By Bob Hannaford with Naughty Events
Years ago, when Tess and I started looking into swinging, we had no idea how to find other people “like us”. We started in AOL chat rooms and talked to more fake people, kids and married men, pretending to be couples than we ever found real couples.
The other way was to buy a Swinger Magazine in an adult bookstore and browse through really bad polaroid pictures and if we saw someone we liked, we could send our polaroid photos off to a PO Box while we waited for them to reply. We never got one single reply. Not one.
The internet really was the game changer for this “lifestyle” and eventually we got an account on Lifestyle Lounge and we had a lot more success finding people. Even still, we saw profile’s online, only to meet with people that looked nothing like their profile and some that did look like their profile, but by the time we had our appetizers, we already knew that we did not “click” and we couldn’t wait for the check to come so we could head home. Alone.
For us, having a house party or going to a club were the best ways to meet other couples. We could meet 10, 20 or more couples in one night and we could see them in person (no fake pics) and get to know them better in person than any online profile could ever match.
Over the years, we found that lifestyle conventions, resorts and cruises were the best way for us to be successful for meeting couples where we would develop long term relationships. It was because we got to meet couples over days instead of hours, we could hang out with them on excursions, at dinner, see them in the club and later on in the hot tub or playroom. Give us four to seven days and we can find people “like us”, almost every time.
Nowadays, thanks to Covid-19, it is even more difficult to find new friends or even hang out with old friends. Most clubs are still closed, or closing again and lifestyle vacations are just starting up again.
A new form of communication in our industry emerges
We have seen the use of webcams over the years, but we never paid much attention to it, that is until now. We already had an area on our website where couples could see who was going to our upcoming events and they could create profiles, with pictures, where they were from and what they were into.
We had decent feedback from our attendees that their “Naughty Membership” was a good program and it helped them be more successful at our lifestyle conventions and group vacations, because it allowed them to talk to couples prior to the event which meant that they had a head start on potential new friendships and a way to keep in touch after the event, cruise or group trip to one of the popular lifestyle resorts was over.
Then the Coronavirus came and shut down the world and we saw our membership increase and a new addition to our platform was introduced: Naughty Video Chat.
I was excited that this new addition was being rolled out, at a time when it was increasingly harder and harder to see people in public. Video chatting and Zoom calls became the “new thing”. Before I knew it, Zoom calls were more popular than Popeye’s chicken sandwiches. People everywhere were using FaceTime, Zooming and video chatting with their friends and family. Enter the world of virtual swinging
At first, I did not see the significance that video chatting would have in the swinging lifestyle, but that changed quickly as we could not go to clubs, our trip to Hedonism was cancelled, followed by cruises and our Naughty Island in Belize.
We missed our freaky friends and we missed the excitement of meeting half naked couples in exotic places. We decided to do our first “virtual swing party” and we signed up for a Saturday night party being hosted by a good friend of ours and fellow lifestyle event planner. We had no idea what to expect and it was an interesting first experience.
Like any shiny new toy, there was a learning curve. Even though we feel that we are fairly tech savvy, getting on took a little patience, some help from the promoter and some luck. Once we figured out all of the glitches getting our laptop set up to allow our camera and sound to work, we were online and we could see other couples for the first time in over a month.
It was awkward at first, because we waited to say something and when we did, another couple talked at the same time, followed by the both of us saying “I’m sorry, you go first” at the same time, then an awkward pause, then “No, you go first” again at the same time.
We all laughed and that broke the ice and our first virtual swing party was off and running.
FOMO exists online
We figured out that there were several rooms, each one hosted by a different couple. Some rooms had live music being performed by performers we knew and missed, DJ’s spinning different music in different rooms and lots of couples going room to room to see what was going on.
We would be in a room for 15-20 minutes and then we would see the room go from 40 couples to 30 and then 20 and then we started thinking “where did everyone go?”, so we would leave the room and go to the room titled “The Playroom” to see what was going on in there. It was early and there wasn’t anything going on, so we went to another room, and another.
The fear of missing out (FOMO)” was real and we didn’t want to miss something cool going on in another room, until we finally realized that we would simply make the “cool room” whichever room we currently were in.
We saw couples come and go, many of who said “Hey Tess & Bob! Nice to see you guys here” and it made us feel welcome again. We felt like we were finally home, even though we were still stuck in Mexico, 2,500 miles from home during the peak of the shelter in place orders that were trapping non essential people in their home for weeks.
Then something truly amazing happened… towards the end of the night, a lot of the couples headed into the virtual playroom and things got heated and we found ourselves in a room filled with at least 20 people that we knew, many of them very close friends, many of who have been our Ambassadors in the past.
Here we were, at 2 am in the morning, hanging out with the very people we would be hanging out with, had this been one of our conventions. Even though they were in Florida, Texas, Mobile, Alabama, New Orleans and us down in Mexico, it felt normal for the first time since this pandemic started.
For the first time, being online felt like I was at a real party. I thought back to the over 50 hotel buyouts we have produced. To the 28 full ship charters we put together and I thought about this virtual party in terms I know best – real lifestyle parties and I started to compare them.
People always go from ballroom to ballroom, or nightclub after nightclub, looking for their friends, checking out the music, they will go listen to one of the live acts in one of our lounges and then head up to the playrooms. It was exactly what people were doing tonight, but they were doing it from their own homes.
And here we were, having drinks, catching up and laughing our asses off with our close circle of friends and for the first time, I realized that this virtual swing thing was going to work. It would not replace live events, but for now, it was as good of a substitute that I ever could have imagined.
We set up the virtual platform within our Naughty Member section and we hosted our first “Naughty Nights” party. I think we had 20 couples show up. Most of which we did not know really well; some that had never been to our events before.
We had some technical glitches and spent most of that first party simply talking people through how to connect their camera and get their microphone turned on. It was frustrating, but encouraging at the same time.
We added live performers the next week, we brought in some staff members to help with the tech support so we could spend more time talking to people and simply hanging out. Eventually the parties grew and we collaborated with other clubs and before you knew it, clubs from London, Canada, the east coast, Midwest and California were all coming together on Friday nights creating an 8-10 hour party full of people just looking for a way to connect with others.
Friends of mine surprised us and before I knew it, they were naked and having fun. I would text them on the side and say “Damn kids, y’all look like you are having fun.” And the success from these early parties convinced us to try something new, a complete convention done virtually. We were going to host a virtual Naughty N’awlins in July, because we couldn’t host the real event. Not yet anyway.
Benefits we never imagined
Something happened that we never expected; we saw a couple online, having fun on the virtual playroom with over 45 cameras watching them. This couple is pretty private and while they come to all of our events, we have never seen them playing on our play floor before, so we were a little surprised to see them having so much fun on their webcam.
Afterwards, I asked them about this and they said that they were not planning on playing, but they chatted for a while and they hit it off with two couples, one lives in Memphis and one in Alabama. After a while, they all got turned on and the three couples went off into the playroom and were teasing each other, giving each other dares and after a while, they were all having sex in front of each other (and everyone else).
They told me that they really connected with these two couples and they are already making plans to visit each couple once things open up and we can get past this “thing” we are all dealing with.
They explained that they had virtually (pun intended) no luck finding couples online for all of the reasons we already laid out in the first part of this blog. But in our video chat rooms, they could see exactly who they were talking to and get to know their personalities before taking it farther. It was a new way for them to meet couples and it was much more successful for them specifically because of the video cameras.
It was like a light bulb went off in my head and I instantly understood that while I thought that this would be a temporary Band-Aid that will give couples a shiny new toy to use until clubs reopened and lifestyle events resumed, this was actually something that this couple (and others) will use well after everything goes back to normal.
The success they had, after just two virtual parties, helped them connect with two couples, unlike any searching that they did online for the past five years.
The Future of Virtual Swinging
We think this “virtual swing thing” is here to stay and that makes us happy and proud that we were in on this since the beginning. Video chatting not only gives you more visual information about potential partners, but it is directly linked to their profile which gives you even more information that collectively could help couples be more successful than ever before.
It also gives couples the ability to be an exhibitionist or a voyeur. It is a quick fix for those that want to be kinky but do not want to risk meeting in person right now.
It is a way for them to attend classes about sexual subjects, dance to good tunes in their underwear, they can sing along with Mark Maze and Jen Porter and they can connect with friends and feel normal for the first time in a long time.
We need social interaction; it is the one crushing thing that this virus has taken away from us. Virtual swinging will never take the place of a stranger’s touch. It will not replace the heated tryst in a playroom full of fun and sexy people.
But this shiny new tool sure can help us meet people that we are more likely to keep in contact with for years and quickly weed out the unlimited amount of fake profiles that are prevalent in our online communities.
You can’t fake it on a video camera. Who you are comes out for all to see and some will be drawn to you and some will be turned off. We are just excited that these virtual swing parties are here and we predict that they will be here to stay, long after this virus is gone and it will make our lifestyle a better one for years to come.
We hope to “see” you online at our virtual Naughty N’awlins next week or at one of our Naughty Night’s parties each Friday night.
Be safe and most of all, be kind.
Originally published on Naughty Events