Daily Archives: August 31, 2006

The economics of a swingers party

So I just got an invitation to a sex party — a swingers’ party, really — and I’m thinking about the message conveyed by the pricing options. The cost of the party would vary according to how early one paid, and what configuration of guests one was paying for.

Here’s how it broke down:

At least two weeks before the party –

Couples: $90, MFF Trios: $120, MMF Trios: $170, Single Females $25

At least one week before the party:

Couples: $100, MFF Trios: $130, MMF Trios: $185, Single Females $30

Less than a week before the party:

Couples: $120, MFF Trios: $155, MMF Trios: $210, Single Females $35

I know about this particular group that they have less expensive gatherings on weekdays. These cost about $40 per couple. Clearly people will pay more on the weekend. There must be greater demand for parties on weekends and greater demand for party guests on weeknights.

But aside from looking at how cost varies depending on the night of the week, there are some really interesting messages implicit in the pricing structure for this particular gathering.

  1. Unattached women are intensely desired. So much are they in demand that as an inducement to get women to attend solo, they are charged only 30% of the rate paid by couples. If I my partner were a woman you can bet if we wanted to attend this party I’d suggest gaming the system and registering separately.
  2. Trios are desirable if they contain two women. If they do, the trio gets a $15 break on the cost you’d imagine they’d have to pay if their rate were simply 150% of the couples rate. On the other hand, they don’t quite get the break you’d expect if you charged the couples rate plus one unattached woman rate. In other words, they’re still slightly less desirable than unattached women.
  3. Trios containing two men and a woman are allowed but discouraged by a $50 surcharge over the FFM trio rate (or $35 over the “couple rate times 1.5”)
  4. Unattached men are not allowed at any price (without special permission from the organizers, and I assume a price is worked out separately).

It is possible that the pricing here reflects an undersupply of unattached women and an oversupply of extraneous men. Thus, men without any partner are not allowed and men who are part of a trio with another man are discouraged (an extra man floating around, as it were). But this assumes a male-female coupling as ideal, a cluster with more women than men as a bonus, and assumes, that men don’t want to be with other men sexually unless there are women involved.

Or, the pricing can be seen as a way of moderating behavior. Perhaps it is not assumed that men don’t want to be directly sexual with other men, but that such men are simply being discouraged from attending this party. Perhaps the assumption is that other people are made so uncomfortable by the sight of men enjoying each others touch that to welcome such men would kill the mood for everybody else. These are “swingers parties” after all and have “opposite sex” couples as their base. Someone suggested to me that the reason for discouraging unattached men or trios with two men is that the additional men would be likely to create problems for the women at the party. That is, that women would be overwhelmed with the numbers of men who would approach them, and that the limitations on the number of men attending is a way to create a safer space for women to explore their sexuality.

So, is this wholly a matter of supply and demand? Or are swingers parties focused on protecting women from men, or are they protecting men from each other? Perhaps the overarching message is that men’s sexuality is still deemed dangerous, problematic, and uncontrollable.

Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it ūüėČ

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Filed under Gender, sex, sexuality, sexually oriented businesses