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Submit is a sex party/club for women and trans-folk in Park Slope—no cisgendered men allowed. It's hidden away in an apartment building on 5th Avenue, very close to the Food Coop. Submit invites all types of lovers, from vanilla to hardcore BDSM. Being a sex party virgin, I figured I was pretty vanilla, but was excited to see if there were any urges that would tip the scale toward something more hardcore.
The first thing I discovered about sex parties is how hard it is to get a date to go with you. I thought I had convinced my best girlfriend to go, but before the big day, she sent me a flurry of text messages freaking out. I didn’t understand what the big deal was. I wanted to just tell her, “Calm the fuck down. It's just a sex party.”
Thankfully, an old friend of mine who had been a stripper and a dominatrix, said she would meet me there. I knew she wasn’t excited about it, but she’s seen it all and knew I needed back up. I was early to meet her by a good 45 minutes, and it was the longest, most terrifying 45 minutes of my life. Nothing scary actually happened, but I realized I shared the same fears as my freaked out friend. I didn’t know how I felt about having sex in public either.
When you walk into Submit there's a hangout lounge with a DJ. I had been told by a friend who had been before that there was plenty to do and try at Submit but that most of the guests were kinda shy. On first impression, this was true. Next to the lounge is an intricate web of cubbies that people can go into and fuck. There are giant peep holes everywhere so you know that voyeurism is ok, and you also know that when you’re doing it, strangers will be watching all the time. There’s also a BDSM room with a strict “No chatting. This room is for play only” policy. However, most guests were lingering in the lounge, lining the walls and looking like they were waiting for someone to ask them to dance. I found out what they were actually waiting for, was someone to pick their number.
You see, how Submit works is that everyone pins on a number to indicate that they’re ready to get randy. When you see someone you want to hook up with, you write their number down on a folded piece of paper with a note inside and your own number. You stick it to a bulletin board and hope the person checks it out. There was a poster describing this in great detail, and I had to read it several times to understand it. The third time I thought, “Only women could come up with this.” All the male gay parties I've heard of have people taking off their clothes at the door and jumping in with no inhibitions. Us ladies, however, we gotta have order.
I wanted to like this party, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t get over how gross it looked. Maybe I’m just not into the dungeon aesthetic. I hate cheap plastic, black paint, black light, and the clinical-ness of the giant lube and condom dispensers mounted to the wall. There were also giant signs with rules everywhere. Most of them stated that if you were found barebacking, you'd be kicked out. It was like a public pool with all the rules, and the DJ reigned over the party like a lifeguard. My date non-nonchalantly said, “I’ve worked in too many strip clubs to find places like this sexy anymore. I know what happens on those plastic sheets.” I shuddered.
We stayed for a demo on face-play. This included everything from sensual stroking to hitting someone with real force. Watching the instructor slap someone hard in the face was shocking and exhilarating. Her partner almost started to cry, and the instructor took her partner’s face and cradled it against her breasts. “Remember,” she said, “Be nice. If you break your toys you can’t play with them anymore.”
The room was fascinated, but I heard a lot of gasping as well. I looked around and determined that this was more of clubhouse. Members could show up, chat, maybe get felt up, but very few people would be hitting each other in the face that night.
The demo was impressive, and full of the consensual language of the BDSM world. This language is important, especially with this kind of play, but it leaves me cold. Let me clear, it's not verbal consent that's a turnoff, but rather the prescriptive nature of sex clubs that ruffles my feathers. I'm a contrary person by nature. I'm so innately anti-authority, I have a hard time even following a recipe. The moment someone tells me how I can or can't act — I'm out. For me, sex is best when it revolves around non-verbal social clues. I like the art and the mystery of reading body language. Someone touches my arm, someone looks me in the eye from across the room — do they want to fuck me? For me, the thrill of interpreting subtext is as powerful as the act of sex itself. The uncertainty of looks and whispers excites me as much as physical foreplay. There's no place for uncertainty at a sex party, nor should there be. But that also means perhaps I don't belong at a sex party. Or, at least, not at this sex party.
Find out next week how I fare at Chemistry, a hipster sex party in Williamsburg.
Follow Lacy on twitter @laceoface