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 😉

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3 Comments

Filed under Gender, sex, sexuality, sexually oriented businesses

3 responses to “The economics of a swingers party

  1. A

    for what it’s worth — i have a friend who owns a swinger’s club. and there are constantly many more unattached men than women who want to attend. this results in “caps” on some nights so that the ratio is kept 1:1 m:f, and some nights being specified “gangbang” so everybody knows that there will be more men than women in attendence (though one is not required to participate in a gangbang if one goes on those nights).

    i don’t know what the party you attended is like — but it’s quite possible that this is a response to similar situations.

    also, for some reason, the mainstream swingers’ community is very focused on heterosexual, partner-swapping sorts of sex. there are some pansexual (f/f and m/m action encouraged) events in the city i live in, and there are some multiple partner events, but generally it seems that partner swapping is the typical behavior.

  2. Hi. I’m a member of a swinging club. The club does not allow single men on their own. This is for the comfort (possibly protection) of women. Men by nature or nurture are more predatory than women. Having too many around would be off-putting.

    There seems to be a perception that women tend to be more ‘naturally’ bisexual than men are. Women “getting it on” with each other at these parties isn’t offputting to anyone. Men with men, however, would likely discomfort participants. It’s not fair, but male homosexual acts are not as accepted by mainstream society as female homosexual acts. My partner likes gay men very much. However, he doesn’t want to watch two guys getting it on. It just doesn’t it do it for him.

    When you’re at a swinging party, it is an intimate experience, to say the least — to foster intimacy organisers take great lengths to create the right atmosphere. Consequently, successful parties generally cater to a narrow segment where optimum comfort can be achieved.

  3. Hello, I am the marketing director for what is being billed as the “World’s Largest Swinger Party” and I feel I can shed some light on this subject.

    First let me say there is no right or wrong way to enjoy the swinger lifestyle, it is all a matter of individual sexual preference. While straight, bi, and gay females/males that are single, part of a couple, trio, etc. are part of the swinger community, a majority of people who attend swinger parties tend to be couples consisting of bisexual females with a straight male partner and this is typically who swinger party promoters cater to.

    Because a large percentage of ladies are bisexual and already have a male partner, many women (but not all) are looking to play with another women and because many of the men are straight, they too are looking to play with, or watch their female partner play with another women. This results in a greater demand for single bisexual females and a lower demand for single males at many swinger parties. It also creates a problem for the event promoter as typically a very low percentage of women are interested in attending events without a partner but a large percentage of males without a partner are interested in attending.

    In an effort to keep the promoters core business of M/F couples happy, the promoter will typically do what they can to create a balanced “supply and demand” of single males and females with different price points or ‘limited/no admittance rules’ such as the ones mentioned in your original posting.