It’s been a while. In fact, if I’m being honest, it’s been over a year since I’ve gone to bed with anything other than Netflix and a nice peppermint tea.
So, fuelled by a mixture of desperation, curiosity and an obsession with Louis Theroux’s Swingers episode, I headed online to find a way to end the dry spell.
At 1am on a Sunday morning, I headed to a suburb in East Manchester to a swingers’ club I’d found online.
The club advertises itself as having a laid-back atmosphere, stressing that singles are welcome and women are shown maximum respect.
The address turned out to be a terraced house flanked by a funeral parlour and a bookies. As I crossed the road from the car park the smell of fish and chips hit me from ‘Codfellas’ corner chippy. Oh the glamour…
Wearing a suit, I felt desperate and overdressed, at this point.
The ‘club’ door had a black laminated film over it in which I was able to check my tie and collar. After pressing the buzzer, the lock clicked open and I made my way into a grotty foyer closing the door behind me.
Several minutes went by and fearing a Mancunian version of Saw, I was about to leave when the inside door swung open.
A sweating overweight middle-aged man wearing a Winnie-the-Pooh towel peered through the gap and, in a thick Liverpudlian accent, said: “Fucking hell it’s James Bond. You coming in son?”
With the door now ajar I could hear the sound of Duran Duran’s The Reflex mixed with sounds of men and women laughing. I nervously paid for a ‘day pass’ and slid past terrified yet curious as to what I was walking into.
In the bar area, four men stood in a semi-circle around one middle-aged women who was leaning heavily into the counter. Each man was wearing only a towel. The one woman was a wearing a black basque.
The owner who’d greeted me at the door told me if I hurried I could ‘get stuck into some couples in the Jacuzzi area,’ which was quite the ice-breaker. I cautiously handed over my car keys and phone and in return was provided with a condom and an over-sized blue towel adorned with a cartoon muscle man.
After changing in a makeshift carpeted locker room on the first level, I decided to explore the three narrow floors. The rooms looked like a mix between that mirror scene from Enter The Dragon and a BDSM dungeon.
Each room was kitted out with giant red-leather divans and tiny American diner booths. From the ceilings hung black harnesses and dimly-lit Athenian statues had been placed in alcoves, like mini-shrines to the Gods of shagging.
As I made my way into one room and began inspecting an A4 sign reading ‘Viagra tablets and jellies available at reception’, I heard shuffling and ruffling in the darkness.
After a high-pitched moan, an Indian man emerged followed by another lanky man with ginger hair. Both were naked and patted each other on the back happily, as one announced: “That’s my fill for this week. Thanks John.”
Back down at the bar, the two couples from the Jacuzzi room were now taking a well earned break. They were in their 40s and of Eastern European descent. A very large woman – the scouser’s partner – had appeared behind the bar and, puffing on a giant pink e-cig, she starting passing around a bowl of cheesy wotsits.
I perched on a stool next to the woman in the basque and ordered a soft drink. Her name was Lizzie and she told me she taught at a primary school in the area.
The converted house wasn’t licensed and the bar top was filled with half-drunk 20cl bottles of whisky and vodka brought by customers. Underneath the plastic bar top cover, were old polaroids taken of previous special nights. They looked like behind-the-scenes photos from a cheap 80’s porn movie: bushes, moustaches and perms galore.
The couples began ordering cups of English Breakfast tea, condoms and lube. I received a limp embrace from one of the women who looked like a burned out caricature of Pamela Anderson. She was so drunk she fell off me and into a coat rack which she clung on to like her life depended on it.
As the foursome left for a second round and so to my opportunity of getting ‘stuck in,’ I surveyed the rest. A lad in his early 20s sat at the bar sipping on a can of Carling. Behind him stood a man in his fifties wearing a frayed Eric Cantona towel. He looked like if Daniel Craig had spent every day of his life on a sunbed and completely sacked off the gym.
Cut to 15 minutes later and, having become bored, I’d taken my drink into the snooker room that also housed an overflowing Jacuzzi on a cracked-tiled floor.
While re-reading a ‘WHEN YOU GET THE MONEY, YOU GET THE POWER’ Scarface poster for the hundredth time, things took a sudden turn for the strange. Well, stranger.
Lizzie came running in the room dragging the lad by the hand behind him. She threw herself on the snooker table – balls flying everywhere – and immediately removed her underwear.
Watching him go down on her as he wore a Union Jack towel embroidered with the Queen’s face I couldn’t help but stare. And the fact he’d rammed his Carling can in a middle pocket was more impressive than funny.
Within minutes, however, she’d grown restless and dismissed him with a heel to the forehead. She spied me flipping beer mats in the corner and made a beeline like a pissed off Ronda Rousey. Disgusted, the lad yanked his Carling from the pocket, slammed the green ball into a hole and scuttled off.
For the next 20 minutes I felt like Vince Vaughn in the Wedding Crashers bed scene. Fortunately, I did manage to pull the complimentary condom from my arse where it had become wedged as she mounted me like a pommel horse.
Somewhat shaken, I hobbled back to the bar to collect my keys and phone before I changed. The Daniel Craig lookalike approached me and smiled, “First timer then? How did you find her?”
I muttered a ‘very good’ and he nodded replying with: “Yeah my wife and I have been coming here a while. Took a bit to get my head around it at first but I’m just about comfortable with it now.”
As I was leaving, I could just about the hear the lad who’d been dismissed crack open another beer. He’d groaned, ‘that happens every fucking time I’m here.’
I made a swift exit at that point and headed home, after stopping for a Codfellas first. Obviously.
On reflection, I probably wouldn’t go back. The sheer awkwardness and men to women imbalance added a layer of seediness that was hard to ignore. In my opinion, swinging is best suited for bored middle-aged couples.
That said, in another year’s time, depending on how things play out, I may find myself donning that Winnie-the-Pooh towel and giving it another go.