Swinging scene alive and well in Tasmania

MENTION the word "swingers" and conversations adopt that hint of intrigue that often arises when talk turns to sex.

Rumours about others' involvement are raised.

An air of the unknown falls over the discussion - or perhaps one of them is keeping their secret.

Swinging is cloaked in privacy because it goes against the widely accepted social understanding that married couples, or partners, should remain monogamous.

The scene allows couples to engage in sexual activities with other couples or singles, of either sex, with the full knowledge and acceptance from their partner, husband or wife, that they will indulge that sexual freedom.

Tassie Swingers founders Mick and Ellen* are a married couple who have been involved in swinging for a decade and say there is a very active scene in Tasmania.

They said they have met more than 1500 couples and singles in the Tasmanian swinging scene.

"We were a sexually inexperienced monogamous couple, with a high sex drive and a natural interest in sex," Ellen said.

"Initially we found an internet site where we could have online sex with other couples."

Ellen said they had their first real swinging experience after meeting a couple who shared the same sexual curiosity.

"We found a wonderful couple for our first experience and our adventure as swingers really started at that time," Ellen said.

"It is exciting to have sex with other people.

"It is like having sex for the first time, over and over again, and it is also a nice feeling to give other people pleasure through sex."

Mick said swinging had created an openness between them, that perhaps could not have been achieved in a monogamous relationship.

"There is no need for swingers to hide a natural desire for sex with others, no need to hide that they are attracted to other people, and no need to be dishonest with each other for any reason," he said.

The couple said it was a challenge to find couples that they were both attracted to, and who were also attracted to them.

"Attraction is more than skin deep for us, so we need to get to know other people before we take the plunge with them," Mick said.

"Sometimes this is very quick, or sometimes we can take months to decide that they are right for us."

The couple said regular sexual health checks for safer sex were important, and advised swingers to take advantage of free checks at Sexual Health Tasmania.

Mick and Ellen now organise swinger parties through their Tassie Swingers internet site, which has more than 600 members, and have spent the past five years building confidence in the scene.

Their next party, Winter Wonderland Bondage and Burlesque, to be held on July 6, will have up to 100 guests from Tasmania and interstate.

"The opportunity for swingers to meet other swingers in a safe environment is important, as it allows people to meet each other, or have multiple partners or many partners in the one place at the one time," Mick said.

Ellen said the couple tried to find new people for every party, and had recently toured the North and North-West to meet invitees.

As a rule, they meet every new person before holding their parties.

"Swingers are a sexually active single person's best friends, and singles play a big part in the scene, helping to fulfil sexual fantasies," she said.

She added that the scene does not accept singles who are seeking to cause trouble for couples.

"They must be looking for sexual adventure with couples, and not just with one half of a couple," Ellen said.

"Swinging is not for all couples ... relationships must be strong, honest, and seek to resolve issues."

She said it would be naive to think that relationship arguments or confrontations don't happen in the swingers scene.

"We have been to parties where difficult situations have occurred," she said.

"But the way we run parties is to educate and influence people with the right behaviour before parties, so that issues do not arise."

Ellen said anonymity was essential for those in the scene.

This is because the risk of discrimination, based on sexual activities or preferences, was high.

"Even though there is no illegality ... the reality is that people would face censure and penalty," Ellen said.

"People in normal occupations (such as teachers, doctors, high profile sports people, politicians and those in the political sphere) may be subject to ridicule or harassment.

"You only have to look at any sexual tryst that has been made public, about a politician or person in the public eye, to be prudent about privacy."

Mick said the smaller Tasmanian population heightened this importance.

"You might say it is an underground scene, but it is very easy for people to find and be involved if they wish," he said.

"It is made up of couples from all occupations, all walks of life, all different sexualities, and who are in different stages in their adventure.

"For those of us in the adventure, it is a wonderful place to be."

* The couple did not want to use their real names for this article.

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