Swinging can be lots of fun, but because it involves sex and because people are weird about sex sometimes, it helps to have a basic idea of expected etiquette when it comes to swinging.

"Rules" vary among different groups of swingers, but in general, you can expect these guidelines to keep you out of trouble.

"No" means "no".
This one is universal, and if you're playing somewhere where this isn't true, you're not swinging. It doesn't matter what's going on, or who's involved. If anybody involved gets uncomfortable, experiences discomfort or pain, or decides it isn't right and says "no", it's generally expected that everyone involved in a swap will stop what they're doing, at least temporarily. If you proposition a couple and anyone says "no," that's the end of it. The same goes for propositions you reject. Without this "rule" (and really, this is the only really steadfast rule in this whole pile), swinging wouldn't be the safe, fun activity that it is.

Follow the House Rules
If you're supposed to wear a bathing suit in the hot tub, don't hit the tub nude. If you're supposed to stay dressed unless you're in a group activity room, stay that way. Don't smoke anywhere you see a "no smoking" sign, or, really, anyplace you don't see a "smoking area" sign these days. If there's a room set aside for non-sexual activity only, don't start an orgy there. If you drink alcohol (straight, or via spirits and beers), be certain to ask about the house's liquor policies. And don't screw on the dance floor; that's just rude.

Know Your Own Limits
You and your partner should know your limits before you leave your home. It's okay to have fickle tastes, but make sure everybody involved understands them, including yourself.

If you don't do anal, say so. If you don't want your partner to be with anyone of a particular sex, make sure s/he understands (and more importantly, agrees) before you leave. If you know the party you're headed to doesn't require the use of condoms for oral sex, but you want to anyway, say so.

Also make sure you actually want to go, and also make sure you have some idea what you want to do when you get there. Nothing is more frustrating than meeting a couple at a swingers club that doesn't know what they want. "We're just curious" and "We don't know" are two of the most irritating phrases to hear when you're half naked and looking for sex in a sex club.

Expectations of Privacy
I've already said people are weird, but they're even stranger about this part. Sure, they're at a swingers club and they're swapping partners, but they may still want their privacy. Fortunately, doors make this particular problem easy to solve. Simple rules apply here:

  • Open/no door - If you don't mind people watching you play, or having people ask to join in, take your group to a room with no door, or to a room with a door, left wide open. An open door is just that -- an invitation to watch or participate. You can always say "no" if someone tries to join your group whom you don't like, and a group can always say "no" if you ask to join but they don't want you to. Still, it's perfectly acceptable here to ask.
  • Cracked door - If you don't mind people watching you play, but you don't want anyone joining in, leave the door cracked open. This is the universal "look, but don't touch" symbol; you can nudge the door open enough to peek in, but it's expected you won't join in or ask to. On some occasions, if someone peeking in looks interesting, they'll be invited in anyway, but it's expected that you'll leave groups alone and just watch unless explicitly invited.
  • Closed door - If you don't want any intrusions, keep the door closed entirely. If you're wandering through a club and spot a closed door, leave it that way. Sometimes a door will have a small window in it, and it's okay to peek through this, but otherwise, leave it alone. Don't open the door to peek in, don't knock to invite yourself into their party, etc. If you do, be prepared for a scolding and a stern "no".

Don't be Afraid to Ask
In yet another example of human goofiness, people will get up the nerve to go to a swingers club together, looking for a night of debauchery, but then will forget to actually ask anybody to play with them.

Sure, people say "no" sometimes when you ask them to join you, but occasionally, they say "yes". That's when the real fun begins.

Use Protection
Use whatever protection your partners require of you. This will normally consist of the use of a condom during straight or anal sex, and sometimes during oral sex (though this is rare in swinging circles).

Don't try to pull any tricks, either (like slipping off the condom during the act, hoping she won't notice). Keeping things safe is important.

Ask Your Partner for Feedback
Find out what s/he likes before or during the act, not after. Everyone's there to enjoy themselves, and it'll be all that much better if everyone's open and honest about what they like and dislike.

Don't Hide in the Corners
Couples (including myself and my wife) sometimes wonder why nobody's talking to them or doing anything sexual with them. Maybe it's because you're sulking in the corner of the dance room, or otherwise keeping to yourselves. It's okay if you don't want to be noticed, but if that's the case, why are you here anyway?

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