If you’re looking for a new and exciting way to ring in 2016, how about a Happy Party?
“Happy Parties is run by swingers, for swingers. We put on five to six parties a year, and our goal is to offer the community a way to connect and be a bit, or a lot, daring!” writes Heather (last name withheld), the event planner, in an email.
What happens at one of these events? It’s an entire hotel takeover: just a bunch of swingers, a few hotel staff and an entire night of fun. The New Year’s Eve Happy Party has a black-and-white masquerade theme and will feature chances to mingle and meet new people, contests and games, dancing and playrooms for the more adventurous, including a dark room and a BDSM room. Attendees may choose to book their own room for the night so they don’t have to worry about getting home and can continue the fun there when the main party’s over.
In spite of the fact that Edmonton has large swinger and kink communities, the city still has an outward reputation for being very socially conservative. When alternative forms of sexuality are a big part of your life and personality, it can be difficult to find social outlets where it’s acceptable to talk about and express that. Events like this are places where people can be open about their sexual interests and values without fear of judgment.
“Couples come to our hotel parties to express their sexuality,” Heather writes. “What that means is up to each individual or each couple. Sexy outfits, nudity, exhibitionism, voyeurism, fetishes—Happy Parties is a place to explore in a consensual and friendly environment.”
Sex is just one part of the party, though. A party like this is a chance to develop a like-minded circle of friends—whether or not you ever have sex with them. Heather says that the biggest misconception about swinging is that it’s only about sex, or that swingers will have sex with anyone.
“There has to be a physical and sometimes mental attraction to the other couple,” she explains. “It’s looked at the same way if it was a single person going out on a ‘normal’ date—just because you are having supper, drinks or whatever does not mean you are going to sleep with the person you are with. [A lot of] people are looking to make friends first and playmates second.”
Another misconception about swinging is that it’s just an excuse to cheat on your partner. Swinging is actually about partners exploring their sexuality and sharing experiences together. Swinging and cheating, Heather says, are completely different: “People in the lifestyle have a very low tolerance for cheating.”
In order to protect everyone’s privacy and to keep the event as safe and secure as possible, the location of the party is given only to people who have purchased tickets. If it sounds like your kind of New Year’s Eve adventure, you can contact Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more information or to buy tickets. V
Brenda Kerber is a sexual health educator who has worked with local not-for-profits since 1995. She is the owner of the Edmonton-based, sex-positive adult toy boutique the Traveling Tickle Trunk.