Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll and everything else you're looking to explore.
... many swingers have never considered or explored. With that in mind, I wanted to write out a big list of subcultures (and my understanding of them) for people to use as a reference or guide to what they do/don't want to explore.
Let's Start With the Basics
There are some foundational dynamics that MOST people fall in to. While there may be some exceptions and plenty of nuance to each relationship, the majority of ethically non-monogamous relationships will have a generalized starting point one (or more) of the following:
Swinging - activity that entails couples "swapping" partners. Common characteristics of swinging activities/couples can be:
Polyamory/Polygamy - the practice of engaging in multiple romantic (and typically sexual) relationships, with the consent of all the people involved. Polygamy is, specifically, marriage among multiple people. Additional dynamics that are connected to polyamory are:
Open Relationships - afford the opportunity for a long-term committed couple to pursue casual sex relationships among multiple people. Swingers can often identify as having Open Relationships if they enjoy both couples swaps and individual experiences outside of of the relationship.
Hotwife - is a married woman who seeks out casual sex partners outside of her primary relationship with full knowledge, consent, and often enjoyment of her primary partner. Most commonly, her primary partner does not seek out other sexual partners. Additional dynamics with similar context are:
BDSM (Bondage Discipline Sadism Masochism) - extremely broad subculture of physical and psychological activities that can include restraints, power dynamics, and giving or receiving pain as part of sexually or psychologically gratifying experience. Some of these activities can be done with multiple partners or specialized partners (i.e. - people who enjoy creative bondage can seek out others (riggers) experienced and knowledgeable in rope tying, and that interaction may or may not include sexual activity.)
Kink - unconventional sex preferences. This broad term covers many elements found in ethical non-monogamy and BDSM, but also has unique characteristics of psychological or physical activities that do not fall in traditional sexual formats. Some examples can include:
Exhibitionism - activity involving couples+ who enjoy having sex in front of others.
Voyeurism - activity where individuals/couples enjoy watching other people engaged in sexual activity, but are not, themselves, engaged in sexual activity.
Some additional definitions that are not couple specific are:
Unicorns - a single female interested in sexual connections with both men and women at the same time. Named unicorns for their perceived mythical-like rarity in dating spaces.
Single Guys - go by many nicknames depending on the context
Newbies - couples and singles who may be interested in some form of non-traditional relationship dynamic that have not yet engaged in sexual activity with others.
Let's add some nuance
DTF (Down To Fuck) - DTF couples/singles, generally speaking, don't need to know much about you if they find you attractive. They are DTF because they want the activity, not the relationships. These couples/singles are found most frequently in the Swinger community that operates at an ultra-casual level.
FWB (Friends With Benefits) - a significant portion of couples and singles in the Swinger community are seeking connections with other couples/singles that are more nuanced than the DTF people, but not committed like poly-partners. FWB types break the stereotype of swinging being surface level, single instance experiences. FWB affords people to develop a deeper understanding and comfort level with each other, but still recognize non-exclusive dynamics.
Unicorn Hunters - The couple seeking DTF unicorns. Often, these are newer couples who want to test the swinging waters, but haven't had enough experience to recognize that Unicorns are aptly named for their rarity. Many single women in the LS will develop a distaste for Unicorn Hunters due to the lack of awareness and compassion newer couples demonstrate in their eager pursuits of Unicorns.
Casual Dating - Singles/couples that are transparent with their dating partners that they are non-exclusive. Dating within Swinger communities provides the opportunity for Swingers to develop a deeper understanding of swinging partners without obligation to deeper relationships.
Casual Sex - non-romantic, sexual relationships with informed and consenting partners. All partners understand that sex is neither a commitment or exclusive activity. Casual sex and DTF can be and often are separate concepts. A swinging couple that prefers more of a FWB dynamic rather than DTF dynamic are engaging in Casual Sex
Group Sex - consenting participants in group sex can be found in many different relationship dynamics. Group sex is often found in more DTF spaces, but Casual and Committed Poly relationships often indulge in groups of four or more participants.
Solo Play - Open Relationship and Swinger dynamics often allow one or both halves of a couple to "play solo", making themselves available for one-on-one casual sex, threesomes, or group sex depending on each individual's preferences.
Subcultures and Where to Find Them
On Premise Swinger/Sex Clubs - Swinger clubs often have a "Dance Club" vibe with some additional perks. Standards include a Dance Floor, DJ, some sort of bar area, couches/tables, but the twist begins in designated spaces with beds, privacy curtains, exhibitionism rooms, private rooms, and sometimes a porn theater room with many couches.
Off Premise Clubs - Can be a generalized dance club that advertises and caters to non-traditional relationships or LGBTQIA communities, or higher end clubs that restrict on premise activity due to the culture they want or local laws/city ordinances.
Hotel Party - parties in a hotel range from risky, secretly organized room block purchases to full scale floor or complete hotel takeovers. The smaller the hotel party, the more likely sexual activity is expected of the invited guests.
Lifestyle Resort - There are many travel destinations that have Lifestyle oriented resorts available for exploring while exploring the world.
Happy Hours/Mixers - often found at bars and restaurants, these events intend to be socially less pressure than other events/venues. Giving the attendees the opportunity to talk, mingle, flirt, and cultivate all types of relationships.
House Party - groups and well connected people in the LS may choose to avoid the club atmosphere and host private, invite only house parties. These may range in size from a few, select couples to well over 100 attendees, depending on the size of the house. Usually there are hors d'oeuvres, mood music, a designated play room, and often a theme set by the hosts.
Dating Sites/Dates - While there are only a handful of popular Lifestyle sites, there seem to be an extraordinary amount of startup/small member numbers Lifestyle dating sites and applications. Most sites provide users with a profile that establishes the basics of who they are and what they are looking for.
Subculture - the types of people you'll find in The Lifestyle. These people are not exclusively tied to their culture, so they may appear in many of these different subcultures.
Just the Sex, Please - Swingers, exhibitionists, voyeurs, and newbies can be found in many spaces that encourage sexual activity. On-Premise Swing clubs, Hotel Parties, Lifestyle Resorts, Happy Hours, House Parties, Dating sites, etc. The DTF community have, historically, been the biggest compelling force behind all of the venues and infamous party themes like "Key Parties". These people can sometimes insist on sober play because the sex is the high they crave.
Intimate Interactions Preferred - Those who require more in-depth connection than the DTF crowd can be found in most spaces, but thrive in calmer settings that afford the opportunity for quality conversation. Many couples prefer to do couples dating only, which means most of their interactions begin on the dating sites. However, the Happy Hours and House parties are also popular for meeting new partners. Once connected, many of these people will indulge in the club or hotel party scene, but generally enjoy casual sex with partners who they have already established a mental connection and comfort with.
Let's Dance - the club scene can be very intoxicating for all types of people. The music, the closeness, the energy.... Most of your friends who would "Dance Like No One is Watching" in public are going to find their happy place in a Club, Large Hotel Party, or Lifestyle Resort. Sometimes, that intoxicating energy can lead to a very natural, progressive flow from dance to sex with the right partners. There's usually a good mix of DTF and FWB types found on the dance floor.
"We Don't Play in Our Hometown" - There are many Lifestyle people who live in rural areas without much access to the sexy amenities of a large city. These people are often concerned about putting themselves on dating sites because they don't want gossip mills to put their professional lives or children at risk. They find their happiness on short vacations to larger cities in the Club or any larger parties commonly advertised. They also frequent Lifestyle Resorts to find Casual experiences.
Drugs - There are two sides of the drug culture coin. There are people who like their drugs with a side of sex, and the people who believe their intimate and sexual connections are made even better with drugs. The first group of people are there for the experience the party drug gives them in a sexually charged, thumping music, sweaty dance energy environment and not actually having sex. The latter is seeking sex, but like to enhance it. Both groups are often found in Clubs and House Parties, but also participate in annual music festivals, cruises, etc.
Lifestyle Is Life - The people who attend every Happy Hour and House Party while also spending at least one day of the weekend in the club or at MAJOR club events are in their "Happy Place" surrounded by the sex positive atmosphere. They may play all the time OR rarely play, but they seem to be in every picture because they choose this Lifestyle over all other hobbies.
We Don't Talk About Fuck Club - this group of people prefers their activities, preferences, and who they are into to be private. They are commonly found in many spaces, but go out of their way to only discuss what they are into privately, with people they are interested in doing it with.
FWB-Emphasis on Friends First - having close friends that enjoy dinners, movies, museums, and other non-sexual hobbies is incredibly rewarding. Many people find their "best friends" in the Lifestyle. Having best friends that will occasionally flirt, feel, and take things to a deeper level is fantastic! Having friends that are aware you are non-exclusive, and they are non-exclusive as well is as close as some can get to nirvana. Small groups of friends can be found in almost any space, and sometimes give off a "clique-ish" vibe. That's not intentional, they are just very comfortable with each other which can seem difficult to break the ice into.
Let's Try Something New - this group of people seems to always be looking for something to push their own boundaries, give them new sensations, indulge the craving for learning, or challenge what they previously understood about sex/sexuality. You can find them on all of the sites, in the clubs/dungeons/expos, and travelling to experience something new. You are likely to detect vocabulary from BDSM/Kink communities from these crossover explorers.
I'm in [XYZ] Facebook Group - Facebook groups and their culture depend greatly on the leadership of the group. The culture can, sometimes, influence how a couple interacts in offline spaces. The group itself can organize events in the various spaces, which can help newer couples/singles feel more comfortable attending if they know they are meeting people they have already conversed with online.
To close this thing out....
Daniel is a pan-sexual, open-lifestyle advocate and event-organizer who has used his appearances on PlayboyTV, with wife, Nikki, to commit to being the voice for the unprotected class of non-traditional relationships.