Superstitious

I’m sitting/sweating in my 83* kitchen, with a bowl of orange chicken courtesy of Costco, listening to Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious.”

Something deep has shifted for me this summer. Something deep inside has shifted in a way that will never shift back to a “before.” There is only “now” (and the “future,” which I could never predict anyway).

This week I’ve eaten: Chicken burrito. BshelovesmeshelovesmenotBQ kettle chips. A truly insane amount of 85% dark chocolate. Green chile chicken sausages. A disgusting amount of mac ‘n cheese. Malted ice cream. And now the orange chicken. I’m PMSing, to be sure, but also going through the most unique “break up” that I’ve experienced.

Pretty much everyone who cares about me could have (and did) predicted that I’d be here now, three months later, a bit heartbroken and (yes, still) confused as fuck. It was still worth it, and maybe it’s not entirely over. (If she’d text me back, I could get on with that conversation).

Besides feeling heartbreak over someone who didn’t even think of us as “dating,” (despite sleepovers, falling asleep in each other’s arms, kissing, having emotionally and mentally intimate conversations, and being treated like each other’s “daters”- introductions to friends and families and touching lower backs in front of people) this summer has also been a witness to:

-My desire to have my own bedroom. I’m moving up into the attic! J, you can do whatever you want with that front bedroom.

-Conversations with our best friends about them moving into our basement. Communal living has never been more appealing to me.

-My concrete realization that touch and time are too important to me to go without in relationships.

-My sister and her girlfriend becoming engaged, and several other friends getting married or engaged.

-My decision to leave my full time job in lieu of teaching (continuing on with Human Sexuality and adding Women’s Reproductive Health) and dancing and continuing on with school.

-Intense community (dis)engagement in my local sex worker community.

-The closing of Club Sesso in Portland. So so so so much sadness over that.

-Further questioning of what it means to be queer, poly, communicative, assertive, and respectful. Why have I now met so many, and felt the attitude from others, that you can’t really be a woman who loves other women if you also love men? I don’t like it.

-Questioning unhealthy and abusive dynamics in relationships that are close to me.

-Some continued self-acceptance, appreciation, and love for myself and my physical body.

-Questioning of the importance of sex (shocking perhaps- especially if you are a longtime reader of mine). Specifically- witnessing the development of the feeling of romantic love without sex happening in a relationship. I’m still letting that sift through my brain.

-Reading a few books, all of which I would recommend- Janet Mock’s memoir on growing up trans, Redefining Realness; Sarah Katherine Lewis’ memoir on her work in the sex industry, Indecent; and local Sarah Mirk’s Sex From Scratch. I’m also in the middle of both of Brene Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly.

-My overhaul of my OKC account. I even bought the stupid A-list membership so I could change my username.

When I opened my computer, I felt excited- I haven’t let myself have this kind of down-time in so long. And enough down-time to where I have the energy and interest in blogging. I want to do it like I used to do it. And maybe I will, but like I said at the beginning, there can never be a “before.” There is only “now,” and for today, right now I am doing this thing that I love.

I hope all of your summers have been rich and full heart-achey and full of learning and longing and love. Hopefully I will see you all soon.

Vote for SexualityReclaimed!

My blog was nominated for the Annual Lifestle Awards!! Show some love and vote for your various favorite blogs, podcasts, clubs, cruises, and more here: http://www.annuallifestyleawards.com/vote-here/

Much thanks for the nomination! Yay for lifestyle community and celebration!

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Sex Club Etiquette

What do you do when you go to a sex club or swingers club for the first time? What behaviors are expected? How do you interact with someone that invited you, or with others that you meet there? We don’t grow up learning scripts for sex clubs (generally speaking!) so it’s up to our adult selves to learn how to navigate these new social/sexual situations. Hopefully this piece sheds some light on some generally accepted modes of behaving.

Many sex clubs have sets of rules that will help guide members’ behaviors. Club Sesso in Portland offers the following list:

  • No Cell Phone Use (including texting or swapping phone nunbers)
  • Ask Before You Touch- Ask Once and Only Once
  • No Means No
  • Do Not Stalk People
  • Treat Everyone with Dignity and Respect
  • Do Not Open Closed Doors or Curtains
  • Do Not Interrupt Others
  • Do Not Be Creepy
  • Do Not Masturbate Outside Play Areas
  • Clean Up Your Own Mess
  • Use Common Sense!

The list seems pretty intuitive, right? It’s surprising how many people I’ve seen break the rules, intentionally and unintentionally. On the whole, though, I’ve witnessed respectful behavior and good communication at Sesso.

But what about the more subtle and complex interactions for which rules aren’t made explicit or posted?

Or what about when you meet your long-time sexy friends at the sex club and you or they end up hooking up with new people before you have a chance to check in?

What happens when you meet a new friends with benefits at the club and they end up hooking up with someone else?

We once brought a woman as a guest, who I had met on a dating site and had a date with. I didn’t expect us to have sex and I knew she was interested in socializing and checking out the space. And yet, when she ended up going into a room with a couple she met there, leaving us to wait for her for an hour until she was done so we could drive her home, I ended up feeling a little resentful. Not because I felt like I had a right to have sex with her, but because the communication between the two of us was sorely lacking.

Communication is key. Proactive communication is the best. Have conversations with your partners, new friends, potential new hook-ups, etc before anything happens: flush out who, what, where, how, when, why. Make agreements before entering a social/sexual space so that you have a foundation from which to explore. This does get tricky when you are going with a new date or meeting them there, as perhaps those more explicit conversations wouldn’t naturally take place yet, so it’s even more important to buck up and talk about your expectations, desires, and comfort levels. Part of navigating a social/sexual space like a swingers club is social intelligence, too: what would it tell you if someone you brought left your side to go hook-up with someone else without an explanation? That kind of exclusive behavior can signal a lack of interest unless there has been some explicit verbal communication to provide more robust information.

Options:

“Hey, you’re really cute! I’d love to play tonight if we get the opportunity, so let me know if you’re up for it!”

“Hi friends! We’d love to play tonight, but we’re also open to playing with the new people we met here tonight. So if we don’t play tonight is that okay with you?”

“I know we’ve only had one date, and there is definitely no pressure for us to do anything, but I would love to hang out more and have some time to talk with you more while we’re here together.”

How do you navigate sex/swingers clubs? How does it feel different operating as a couple versus a single person? Have you encountered especially tricky situations, or can you imagine what some might be? How did you resolve them, or how would you want to?

 

Nonmonogamy research, gender, self care, and HIV

Links to share:

This is a pretty fascinating summary of research done on the perception of different types of nonmonogamy; spoiler alert, poly folks were perceived to be more moral while swingers were perceived to be more adventurous.

A pretty awesome piece written on the lessons to be gained from dating someone in an open relationship

A fun compilation of vagina facts

Ginny on using language to be more gender-inclusive

The Gottman blog on self care, autonomy, closeness, and relationship interdependence

Interesting ideas on why childfree couples seem to cheat less than their counterparts with children

I love this infographic from The Lancet on HIV and sex workers:

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Events

For those of you in Portland:

The next Mystery Box show is August 9th.

Upcoming SheBop workshops include a workshop with Sex Nerd Sandra (sadly, full already, but still cool to know that she’ll be here!) and a reading in September with Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert on their new book  More Than Two.

I still want to make it to Gallery Sesso one of these months. The next one is Thursday August 7th at 6pm.

Any sexy fun events you want to share?

From Oh Joy Sex Toy, in promoting SheBop and all its awesomeness:

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Velvet Rope vs. Club Sesso

I realize that I have written a formal post on New Horizons in Seattle, but that I have not done the same for the clubs in Portland- Velvet Rope and Club Sesso (I did write a description of Sesso for DatingAdvice, but did not explicitly name Sesso in the article. You can read that description here).

So if you are looking to explore a swingers club in Portland, and are trying to decide which club to try out, my bottom line advice is:

Go to both.

They are categorically different clubs and offer different experiences. I have only been to Velvet Rope twice, and Sesso countless times, and so I recognize that I am not the most qualified person to compare and contrast the two (and, I obviously prefer Sesso).

But like I said, the two offer different experiences, so it’s important to try both out, especially if you are new to the swinger scene and don’t know what to expect.

I like to describe Sesso as a sexy night club and VR as your neighborhood bar with a sexy twist. While Sesso has been built to emulate a night club and has a dance floor that you can watch from the upstairs balcony, VR feels like a converted office building and the space has random rooms and spaces. Sesso is loud, especially on the weekends, and VR is quiet. While the crowd and music at Sesso makes it feel like a crowded and social space (because it is), it means that you can’t often have good conversation with people you don’t know, because you have to talk loudly or yell to be heard. VR has an advantage here, because you can actually talk with people. Other compare and contrast characteristics: VR has hot tubs; Sesso doesn’t. VR has a smoking patio; Sesso doesn’t (smokers have to stand outside the front of the building). VR offers a more inclusive feel (they often have drag queens and male strippers perform); Sesso has a more heteronormative feel. VR is cheaper; Sesso is more expensive (and just raised its prices, which I am hating, and is actually a reason we have not been going as much). Both offer food, but Sesso has a full buffet (dinner at first, changed out to breakfast later on), while VR’s offering is much smaller and less appealing. Sesso’s aesthetic is more consistent and new than that in VR, making it feel cleaner to me. In both you are responsible for cleaning up your play areas, but at Sesso volunteers spray down each play surface before new folks use it, while at VR just the sheets are traded out. The crowd at both venues is pretty body-positive- there is a wide range of body shapes and sizes and ages present. At Sesso, though, more people get dressed up (as there is actually a dress code loosely enforced), while at VR it’s much more low-key, clothes-wise. Both play porn, both have non-private orgy spaces, both have rooms with doors that close. Both have condoms everywhere.

I know there is a community that frequents VR that absolutely loves it, and prefers it hands-down to Sesso. I think the fact that it is a more mellow, quiet space and is a smaller core community makes it feel homey for people. I think it is awesome that it offers a more inclusive space for sex-positive people of many identities.

I prefer Sesso overall, though, because I like socializing with people, and there are just more people at Sesso to socialize with. I also really like getting dressed up when I go out, and being around others who get dressed up- it makes the experience feel more sexy and glamorous to me.

Want a handy chart of how I view the two? Here it is:

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Have you been to both clubs? What is your preference? Do you disagree or agree with anything I wrote? Comment! Especially so that others exploring their options can see different perspectives on the two clubs 🙂

Body Catharsis

We were standing upstairs, and I was watching the women dance in the cage below. I want to do that. But I feel so unattractive. After watching for another 20 minutes or so, I felt an adrenaline surge and my arms and legs start to tingle. I’m going down there. I’ve got to.

I got in the cage with two other women and started dancing. I felt self-conscious. I kept my eyes closed for almost the entire twenty minutes I was in there. It felt like twenty hours. Stay in here, keep going. I even let my dress come up, revealing my neon blue thong. Every so often I pulled my dress back down to cover my ass. Just keep dancing, please.

After a while I started feeling better. Opening my eyes a little more. Taking up more space. Smiling more. Feeling more grounded. And happy. For the rest of the evening, I felt a bit more like myself.

The next day at work I felt pretty good. The crowd and money were slow, but for the most part, I had a fantastic time dancing and watching myself move in the mirrors. I still noticed the extra weight, but it didn’t feel quite as devastating.

Movement is important for me, especially how much I can be in my head. On Friday night at our club, I told J I just can’t get out of my head. It is near impossible for me to shake myself out of obsessive thoughts. Dancing is one of the only escapes I have found.

What do you do for cathartic release?

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