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Swingers clubs, which tout themselves as a forum for the practice of a free sexual lifestyle, often called the “swinging lifestyle,” or for the promotion of open marriages, cater typically to married people or attached couples who claim that such extramarital sex will save their marriage, solve what they see as boredom in the bedroom and promote trust in their relationship.
A typical swingers club1 is a place where usually married couples go to engage in extramarital sexual activity, with group sex being fairly common. Typically, to gain entry the patron will come to the door of a club – which can sometimes be in someone’s house or in a nightclub setting or at a vacation spot – be required to fill out an “application,” provide proof of his or her ID and be charged a fee, which can sometimes be as low as five dollars. Often the club has rules, such as a ban on alcohol or illegal drugs. Also, the clubs typically deny admission to the following types of people: intoxicated people, those who appear unsavory or unwashed, practicing prostitutes, on-duty police officers and journalists, and sometimes single men. However, single women are often welcome.
Swingers clubs got their start during modern times in the 1950’s when it was dubbed “wife swapping” and by the 1970’s they were labeled swingers clubs. Swingers clubs are increasing in popularity,2 with more than 300 such clubs listed on the Internet.
However, not all members of the community have welcomed their presence. Cases have reported that residential and business neighbors complain of loud parties, public nudity and public sex acts. Also swingers’ parties and swingers’ conventions have been held at hotels and vacation spots, resulting at times in hotel patrons complaining of public nudity and public sex acts.3
In addition, the risky sexual activity engaged in such clubs during the promiscuous pre-AIDS era of the 1970s, for example Plato’s Retreat in New York City, appears not to have changed. Cases have reported that there is little use of condoms in swingers clubs – despite the fact that the club operators claim to distribute condoms at the door and post AIDS prevention posters on the walls – and as a result some municipalities see the clubs as a risk to public health and take steps to close them down.