Monday, March 13, 2017

A Visit to Le Trapeze (#swinging #sexclub #adventures)

Le Trapeze sign

By Lisabet Sarai

[Note: this is a repost from another blog. Furthermore, the experiences discussed date from more than a decade ago. Apparently the club is now closed ( Very sad. Still, it’s a perfect fit to the topic, so I thought readers might enjoy it anyway.]

Have you visited a sex club?

Would you like to?

I’m no expert on swinging. However, I can share my personal experiences at the famous New York sex club, Le Trapeze. My husband and I have spent close to a dozen evenings there over the years, when we happen to be in the city on a weekend.

Le Trapeze does not exactly match the way such places are portrayed in erotic romance. It's not particularly glamorous, and definitely not dangerous. However, I don't think that you'll be disappointed either.

Le Trapeze is less well known than Plato's Retreat, but I believe that it dates from the same era, the swinging seventies. There's a nondescript door on East 27th Street with a sign—the name but nothing more. When you enter, there's a kiosk to your left. You'll be asked for your membership card and the substantial entry fee. Everything's on a first name only basis. Entrance is restricted to couples or the occasional threesome; single males are prohibited.

There's a buzz and you pull the door open, stepping into a world where you just might be able to realize your fantasies.

The light is pleasantly dim, with a flattering rosy tinge. Rock music with a heavy bass thumps in the background. Ahead of you is a counter with a coat check and a bowl of free condoms. A nude soft sculpture angel swings on a trapeze over the head of the smiling clerk. To your right you'll find a dance floor complete with a twirling disco ball, surrounded by couches which are occupied by people in various stages of undress. A TV on the wall displays adult movies, a never-ending parade of penetrations to get you in the right mood. To your left is the bar and buffet—no alcohol is served, although you're welcome to bring a bottle, but the entry fee includes soft drinks and all you can eat.

Of course, you're not thinking much about food.

If it's your first time, Len, the manager, will give you a tour. He's a friendly bear, with a powerful body, curly gray hair, and a relaxed manner. He leads you down a corridor lined with closed doors. “Private rooms,” he says. “No one will disturb you if the door is shut.” The area at the end of the corridor includes a kind of mezzanine, a raised platform shielded by a wrought iron barrier, the floor strewn with mattresses. Although it's early, you can make out a few naked forms on those mattresses, limbs entwined or humping away with frenetic energy. You try not to stare, much as you want to. Later, you'll come to understand that it's perfectly okay to watch. That's the whole point.

To the far right, Len points out the entrance to the locker room. “Rick will give you a number. Just ask him when you want to get in to your locker. You've both got to be there, though. Any couple who comes together has to leave together.” This is one of the few rules at Le Trapeze. The other one, which everyone seems to know without being told, is “no means no”.

Next to the mezzanine, a spiral stairway leads to the second floor. At the foot is the entrance to the spacious orgy room, which features wall-to-wall mattresses and a mirrored ceiling. You blush. You've never seen so many naked people playing, not even in the porn flicks you and your husband sometimes enjoy together.

Len points upward. “Upstairs are semi-private rooms. Some of them have—equipment.” When you investigate later, you find odd chairs of twisted metal tubes, with stirrups to support spread thighs, vaguely reminiscent of a doctor's office but offering far better access. The “semi-private rooms”, you discover, have no doors. They tend to be occupied by triples or quartets. The narrow hallway running between them is crowded with naked men and women, all craning for a view. You feel a hand weighing your breast, a hardness brushing your rump, casual, exploratory. Do you want this? You can say yes. You can say no. Or you can simply be silent, allowing things to happen.

After the tour, you can return to the locker room and strip, wrapping up in the towel Rick hands you. Or you can stay dressed for a while, relaxing on one of the sofas, making out and getting turned on by the people around you.

When we visit, I like to wear something risqué and accessible. Think plunging necklines, fishnet stockings, high-heeled boots. So I don't necessarily want to get naked right away. We'll settle down near the dance floor, on one of those plush couches. My husband will slip his hand under my miniskirt and finger me through my split crotch; I'll loose his erection from his pants and start to stroke. I might slip to my knees and take him in my mouth, feeling my skirt ride up my damp thighs, deliciously aware of the lustful eyes that might be feasting on us as I feast on his cock.

There's no pressure. You don't have do anything, if you're not comfortable. But there's this wonderful sense of permissiveness. You're allowed to ogle the men and women around you—you're expected to. You don't need to feel guilty. You don't need to torture yourself wondering if they might be interested in a sexual encounter—it's understood, though of course any particular individual or couple might decline your invitations. The social constraints are relaxed. You're not going to offend or shock someone with your desires. Everyone here is horny.

The physical variety of people playing at Le Trapeze is remarkable. There are taut, athletic twenty-somethings as well as well-worn couples ten years older than we are. Given New York's multicultural population, you'll see complexions of every hue, buzzcuts and dreadlocks, tattoos and piercings. There are always a few pairs who are simply drop-dead gorgeous. My husband and I know that we're unlikely to be of interest to them, but they're a lot of fun to watch.

About half the times we've visited Le Trapeze, we haven't gotten involved with anyone else. The other times, we've started with conversation and then adjourned to a private or semi-private room. I don't really care to be intimate with someone based entirely on a physical attraction. In fact it's difficult for me to separate physical from emotional attraction. As I've shared in other blogs, my husband and I have always been interested in polyamory. We come to Le Trapeze hoping that a connection might turn into a more enduring relationship. So far we haven't been successful in our quest. However, we've had some good times during the search!

You might wonder about jealousy. How does it feel to watch your husband having sex with another woman? How does he react when a stranger goes down on you or fingers you to orgasm?

I can't speak for other couples, but somehow neither of us are bothered. We know that we're going home (or back to our hotel) together. I have no doubt at all that I turn my husband on. The fact that he's aroused by other women as well does not reduce his attraction to me. The fact that I'm bisexual makes things even easier, since we tend to have similar tastes in women.

Do I get nervous? Certainly—pretty much every time we visit. I feel shy and embarrassed at first. However, it soon becomes difficult for me to distinguish the trembling of anxiety from the buzz of excitement. The atmosphere at Le Trapeze is ripe with sex. You can't help but feel it and react.

We tend to end up in the orgy room on nearly every visit. Usually we're just concentrating on each other. He'll be on top of me. Our reflection in the mirror above us amplifies every sensation. Perhaps a finger will trace a circle around my nipple. Unfamiliar pubic hair will rub against my thigh. A solid, foreign cock will brush my palm in invitation. I can accept or decline.

Or I'll be straddling my darling, hands braced against the wall, grinding myself against his luscious hardness. I arch my back, knowing that in some sense we are performing, and enjoying every instant. Perhaps there will be hands cupping my ass or stroking my cleft. My husband feels them, too, and groans.

The one disappointing aspect of Le Trapeze, for me, is that it is close to 100% vanilla. Also, there's no male-male sex. In that sense, it's quite traditional. I know that fetish clubs exist, but my husband has zero interest in BDSM, and I wouldn't feel comfortable going on my own. (That is something that would make him jealous, a sexual experience that we couldn't share.)

I guess that in this case, I'll have to continue using my imagination.


  1. Wow, sounds like a seriously fun-filled night out. And I thought you were going to tell us about a visit to the circus...

    1. We've spent perhaps half a dozen nights there. Each one was different. Some more fun than others. Probably the most enjoyable was the Halloween party we attended there...I'm sure you can imagine!

  2. I've only been in one sex club- Mission Control in San Francisco. I wasn't there for sex per se, but for a Susie Bright writing workshop, so the regular scene wasn't in operation. I really didn't realize what the place was until I saw the rules posted. As Lisabet says, the main caution was 'no means no.' But in this place, attendees were asked NOT to stare. In my mind, the watching/being watched would be the draw for many. Maybe the rule was lax like that, and I'm sure it'd be okay if somebody was asked to watch.

    It was a fairly long time ago, maybe seven years, so I don't remember subtleties of the no-nos. From what I understand, single males are seldom admitted to sex clubs. Although I was required to join the club to enter for the meeting, I never went back. It isn't Momma X's scene and I never tried to get a date for their regular parties.

    Within the last few years, the club was outed in a newspaper article, saying that the new 20-and-30 something tech crowd had adopted Mission Control as somewhere they could find sex and not take a lot of time to accomplish it. I guess so the workaholics can get back to work. Not long after the article, the place was shut down. Apparently the absentee landlord evicted them after seeing the piece in the newspaper. :>(

    1. Maybe on the West Coast, people are all worried about "objectification"...

  3. I wonder whether Paddles in NYC still exists. I was there maybe eight or ten years ago, with some of the writers (and a couple of their friends) from one of my anthologies when we were in town for a reading. There were probably some interesting things going on in some areas that we didn't penetrate (ha) but we staked out an area on a small mezzanine. What I chiefly remember is that I had to pay for some of our group because the fee was raised that night as a fundraiser for the man/boy organization whose name I can't remember. Also I learned (although I already knew) that while I don't mind some vigorous wrestling, hair pulling and banging of heads against the wall make me mad rather than aroused. I come across the hair-pulling thing often in erotica submissions, but I just can't understand the appeal.

    1. I've never been to a kink-club, though I've read quite a few real world descriptions. Although I'm very curious, I realize it might be a let-down because my interest in D/s has much more to do with the psychological than the physical aspects.

      I share your feelings about hair pulling though!

  4. These clubs sound like features of a Golden Age that has passed. I'm glad those of you who visited them are willing to describe them. The closest I've come to a club or sex party was a wild rumour about me that my sweetie was told when we were still only dating -- supposedly, I was very popular at some naked soiree that never happened (at least not in my experience). She was supposed to be turned off. Ha.

    1. Thinking about the closure of Le Trapeze, I came up with the theory that it was killed by mobile phones. Last time I was there was maybe 2004, before mobiles and especially mobile cameras were ubiquitous. Obviously you can't ask people not to bring their phones these days, but in an environment like that it would be impossible to guarantee the privacy of attendees.

      Yeah, the Golden Age indeed. I'm glad I could be a part of it.

    2. Mobile phones really do seem like a likely culprit...

  5. It's funny how topics like this seem to come in waves. First Lisabet's illuminating posting, then this piece below in Dear Abbey this morning:

    Dear Abby:

    My husband wants to be with other women. He has spent the past 12 years asking for a threesome. I love him and don’t want to share him with the world, but he doesn’t love me the same.

    We have been together more than 29 years. He says he just wants to have fun. Since I’m not interested in swinging with him and others, should I just get a divorce? I’m a 51-year-old woman who is still very sexually active, yet I am not enough for him. I have tried everything. I’m tired. Dear Abby, please help.

    So here's my "Dear Lisabet,"

    I've never been to one of these clubs, but I would love to experience it. In the past, my wife has been quite open about nudity and sex, as we've made love on top of a Mayan pyramid and out under the full moon on the 18th hole of a golf course. But I don't know how she would react to my suggesting we "experiment" in a scene like you've described. I'd like to broaden my/our horizons, but fear my wife might react like the woman who wrote in to Dear Abbey. Since you've been there, done that, what would you suggest?
    Mike (M. Millswan)

    1. Hello, Mike,

      I'm no Abby, but I think the key to a good relationship is honesty. If you have this desire but feel uncomfortable sharing it with her, that's just going to fester and sour your feelings about her.

      From my observation, most sexual jealousy stems from fears of abandonment or feelings of inadequacy. As the woman in the Abby letter says, "I'm not enough for him".

      So if your wife really knows and believes you love her, that you're not seeking to replace her but just to explore and have some fun, she might be amenable to trying. You need to make it really clear that she's in control, also. If she's unhappy or uncomfortable, she can call a halt at any time.

      And of course, this sort of place isn't one-sided. You might explore whether she has any fantasies about having sexual interactions with man other than you.

      Also, I've found it arousing and fun just to be there playing with my spouse, without getting involved with anyone else. Going to this sort of venue isn't a commitment to swapping.

  6. I thought this post was fascinating. The world is so much more complex than we can guess. I don't have words for what I'm thinking but I just want to say thank you.

  7. As in yes. Fascinating. The imagination boils at what might have been.

  8. Just posted a long response and when I tried to publish it, my browser crashed as Jack-in-the-box dumped my connection. I'll respond when I get back to the house.

  9. We've been to Swinger's Clubs all across the US and most of them resemble the one you described Lisabet, in one fashion or another. It's too bad that the clubs are often in less than reputable areas of town but I guess that's the nature of the beast.

    As Lisabet pointed out there are two basic rules, don't go in closed doors as those are private parties and don't join the action in open rooms, unless invited. With an open door, you can generally go in and watch but before you jump in the pile, make sure it is okay. This is one of the reasons clubs don't allow single guys as they will always fuck up a good thing.

    The people in orgy rooms are generally speaking more open to having you join them but don't just stuff something in a random girl's mouth without some signal. Typically, you will party with the same crowd most of the time and it's pretty obvious as to who is a Northern girl and who is a Southern girl. A Northern girl says, "You can." While a Southern girl says, "You all can."

    We've been to conventions where the entire hotel is reserved and security keeps everyone out that's not part of the group. Those are a lot of fun as big areas are often clothes optional and you can meet hundreds of couples from all over the country. We generally prefer house parties or local club groups most of the time.

    We have an annual New Year's Eve party of 50-60 couples in our house and the party generally lasts until the next work day. As we travel a lot, we invite couples from all over the country so there's often a big mix of people.

    Most cities of reasonable size will often have a number of house parties going on every weekend. As with most things, the parties will be in different socio/economic strata and so if you don't enjoy the people you meet try a different group.

    For new couples, finding a party is often difficult but once you get in a group you like, you'll find that you will be invited to parties all the time. There are typically couples who have parties regularly and it's a good idea to become friends with them. Back in the mid-west, we even had a swinger's bowling league, Friends and Lovers. The bowling alley said we doubled their business. LOL

    You will now find that you have two sets of friends straight and party people. It's best to have two little black books, so that you don't accidently invite your neighbor to your wife's first gang bang. Respect other's privacy and don't ask questions like where do you work and who are your parents. Typically, swingers go by first names only as straights still don't accept us and you don't want to be outed by one of your straight friends. A lot of couples have business cards with first names and phone number or email address only on them.

    Remember that just because you go to a house party, doesn't mean that you have to have sex if you don't feel attracted to someone and no always means no. My wife is known as The Instigator, she'll get everyone in a pile and then she disappears but she's so good at starting shit, so she gets a pass.

    And as Lisabet said, there are few bi-sexual men but most of the women go both ways and that's often the way a new couple gets started, with the girls getting together and the men joining in later.

    We've found the Lifestyle to be a lot of fun and a safe environment for the many women who are exhibitionists to show off without getting into trouble, unless they want to. Several of the couples we run with are in a cuckold/Hotwife relationship and enjoy watching their wife with other men. It's nice that you can be open about your kink and no one thinks anything of it.

    1. Hi, Larry! Thanks so much for sharing your much more extensive experience!

      We went to a few house parties. Mostly we didn't enjoy them as much as Le Trapeze. Maybe, as you say, a socioeconomic mismatch. After all, Le Trapeze was in Manhattan! Our sort of place. (In a quite nice area downtown, actually...)

      We also went to at least one swingers dance party. That was fun. That was held at a hotel; if you found a couple you liked, you were expected to take the action upstairs.

      As you say, one of the most liberating things is the acceptance you feel, and the freedom to act on things that most people consider only in their fantasies. It does take a certain level of self-confidence, though. If you're insecure about your relationship or feel threatened, it's not likely to work.

  10. Thanks for the post! There's still a club near me, though I've never been. (I once went so far as to fill out the application, but never actually showed up). This makes me think I should get there before it's too late, if I want to be sure to see it.

    1. You might find it boring. Le Trapeze was fun, but very straight!

    2. Actually, we went to a swing club in Providence once, called the Black Key Club. I had high hopes for the place because the owners, a couple, understood the impact of environment and role playing. They had different rooms in their large Victorian house decorated with different themes.

      Alas, I was disappointed, partly because I was most attracted to the hostess (who didn't seem to have reciprocal feelings), and because unlike Le Trapeze, there were a lot of single men, which gave the scene a somewhat creepy vibe.


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