Swingtime in the Rockies
The last Golden Circle swingers' social was the most outrageous yet.
"We had a Captain Hook and a Tinkerbell, and she lit up when you touched her," remembers Delilah, one half of the club's chaircouple. "We had a Tool Time Girl and a hillbilly couple. It was great."
For Halloween 2001, Delilah had dressed as a Moulin Rouge girl, and her husband, Foster, the emcee, wore a white tuxedo from the waist up, a silver thong and boots from there down. This year, Delilah was a hippie chick/belly dancer, and Foster was the Pelican Brief. "Kind of hard to describe," Delilah says. "You had to be there."
She has been there for only three years, but they've changed her life. Before joining the Golden Circle Social Club, she was an inhibited woman in her mid-fifties who dressed conservatively and always worried that she was loud and crass. Now she's a bubbly, curvaceous flirt who habitually wears tight corset numbers, pounds the sweet shots known as Butter Babies, and considers recreational sex to be the most rewarding hobby there is. Like other swingers, she refers to it, and everything that goes with it, as The Lifestyle.
"It's the first place I've found where I can be me," Delilah says. "I've accepted myself. It's amazing how good it can make you feel when ten different guys ask you to dance or to join them later. We have no mercy fucks at the Golden Circle, so I know they really mean it."
If you're not the jealous type and your marriage is stronger than Atlas -- "swinging is no way to fix a bad relationship," Delilah advises -- you're invited to enter a world in which all women are hotties, all men are studs, and discretion flies out the window.
"Sex is shunned in our society," she says. "Even straight sex! Everyone's uptight, and about the wrong things! We're not hurting anybody, but we're considered the perverts. People accept adultery, but they very seldom accept us. Out in the straight world, you really have to watch what you say."
Which is why no names here are real. Delilah, Foster and the rest enjoy revealing themselves, but they're not stupid.
The Golden Circle holds two socials each month, both at the Best Western on East 48th Avenue. They begin with a 7 p.m. orientation, with attendance required for couples who, even if they have swung before, have not done so at the Golden Circle. No singles are allowed.
On this night, two men with vintage pompadours have brought their slightly younger wives, both sporting large blond 'dos and tight, revealing clothes. The two couples both seem to have come from small towns on Colorado's plains. That's fairly common, as is the appearance of the third couple: conservatively dressed, close-lipped and frankly terrified.
"I can remember our first time," says Lexie, our hostess. "We had that deer-in-the-headlights look, too."
Lexie and her husband, Stan, are just one of many Golden Circle couples who volunteer to run orientations. The atmosphere is Rotarian, even if the subject matter is not: Hotel conference tables arranged in a horseshoe, cups for water, the way Stan puts on his reading glasses and clears his throat to call us to order. He and Lexie have been in The Lifestyle for two and a half wonderful years, he says, and they've been married since they were teens, at least thirty years ago.
"If our families knew, they'd commit us," he adds.
"But we're all normal here," Lexie assures us.
"We're all human!"
"The difference," Lexie says, "is even though I was raised not to have sex with someone unless you love them, I don't believe that anymore. In short: You can fuck it, but you don't have to love it. If you can separate these two things, you can enhance your sex life like you would not believe."
And in the meantime, relax. The Golden Circle is an "off-premise" club, which means that swinging is never done in the ballroom but arranged by willing participants for more intimate quarters in the hotel. In fact, if you contact Bud at Best Western, you can book a room for tonight at a discount and enjoy a free continental breakfast tomorrow.
"They put all us weirdos on the seventh floor," Lexie says.
"So you might want to make your own party up there later on," Stan suggests. "But there is no sexual activity on the dance floor, so you can quit worrying about that. There's some butt-rubbing, sure, but if someone asks you to dance, that's all they're asking."
When they're asking for more, it will be immediately obvious what, with whom and under what conditions, he adds. A couple swings either "open" -- engaging in any sex act together -- or "closed" -- going their separate ways when it's time for the main event. The best way to research the night's potential sex partners is to dance with everyone who catches your eye. No means no, and it's perfectly okay to attend a social, flirt like crazy and leave with your spouse. Group sex is by invitation only, whereas an orgy is open to all. If that's what you're looking for, leave the door of your hotel room all the way open.
"Geez, we had a new couple do that by mistake," Lexie laughs. "They went out to fill their ice bucket, and were they surprised at what was going on in their room when they got back! Those poor kids!"
Cut to the chase, Stan urges. Define your preferences. "Lexie and I swing open," he offers. "She's bi, I'm straight, no anal, no pain. We're strictly into pleasure. In The Lifestyle, couples are totally honest with each other. If you don't like his hand on her ass, say, 'I do not like his hand on your ass.' Get your feelings out of the way so you don't waste a whole night of fun."
In the ballroom next door, the lights are low, the bar business is brisk, and a DJ is spinning country-Western and soft rock. Men in crisp Western wear and women in moderately slinky outfits crowd the floor. Lexie's description of the club's diversity -- "We come in all shapes, all ages, all sizes" -- is almost accurate, although no one appears to be under 35. The air is thick with cigarette smoke.
Between dances, couples introduce themselves, then discuss such polite topics as skiing, traffic, the raising of teenagers and that old swinger truism: Wives have to be dragged to their first social, but once in The Lifestyle, they're the ones who have to be dragged away.
"I'm another one who did it for my husband," confesses a happy grandma in a slit skirt. "But Lord knows the man had done enough for me. The truth is, he was afraid he would get old without ever experiencing life, and he'd grown up knowing he was full of sin. He still had the scars on his knuckles from the nuns. And you know, I agreed to come, and I just had a ball!"
The grandma has just bought three bikinis for an upcoming swingers' jaunt to Jamaica, though they won't get much wear, what with the nude beaches. Still, she wallows in The Lifestyle's permission to wear tiny swimsuits -- or nothing at all -- whether or not you're physically perfect, young or photogenic. That the straight world finds this distasteful is a source of great amusement to members of the Golden Circle.
Later, after the doors are closed, the evening will crank into gear. Trashed on tequila, Delilah will ride the DJ as if he were a mechanical bull. The two-step will morph into dirty dancing. One of the new couples will contact Bud for a discount room and head for the seventh floor.
"Swinging is booming like crazy," says Tony Lanzaretta, executive director of NASCA International. NASCA is just one of the arms of The Lifestyles Organization, the California swingers' clearinghouse that also runs a travel agency, conventions and a publishing company, among other things. Swingers have been around as long as mankind, Lanzaretta theorizes, but it wasn't until the late '60s and Robert McGinley, the "father of swinging," that The Lifestyle went public.
McGinley, an aeronautical engineer, came out as a swinger after an Air Force friend lost his job because of his swinging affiliation. Determined to fight for swingers' rights, McGinley founded Club Wide World and held the first swingers' convention in 1969, preaching his gospel to 125 men and women.
The swingers' ranks swelled quickly, with different groups merging -- appropriately enough. This year's Lifestyles convention in Las Vegas will attract more than 3,000 couples.
"We're sending a thousand couples to Jamaica in January," Lanzaretta adds. "We're doing a resort takeover of Hedonism II for a whole month. And we're thinking seriously about opening a swingers' resort in Mexico."
Some NASCA organizations are more permissive than the Golden Circle, a member since 1969. Single men and women are welcome at many other clubs, for example. But in general, Lanzaretta says, clubs have become "less hard-core. In the old days, it was 'Be prepared to take off your clothes and have sex, or don't bother.' Now you can get into it as gradually as you want."
Lanzaretta got into it nearly twenty years ago, when he was dragged to Club Wide World by an adventurous girlfriend. "Right away, I knew it was where I belonged," he recalls, "but I was an LAPD police officer and I had to be very, very careful. Of course, at my second party, I ran into two cops I'd worked with." After continuing on the job for ten more years, he retired and immediately went to work for NASCA. He's now so steeped in The Lifestyle that talk about sex is no more racy to him than a discussion of any leisure activity -- model trains, say, or Amway.
The Best Western coffee shop is home away from home for Delilah and Foster, who are treated just like the regular customers they are by the waitress and bartender.
"We're not just a free-for-all," Delilah insists. "We're a community. If I share Foster with you, I've shared something really personal. We've bonded in a way we never would elsewhere. We make great friends."
"The men hunt and fish together," Foster adds.
"And we know each other, which is one of the best ways to have safe sex. Also, we use condoms. This may sound weird, but we don't condone promiscuity."
"We condone fuck buddies," Foster decides. "That's different."
As they prepare to leave the hotel, a young blond woman summons them to the front desk.
"Just when are your socials?" she asks.
"Next one's on the 23rd," Foster says. "Why? Are you interested?"
"I'm adventurous," the woman says, "if that's what you mean. And I'm leaving this job, so I wouldn't get in trouble."
"Are you married?"
"I have a partner. And I guess I've always been curious."
"You're interested in swinging," Delilah decides. The woman gives her a look, then a wink.
"You know how it is," she says. "Inquiring minds want to know."
In the coming months, Robin Chotzinoff will commemorate Westword's 25th anniversary with 25 profiles of Denver today. Click here to read these stories.