Is a key party just a more polite way of saying swinger party?

Friends at a key party wearing Partners ID jewelry
Friends at a key party wearing Partners ID jewelry

 

 

Key party?  What on earth is a key party?!

Believe it or not, the subject of swinging was brought up recently by my mother; yes, my mother. The funny thing is, this isn’t the first time.

I can remember when I was in my late teens, we bumped into a woman who lived down the street. The woman kissed my mother on both cheeks (which I found very odd since this woman was born and raised in NY) and admonished my mother for not joining them at their last party. “We have been dying to get you and Dan to come to our parties! Trust me darling, you will love them!”

I thought it was odd that this woman spoke about parties as though they were a regular occurrence at her home and I thought it more odd that my parents were invited and were declining the invitation(s).

As we walked away I asked my mother why she didn’t want to go to this woman’s parties. She turned and looked at me as if to decide if I were old enough to hear her answer. Apparently she thought I was, so she told me that this woman and her husband were throwing key parties once a month at their home. Key parties? I searched my brain for a possible explanation for what a key party could possibly mean but I came up blank. I looked at her and shook my head to show her I had no idea what that meant.

“A key party is where you go to someone’s home and at the end of the night you all throw your house keys into a pile. Each woman picks a key and goes home to spend the night with the man who owns that house key.” I can remember trying to wrap my head around what she had just explained to me but there was no part of me that could make any sense of this. I had so many questions but I chose to continue with the most pressing:

“What if you pick a key and don’t the like the man it belongs to,” I asked. “Exactly the reason I would never want to participate in a key party” my mother explained.

So you randomly pick a key and that’s what decides who you go home with?!

That didn’t help my head to understand this whole thing. My mother’s answer confused me as much as her explanation of the party! I couldn’t help but think that she would be ok with the whole thing if she could choose the man with whom she would spend the night.

Is this what adults did? How come I had never heard about this before? Neighbors were sleeping with neighbors? The woman who was throwing these parties had a son who was a good friend of mine. Did he know about these parties? What did he think? Who else was going to these parties? I had so many questions! When I tried to bring up the subject of these alleged key parties of few days later with my mother, she simply said she was joking. She said that was what she had heard but didn’t really know if there was any truth to it. That was the last time we talked about it. Obviously, it was a conversation I never forgot.

Fast forward to yesterday. I am no longer in my late teens so perhaps now I am really old enough to hear the truth.

“Someone told your father that there is a whole group of younger people where we live that are swapping wives,” my mother reported. “Your father seemed shocked but I reminded him that way back when, everyone at our country club up north was doing the same thing.”

I asked if she was referring to those infamous key parties she had once mentioned. “Oh, no, this is something different. For years, many couples at the club were sleeping with each other. Everyone knew about it.”

Everyone but me…

Before I had the chance to ask, she named a few couples that did not surprise me to hear about, but did not include herself and my father. I didn’t ask and she didn’t say anything more. Although I can’t say for sure, I don’t think they were swingers. Maybe I am wrong, but since she knows a small bit about my lifestyle (kind of a don’t ask don’t tell type thing), she certainly knows I am open to swinging.

Does every adult get invited to a key party?

When I was newly married and had moved with my husband to a new state, I remember hearing about a key club in a nearby community. I was shocked to hear mention of this “key party” thing again. I was once again curious as to whether this was something common amongst married couples. Eventually, someone did approach us about attending one of their parties but we declined. When we had young children and were relatively newly married, it was as far off my radar as could be. I couldn’t in a million years imagine ever wanting any part of that.

Obviously, over time, we changed, but it was when the time was right for us. We also never took part in a “key party” for the same reason my mother claimed she did not. If I were going to play with someone else, I didn’t want to leave it to chance. I wanted to choose the person who would be good for me and I wanted to do it with my husband right there.

Maybe swinging is just not that uncommon…

The thing that interests me the most is not the history of the key party, but rather that they seem to be relatively common. When my mother mentioned this latest discovery about the young group where they live having sex with each other, my fist inclination was to say that it seems swinging is much more common than even I had realized. She looked at me funny and said, “Who said they are swingers?”

This always brings me back to the same question: Are married people having sex with friends but not referring to this as swinging? Are “key parties” not swinger parties? In my book, married couples who are having sex with other married couples are swingers. From what I am realizing, it is actually very common and it seems to be very wide spread.

It seems people don’t like to be labeled. This is not something new either. Perhaps if we found another way to refer to swingers more people would want in. Maybe we can just call swingers fun couples. I would bet that if that was the term to replace swingers, more people would admit to their open minded ways. After all, who doesn’t want to be a fun couple?

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