, it’s somewhat a trade off between good lighting and erotic atmosphere in these rooms. That being said, the raw materials were there for individuals to create a sexy, subversive connection, and the open environment inside the tent meant that it was easy to watch and be watched, which seemed a big part of the appeal. Perhaps if we had been playing, we would have felt differently, but we kept it PG-13 for our first visit.

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Highlights of the night included a nice photo booth, aptly designed to look like a comic strip, with an efficient photographer and short queues even at the start of the night. They also use socially created playlists that you can add songs to before the event, meaning that the music was also great, with lots of Disney and comic/cartoon themed songs. No highlight list would be complete without a mention of the hot tubs, which anyone who has ever played The Sims should recognise as a clear sign of a good party. On the lowlights front, they’ve recently changed venue, which may have caused teething problems, but we didn’t enjoy the cabaret as much as we had expected. The space they used was too small to house all the guests, but the organisers who acted as MCs asked everyone to quiet down, meaning it interrupted your night if you couldn’t see or decided to skip the burlesque acts. That being said, we did catch a very hot Jessica Rabbit striptease that somewhat made up for the cramped conditions.

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For us? We’d come open minded, but when it came to sex, we decided to take it back home to the bedroom. That being said, we had a good night, and didn’t feel left out by not being glued to the play rooms. It felt like a safe environment to explore, with no pressure to exceed your limits. Whether you wanted to stay fully clothed and dance until 2am, engage in a little foreplay in the hot tub, or tear your partner’s costume off with your teeth in the playroom, you’d find it a good place to do so. Venturing into the murky waters of public sex is a journey every couple, or single person, has to embark upon on their own terms. With KSL, you get out what you put in, and if you’re willing to go to the socials and make a costume, you’re likely to have a night that’s as sexy as it is comical.

Red is a staff writer for AFT. Her interests include eating too much, drinking too much and saying too much. She believes in sex that makes you lose yourself, and in the thousand different ways to get there. Outside the bedroom, she likes board games, yoga and scented candles. Inside the bedroom, she likes most things. You can find her on Twitter @Lexical_Life.

  • Kate Bevan

    I see the photographs aren’t credited, though a couple of them aren’t watermarked. Did you seek permission to publish them, or are they stolen? Did you pay the photographer – he’s a professional, he’d ask for a fee? Did you ask permission of Kinky Salon and of the people whose faces appear here? I doubt it, because Kinky Salon partygoers are told that the photos are private and only available to the people who actually went to the party, and they’re explicitly told not to share them.

    I hope I’m wrong and that consent was sought from the photographer, Kinky Salon and the people in the photographs. If so, then at the very least, credit the photographer.

    • Rebecca Reid

      Hi Kate,

      Please see Tobias’ reply. We wrote the piece in association with KSL, and it was written by an active member of the scene, who knows most of the photographers featured here. I’m sorry that you felt the need to comment here, but I hope that Tobias’ reply will have assuaged your concerns. The KSL team seemed very happy with the piece, and we felt like it was a good step towards bringing more unusual events to a wider audience, which we at AFT feel strongly about.

      If you have any other problems, it’s always better to email us than comment publicly here, mostly because we get so many spam comments that we often don’t see comments. I’m rebecca at aftmagazine dot com, if you do ever need to get in touch again.

  • Tobias

    Hi, I’m one of the team at KSL. As with any article we work with the publication to ensure that the story they tell is in line with our values and that guest privacy is maintained. Over the years various team members have asked people in our community if their photos may be used on the web outside our site and some of these photos were provided by us to AFT. Some of the people are our team members, some are performers, some are in masks. Not all the shots we have been given by photographers are watermarked. We normally request that publications provide photo credits so thanks Kate for bringing that to our attention – sure AFT will be happy to do that. Incidentally we are about to phase out our years-old opt-out procedure and bring in a new system for photos so that guests give explicit permission for the various places they do or do not for their photos to appear. In our last meeting we agreed that we’re going to start forcing our photographer to accept more money, because he has refused more money from us every time we offered more!