1. DO know what kind of sex party you’re going to.

Every sex party is different. It may be in a guy’s apartment, in a venue (warehouse, sex club, bathhouse), or in a semi-permanent, privately owned meetup space (a guy’s apartment he uses frequently for sex parties).

Some are large — fifty men at a house. Some are small — five guys on a bed. Some hosts ask attendees to bring condoms or a certain kind of gear. Others provide the essentials. Many parties are organized online. Others require you to “know a guy,” receive an in-person invite, or learn the details through word of mouth.

Some sex parties are bareback. Others require condoms. Learn all you can about the party you’re attending before you show up. This way you’ll know what’s expected of you, and what you can expect. 

2. DO bring your own lube.

Lube gets expensive. Silicone lube can be $12 to $60+ a bottle, depending on the brand. When guys grab my lube bottle and pour fat, silky drizzles of top-grade lubricant into their palms without my permission, it’s money seeping from my income. Bring your own. 

3. DO learn the condom policy before you go.

If you’re going to a house party or apartment, ask what the condom policy is beforehand. If you go to a bareback party and pull out condoms, you’ll kill the mood, and may be asked to leave. If the party is condom-only and you show up ready to play bare, you may also be asked to leave.

If you’re going to a venue, you’re essentially free to do as you choose. Some venues are required by state laws to provide condoms and make them visible. Some even have signs saying you “must” use them, but I’ve played in venues in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington D.C., and New York City,  and have never been told by a staffer to wrap up. Even if a venue’s promotional material implies bareback sex, most of them have complimentary condoms available. 

4. DON’T expect “condom only” zones at most venues.

Even if a venue has complimentary condoms, bring your own — especially if you need a certain size or certain material. The ones at venues are cheap and purchased in bulk. If you like quality condoms, bring them.

Don’t assume the presence of condoms defines the space as condom-only, or that guys you meet will want to use them. If a guy starts fucking me with a condom, I’ll pull off and tell him he should have asked. Some guys have latex allergies. Others simply don’t like them.

5. DO wear tall socks.

Tall socks are an easy place to keep your ID, credit card, cash, poppers, lube, and other small essentials — especially when you’re in a jockstrap or naked from the knee up. Some venues offer clothing checks (if it’s an apartment party, see number 54). Even if you check your stuff, you’ll need to keep your check ticket in your sock. 

6. DON’T ask the host about other invitees/attendees.

A good host won’t reveal other invitees/attendees. The unspoken agreement you make when you arrive is one of complicity and anonymity. You’re there to have sex. Everyone else is too. You’re in the same boat — equally implicated — so there’s no reason to judge or feel judged.

Awkward run-ins happen. You may meet a coworker or enemy or ex, and you’ll have to (politely, cordially) decide how to proceed if you do. If you can’t bear it, thank the host, tell him something came up, and leave without making a scene. If you can bear it, stick around. You might have fun. 

7. DO wear simple clothes — unless it’s an official gear party.

Wear old clothes that you don’t mind stuffing into a locker that hasn’t been cleaned since the last guy. If you’re attending a leather, rubber, or some kind of fetish gear party, you may wear your attire there. Most gear parties will have clothing checks, which you should take advantage of if you don’t feel like calling Uber in full-body yellow rubber. 

8. DO be informed what gear is required at a gear party.

Jockstrap + harness may not be enough. I’ve worked several gear parties with strict dress codes and have seen many guys turned away at the door. Do your research. 

9. DO find out beforehand if there will be a coat/bag check.

This only applies to venues, although some kind hosts provide spaces to put your stuff — something you should thank them for. If you can’t find out whether or not the venue has a coat check, assume it doesn’t.

Even if there is one, keep your most valuable stuff on your person if at all possible. Guys accomplish this by keeping things in their socks, wearing zippered wrist cuffs or arm bands with pockets in them, or keeping a drawstring shoulder bag. 

10. Be aware of your body language — and the body language of others.

Consent is sometimes non-verbal in these settings. If a guy is blindfolded with his ass up on a fuck bench, or chilling out in a sling, he’s likely giving non-verbal consent to fuck him. If a guy is sitting in front of a glory hole, he’s giving non-verbal consent for you to go on the other side and push your dick through the hole. If you see a dick sticking out of a hole, the man on the other side of the wall is giving non-verbal consent to have his dick sucked.

While these (common) scenarios are obvious, other situations might not be so clear. Be aware of your body language and the body language of others, and remember that non-verbal consent gets harder to read when you add alcohol and other substances. 

11. DO bring a small drawstring bag.

I bring one every time. Small drawstring shoulder bags are easy to check. If there’s no check, you can wear it. If I hop in a sling, I slipknot my bag to the sling. A drawstring shoulder bag is my #1 sex party essential item. 

12. DON’T lose your bag ticket.

If you lose your check bag ticket, some places make you wait until everyone has gotten their stuff before rummaging to find yours. This can delay your exodus by hours. Many venues will write your ticket number on your arm in permanent marker. Go the extra mile and bring your own permanent marker just in case they don’t offer this extra security measure. 

13. DON’T make a mess — if you can avoid it.

Fisting parties can result in dangerously slippery floors if you don’t have towels on hand. Cum parties get sticky. Whatever you do, try not to wreck the place. Someone has to clean it up. 

14. DO clean up after yourself.

Sex clubs have expected mess. If you get lube all over a rubber mattress in a private sex room, wipe it off before leaving. Someone else wants to use it after you. If you’re at an apartment party, always clean up after yourself — it’s extremely disrespectful to your host to leave a mess, and you risk not getting invited back. 

15. DON’T let rejection ruin your night.

Rejection is never easy, but the reality is that there there are many guys playing. Some will want you, some won’t. Rejection is nothing to fear — in fact, it’s one reason we love sex parties.

Rejection will happen. When it happens one-on-one, it stings. When it happens in a group, you can look see the guys who are interested and play with them. It’s nothing personal and nothing to worry about. Play with the guys who click with you, or leave and go to the next sex party. There is always another one happening somewhere. 

16. DON’T steal.

It’s a shame this must be said. I know it’s easy to steal, especially in crowded parties, and especially if drugs are being used. Sure, you might not get caught, but someone invited you into their home. They don’t deserve that.

If you’re in a bad spot and swiping some cash is something you’re considering, a sex party is not the place to be. I’ve been in scary spots in unfamiliar cities, but stealing can make a bad situation much worse. It can land you in jail. 

17. DO ask the drug/alcohol policy before you go.

Most venues have zero tolerance for drugs. You may still find drugs there, and finding drunk/high people is almost a guarantee, but bringing substances into the venue is a massive risk — one that can get you permanently banned or arrested. If you’re going to a private party, ask the host what the drug policy is. Some sex parties are sober-only. Others welcome certain drugs (like alcohol) but not others. Some sex parties are oriented around specific drugs. Ask explicitly what will be happening at the party before you go. 

18. DO have an exit strategy.

Things happen. He says there are four guys present, then you show up and there’s forty. Sometimes you’re told it’s “drug-free,” then you walk in and see guys using. Someone you walk in and come face-to-face with your ex-boyfriend. Sometimes you walk in and come face-to-face with your current (monogamous) boyfriend fucking someone. Sometimes you walk in and come face-to-face with that guy you went on a date with and it was awful, and you never texted him back. Have an exit strategy.

If you don’t feel comfortable turning and leaving without a word, compose a pre-packaged excuse — “I need to go pick up a friend from another party and take him home, apparently there’s drama” — and gather your things. Whatever you do, don’t cause a scene. Neither an official venue nor someone’s apartment is the proper place to have an outburst. 

19. DON’T ignore people who look like they need help.

They may be having a bad high. Or they may be new and uncomfortable. This may be their first sex party. Whatever the cause, if someone appears to be upset, overdosing, disoriented, dehydrated, or otherwise in need of assistance, help them. It’s human decency.

Even in sleazy sex spaces, we are still people who need care. Never abandon your humanity for the hunt. Help those who need it. 

20. DO stay hydrated.

Good sex is a workout — especially if you’ve gone a few hours without eating. Keep water close by — and keep an eye on it (don’t let anyone borrow it). 

21. DO research to see if there are cheaper entry prices for attendees who enter the venue in a jockstrap or naked.

22. DO watch your water bottle.

Many venues won’t let you take bottles of liquid in. If they don’t, ask if vending machines are available — you need to stay hydrated. If you can get a water bottle (or better yet, a sports drink), hold on to it, check it in your locker, keep it in your bag, etc. Don’t let others borrow it.

Getting dosed on various substances like GHB is a real risk. It’s happened to me and countless others. Be smart. 

23. DO be aware of drugs — their risks, what they do, and so on.

Two key risks in taking unregulated compounds (street drugs) is that you never know what you’re taking, and you don’t know how they’ll interact with each other. These risks are true of all illicit substances, regardless if you use them at a sex party or your grandmother’s Sunday luncheon. It’s important to know that these risks are real. 

Don’t let the reality of drugs dissuade you from sex parties. Many sex parties are drug-free. Many more are not. If you make sex parties a regular part of your weekends, you will encounter substances. Some guys live in fantasies pretending drugs don’t exist, or that they can be avoided by staying away from “those people.” These guys contribute to a culture of erasure and stigma in which our brothers suffer, unaided and misunderstood.

Don’t do that. If you’re sober, or if there are some substances you’ll accept and others you don’t want to be around, prepare for this discussion. Prepare polite ways to refuse, and state what you’re comfortable with without any judgement. 

24. DON’T freak out if you see someone you know.

You’re both implicated in horniness by being there. Accept your complicity. The best sex happens with a sense of complicity — of being co-conspirators in the rich act of discovery. If they’re a co-worker, old flame, past hookup, or friend, don’t make it awkward. Decide what to do between the two of you without drawing attention away from the fun. 

25. DON’T attempt “What’s your status?” conversations at bareback parties.

You’ll kill the mood. We enjoy these parties as escapes from inhibition and the rigamarole of disclosure. We assume the men who attend these parties understand the risks in coming and  take the proper precautions, and we play accordingly. If that makes you uncomfortable, that’s fine. These parties are not for everyone. You are in charge of your own body.

26. DO assume risk — regardless what kind of sex party it is.

If you’re having sex, you assume risk. Even if condoms are used, the risk for STIs like herpes still exists (and statistically, you probably already have herpes if you’re a sexually active gay man). If you’re playing bare, you assume risk of getting HIV — especially if you’re not on PrEP (learn more about PrEP by clicking here). 

If you’re enjoying anonymous play — no talk, no names, no pre-sex chatter, just raw sex — you assume significant risk, and doing so is absolutely part of the thrill. Most of my sex is anonymous. Since risk is unavoidable, there’s no reason to let the reality of risk prevent you from enjoying what you like. Take necessary steps to keep yourself healthy. Get tested frequently, and if you’re HIV-negative, get on PrEP. If you’re HIV-positive, get on meds and take them diligently. Undetectable = untransmittable — to learn what this means, click here

Some parties are anonymous. They are structured with the intent of keeping the identities of everyone present relatively secret. They may be lights-off, or they may require hoods or other gear that obscures features.

In certain sex spaces, some consent is forfeited with the act of entering them. A blacked-out, lights-off room, for instance, invites groping from people you can’t see. We enjoy these spaces for their anonymity, but they can be frightening to people who don’t understand their purpose.

If you’re going to a kinky dungeon party and a submissive is tied and gagged and getting fucked by a group of guys, ask who is his dominant before fucking him, since his consent has been handed over to someone else. By being in that situation, some degree of consent has been forfeited — handed over — by him to someone else, so ask permission of the person it’s been given to. If there is no dominant, and he’s there by his own volition, he’s still forfeiting a degree of consent (especially if he’s blindfolded), but if he says stop, you must stop.

Many people (including me) enjoy sex that feels noncensual, even if it is. All submissive/dominant sex scenes and BDSM scenes toy with degrees of power exchange and consensual surrender. That is the core principle of kink: play must be consensual, even if it appears not to be. Many people enjoy group scenes that they call “gang rape,” even though what they enjoy is nothing like rape, just rough group sex. If there’s very little discussion happening (most sex parties will not have much talking), consent may be given non-verbally. If you step into a lights-out backroom, you forfeit consent and submit yourself to be touched by people you can’t see by simply being there. Understand these various and complex rules around consent and forfeiture (when and where consent is given, when and where it is forfetied) and respect the sex people enjoy. 

One of my favorite things to do is go to a sex club, hop in a sling, and put on a blindfold. Doing so hands over consent to strangers I can’t see. The risk and thrill of this is awesome, and the mood would be ruined if someone bent down and whispered, “May I fuck you?” Him asking is nice, but the answer (“yes”) is obvious by being in that situation. If you put yourself in a similar situation, don’t expect people to ask. Know the rules of where and how you play.

28. DO go with a friend/playmate if it’s kinky.

Kinky sex parties are awesome, but they get complicated. Respecting collar code, for example, is something only kinky people with some experience in the scene will understanding (locked collar mean’s he’s off-limits and you must ask his partner or handler before playing with him — unlocked collar means he’s free to do what he wants).

Hanky code (wearing colored hankies in the back right or left pocket defining what kind of sex you like, and what role — dominant or submissive — you take) gets tricky. Some kinky sex practices at some kinky sex parties require prior experience that guys there may not know if you have. Having that discussion might be tough when the music is blaring.

Go with a friend who knows the ropes. It makes the whole experience easier. 

29. DO plan for extra prep time if you’re attending a fist party.

Take extra cleaning time. Start early. Clean twice (or more). If you’re a fister with some experience, you know the drill — don’t wait till an hour before the party starts.

If you’re less experienced with fisting but you’re curious and want to learn, fisting parties are a great option. Watch and learn. But take extra cleaning time if you think there’s a chance you might try taking a hand. 

30. DON’T assume there will be private showers/bathrooms to do a last-minute clean.

If there were, my life would be easier. I’ve dipped into public bathrooms and even the apartment above a gay club (with the permission of the guy living there) to do a last-minute clean.

Prepping for sex at home is important, but there’s the reality of the body to consider: You can control what it does to an extent, and that extent shortens with every passing hour. Bring a small, handheld douche, and perfect the art of discreet cleanings in bathrooms (run from sink to stall and try not to get water everywhere). 

31. DO prepare your “No.”

If you’re going to a venue, your “no” may simply be walking to the next room, or gently pushing someone’s hand away. But sometimes guys don’t take the hint that you’re not interested, or that you’re simply finished playing with them, and you have to be explicit: “I’m looking to play with other guys” or “I’m going to walk around some.” If they follow you around, be blunt and tell them, “Stop following me.”

If you’re going to a house or apartment where a smaller number of guys will be present, this gets tricky. You won’t be able to play with 20 guys at the same time, so you can make the rounds with guys you’re interested in and avoid one or two you’d pass on. If it’s a smaller group — say, four of five — and there’s someone there you’re absolutely disinterested in, you really have only two options: stay or go.

Don’t cause a scene or make it obvious who you’re singling out. Just offer a polite excuse — “It’s time for me to go” is always acceptable — and leave quietly. 

32. DO leave if you feel uncomfortable — there’s no obligation to stay.

No one wants you to stay if you feel very uncomfortable, and there’s no obligation to. You’re always free to leave. 

33. DO leave if you’re not having fun.

Even if you’re completely comfortable, the sex may be lackluster or the chemistry not there. Maybe there’s some sexual incompatibility that wasn’t sussed out beforehand. No problem — say thanks and dip out. It’s never a good idea to wait and see if a party “picks up.” It might, but it probably won’t. Move on. 

34. DON’T talk too much/too loud.

When you arrive at a sex party, the conversation should be kept to a minimum. By that point, you should reasonably know what to expect. Keep chatter to a minimum. 

35. DO plan to get tested after — as a reasonable, health-conscious adult.

Sex parties are awesome — especially when you take proper self-care needed to enjoy them. Get full-range testing for sexually-transmitted infections approximately ten days after. If you attend sex parties often, get tests done every three months at minimum, or even more frequently. If you catch something, take a break until it clears up. This is part of being a responsible, sexually active adult. 

36. DO try something new.

They don’t know you. They haven’t assigned you a role. If you’re a bottom who wants to top, or if you’re dominant curious about submission, try it at a sex party. There’s no commitment, no history, no partner you have to please (unless, of course, you go with your partner). You can always leave if you’re not having fun. 

37. DON’T start with the biggest, wildest sex party out there.

Don’t start with Black Party NYC or a dungeon party at Folsom. Start with small apartment groups. Work your way up. 

Photo above by Miguel Angel Reyes. See more of his photos from the Folsom Street Fair here.

38. DON’T invite others without asking the host.

Few hosts have relaxed “open door” policies. Most want to know who’s coming to their home.  You don’t have the authority to invite someone over if the space isn’t yours. 

39. DON’T spend the whole time on your phone.

If you’re not having a good time, leave. Let everyone keep playing, step outside, and find another sex party; get in your car, hop on the subway, call an Uber, and arrange your plans somewhere else. Or go home and get sleep. Don’t stay hooked on your phone when other guys are in your vicinity and ready to play.

If you’re at a sex club or venue, they may require you to check your phone. Some venues — the best ones — won’t let you take your phone in as courtesy to other patrons. Enjoy unplugging. 

40. DO join the mailing list.

If there is one, sign up. If you’re at an official sex club or venue, their emails will alert you of special nights, which always draw better turnout that regular weeknights. A special DJ may be coming, or it may be a special monthly bareback party (like CumUnion, which happens across the country; look and see if there’s a CumUnion in your city). Some regular sex parties at private spaces also have email or text lists to keep guys in the loop. 

41. DO challenge your fears and inhibitions.

Seeing something hot and hardcore — or better yet, being part of it — is part of the fun. Sex parties make you drop inhibitions, since they require a degree of inhibition to attend them. Open your mind. It’s OK to get scared, but when the fear pops up, play with it. See how long you can hold out. You might surprise yourself. 

42. DON’T feel pressure to perform.

You don’t have to get to know anyone. They don’t have to get to know you. You can be as forthcoming as you want to be, or as closed-off as you want to be. Many guys find their best sexual performance happens in pressure-free, expectations-free sex parties.

If you don’t perform how you want to perform (if his dick is too big and you simply can’t take it; if you promised to fuck five bottoms but only make it through three) you can call it quits with no problem. It’s a sex party — there’s nothing to lose, no one you have to impress. 

43. DO take breaks.

If you’ve been hopping from party to party all night and feel fatigue, stop. Go home. Sleep. There is always another — you’re not missing out. If you try to power through exhaustion, sex parties have a tendency to get miserable.

44. DO thank the host.

If it’s a venue, thank the guys who work there on the way out. They have a mess to clean up. If you’re at someone’s apartment or hotel room, thank the host and/or the guy who organized it,  and offer to help clean up if necessary. 

45. DO something different after. Clear your head.

First, get some sleep — you’ll need it. Then go to a movie, or go for a run. Walk in the park. Go to a bookstore. Go to a coffee shop and read. Get out of “sex party” headspace — turn off your phone if necessary.

You need to change your headspace. Sex parties are sensory overload, and the intensity can quickly become too much. You can keep chasing the thrill needlessly for periods after the party is over if you don’t switch off. Take time to be human again. Decompress. Do something else. Meet up with friends. 

46. DON’T try to attend every sex party.

You’ll burn out. If you live in a big city, there may a gay sex party happening every day — even multiple times a day. Even if you have great experiences, that’s fine — just don’t try to attend them all. Don’t attend sex parties every weekend, or even every other weekend. I know many guys who’ve gotten stuck in the “sex party lull.” Sex parties are easy and available and don’t require much work, so they can become your default sex mode. Keep evolving in sex, and try new things. If you’ve been hitting party after party for a few months, try one-on-one experiences for a bit. Explore new kinks. Take a sex break. Break it up. 

47. DON’T set expectations.

I’ll have a load count I’m trying to reach, a hot previous experience I’m trying to repeat, or a fantasy I’m trying to fulfill. While it’s good to have fantasies, sometimes expectations make you closed-off to the experience you get. Every sex party is different — be present and enjoy each one

48. DON’T talk about the guys you play with.

Doing so reflects badly on you. It’s not anyone’s business who you fucked there. Protect the privacy of your playmates. 

49. DON’T monopolize anyone’s time or body.

If you’re at a group thing, don’t hog anyone. The rules of the playground still apply: you must share your toys. I run into this problem quite a bit. Some tops will mistakenly believe I journeyed to a sex party to find “the one” — the “star top” of the evening. I come to sex parties to play with many people — usually everyone there — as do most attendees. Don’t monopolize anyone. 

50. DO bring cash.

Many venues are cash-only.