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Partner-swapping sex club a swingin' time

For some, having a group orgy with a significant other is a distant fantasy. For others, this dream can become a reality with the help of New Horizons, a world-renowned swingers club in Seattle. Where else can you enjoy a three-course meal, watch an amateur strip show, go skinny dipping in a heated pool and have sex with multiple people, all in one night?

Founded in 1977, New Horizons has been going strong for more than two decades serving people with sexually open attitudes and relationships.

The club is equipped with an indoor swimming pool, two large dance floors, a video room, three hot tub and both private and public play rooms. One group playroom has mirrors lining all the walls and five mattresses spread across the floor.

With over 500 members, the club holds parties every Wednesday and Saturday night for people in the "swinging" lifestyle. Couples travel from all over the world to attend New Horizons' parties.

UW alumnus Kristin* joined New Horizons three weeks ago. Her girlfriend Sarah*, a member of about four months, convinced Kristin to accompany her, raving about the "play parties." It was love at first touch.

"I really love getting it on. I love the experimental nature of the place, and feeling the journey that I get to go on," said Kristin. "I love watching [Sarah] with other girls -- and she loves watching me."

Primarily an activity for couples, swinging activities involve sex with your mate while someone else watches, swapping partners with another couple or having a third person join in on sex with a couple.

Kristin said she has never felt so comfortable and free being naked in front of so many people, and that all body types are accepted and appreciated.

"I love the freedom of nakedness ... it feels so wonderful," Kristen said.

According to the Society for Human Sexuality, the swinger community began on U.S. Air Force bases during World War II. Overcoming their sexual inhibitions, swingers enjoy many aspects of clubs such as New Horizons. They benefit not only from the techniques learned from sexual experimentation, but also the expansion of their social lives.

"Everybody gets it on, no matter what you look like," Kristen said. People there [at New Horizons] have an open mind and a lot of energy. They are excited about life and love what it has to offer," she said.

"They seem like really happy people in general," she added.

According to the New Horizons Web site, "your partner and relationship must be the highest priority" in your involvement at New Horizons. It recommend couples make joint decisions without pressure or persuasion by outsiders. The club owner also urges that members do only what they are comfortable with, and don't make any decisions that they will regret the next morning.

While the swinging lifestyle may seem radical to traditional monogamists, more than 600 swingers' clubs exist in the United States, and more than 400 in Europe, according to the North American Swing Club Association.

Primarily a club for heterosexual pairs, Kristin and Sarah are one of few lesbian couples -- but they say they have never felt uncomfortable.

"Kristin and I had sex in the public room and people were watching out of fascination, because we were using a strap-on ... but we don't feel any different from anyone else."

The club stays alive and tries to provide a safe environment for women and men by strictly enforcing a "no means no" policy amongst members. Anyone can politely refuse a sexual advance, and if the refusal is not respected, those members can be permanently kicked out. Members are instructed to alert New Horizons staff if anyone has broken the house rule.

Sarah says all club members respect the policy, and people discuss their boundaries before sexual negotiations are made. She also adds that she has rarely seen jealousy become a problem between couples.

However, New Horizons employees also stress that swinging has never saved a relationship. If your relationship is on the rocks, it's the last thing that's going to help you, said an orientation leader.

In order to attend parties at New Horizons, you must become a member, and be at least 21 years old. To become a regular member, you must pay a one time $150 fee and then $25 in semi-annual dues.

An orientation is mandatory in order to join the club. During orientation, employees give a tour of the club, explain house rules and explain the club philosophy.

New Horizons staff stress they care about women's needs and have rules that serve and protect them. No unaccompanied males are allowed upstairs in the play areas without a female escort. Males must remain with their partner(s) at all times while upstairs. No unaccompanied male roaming is allowed , while women can roam as they please. Female bisexuality in swinger communities is very common, while male bisexuality is almost non-existent.

Kristen said she has never felt more at home then when she joined the club.

"I found a place where I can really let my hair down ... where I can feel comfortable naked, and fulfill my fantasies," she said.

You can learn more about New Horizons swingers club at www.horizonsclub.com.

*Names have been changed for privacy

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