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Hayfaa Chalabi

Against the binary: the magic of queer sex parties

Surrounded by queer community in a safe, consensual space, our gender columnist attends their first solo sex party.

27 May 2022

It was a sweaty basement in East London, everyone dancing in their best leather, pleather or mesh. As the dancefloor got busier, I saw a familiar face in the crowd, but I couldn’t place where I knew this cutie. We kept catching each other’s eyes and eventually started dancing together. My fingers found the short, soft hairs on the back of their head. As we were making out, I realised where I knew them from. We had lived in the same house, of course, just at different times. Sometimes the London queer scene makes me feel like I’m living The L Word’s Chart in real time. Meeting someone who lived in your bedroom after you at a sex party is just another Sunday night really.

It was also my first solo sex party. I use the word “solo” lightly – it was silly of me to assume I would genuinely be going solo, when in reality I was likely to bump into half my friends, half my exes and half my friends’ exes there. My partner and I had been to a few parties together before, and I was excited for us to go again. We booked tickets, but things shifted and she was now going to be out of town. We checked in about the party, and she encouraged me to go. After lots of back and forth over whether to head there alone or not, I reminded myself of the first time I took myself out for pizza. Going out by yourself can be daunting, but I was fine once I relaxed and the pizza was, as expected, very tasty.

Besides, a group of my partner’s friends were going to be there and they were happy for me to hang out with them. The only thing was that I’d only met one of them before. To be honest, I was less nervous about the party itself and more nervous about making a good impression on her pals. After all, it’s not every day you meet your partner’s loved ones in leather…

I love parties that celebrate queer sex. We are raised in cultures that shame us so deeply for the sex that feels good for us. There’s something magical about being surrounded by queer people dancing, kissing, fucking, openly. To witness people get comfortable with asking for what they desire. We hold each other with care and joy and pride in these spaces. There are strict anti-harassment policies, and the party is built on consent. There’s a quiet space with tea, biscuits and cushions, there are “armband wearers” checking in with people, ready to step in if they witness any harassment. There’s a gentle, respectful vibe.

“There’s something magical about being surrounded by queer people dancing, kissing, fucking, openly”

It’s also so nice to go to a queer space and have people ask pronouns and just enjoy gender being one small part of my identity, but not the first, nor the only, nor the single defining thing that people recognise in me. I’m hoping they were more interested by my cute harness and tight shorts.

After wandering around a bit to familiarise myself with the space, I got chatting to some people about music, joined their group and started dancing. The older I get, the more I realise that I’m an early party kind of person – if I can get somewhere at 7 or 8pm, dance until 11 and be in bed by midnight, that’s my kind of party. Often, sex parties are ideal for this as many of them start early in the day. So I was at this party quite early and it was relatively quiet, which was when I caught eyes with my ex-almost-housemate. Later on in the evening I bumped into someone I’ve been matching with on Tinder for the last five-plus years. They were there with their partner and we got chatting. Like I say, just another Sunday night.

“I feel like it’s really beautiful we can explore our desires and try new things together and apart, in both ways supporting one another to find joy through sex”

I would definitely go solo to a sex party again. It was a lot of fun, and my partner and I had a great time debriefing after. I was expecting it to be much more daunting being there on my own, but actually I think it just gave me a kick up the ass to approach people. I hope to go again solo too, and for my partner to have fun times at sex parties without me too. I feel like it’s really beautiful we can explore our desires and try new things together and apart, in both ways supporting one another to find joy through sex. I’m excited for us both to keep diving deeper into knowing and loving what we enjoy about sex, whether that be solo at sex parties, solo at home, with cute strangers or just the two of us in our pyjamas.

As for our next sex party trip, I’m looking forward to returning to a space that’s built on consent and respect. I would love for the world outside of sex parties to take some learnings – to respect people’s gender, to celebrate happy, healthy, queer sex and to prioritise consent and pleasure.

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