Joining me today is Courtney Brame. I met Courtney through the podcast and social media and since then we have become good friends. He is the founder of Something Positive for Positive People. He also founded the podcast, Something Positive for Positive People. Courtney came out here to work on some projects and introduced me to a lot of other people in the community here, which has been amazing. Together we attended a sex club in the area, and we want to share what we learned: what to expect, setting intentions, consent, boundaries, safety and more.
Have you had prior experiences at sex clubs before coming to this one here in San Diego?
My only experience with attending sex clubs is not participating, but more so attending classes. There are rope classes, impact play classes, power dynamics, as well as the dom/sub relationships. You can learn a lot about kink and BDSM, non-monogamy, boundaries, consent, things like this. That’s been my experience. I would attend the classes and then kind of just maybe hang out for a little bit. There have been themed events as well such as themes for various people of identities, swingers night, ladies night, bisexual night, etc. There are a lot of different themes for different nights, depending on where you are. Of course, it’s very important to look ahead of time and see what events are happening. These clubs curate the environment for the audience that it is intended, so if you are a straight man, for example, you’re not going to want to walk in on lesbians night or pansexual night.
Why should I set my intentions before attending a sex club?
There is a major difference of how I would have shown up prior to my understanding and knowledge about boundaries, as well as a lot of the things about sex that don’t really seem like they’re relevant to sex. When we think about sex, what we’re really thinking about or talking about is intercourse. We’re talking about penis and vagina penetration. Without having this understanding that sex is so much more broad, I more than likely would have gone into these sex clubs with the intention of having intercourse, and not wanting to speak to other ways to explore or play with potential partners. Which means just first off asking, What are you here for? What are you hoping to get out of this experience? And then being able to present what it is I want? A big part of this is not just going with the flow. You can; some people can do that. But it’s important to be able to do that with safe people, or if you feel safe in the environment. But I think that it’s more fun to have an intention . . . not expectation. Intention is very internally focused. Expectation is very externally focused. So if you go in and you’re thinking, I’m going to have a good time, or I’m going to set the intention of just being comfortable. I want to talk to a few different people and just start a conversation, then you set the standard for how successful your night is going to be.
What did we know going into this, and how did we prepare?
When I learned that men had to be fully nude, and then women had to wear lingerie, or less, I was a little bit nervous about that. I realized I hadn’t been naked before; I hadn’t actually participated in anything going on at a sex club. I’m not insecure about my body at all, but I’ve had this thing about being one of two black men in a space that is predominantly white. I’ll be in the sex club in Portland, for example, and I look around and I just meet you or me and this other person. So I already have an idea that I’m going to be looked at a certain way. So, I don’t know why it is but I walked in and the first thing I saw was three black dudes changing their clothes. That gave me a sense of relief. I didn’t know how important representation was because I hadn’t seen black men in the sex positive space. So, to walk in and see it, I was like, Oh, hell yeah, took my clothes off so fast. My thought was I fit in here; I belong here. That was really good for me to alleviate the discomfort. So, it was important to know ahead of time that was something expected because if I walked up to the door and then told I’d have to be fully naked, I wouldn’t have been mentally prepared for that.
What are some rules for being in this sex club?
After you get checked in and pay, the first thing they do is sit us down and go over the rules. It is really important to highlight that the rules are there for your safety and your protection. One of the biggest things about sex clubs is that they want you to be in full consent. You can’t just touch somebody; you can’t walk up to somebody and grab their butt. That’s not appropriate. You need to ask. Even though everybody’s naked, and everybody’s there, you don’t know what the other person’s intentions are. So, consent is huge. You will be kicked out if you do not obtain consent and get reported.
This is also a great space to practice boundary setting. It is a great place to come in and ask for what you need, and potentially receive it. It’s also great practice to be able to say no. This could be a big step for someone. And it can be completely ruined with a simple consent or rule violation. I found that the people that I talked to the people that I watch, everyone was so consent aware.
In a sex club, it is easy to identify who works there. They are wearing clothes. So, if you are in an uncomfortable situation, or if someone is perhaps not honoring your boundaries or making you uncomfortable, all you have to do is flag one of these people down. They’ll come take care of you. Now I haven’t seen anyone have to be kicked out and taken care of, but I assume it is because they did a great job of setting the expectations.
What are some things that you might see happening in a sex club?
One might assume there is a lot of intercourse and blow jobs happening all over the place in a sex club, and it could be. But that’s not the expectation when you walk into it. People are conversing, there’s potentially dancing. There’s a lot of what you see that takes place before sex that’s not highlighted in our porn, which are the negotiations. So, you’ll hear a lot of those kinds of things. You’ll overhear small talk, casual conversations, and a lot of people just introducing themselves. You’ll also hear people complimenting each other which was so beautiful to see because there’s not a lot to compliment since there aren’t a lot of clothes. It’s just really easy to initiate conversations with people. There’s a lot of sensuality too. You may see people making out or playing erotica games. And you might see people getting water for someone. People are checking in, taking care of people, offering pre care or aftercare, and really just socializing.
Take us on a “tour” of the club
So you walk through and you see a lot of friendly smiling faces, people tapping cups or glasses together, cheersing. And you’re welcomed in this high energy positive environment. It’s set up like a house. As you walk around you may see the dance floor or DJ booth.
The first room had a pool table. People were playing pool. There was lots of seating. Then we went down, and there was a dance floor with a live DJ. You can make your own music request. There is also a stripper pole and there was a spray bottle and wipes to clean the stripper pole after using it.
Then we camen to a bar. It was BYOB, so if you brought any alcohol you checked it in at the bar and they did serve it to you. Anything leftover you could not take home, so you don’t want to bring excess alcohol, just enough for the night.
Next you can go upstairs. This is where the sex happens. The sex can happen anywhere, but if you go upstairs, expect to see some sex. There were different rooms and privacy. There are rooms that have doors that you can close or leave open if you want people to watch. Someone may come in and ask if they can join. And that’s something that was good to see too is that you would overhear people asking, Hey, is it okay that I watch? Or are you interested in xxx and having another couple join. So, the conversations are happening. There are no assumptions. There was also another section that was for couples only. You’re not just going to see people who are single coming up to where you and your partner and other people and their partners are. That can potentially get uncomfortable. I noticed that was alleviated because they only let people into certain areas under certain requirements, so you can’t go to this space alone you have to be coupled.
There was also a room that had a glass window so you could watch from the outside, from the patio. You can watch one of the rooms even if the door was shut, they had the windows and you could watch from the outside. So you can kind of have some privacy but still be a voyeur.
Then working your way back downstairs, you can go outside. The outside area had a restaurant patio vibe. 10 out of 10 highly recommended! There were a few booths that were set up like restaurant booths where there are different games, such as naughty Jenga and Connect Four.
Of course there’s a pool and a hot tub. There are a few mattresses and tables set up in the open area of the backyard. As you walk a little bit further back there are more rooms with sliding glass doors. As you make your way to the back of the space, it’s like a little dungeon area, aka a red room. Here you could be tied to the bed, you could be tied to one of those crosses and flogged. It’s really a good idea to bring your own toys to play with. Again, think about your intention setting. You want to bring your own if you got floggers. If you’ve got any sort of toys, vibrators, or anything like that, you want to bring these for yourself just for sanitation purposes. I am really big on minimizing potential risk of STI and the easiest way to do that is bringing your own play toys. If you’re going to be doing anything penetrative, bring condoms with the sex toys. You can put a condom over your sex toy if you’re going to be involved with play with as well.
What was the experience like at the sex club?
One of the questions that commonly came up as I was talking to people is, What time is it? In the sex club there were clocks in a few places, but you can’t have your phone, nor can you have your watch. You are really forced into being present. Instead of scrolling through your phone, you’re interacting with someone. You may make an observation that you otherwise wouldn’t. You may like just being in the environment, taking notice of the space and having genuine outreaches for connection with other human beings.
Additionally, people would walk up and say, what are you into? That was a common question I got, what do you want to? This is a loaded question and goes back to your intentions and knowing what you want.
The worst thing you could say is, everything, or it depends on the person. Those are the two worst responses. When a person asks, What are you into? What do you like? This is an invitation. This is something that I’ve processed from my experience at the sex club with regard to rejection. It’s not necessarily someone rejecting you; there’s a decline of an offer. It’s very clear, there’s no indirect rejection or anything. People are very clear communicators. No, I’m not feeling that today, or that’s not something that I’ve done before, nor am I interested in it. So again, communication is very clear, direct, and concise most of the time. It’s important for us not to take it personally if a person doesn’t want that. People take rejection so well in these settings.
I’ve found that a lot of men are wanting women to initiate. That’s because it’s safer. We live in a time where I believe that there’s a major distrust for men and masculinity. So be aware of that and look for any sort of invitation. Look for eye contact, look for, oh, hey, can I have a seat right here. Try noticing the little ways people make themselves available in your space.
Remember, there is no pressure to do anything that you don’t want to do. If you’re introduced to something new, it is okay to ask questions. There was a lot of teaching happening. There are people there who if you ask will tell you what you want to know. It’s very easy to find people who are into things that you might be into.
How can you be safe at a sex club?
Safety is subjective. So I want to offer that first. There is also a level of risk tolerance that people have. You are responsible for your intention and the standards that you set for yourself, and you do the best you can using the most accessible tool that you have, communication. That being said, what safety looks like extends beyond not getting an STI or infection. Because you’re in spaces where other people are also having sex. If you notice that the sheets are a little dirty or wet you can ask for them to be changed. You also have your towel to put down as well. So, when I think of safety, I think from the moment of entering the space. Do you feel safe? How do you feel in your body? Check in with yourself. Does the environment give you any sort of off vibes? If it does, it may be a good idea for you to either leave or find an area that feels safe and decide what you want to do from there.
How can I best protect myself from STIs at a sex club?
Having sex is a risk, period. So, being in this setting you have some level of risk tolerance that you are willing to take. Here is where communication is so important. In our sex avoidance society, there’s an assumption that if you wear a condom, you’re safe. That does not translate here, because again, not all sex acts are penis and vagina intercourse. So, safety in a sense of impact. If blood is going to be involved, did you negotiate that? Do you have the materials necessary to navigate that?
From an oral sex standpoint, are you using condoms with oral sex? These are all things to negotiate and really think through before you get there, because you can almost go into a euphoric high or just being in a state of excitement in this setting. So decide how much you are going to drink. What are my boundaries? The more you can practice establishing and setting those boundaries and then going into the space, it translates. You will be able to do that in other areas. You’re flexing that muscle for your boundaries, and being able to do what you say you’re going to do, and have those standards for yourself. Then you will be able to say to someone firmly and with conviction, I wear condoms for all sexual activity here.
Also it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do anything while you’re here either. You do not have to have sex. You can come and watch. You can just come for conversation. You do not have to participate in any activity that you don’t want. So, if you’re curious, just know that you can go and watch and go home. You don’t have to do anything. But these are things to be thinking about. How do you navigate this situation? What am I actually comfortable with? What type of risk am I willing to take? Am I comfortable in these situations?
If you are familiar with the activity, and you’re aware of what different risks could be for engaging in that activity, you are responsible for that. And then with consenting adults, lay out all the information that you have to lay out, and then you move forward acting accordingly. It’s the same if you come with people. Set the expectation among each other of how you’re going to navigate the night together because there’s your own intention and then the expectations among the group. And then consider getting people home, or if you get lost because there are no phones.
Have a game plan. We experienced not being able to find somebody, and we found them. It all was fine. But, have that figured out ahead of time. Maybe have a meeting spot at a specific time, which would be difficult, because there’s only a handful of clocks. But again, it’s important to have this stuff laid out for your safety. Granted, this is a lot. And the only way to really plan and figure this out is to try it, navigate it, and learn along the way.
What are some thing you want to have with you at a sex club?
Be sure to have a towel so you can sit on clean spaces, since you’re nude or nearly nude. You definitely want to just make sure you have something to sit on. Also, assume that everything you want to do you’re responsible for. So if you’re somebody who wants to be tied up, bring your own rope. If you’re someone who wants to be flogged, bring your own floggers. Bring any sort of toys you might want to use. Bring condoms and lube.
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