Skip to main content

Home Culture Culture Features

2022: the year sex parties went mainstream

After Covid, people wanted a taste of hedonism, and sex parties — once dismissed as seedy and sleazy — started being spoken about openly

By Florence Bark

As someone who talks endlessly and openly about sex for a living, I had long wanted to attend a sex party. And this year there was something in the air that made it feel like the perfect time to experience one. 

One Sunday around a month ago, I took off my casual wear and put on some fishnets, a tiny thong and a very see-through mesh top. With a couple of friends in tow, I arrived at Crossbreed, a queer sex party based in Hackney Wick, at around 5pm. The entrance was tucked away behind black tarpaulin-covered fences, next to some bars and a brewery whose oblivious patrons were tucking into drinks and food. As I stepped inside the venue after a rigorous vetting process, my senses were completely flooded by the sight of half-naked bodies clad in leather, latex, PVC, lingerie, you name it — if it was sexy, people were wearing it. I was instantly exhilarated by the atmosphere of freedom. My evening was spent getting to know new people, dancing to techno and, of course, having good sex. Doing so in this space enabled me to safely explore corners of my sexuality I hadn’t before and, most of all, to be freaky and free. 

Fellow party-goers at the event told me it had never been this busy. The founder of Crossbreed, Kiwi, informed me that their attendee population has also “diversified immensely”. “We are seeing more young and previously closeted queers finding home and sanctuary in our spaces,” they say. “The community seems very united and caring and I think shares values beyond just ‘ooh, sex party’.” 

A few years ago, I only heard about sex parties in very specific circles such as in the kink world and from stories of random and outlandish trips to Berlin. They had a notably sleazy reputation. Now, friends that are usually very strait-laced and monogamous are curious about them. 

It’s hard to imagine a surge in people happily swapping bodily fluids taking place after a pandemic, but strangely we can’t get involved quickly enough. Sex parties have never been so mainstream and, if you’re interested, you’d better start following venues’ social media accounts — nights are selling out fast. 

“We want a taste of hedonism. I’m personally excited by the change in attitudes towards sex. Hopefully it’s the start of something quite beautiful. And by that, I mean 30-person orgies for all”

This dramatic shift started a few years ago alongside — and partly as a result of — the UK’s expanding queer party scene. You may be aware of fairly new events like Pussy Palace or Club Quarantine, which provide safe spaces for LGBTQs to express themselves and to wear whatever they want. 

As well as popular DJs now existing in these sexual safe spaces, fashion has also changed the way we view sex. With brands like Balenciaga styling full latex looks, kink has been a visual trend for at least a couple of years. Although this doesn’t directly influence sex party attendance, it does ignite a desire to explore your sexuality through clothing, which ultimately makes us feel more at ease wearing kink attire and to find spaces where it’s acceptable to do so. 

I asked my Instagram followers why they go to sex parties. Their reasons included the ability to express themselves in queer-friendly spaces, to “meet likeminded people” and “exploring their relationship to their sexuality”. Although these answers weren’t surprising, what was interesting was the type of person opening up and having these conversations in the first place. You know Sam and Anna from next door? Well, they went to a sex party last weekend. Previously, those who might have only gossiped about sex with friends now feel comfortable enough to explore sensuality with strangers. 

In addition to conversations around sex becoming more accessible due to social media, the internet, and my podcast F**ks Given, we have had a serious wake-up call. And that is to live your life fully and enjoy it while you can, because in this strange, unpredictable decade for the world, absolutely anything can happen that takes away our liberty. After being held back, we want a taste of hedonism. I’m personally excited by the change in attitudes towards sex. Hopefully it’s the start of something quite beautiful. And by that, I mean 30-person orgies for all.

Taken from the December/January 2023 issue of Rolling Stone UK. Read the rest of our essays reviewing 2022 here.