I’ve never been to a lesbian orgy before, so I wasn’t sure what to wear. My dungarees were in the wash and I’d just waxed my legs. Lucky, then, that Skirt Club, “an underground community for girls who play with girls”, is above such sapphic clichés. Instead it promised a night that would be “dark and decadent”, referencing 1920s Berlin.
“I’m going to a lezzer orgy!” I texted my friends. A few hours later I was surrounded by women in Coco de Mer knickers, feather capes, designer leather dresses and sheer kimonos — a scene worthy of Eyes Wide Shut unfolding in Notting Hill. Women licked tequila shots from each other’s taut torsos. They kissed in groups of two, three and four, then disappeared behind Chinese screens into candlelit rooms laid with sheepskin rugs, so you could only see their entwined silhouettes.
Skirt Club fills a new niche for young, single, financially independent and curious women at a time when female sexuality is changing. Increasingly, high-profile women aren’t “coming out”, as Ellen DeGeneres once did (in 1997, on the cover of Time magazine), but taking a more relaxed approach to defining their sexuality.
The supermodel of the moment Cara Delevingne, currently dating the singer Annie Clark, says she believes in “gender fluidity”, coyly tweeting that she “plays for more than one team”. The actress Evan Rachel Wood — once married to the actor Jamie Bell — says she has fallen in love with men and women. “I don’t know how you label that, it’s just how it is.” And the actress Kristen Stewart, once engaged to Robert Pattinson but who then dated her female PA, Alicia Cargil, doesn’t feel the need for labels: “In three or four years, there are going to be a lot more people who don’t think it’s necessary to figure out if you’re gay or straight. It’s, like, just do your thing.” Last year, even yours truly — having always been into boys — started dating a woman. I didn’t feel the need to call myself a lesbian. It was what it was. Now I’m back to dating a boy.
There is an emerging group of women like me resisting boring labels. Not calling ourselves gay, bisexual or straight, but feeling more sexually fluid. We’re on a spectrum where terms such as pansexual, polysexual and hetero-flexible come closer to what we do in bed. In a YouGov survey this year, almost half of British people aged 18-24 said they did not consider themselves exclusively straight or gay, and in the past decade there has been a fourfold increase in the number of sexual encounters women are having with other women.
Why is this happening? Why now? Some might wonder if it is down to the influence of technology — apps such as Scissr (Grindr for gay girls), Her and Tinder making sexual experimentation easier — opening up the pool of people you can meet and allowing you to do this privately from the palm of your hand. Perhaps it reflects more liberal attitudes? Or a fad? Perhaps it relates to feminism going mainstream and encouraging women to be less shy about getting what they want. Perhaps it’s girls giving up on pornified men. I hitched up my stockings and went to Skirt Club to find out.
Skirt Club would not call itself a lesbian orgy. It is far more discerning. Members, “intellectually minded” professionals aged 18-39, apply to a “strict committee”, enclosing photographs. “We’ve had men try to come,” the founder, Geneviève LeJeune, says, “but they’re banned.” LeJeune suggests there is “a trend for women calling out for what we want sexually”. She notes that most of her members identify as straight. “It’s not a club for lesbians but for bi-curious, bisexual and heterosexual women to explore. It doesn’t mean they’re gay. Skirt Club is a place they can have a one-off wild night.”
You have to get there, of course. Even if you take a taxi from your house straight to Skirt Club, you need to get from your front door to the car dressed in hooker heels and fishnets, without bumping into the neighbours while they’re putting out the bins. Then, once the cab drops you off, you’re left wandering the streets looking for a “secret door”, too embarrassed to ask anyone for directions.
The location is classy for an orgy, not the usual sleazy swingers setting — in the suburbs or at someone’s idea of a posh hotel — but a five-storey townhouse in Notting Hill. I watch as a slim Chinese girl in patent black heels buzzes her way through a door, and follow her in. A pretty brunette hostess, wearing a black silk corset, suspenders and peacock-feather collar, is waiting. She fastens an antique key on a black ribbon around my wrist, so other members would know I was a “Skirt Club virgin”.
The bar is a makeshift in someone’s kitchen. In fact, the whole house is pretty homely, with sofas, bookshelves and Ikea art. This is always the problem with orgies. You picture a scene in the catacombs of Notre-Dame and end up in a bungalow in Rottingdean (you can count on the English to suburbanise even group sex).
READ THE FULL FEATURE HERE: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/Magazine/article1629221.ece