Around 1 a.m. in the Trapeze locker room, people are in various states of undress, with some ready to play and others all played-out. The giggles and flirtations are drowned out when a woman starts shrieking. A lean brunet in her 20s and her boyfriend, a tall, muscular blond with a square jaw, are both naked, fighting next to their lockers. She's slapping him about the face and neck with both of her hands and screaming.
"She was on you," the woman yells. Her tears smear the glitter on her cheeks. "I saw it."
"No," he says, trying to shield his face from his girlfriend's nails. "She wanted to. It was close, but — "
"You're fucking lying! How could you?! How could you do that?"
She kicks him in the shins. A six-foot-five, 250-pound security guard tries to get between the two of them, but he's also trying not to touch either naked participant more than he has to. A crowd of dozens has gathered around. Blood drips from the boyfriend's nose. Finally she leaves the locker room, still crying.
"What's going on?" a man whispers.
"Her man fucked another woman without a condom," a woman standing nearby says.
"He totally deserves it then," says another woman.
"Eh," shrugs the whispering man. "Things happen."
When things finally wind down at Trapeze, hours of decadence are visible on the floor of the back room. There are ice cubes and spilled drinks, moist latex, and a plethora of bodily fluids. A few couples are still going at it as the cleanup crew — mostly Haitians wearing T-shirts and rubber gloves — begins to pick up the condoms and wipe down the vinyl. When everyone's out, the crew will bring in a wet/dry vacuum. They'll wipe down every surface, wash every sheet, and spray deodorizer. Soon the place will be ready for another night of sybaritic splendor.
Over at Deenie's, the place has quieted by sundown. In a lounge just beside the front door, a man in jean shorts and a T-shirt smokes a cigarette as he sits between two televisions. One TV is playing a porno; the other is playing an old episode of Cops. He's watching Cops.
When things wrap up at Hedonism, Sandy puts her vest back on and announces she and Luis are going home — probably to have sex. She gathers the pieces of the napkin she'd torn earlier and puts them in her purse. She has her arm around her partner, but she turns and flashes her chest to the group before walking out the door.
Susan downs the last of her pink drink and moves ever closer to the young blond. She knows this lifestyle isn't for everyone. Some people will never be able to separate love and sex. They'll never understand why anyone would want to share a partner or bring a private moment into the public. They won't crave that feeling of letting go, of indulging. Some people can't take the over-stimulation or the way swinging can change the way participants think about fellow human beings.
But for people like Susan, it feels right.
She puts her hand on the younger blond's leg and leans in close as she talks. "You're so beautiful," she tells the young woman. "Isn't your wife just gorgeous?" she says to the man.
"She is," he says.
"I could teach you a thing or two," Susan whispers into the blond's ear. "Do you want to come back there with me?"
And with that, all three of them slowly make their way to the back room.