Swinging to the rules in condoms and latex gloves

A LARGE blonde clad in black Lycra and chiffon strode purposefully into the lounge. She ignored the small group gathered there and stared straight ahead, grim-faced, as she marched into the 'dungeon' next door. Two smaller dark women scurried after her. 'She's a professional 'dominatrix' from San Francisco, and they are her slaves,' said a man beside me.

Europe's first Pan-Sexual Safer Sex party was about to begin, to coincide with the ending of the International Conference on Aids in Amsterdam. Swingers were here to learn how to swing safely in the Aids era.

Safer-sex kits comprising condoms and latex gloves, together with more obscure pieces of equipment, were provided at the door. And swingers must swing according to the rules: ask before touching; don't crowd; use gloves or other protective devices at all times; and don't get drunk. There was a plea to bring cash because 'fund-raising activities will be incorporated into your orgasm'.

The venue was an inconspicuous house on the Marnixstraat in Central Amsterdam, where Mistress Shiva, a pleasant, if rather masculine-looking woman in a shiny grey frock with a battered black rosette in her yellow hair, ushered in the guests.

Her lounge was unremarkable, but the magazines in the rack suggested a woman of exotic tastes. Pictures on the dingy beige wallpaper hinted at a preoccupation with leather, dog collars, ropes and chains.

The first guests - who had paid pounds 120 for a double ticket - shuffled in, eyes downcast and slightly sheepish. They were directed to the 'rubber room' to change - next to the 'hospital suite' for those who liked to play at doctors and nurses. They were young women and men in their early thirties, some middle-aged men and a transvestite or two. They reappeared noticeably more extrovert.

Fantasy clothes depend on your fantasy, according to the organiser, Tuppy Owen, author of The Sex Maniac's Diary. Tuppy wore just a dog collar arrangement with chains and an uncomfortable looking basque. The evening's chef - guests are fed morsels by chopsticks - opted for a black lace body stocking. A documentary maker from London, she was just there to watch. 'Exhibitionists need voyeurs.'

Only one man arrived ready dressed for his fantasy, in a waiter's outfit with a bowler hat. He stood silently in a corner, looking like the 'Homepride' flour man but seeking domination not lumpy flour.

Between 60 and 70 guests were expected from all over Europe, Tuppy said. They included two deaf people and a man in a wheelchair. 'It is a wonderful opportunity for the disabled to integrate their sexuality with the able-bodied,' Tuppy said. She had wanted more sex club owners to come to spread the word about safer swinging. Unfortunately the event clashed with a South of France nudist convention. Most of them had gone there instead.

Robert Morgan Lawrence, of the Queen of Heaven Safer Sex Club in San Francisco, was Master of Ceremonies. With the aid of monitors - professional sex workers or, to the politically incorrect, prostitutes - they would intervene in a 'lust situation' that was becoming unsafe, he said.

Mr Morgan Lawrence is a veteran of safer sex parties in the US, and wants to extend the practice to irresponsible swingers in Europe. 'We want them to know that hot behaviour is still around, and it can be safe and erotic. There is no other way for them to learn this.' Swinging never went away, he said, despite the Aids scare. The parties just became smaller and more private. Now they were on the increase but swingers often refused to acknowledge that they were at risk from HIV or other diseases.

In Britain, swingers tend to be from middle and upper classes and assume that HIV is not a problem for them, Tuppy said. 'We really have to change that.'

Party small talk was coming to an end. In the dungeon room, the dominatrix and her slaves were getting impatient. I was invited to stay and offered some cling film in place of a fantasy costume. I made my excuses and left.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts during a news conference in Zurich June 1, 2011
Life and Style
food + drink
peopleKatie Hopkins criticises River Island's 'seize the day' bags for trying to normalise epilepsy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family
film'I survived it, but I’ll never be the same,' says Arash Amel
Life and Style
Retailers should make good any consumer goods problems that occur within two years
tech(and what to do if you receive it)
Life and Style
healthIf one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith