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A group of swingers, kinksters, polyamorists and nudists is taking over a Madison hotel this weekend, celebrating Valentine's Day weekend with two days of what's billed as "complete sexual freedom. Melanie agreed to be interviewed about the event on the condition that Isthmus not use her real name. Though Camp NCN has been hosting well-attended hotel takeovers in Madison four times a year for the past several years, there's still a stigma associated with a lifestyle that allows sexual freedom, she says.
It's just another type of connection. The group rents out the entire hotel when they come to Madison, so there's no risk of children or other unsuspecting guests getting an unexpected eyeful or earful. That also gives the group the freedom to set up a fetish dungeon, group "play rooms" with various sex apparatuses, an area with vendors selling sex toys and a dance floor with a DJ. The entire hotel is clothing-optional, with the exception of the front desk reception area.
Attendees range in age from mids to mids, Melanie says, and they represent a variety of backgrounds and professions. Many are teachers, lawyers, counselors -- and she says there are even a few government officials.
They could lose their jobs. Though Camp NCN is LGBT-friendly, the hotel takeover events are open only to heterosexual couples and single females who are referred to as "unicorns" as a way to ensure guests are comfortable, Melanie says.
Single men are not allowed. The group ran into trouble five years ago in Stevens Pointwhen city officials tried to shut down a similar Valentine's Day weekend hotel takeover party, citing a city ordinance prohibiting "sexually oriented businesses" within feet of an establishment with a liquor. Faced with threats of fines and other legal penalties, the hotel canceled the swingers' group reservation, but a scaled-back event reportedly took place anyway. They also faced problems in Wisconsin Dells, when a former hotel party site came under new ownership that was not interested in continuing to host the group, Melanie says.
The location of the Madison hotel takeover site is kept secret, per the request of the venue's management. The Camp NCN website doesn't even provide the information on its registration. The hotel's manager, who asked not to be identified, admitted that he was hesitant at first to accommodate the swingers' event.
But the guarantee of a fully booked hotel -- especially during the tourism offseason -- is good for business. So far, there have been no problems or complaints. Plus, the group is "actually pretty tame," the manager says. He invited her to a Halloween hotel takeover about five years ago -- warning her in advance about what she should expect.
But she ended up connecting with another couple -- both of whom were in their 70s -- about why they enjoy the swingers' lifestyle. After hearing from them, she eventually got comfortable enough to shed some clothing. As a self-described "bigger girl," she found the boost of confidence exhilarating. Melanie's advice for introducing newbies into swinging or kink?
Ease into it, expect a learning curve and establish a clear set of rules and boundaries. Madison has a small but growing community of people who are interested in exploring alternative sexualitysays Jay Blevins, a Madison-based d marriage and family therapist who specializes in kink and polyamory. Based on similar groups in New York City, Chicago and Houston, Madison Poly Cocktails launched last year and now has more than local members, with 40 to 70 people regularly attending events around Madison each month.
Sex Geekdom has around members, many of whom are sex educators and therapists. Blevins doesn't like the term "alternative sex" to describe practices like polyamory and BDSM, but he acknowledges that there really isn't a better moniker to categorize the various spectra of lifestyles and interests. All rights reserved.
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