Group sex

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Depiction of group sex in the Kama Sutra.
Illustration by Édouard-Henri Avril.
Another illustration
Kama Sutra illustration

Group sex is sexual behavior involving more than two participants. Group sex can occur amongst people of all sexual orientations and genders. While this article discusses group sex among humans, the behavior also occurs in other animal species such as bighorn sheep and bonobos.

Group sex may take place in public (for instance, at outdoor events or nightclubs); at massage parlors, brothels or soaplands; at sex parties or, in some jurisdictions, at purpose-built locations such as sex clubs or gay bathhouses. In places where non-monogamous sex is taboo or illegal, group sex takes place in private or clandestine locations, including homes, hotel rooms, or private clubs.



In principle, any sexual behaviour performed by more than two people can be referred to as group sex, but various terms are used to describe particular acts or combinations of people. Many swingers argue that non-swingers have conflated the terms because of lack of understanding and that there are distinct differences among the terms with specific meanings as to number, intent, sexual orientation, and familiarity of the persons involved.[1]

Circle jerk
Group masturbation among men, usually sitting in somewhat of a circle formation.
Gang bang
A number of people performing sex acts on one person, either in turn or at the same time.
Threesome or three-way
Three people all having sexual relations, not necessarily simultaneously. Not to be confused with ménage à trois (literally, "household of three").
Ménage à quatre or four-way
Sex between four people.
Group sex or a sex party.
Bunga bunga orgy: An orgy in which the participants have sex underwater, such as in a swimming pool or a hot tub. [2]
Double penetration
When a person is entered or penetrated in the vagina and/or anus by two men at the same time. This usually is when one enters the anus while another enters the vagina, although it does also refer to two simultaneous penetrations in the same orifice.
Term used by Suetonius to describe sexual group practices indulged in by the emperor Tiberius on Capri[3]
Monogamous Group Sex or Same Room Sex
Couples engaging in sexual activity in the same room but in separate pairs, without any swapping of partners or other major sexual activity between couples.


Fantasies of group sex are extremely common among both men and women. In major studies, between 54–88% of people fantasize about watching others have sex, 40–42% fantasize about being watched by others, and between 39–72% fantasize about bondage.[4] Many forms of sexual behavior were reported by Kinsey's subjects, but the official Kinsey Reports web site does not mention threesomes or group sex in the summary of Kinsey's findings.


As with all sexual activity, the relative risks of group sex depend on the specific activities engaged in, although having a large number of sexual partners increases one's risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

From the mid-1980s there was lobbying against gay bathhouses blaming them for the spread of STIs, in particular HIV, and this forced their closure in some jurisdictions, particularly in the United States.[5][6] Sociologist Stephen O. Murray, writes that, "there was never any evidence presented that going to bathhouses was a risk-factor for contracting AIDS."[7] In other countries, fears about the spread of STIs have prompted the closing of bathhouses—with their private rooms—in favour of sex clubs, in which all sexual activity takes place in the open, and can be observed by monitors whose job it is to enforce safer sex practices.[8]

Proponents point out that venues where group sex takes place often provide condoms, dental dams, latex gloves, lubricants and other items for safer sex. Bathhouses in particular are a major source of safer sex information—they provide pamphlets and post safer sex posters prominently (often on the walls of each room as well as in the common areas), provide free condoms and lubricants, and often require patrons to affirm that they will only have safer sex on the premises.[9][10][11][12]

Sex parties

A sex party is a gathering at which sexual activity takes place. Sex parties may be organized to enable people to engage in casual sexual activity or for swinging couples or people interested in group sex to meet, but any gathering where sexual activity is anticipated can be called a sex party.

Sex parties, under various names, have been a common focus of moral panics fed by media reports claiming that such parties are prevalent, or growing in prevalence, especially among teenagers.[13]

Types of sex parties

Swinger party

A swinger party or partner swapping party is a gathering at which individuals or couples of any gender or orientation can engage in sexual activities with others as a recreational or social activity.[14] Swinging can take place in a number of contexts, ranging from a spontaneous sexual activity at an informal social gathering of friends to a regular social gathering in sex clubs or residences.

The swingers can engage in a number of sexual activities to include threesomes, group sex, orgies, or various sex acts.[15] Partners can engage in penetrative sex known as "full swap," while in "soft swap" they engage only in non-penetrative sex. New swinging couples often choose a soft swap before they are comfortable with a full swap, although many couples stay soft swap for personal reasons.[16] Soft swinging can also be defined as when a couple engage in sexual activities with only each other while two or more other couples perform sex acts in the immediate vicinity.[17]

Key party

Key parties are a form of swinging parties, in which male partners place their car and house keys into a common bowl or bag on arriving. At the end of the evening the female partners would randomly select keys from the bowl and leave with that key's owner.[18]This dated practice[citation needed] from the 1970s is now criticized as being androcentric[citation needed] where it is presumed that the partners involved are a married heterosexual couple and that it is the male who is in control of the sexual activities.

Rainbow party

A rainbow party is an urban legend spread from the early 2000s. At these events, allegedly increasingly popular among adolescents, females wearing various shades of lipstick take turns fellating males in sequence, leaving multiple colours on their penises.[19] Rainbow parties were covered on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2003, and became the subject of a juvenile novel called Rainbow Party.[19] On May 27, 2010 the television program The Doctors discussed the topic with dozens of teens, parents, and professionals. However, sex researchers and adolescent health care professionals have found no evidence for the existence of rainbow parties, and as such attribute the spread of the stories to a moral panic.[19]

Sex parties in the media

Sensational media reports about the prevalence of sex parties, especially among young people, appear with some regularity. In the early 1950s, for example, it was reported that teenage girls, mainly throughout the Southern and Midwestern United States were forming "non virgin clubs," in which they organized and held sex orgies with reports of couples being paired off by drawing numbers from a hat. These claims were investigated and debunked.[20][21][22][23]

Several stories of this type arose in the US in 2003. In New York, rumors began that teens had been taking days off from school to attend "hooky parties" while their parents were at work. One school even suspended a group of girls for allegedly skipping school to attend such a party. They were refused the right to return to school until each had submitted to a medical examination for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy and school officials were allowed to examine the results. The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against the school [24] on behalf of the girls and won a settlement which included monetary damages and a change in the school district's policy.[25]

Similar stories concerning teenagers using gel bracelets as coupons or signals for sex also arose at the time, with similar lack of corroborating evidence.[26]

See also


  1. ^ In "Swinger Orgies and Group Sex"—The Swingers Blog, Oct 2010
  2. ^ Berlusconi’s "Bunga Bunga Orgies"—Daily Beast 7 November 2010
  3. ^ Forberg, Friedrich Karl (1963). Manual of classical erotology (De figuris Veneris). Medical Press of New York. p. 233. 
  4. ^ Howell, Teresa M.; Cooper, Barry S.; Williams, Kevin M.; Spetch, Ashley; Yuille, John C.. "The Association Between Sexual Fantasies, Behaviors and Pornography in Undergraduates". Poster presented at the 112th annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. 
  5. ^ Gross, Jane (October 14, 1985). "Bathhouses reflect AIDS concerns". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 December 2006. "At the St. Marks Baths, for the price of a locker or a room, patrons now get a free condom, enclosed in a package that bears the legend the contents of this envelope could save your life." 
  6. ^ (Woods & Binson 2003)
  7. ^ (Murray 1996)
  8. ^ Woods, William J.; Diane Binson (2003). Gay Bathhouses and Public Health Policy. Haworth Press, ISBN 1-56023-273-0. ISBN 978-1-56023-273-5. Retrieved 10 July 2008. 
  9. ^ Westerfelt, Alex (August 2005). "Bathhouse Norms: What goes on in the Bathhouse?". Healthy Living. Retrieved 10 July 2008. [dead link]
  10. ^ Bernstein, Sharon (March 23, 2004). "Rising Rate of HIV Infection Renews Bathhouse Debate". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 July 2008. 
  11. ^ "NHS to hold STI testing in gay sauna". Pink News. October 15, 2007. Retrieved 21 October 2009. 
  12. ^ QX Magazine London (QX) (758): 44. September 17, 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2009 
  13. ^ Daly, Susan (Jun 26 2010). "Is your teen sending secret sex signals?". Irish Independent. Retrieved 16 November 2010. 
  14. ^ Bergstrand, Curtis; Blevins Williams, Jennifer (2000-10-10). "Today's Alternative Marriage Styles: The Case of Swingers". Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality 3. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  15. ^ Wojick, Helen (October 2010). "Differences Between Threesomes, Group Sex and Orgies". The Swinger Blog. Retrieved April 15, 2012. 
  16. ^ Wojick, Helen (Sept 2011). "What is a Swinger?". The Swinger Blog. Retrieved April 15, 2012. 
  17. ^ from the Lifestyle Definitions page on Swinger Social Network
  18. ^ Bell, Robert (1971). Social Deviance: A Substantive Analysis. University of Michigan: Dorsey Press. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-256-01663-5. 
  19. ^ a b c Lewin, Tamar (June 30, 2005). "Are These Parties for Real?". The New York Times. Retrieved August 27, 2009.
  20. ^ Morin, Relmin. (August 26, 1951). "'Non Virgin Club' New Aspect Of Teen-age Sex Misbehavior", Eugene Register-Guard
  21. ^ Cahn, Susan (2007). Sexual Reckonings: Southern Girls in a Troubling Age. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. (p. 199) ISBN 978-0-674-02452-6
  22. ^ Peril, Lynn (2002). Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons. New York. W.W. Norton & Company Inc. (pp. 100-101) ISBN 0-303-32354-4
  23. ^ Mattoon, Illinois History 1950-1959
  24. ^ "NYCLU Sues New York School Officials for Forcing Teen-A ge Girls to Undergo Intrusive Medical Exams" (July 8, 2003). Retrieved February 2, 2007.
  25. ^
  26. ^ Mikkelson, Barbara (2003). "Sex Bracelets". Retrieved December 22, 2005.


External links