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As the Beatles put it (or nearly)
'All the swinging people - where do
they all come from?'
largely an invisible
breed who don't
want to publicise their
pleasures outside the
comfort-zone of their chosen
clubs. SS Bal talks to the
scene's owners and
organisers about their guests'
profiles - and why they visit.
It's getting to that moment. Animated
chatting with the occasional outbreak of
laughter. The clink of sparkling glasses and
guests slouched back into comfy chairs.
Ahead of us, a twenty-something couple
leans in to another couple at least ten years
their senior. Miss twenty-something is cooing
over Miss thirty-something's black silk Marc
Jacobs cocktail dress. Miss thirty-something
responds, stroking Miss twenty-something's
Christian Louboutin high-gloss heels. Their
men refill the champagne flutes from the
bottle of Bollinger nestling in the ice-bucket
Chinawhite? Amika? Crystal? No. This is
no swish London members' club. Actually,
we're in Leicestershire, at Liberty Elite
swingers' club on a busy couples' night. The
couples in view typify Liberty Elite's mix of
age-group, background and, in short, the
demographic of its members.
Making people happy...
'We attract the sort of people who are
looking for a venue that has a touch of
luxury and is decidedly upmarket,' says John
Enis, our host and the owner of Liberty Elite.
'This encompasses people from all walks of
life.We have people who are extremely rich,
chatting comfortably at the bar with people
who have to be very careful with their
finances. The reason we're successful is that
this is not just a business - this is something
we all enjoy doing. Importantly, we enjoy
making all our club members happy.'
There's certainly plenty of happiness about,
as we move beyond the cosy confines of the
lounge/bar area to the main group-room,
where couples are entwined on the
numerous beds provided. The babbling of
water can only mean a spa - very Roman
and very full. Its occupants are an interesting
blend. A young Asian couple snorkels with a
white middle-aged couple, while a size-zero
Oriental girl nets an athletic black guy and
his generously proportioned partner. Other
couples simply enjoy the invigorating current
of the water and atmosphere. All of life
seems to be in this spa - a swirl of
nationalities, physiques and ages... in fact, a
microcosm of society.
'Geographically, most of our guests live
within a one-hour drive, but we attract
people from as far afield as Scotland - and
quite a few members fly in regularly from
Ireland to spend a weekend with us,' Enis
says (before explaining that the Jacuzzi filter
operates on an impressive four-minute
cycle). 'As you can see, we have every race,
colour and creed under the sun, and they all
enjoy each other's company immensely. Our
records showed that we had at least twenty
per cent of members in from what could be
called "ethnic minority" origin.We also
discourage the predatory male behaviour you
see in other clubs, and the majority of single
ladies come along on Fridays when we are
open to single gents.'
Whether it's in the bar, the spa or the
cosy bedroom-simulated playrooms upstairs,
no-one seems to be at a loose end. That's
not to say that it's cliquey. Quite simply, the
club's been designed to invoke a laid-back,
sociable atmosphere in which strangers
quickly become acquaintances, and its recent
£500,000 refurbishment seems to have paid
Early in the night I return with drinks to find
my partner talking animatedly with three
girls who, just moments ago, were three
strangers. The subject... the hotel-style
opulence and scrupulous cleanliness of the
ladies' loos.Well, it was early in the night -
and once a club's passed the 'bathroom test'
it can only bode well for the rest of the night
- and it did! We discover that our new-found
friends are in relationships ranging from
'married' to 'fuck-buddy', with only one
couple living in the club's Lutterworth
vicinity. Another couple, from Surrey, had
decided to book a Liberty Elite hotel room
and make a night of it. The vocations range
from aircraft engineer to aspiring actress.
No doubt, this diverse group would be
welcome at Chameleons club in Darlaston,
near Birmingham. Chameleons is
acknowledged by many as the benchmark for
swingers' clubs and owner, Nick Griffiths, is a
veteran of some twenty years' standing.
Laid out over three levels, the club's
capacity is notable and Griffiths reports a
membership of 16,000 couples, 10,300
singles guys and 350 single females. 'They
make up an A-Z of professions and
backgrounds - government officials, the
police, factory workers, lawyers and
teachers,' he explains.
Anyone who's visited a busy
Chameleons cannot fail to note the club's
kaleidoscope of swinging variety. Griffiths
points out a buxom size-16ish lady in caress
with her younger size-8ish companion to
prove the point. 'It's what makes Chameleons
work.We don't discriminate against shape,
size or upper age, and our members enjoy
the variety. Tonight - it's Friday - we have
ninety couples in and seventy singles. You
don't have to be Ken and Barbie to enjoy
Chameleons although, as you can see, there
are some very attractive people about.'
He's not wrong. A bevy of beauties holds
court by the aquarium. One might expect
these girls and their young male partners to
be out dancing in Birmingham's club-land
with their peers. Instead, they seem more
fulfilled exhibiting their lithe frames in what
look like semi-sheer, spiral-boned corsets
from Agent Provocateur's 'Kate' range.
Chameleons is a preening palace for all,
irrespective of age or shape. According to
Griffiths, lithe or large doesn't matter here.
So, does it matter all? It seems it does, as
indicated by a growing outcrop of private
parties for swingers.
Hedonism UK is an established locus for
swingers' parties and club-nights which are
held every weekend in Greater London and
throughout the UK, for up to 150 guests.
Venues range from luxury houses with
swimming pools and spas, to classy onpremises
clubs. Hedonism parties feature a
mix which includes couples and exclusively
bisexual female parties.
With Hedonism's current membership
topping 3,000, director Derek Bromwich has
an interesting vantage point over the scene.
'We see Hedonism as a broad church, where
everyone can find their niche,' explains
Bromwich. 'We are membership-led, and it is
entirely up to the party hosts or club
organisers to decide how inclusive or
exclusive they wish their parties or club
nights to be. Most club venues are inclusive,
mainly owing to commercial considerations.'
However, where hosts wish to attract a
more defined section of the demographic to
their parties, the entry criteria are more
stringent. 'We have noted a growing desire
from some party hosts to invite a certain
type of guest to their parties,' he observes.
'Approximately twenty percent of house
parties have either strict age- or physicalprofile
restrictions, or both, and require
photos from prospective guests.We do not
discourage this. However, this generally
applies only to the smaller selective parties
for up to twenty couples.'
He outlines the rationale for this in health
and social terms. 'Levels of obesity in the
country are becoming an issue. Obese people
may not be offended by slim people, but
many slim people are offended by obesity.
This is now a political, social and health
issue, which far transcends the swing scene.
The majority of swingers, in my experience,
are a cross-section of Middle England, with
the same prejudices and concerns as nonswingers.
They cannot be neatly packaged up
into liberal, left or right - look at our stats!'
Indeed, Hedonism's statistics make
interesting reading (we include a sample
table overleaf). Its professions category
shows the self-employed leading the list and
membership of females (25-29 age-group)
exceeding that of their male counterparts.
Niche party recruitment
This statistic probably wouldn't surprise
Nottingham-based Freja Kensington, whose
parties are aimed primarily at females. Her
Belle Baise parties admit only the young and
attractive, as decreed by Belle Baise's judging
panel. 'It is exclusive and it is elitist,' says
Kensington, 'but I make no apologies for that.
People who come to Belle Baise aren't
looking to meet the love of their life or make
deep spiritual connections. They want an
erotic experience with other beautiful
Her first parties crystallised after
Kensington's disillusionment with the
swinging scene when she decided that it
needed to be more female-responsive. 'I
began to go to fetish clubs and swingers'
clubs in my early twenties and, although I
had great fun, I never felt particularly sexy in
those environments,' she says. 'They were
seedy and sometimes even grubby, and I
didn't like how out-of-place and leered at I
felt as a young woman. I later found myself
organising parties for a small group of friends
who persuaded me to try it on a larger scale.'
With this in mind, Belle Baise set about
creating its sexual Utopia in which idealised
perfection and fantasy indulgence were
nurtured to life. 'Not many people fantasise
about ugly people,' she explains quite
reasonably. 'When most people fantasise
about orgies, they imagine them to star a
cast of good-looking playmates.What is
wonderful about Belle Baise is that if you are
involved in a pile-up of beautiful bodies you
don't have to worry if you can't see the face
of the person touching your thigh, because
you know that they're attractive. This allows
people to be much more uninhibited and
relaxed.When people apply, they have to fill
in an application form and email us a few
pictures.We do this to make sure that our
parties really are for the young and beautiful.
Anyone whom we feel would not be popular
with the other guests is gently turned down.'
Passing the 'gorgeous' test
In her twenties also, Kensington is at
particular pains to make young female
guests feel at home with the environment.
'My parties are aimed at bisexual women,
and I didn't want women to feel they had to
wear PVC nurses' uniforms or tacky lingerie
to turn on the men,' she explains.
'I wanted them to wear something that
made them feel sexy and confident. I also
wanted an environment that made people
feel comfortable, even if they were new to
swinging and weren't sure if they wanted to
get involved. It's intimidating for newbies if
they feel they have to wear something ultrasexual
or even strip to a towel when they
arrive. That's why I decided to make the
dress-code cocktail- or party-dress for
women and suits for men. The women dress
to impress the other women rather than the
men! Belle Baise is all about celebrating
female sexuality. Most of the single girls who
attend are interested in exploring sex with
other women and relish the chance to be the
centre of attention.'
Physical attraction tops the Belle Baise
membership conditions, with age a close
second. So, in theory, there's no reason why a
thirty-five-year old Adonis shouldn't get in.
'The average age of Belle Baise guests is
twenty-seven, and we aim membership at
the under-thirty-fives,' says Kensington. 'The
majority are under thirty, and some as young
as nineteen. We don't have a strict upper
age-limit, as we go on attractiveness rather
than age, but it is rare that people in their
late thirties or early forties are accepted
unless they are exceptionally attractive.'
An elite female niche
This youthful membership displays a
demographic mix of location and
backgrounds - 'Guests come from all over
the country - and they even fly in from
Europe to be with us,' she reports. 'They are
mostly well-educated - but because they are
young, not all of them are wealthy. This is
why I keep our ticket-price as reasonable as
possible - we want the young and beautiful,
rather than the rich, to apply for our parties.
Many of our guests are students or
professionals, early in their career. If entry
was expensive, they might feel pressured to
get involved to 'get their money's worth'.
I like to feel that even if you don't get
involved in the play, you'll still have had a
great night. The value is in our beautifullyfurnished
penthouse apartments, lit with
dozens of candles, scattered silk cushions,
fresh flowers and chilled champagne."
Evidently, drawing from such a defined
sector of the public has not limited Belle
Baise's guest and variety quota. 'We attract a
large number of first-timers because of the
low average age,' says Kensington. 'However,
we have a large number of guests who
frequently return, so everyone at the party is
either new - or remembers what it was like
to be new. I like to make sure that there are
no more than around forty guests at each
party. Our parties sometimes sell out months
before the dates, and we have a waiting-list
of people wanting to attend. I never realised
that people would travel across the UK to
spend the weekend in the East Midlands in
order to attend an orgy!'
The good news is that,
no matter where
you're from or who
you are, the country's
swinging clubs and
parties have a distinct
Quality Street factor -
every one is someone's
What Sort of People Swing
Hedonism UK gave us an interesting
insight into the make-up of their
membership from figures compiled
over the last year... Take a look and
draw your own conclusions - but one
thing's for sure, those 'middle years'
people are having a good time...
Out of the current
66 per cent are couples
28 per cent are single men
6 per cent are single ladies
- At 35.71 per cent, the largest group of
members were in business or self-employed.
- Almost 12 per cent of members came from
the media, arts and entertainment.
- The next greatest group was banking,
insurance and finance (7.68 per cent),
followed by computing and IT (6.54 per
cent), and advertising, marketing and sales
(6.24 per cent)
- Then came construction and property (5.28
per cent), education, science and academic
(5.22 per cent), and catering and services
(4.98 per cent)
- The next groups were engineering (3.96 per
cent), medical (3.66 per cent) and transport
(2.46 per cent), law (1.8 per cent), civil
service and admin (1.56 per cent each), and
sport and leisure (1.48 per cent)
- Farming/agriculture and other occupations
accounted for the rest of the membership
From the total number
- At 10.48 per cent, the largest number of
women are between the ages of 35 and 39
- The next largest group of women are
between 40 and 44
- The figures are reversed for men, with 12.52
per cent aged 35 and 39, and 15.14 percent
between 40 and 44
Of the couples
-With over 26 per cent, women between the
ages of 35 and 39 were by far the largest
group, followed by just over 21 per cent
between 40 and 44
- At 19.3 per cent, men between the ages of
35 and 39 were the second largest group,
the greatest number (29.9 per cent) were
between 40 and 44
Of the singles
- There is a similar balance to the couples
among women - 20 per cent between 35
and 39, and 30 per cent between 40 and 44
- Younger men come into the picture with
almost 24 percent between 30 and 34 and
almost 25 per cent between 35 and 39 (the
figure for 45-49 year-olds drops to just over
17 per cent)