AskDefine | Define swinging

Dictionary Definition

swinging adj : characterized by a buoyant rhythm; "an easy lilting stride"; "the flute broke into a light lilting air"; "a swinging pace"; "a graceful swingy walk"; "a tripping singing measure" [syn: lilting, swingy, tripping] n : changing location by moving back and forth [syn: swing, vacillation]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. An activity where couples engage in sexual activity with different partners


  1. present participle of swing

Extensive Definition

Swinging, sometimes referred to as the swinging lifestyle, is "non-monogamous sexual activity, treated much like any other social activity, that can be experienced as a couple." The phenomenon (or at least its wider discussion and practice) of swinging may be seen as part of the sexual revolution of recent decades, which occurred after the upsurge in sexual activity made possible by the prevalence of safer sex practices during the same period. Swinging has been called wife swapping in the past, but this term has been criticized as androcentric and inaccurately describing the full range of sexual activities in which swingers may take part.


Swinging activities may include (but are not limited to):
  • Exhibitionism: having sex with a partner while being watched.
  • Voyeurism: watching others have sex (perhaps with the above mentioned partner).
  • Soft swinging or soft swap: kissing, stroking, or having oral sex with a third or fourth person. Soft swap may be in the form of a threesome, group sex, or the literal swapping of partners.
  • Full swap: having penetrative sex with someone other than one's partner. Although this is the commonly understood definition of swinging, it is not necessarily the most common type.
  • Group sex: An all-inclusive term for activities involving multiple partners in the same vicinity.
Typically, swinging activities occur when a married or otherwise committed couple engages in sexual activity with another couple, multiple couples, or a single individual. These acts can occur in the same room (often called same room swinging) though different or separate room swinging does occur. On these occasions, swingers will often refer to sex as play and sex partners as playmates.


While contemporary swingers look to earlier practices, such as ancient Roman acceptance of orgies and alternative sexual practices, swinging in the 20th century began differently.
According to Terry Gould's Book The Lifestyle: A Look at the Erotic Rites of Swingers , swinging began among United States Air Force pilots and their wives during World War II. The mortality rate of pilots was high. Gould reports that a close bond arose between pilots, with the implication that husbands would care for all the wives as their own, emotionally and sexually, if the husbands were away or lost (thus bearing some similarity to levirate marriage).
This is debatable, however, since it would have been unusual for wives to accompany their husbands on foreign tours. Other sources point to U.S. Air Force pilots in the California desert as the original participants. Though the beginnings are not agreed upon, it is assumed swinging began among American military communities in the 1950s. By the time the Korean War ended, swinging had spread from the military to the suburbs. The media dubbed the phenomenon wife-swapping.
The first swingers' organization, the Sexual Freedom League, began in the 1960s in Berkeley, California by a young student named Robert McGinley, in the sexually liberal San Francisco Bay Area. McGinley later formed an umbrella organization called the North American Swing Club Association (NASCA) (now NASCA International) was formed to disseminate information about swinging across North America. Many internet related organizations now exist, some sporting hundreds of thousands of members
In the United Kingdom there was a proliferation of neighbourhood groups in the early 1970s - known as "wife swapping" groups -and press articles in later years suggest the peak was 1973-75.


Subjective scientific research has been conducted in the United States since the late 1960s. One study, based on an Internet questionnaire addressed to visitors of lifestyle-related sites, found swingers are happier in their relationships than the norm.


Certain swinging activities are highly organized. Most major cities in North America and western Europe have at least one swingers' club in a permanent location (although they often keep a low profile to avoid negative attention); over 3,000 swinging clubs exist worldwide. Swingers also meet through lifestyle magazines, personal ads, swinging house parties, swinger conventions, and Internet sites.
Although the term "club" may refer to a group that organizes lifestyle-related events in a particular area, it can also refer to a physical location or building. In this latter context, clubs are typically divided into on-premises clubs, where sexual activity may occur at the club itself, and off-premises clubs, where sexual activity is not allowed at the club, but may be arranged at a nearby location.
In the US, many off-premises swinging clubs follow a bar or nightclub format, sometimes renting an entire existing bar (frequently termed a venue takeover) for scheduled events. Takeovers are normally done to avoid interaction with non-lifestyle segments of the population, and to avoid unwanted negative attention. Consequently, on weekends in suburbia, bars in large industrial parks that attract a mainstream clientèle during weekdays and would otherwise sit empty or closed on weekends (when business offices are closed) are likely locations for a takeover.
On-premises clubs usually have a similar format as off-premises clubs. A notable exception is that most on-premises clubs do not serve alcohol, asking participants instead to bring their own, thus avoiding issues from restrictive laws regarding sexual activity and the sale of alcoholic beverages. Concordantly, the vast majority of swinging clubs in the US do not advertise as such due to the strict moral climate there.
In Europe, off-premises clubs are rare, and the majority of swinging venues allow sexual contact and serve alcohol. Three standard formats exist: the bar/nightclub (usually smaller, in city centres and focused around a dance floor), the spa (which has pools, Jacuzzis, saunas and steam rooms where people strip on entry), and the country club (which is out-of-town, usually serves a free buffet, and may include elements of the first two formats while also offering large play spaces).
A large amount of swinging activity is organized via the Internet on various sites with personals, listings, and local information. For many couples, the swinging lifestyle and the clubs can be as much a social venue as a sexual one. Like many sexual subcultures, a strong community atmosphere exists, fostered in part by the greater communication enabled by the Internet.


Bisexuality and same-sex activity

Attitudes to same-sex activity and bisexuality vary by culture and locale, and by gender.
As a rule, female bisexuality and bicuriosity are common in both the "selective" (see below) and traditional swinging scenes and tend to be the norm amongst participants; by contrast, male same-sex activity has a wider variation in its handling, and may be welcomed, accepted, frowned upon, or forbidden. Swing clubs and other facilities exist for gay and bisexual interests for both genders, but differ – for example bathhouses and the like for gay males, sometimes described as being "controversial" even in the gay community due to safer sex concerns, whereas women's clubs are "comparatively rare" and tend to be organized as private events, or niche clubs with high popularity for their events.
No studies have been conducted as to what percentage of swinging men or women who define themselves as bisexual would be open to romantic as well as sexual relations with both genders.


Dogging is a British term for swinging that takes place in a public but reasonably secluded area (often based in cars, but not necessarily). There are several known dogging spots across the UK where people go after dark, typically to engage in voyeurism and exhibitionism but also to take part in group sex.

Hot Wife

The term hot wife refers to a married woman who has sex with men other than her spouse, with the husband's consent. In most cases the husband takes a vicarious pleasure in watching the pleasure of his wife and the man or men, or enjoys watching, hearing, or knowing about his wife's adventures. Husbands may also take part by engaging in threesomes with their wife and her male acquaintance, or even arranging dates for their wives.
One variant of the hot wife phenomenon is when two men (one generally the compersive husband and the other perhaps a close friend) take turns pleasuring his wife, each immediately taking over from the other as soon as his orgasm is reached. In effect one man is recovering while the other is active, but the wife effectively has continuous intercourse. In this way, particularly if the woman experiences multiple orgasms, this game can effectively provide her with a greater sexual pleasure than she could have experienced from her husband alone.


A distinct threesome subculture is cuckolding. Cuckolding is a subgenre where open relationship and threesomes meet. In a cuckold experience one partner has sex with another person outside of their primary relationship for a limited number of times and the person who engages in the experience generally shares that experience with their partner after the encounter has ended.
Generally cuckolding differs from an open relationship as it does not involve an ongoing emotional relationship that is commonly found in open relationship nor is it an ongoing relationship that is commonly found in an open relationship. Though the nonparticipating partner is not involved in the sexual act they may be involved in preparation and selection of the third person. Cuckolding is not always done for sexual humiliation as it may be done to allow sexual exploration, the opportunity to live out a fantasy, fulfill a desire, or sexual fulfillment that cannot usually be obtained through the normal boundaries of a relationship. In essence cuckolding seeks to 'fill the gap' that is left by other threesome or group sex activities.


Polyamory is the desire, practice, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with full knowledge and consent by everyone involved. Poly lifestyles vary, with some being open relationships and others being polyfidelitous.
Many people involved in polyamorous relationships do not want to be counted as swingers. Some are openly critical of swingers, contrasting their own deeply committed relationships with the recreational sex that, in their view, swingers practice. Others are not critical of swingers but simply do not regard themselves as belonging to the same group.

Selective swinging

Traditionally swinger clubs accept all ages and body types, and the average age of swingers tends to be 45. Younger swingers who wish to swing with their own age group find that this isn't always possible in swinging clubs.
Fever Parties began organising events for affluent under-40s in London in the late 1990s. Other organisers, such as Lounge Parties in London (who select on looks, but not age) and Belle Baise in the Midlands (who select on looks and age) have sprung up. These organisations try to elevate themselves by hosting events in upmarket venues, serving Champagne or cocktails and asking guests to dress in smart evening attire. Entry is often competitive and photographs are usually required to demonstrate attractiveness.
Due to the success of these events in the UK, they have spread to Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United States. This has given rise to the term The Lifestyle to encompass all swinging activities, younger couples being averse to "swingers" because of its connotations.
'Selective swinging' events include mostly childless, unmarried young graduates whose average ages are as low as the late 20s, whereas traditional swingers events have average ages in the 40s. Selective parties are often referred to as "exclusive" or "elitist." Contravening the assumption that such organisations are not associated with groups propagating "family values," the Fever parties were revealed in June 2003 to be organised by a senior coordinator of a British Conservative Party pressure group, Conservatives for Change, older than the maximum age allowed to attend his events.
Another factor is the continued growth of Lifestyle-oriented internet sites. These provide more accessible ways into Lifestyle activities. By offering flexibility, it becomes possible to look for playmates who match certain characteristics, including location, looks, wealth and age. In the United States, it is still uncommon to find parties with age requirements. However, 'elite' parties continue to grow, with couples and single females more willing to pay to spend time with only a select segment of the swinging population.
The criticism of selective swinging among traditional swingers is that it is unethical to discriminate. The interest in selective swinging has given rise to a rift between the two groups. Couples who identify with traditional swinging may advertise themselves as "not Ken and Barbie", an implicit rejection of what they perceive to be a superficial ideal of youthful physical attractiveness. The proponents of selective swinging claim an entitlement to peer-group options in this as in other leisure pursuits. Proponents for swinging point to the fact that safe sex is accepted within the community and the risk of sexual disease is the same for the general population. Opponents argue that even protected sex is risky, especially in the light of the upsurge in sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS, and the risk of pregnancy.
Some who object assert that sexual relations, by their nature, have an emotional component. Since many swingers are in a committed relationship with one partner (see History, above), sexual relations with a person outside the relationship could emotionally damage the committed couple. Intimacy might be diminished by sex with others and this may lead to the end of the relationship.
Another argument states that one partner may be more enthusiastic than the other, the less willing feeling pushed into taking part, leading to the break-up of the relationship or to psychological problems.
Proponents advocate that it is not swinging that caused the demise of the relationship but relationship issues brought to the surface by swinging. Therefore proponents argue couples considering swinging need to work through relationship issues and share an equal enthusiasm

Moral and philosophical objections

Objections pertaining to the basic principles of swinging on a moral or philosophical basis may include the sacred nature of sexual relations between two persons, or the view that sexual relations should only occur within a committed relationship (sometimes stated as "only within a marriage"). Those invoking this reasoning may assert that in order to engage in a swinging relationship, one must degrade sexual relations to the most basic element of pleasure, which would be in violation of the sacred nature of sexual relationships. Some argue that if sex becomes the main reason for swinging, sex may become mechanistic and less satisfying than the intimacy experienced by monogamous couples.

Common responses to objections to the swinger lifestyle

Responses to practical objections

Many couples enter swinging while in secure relationships, providing added motivation to avoid excessive health risks. While sexual affairs outside relationships may be in the heat of the moment without regard to consequences, swingers maintain that sex among swingers is a more thought-out and practical affair.
Many swinging clubs in the US and UK do not have alcohol licenses and have a "bring your own beverage" (BYOB) policy. Also, it is not uncommon for experienced swingers to remain sober; these individuals may state that they take a safer approach to sexual health than comparable non-monogamous singles (who ostensibly have impaired judgment from becoming inebriated).
Condoms are required at most swinging clubs and parties. In addition, a minority of swingers rely on STD testing to ensure their safety. A small portion focus on massage and other activities unlikely to transmit STDs; however, most participants acknowledge they are accepting the risks that any sexually promiscuous member of society does.
Although there is a risk of pregnancy, there are ways to minimize the risk to almost zero. Solutions includ a tubal liagation (female sterilization), vasectomy (male sterilization), or having a group with entirely menopausal women. Other solutions include using condoms with another form of non-surgical birth control such as using the pill. Proper use of a condom with an effective birth control method will minimize the risk of pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted disease
Some believe sexual attraction is part of human nature and should be openly enjoyed by a committed or married couple. Some swingers cite divorce data in the US, claiming the lack of quality of sex and spousal infidelity are significant factors in divorce. One study showed 37% of husbands and 29% of wives admit at least one extramarital affair (Reinisch, 1990), and divorce rates for first marriages approached 60%. shows public support for swinging with her involvement in SwingFest 2008 - The World's Largest Swingers Party and Lifestyle Convention


  • In the movie The Blood Oranges (1997), two western couples, one with children, come together in the fictional Mediterranean village of Ilyria. The film was adapted from the novel by John Hawkes.
  • The movie Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) is the American comedy classic that captures the sexual revolution of the late 1960s in the United States. It was nominated for four Academy Awards; Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Screenplay.
  • The movie Eating Raoul (1982) is a comic send-up of swinging stereotypes.
  • Mimi Rogers' character Sharon, in the 1991 movie The Rapture, pursues an active swinging lifestyle with her 'partner', played by Rustam Branaman. Several of the key characters are introduced into the plot when they join Rogers and Branaman for group sex after meeting in a bar one night.
  • The movie Zebra Lounge (2001) talks about swinging and its effects on the lives of a married couple with kids who seek some sexual adventures.
  • The Dutch movie Swingers (2002) tells the story of a thirty-something couple and their first experiments with the swinging lifestyle.
  • The film The Fourth Protocol shows a brief clip of four american woman and an american airman naked in a room. The swinger overtones were very implicit.


  • Ewan Morrison's debut 2007 novel "Swung" centres on a Glasgow couple who try swinging, with mixed results.


  • The BBC2 interviewer and documentary maker Louis Theroux investigated an American Swingers group in an episode of his Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends series.
  • An episode of the BBC television programme Life on Mars featured the main characters infiltrating a swinger club.
  • In an episode on the first season of the FOX series The OC, Sandy and Kirsten Cohen are tricked into attending a swinger's party on New Year's Eve.
  • Touch And Go, a 1998 BBC Two drama, focussed on a young couple, played by Martin Clunes and Zara Turner visiting a swinging club in order to reinvigorate their marriage. After initial success, their marriage is threatened by the pressures of their new lifestyle.


  • Swingercast produces shows relevant to swinging. It was the first podcast to be inducted into the "Kinsey" Institute and offers insight from a real couple's perspective.


External links

swinging in Belarusian: Свінг
swinging in German: Swinger
swinging in Spanish: Intercambio de pareja
swinging in French: Échangisme
swinging in Lithuanian: Svingas (seksas)
swinging in Dutch: Swingen (partnerruil)
swinging in Japanese: スワッピング (性行為)
swinging in Portuguese: Swing (sexo)
swinging in Norwegian: swinging
swinging in Russian: Свинг (секс)
swinging in Slovenian: Svingerstvo
swinging in Swedish: Swinging
swinging in Ukrainian: Свінг (секс)
swinging in Yiddish: סווינגינג
swinging in Chinese: 交換配偶

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1