Miami Velvet Looks to Rebrand Swingers
“We only got two rules here,” the large man at the door tells me. “No means no, and always ask permission.”
And that is pretty much it insofar as guidelines go when you’re at Miami Velvet. There’s a sign at the door warning you that if you are offended by sexuality, this place is not for you. And just in case you didn’t know what you were in for, the flat screen TVs that line the club’s main dance floor showing hard core porn make it real clear. Miami Velvet is what you make of it, but it’s hard to make anything of it that doesn’t involve sex.
For the unaware, Miami Velvet is Miami’s Swingers club. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically a place where couples go to have sex with other couples. Sure, there are some single guys there, and a handful of single girls. But the vast majority of the folks at Velvet are there with dates, and often there to have sex with other people.
And this is the point in the article where you figure out what kind of person you are. Does the idea of having sex with someone other than your partner while your partner does the same turn you on? Would you enjoy watching that? Or does it creep you out and disgust you? Because “the lifestyle,” as it’s called in swinger circles, may not be for everyone. But it’s probably for more people than are willing to admit.
SEX’S FINAL FRONTIER
It’s really the last sexual taboo,” says Miami Velvet PR Director Jesse Swinger (his real God-given name. I checked his license). “Like first, you couldn’t have interracial relationships. Then, you couldn’t be gay. Now interracial couples and gays are all over TV.”
“But say you’re a swinger, and all of a sudden you’re some kind of pervert.”
But Swinger is trying to change all that. Together with his girlfriend Jessie – who is Miami Velvet’s Marketing Director – Swinger is trying to rebrand the lifestyle away from its current image. That image so aptly put by Jerry Seinfeld when he said he didn’t want to become “orgy guy.”
But Orgy Guy looks a lot different than you might imagine.
“Look around this place,” Swinger screams over the blaring salsa music in the club’s main room. “It’s a younger crowd. Swingers are very attractive, not old and fat. Which is what people imagine.”
And he’s not exaggerating. A quick scan of the room shows an age range similar to what you’d find at a Brickell lunch spot, with the 30-somethings probably being the best represented. It wasn’t old men with young girls, but rather couple looking to try something new. A porn producer I talked to who was there told me he was actually having trouble finding older men for a scene he was casting, as swingers clubs are a frequent adult industry recruiting ground.
FROM DANCING WITH CLOTHES TO DANCING WITHOUT THEM
But you don’t have to be an aspiring porn star to go to Velvet. Hell, you don’t even have to have sex. Miami Velvet is as much a place to explore your curiosity in a judgment-free environment as it is a place to go and have sex with new people.
The main dance floor is sort of like Level 1. If you just want to go and drink and socialize (albeit with porn in the background, but, hey, the sign warned you) and maybe dance a little. Like a regular club with regular music. And it’s BYOB at Velvet – presumably to avoid hassles from liquor licenses - so the bartenders aren’t afraid to mix your drink strong. Just remember to tip.
If you’re a little more curious, there’s another dance floor behind the main club that has a pole in the middle and curtained-off beds to the side. So if you want to get it on in front of people – or just watch – you can. But you can keep your clothes on and just dance if you’re not ready to make the leap yet.
To the left of the main dance floor is an area with semi-private rooms, where couples can go and do pretty much whatever they like. Some have windows, some do not. But aside from the tropical fish tank there’s not much to do back there but “play.” This is another place where you can just keep your clothes on and watch. If that’s what you want to make of it.
And finally, there’s the “towels only area.” Through a unisex locker room and shower area (if you’re modest, what are you doing in the “towels only” area anyway?) sits a place where the line between fantasy and reality gets a little blurred.
The attendant at the front opens a locker for you, and inside sit two white towels that are your wardrobe for the duration of your stay. And what goes on in the back? Anything and everything. And if you wanna do it, there’s probably people back there who want to do it too. There’s even an S & M room off to the side, if that’s your cup of tea.
ONLY TWO RULES, BUT A FEW “GUIDELINES” MAKE YOUR VELVET EXPERIENCE BETTER
But there are some things you need to know past the basic rules that Swinger told me if you want to dip your toes in the waters of “the lifestyle.”
First, you CAN go as a single guy – except on Saturdays - and have sex with someone new. But if you have a date, your odds go up exponentially. The amount of guys who go just for the fun of watching their wife have sex with other men is about on par with the amount of single girls there. Which ain’t much. So if you’re a single gent looking to get some on a night out with guys, South Beach is probably a better bet.
Second, a lot of girls seem to go with the intent of just hooking up with other girls. Which is all well and good if you just want to watch your girl get it on with another girl, but be aware that some couples are there to full swap. So the guy who’s with that girl who’s going down on your girlfriend might expect that he can have sex with her too. So be sure to talk to your partner before going and establish what you’re willing to do – and with whom – to avoid really awkward situations. Having sex with someone’s girlfriend and your lady not reciprocating is bad etiquette.
Third, guys if this sounds tantalizing to you, do not pressure your girl into going. And girls, do not go to Miami Velvet just to placate your boyfriend. If you’re both not going out of mutual interest, then the night will probably end in a huge fight. And there’s no crying at Miami Velvet. Unless you’re into that.
And finally, don’t get too drunk. The thought of what is basically an open bar at an orgy (once you’ve bought your booze) may sound enticing. Miami Velvet is the type of place where it’s good to have a nice buzz, but you want to enjoy and remember the experience. So ask the bartender to make your drink weak.
COMING OUT OF THE VANILLA CLOSET
Admit it. There’s a part of the back of your brain right now that kinda wants to see what this place is like. And that’s ok. Swinger is trying to bring people out of what he calls the “vanilla closet” and give relationships the sexual spark they may need. He is, for lack of a better word, an ambassador for the lifestyle. And if you feel at all depraved or wrong in going to Velvet, five minutes of talking to him makes you feel right at home.
He echoes an argument that many swingers make when discussing why they are in “the lifestyle.” That people inherently want some variety, and doing it in this sort of environment keeps them honest and happy.
His goal, he says, is to make the lifestyle younger and to change perceptions of what it is. It’s not old men in bathrobes. It’s not perverts with gallons of lube. And it’s not sick or wrong or depraved or any of the connotations that people like to put on it. It’s fun, he says, and could probably solve a lot of problems if people were more open to the ideas.
“Look at Weiner. He said he wanted more attention. If he’d talked to his wife about it, she may have been like ‘Cool, let’s have some fun.’ But behind her back, it’s just a big mess.”
If your curiosity is piqued, even a little, maybe Miami Velvet is worth a look. There’s no pressure, and you may discover things about you and your partner you never knew. The club is BYOB so when you factor in the membership fee – between $125-175 per couple for six months, depending if you get there on a night they offer discounted memberships – and the cost of your own alcohol, it’s about the price of two mediocre nights out in South Beach.
But guaranteed to produce a more than mediocre story.
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