My first experience at a swingers' club was with a man I met on an Internet site when I was advertising for sex as a single female. He was a relatively experienced swinger, and although I had done group sex before in private I had never even contemplated going to a club before this man suggested that we pay one a visit together. My first reaction was, “Oh no, I can't do that!” However, once I'd given the idea some consideration, I thought, “Hey, hey, this could be fun!”, and decided that I would give it a go, “just for the experience”!

Swingers' clubs are portrayed in the media as wall-to-wall, none-stop sex dens, and to be honest, I was expecting to be greeted by hoards of rampant people who wouldn't understand that I was a swinging club “virgin”. I was very nervous about the whole thing, and for a few days before the “big night” I e-mailed a whole host of questions about the club to my Internet friend. Part of me thought I was being silly for asking questions like, “Will men take no for an answer?”, but it was really playing on my mind that I would be expected to “perform” before I'd barely had chance to take my coat off. My friend was totally reassuring, and I believe now that without his patience and willingness to answer even the silliest of my questions I would have bottled out, and would not be here to tell the tale now.

Almost from the minute I walked into a club for the first time, I felt relaxed and welcome, and under no pressure whatsoever to “perform”. Clubs have a very clear policy regarding sexual behaviour: basically “no means no” at all times. The majority of people are very careful not to over-step this mark. Sometimes this can result in a group of people sitting around, all secretly wishing something sexy would happen, but no one wanting to make the first move at risk of appearing pushy or offensive. If you've been to a club before and experienced this kind of situation you will know exactly how frustrating it can be! Sometimes, even if you're quite experienced, it is difficult to work out what people are doing there, who wants to play and who just wants to watch. So much for the stories of sex-crazed hedonism told by the tabloid media, it really isn't that easy, believe me!

At some clubs (excepting couples only nights) single men are in the majority. Some of these men just go to watch, but the ones that go in hope of sex have to “compete” for the attentions of the women. Single women at clubs are quite rare, although some women do go alone, and seem to have a great time! Most women however, attend with their partners. Some couples go to meet and swap with other couples. Others go for “same room fun” only. This means playing with each other in the presence of others but not actually swapping partners. Still more couples go to “choose” one or more single men, who they might take into a private area (if available) for sex. In addition, there are some women who go to play with large groups of men, and who are happy to perform in public areas in front of a crowd.

Whether you are male or female, if you are going clubbing to do anything other than watch, your first job is to suss out who is up for what you want and who isn't. Getting it wrong happens, even if you are very experienced. I've been in a few situations where I have misunderstood peoples' intentions and ended up feeling slightly embarrassed! Of course, the most direct way of finding out what someone's intentions are is to ask them. As in all situations where the negotiation of sexual favours is the issue, being friendly and polite is a must! You might think that because you are in a sex club, being blunt and to the point is a good way to go, but a brutal “Fancy a shag, darlin'?” might well come across as being a little too rude, even for the most hardened of swingers!

Having said that, there are situations where it is not appropriate to engage in a conversation to establish intentions. Perhaps, for example, you are in a situation where a couple is playing quite happily with one or two single guys in a private room. They have left the door open, which is normally a sign that they are happy for people to watch, and even join in. You would like to join them, so what do you do? Going over to them, tapping one of them on the shoulder and trying to start up a friendly conversation might well dampen the mood a little! In situations like this, going over and sitting close to them, and appearing obviously interested might well get you an invite to join in. If not, some people try the “light touch” technique, such as stroking one of the “players” on the arm or leg, just to test the water. If this is not welcome they will stop you, normally by moving your hand away or politely saying no. Yes, this can be slightly embarrassing, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. This type of "testing the water" is not generally considered too pushy unless you do not get the message straight away. If you are rebuffed, take the hint and keep your distance. If you don't stop touching, or then start again thirty seconds later hoping that they might have changed their minds, will not make you popular and in extreme cases is more likely to get you banned from the club than some sex!

Before my first ever trip to a club I only had a vague idea of what I might want to get up to in there. I sort of liked the idea of playing with lots of men (and maybe some women), but could not quite imagine how it would work in reality. Since then, I have explored my sexuality, my limits, and now have a very definite idea of what I want to happen on a particular night. If you think that swingers' clubs sound like fun I think it is important to have at least an idea of what you hope to get out of the experience before your first visit. That way you can choose a club that has the right facilities and the right type of night for you. You also need to be realistic in your expectations. Expecting clubs to be like they are portrayed in the media will only leave you disappointed. You must remember that swingers are just normal people, not sex-crazed demons willing to do anything you desire, and very few of us have super-model looks!

Clubs differ widely on what facilities they have available. Of the three clubs that I have been to over the last three years, all have at least one “couples room”, which, as the name implies, is for couples only. Single men get booted out - fast! However, these rooms have windows that allow people to watch the action from outside the room. These rooms are great for both voyeurs and exhibitionists! Some clubs also have rooms that are totally private, there are no windows and the door can be locked, and people just have to imagine, or listen to what is going on inside! In addition, for the people who like to play with big groups, and be watched performing (probably by the entire club!), clubs have open “romping” areas or “orgy rooms” where basically anything (consenting) goes! You might also find dark rooms, bondage equipment (ties, harnesses etc.), saunas, Jacuzzis, and a whole host of other “goodies”! Check out the web sites of the clubs in your area to see what facilities are available, and what whets your appetite, and then go for it!

Before you get your sexy undies on and tootle off to a club that tickles your fancy, you might consider which night you plan to go. Some nights are busier than others: Fridays and Saturdays tend to be the busiest nights, although it does vary both between and within clubs. If you want to throw yourself in at the deep end, I would say try one of these nights! If you want to paddle in the shallow end first, try a Sunday or a night in the week when it is likely to be less busy. Not all clubs open every night, so check the opening times before you go - there's nothing worse than being all dressed up with no place to go!

Finally, increasingly, clubs are holding “theme” nights. Many clubs now have “couples only” nights, from which single men are banned. As I don't go clubbing to meet couples normally, I have no experience of these nights, but I guess one of these nights would suit you if you are a couple not looking to meet single guys. Other types of nights include “greedy girls” nights, which are perfect for you if you are a woman who wants to play with several guys at once, or if you are a guy who likes to watch and/or participate in group sex. Then there are “bi” nights, which a few clubs in the country are now trying out. Although girl-on-girl sex is quite common in clubs, man-on-man sex is not usually seen. It does happen (believe me, it happens!), although a lot of people on the swinging scene frown upon it happening, particularly in public areas of the club. If you are a bi-male or a woman who likes watching man-on-man, a bi night is perfect for you. They are the best of all worlds! Before you go, do check with the club that they are not holding a theme night of a variety that might scare you off swinging for life!

So, those are the basics of club-style swinging as I see them. No one can give you a complete picture of the scene as we all have our own expectations, perceptions and agendas. The best way find out whether this scene is for you is to bite the bullet and go and see for yourself.