What is designed to offend no-one profoundly offends me.
There are products specifically intended to that end. Mateus Rose – neither red nor white, petillant nor still, sweet nor dry – was one such. It was in consequence peculiarly offensive.
If, then, a restaurant or swing-club is doing its job and so manifesting a distinct style and personality, it will not be to everyone’s taste. When I am asked, as I frequently am on my travels, “Which is the best swing-club in Britain?” I immediately find myself qualifying. “Well, if you like an orgy, I have never had a less than convivial night at Chameleon’s. Liberty Elite’s is lovely and elegant…” Novices and vanillas gawp at me, so I usually end up saying, “Well, I would start at AbFabParties…”
This is not because AbFabParties and its daytime sister Kestrel Hydro are all things to all men like the dread Mateus. On the contrary, a great deal of distinctive and generally good taste has gone into the extension of a simple bungalow hard by Heathrow’s Terminal 5 into a miniature luxury resort for naturists and swingers.
This above all deserves praise and emulation. Graham, the delicious Ana and the dapper and efficient Dave retain day-jobs and draw minimal income from AbFabParties, instead ploughing every pound earned back into their club. The results have been remarkable.
When first I went there six years ago, it was merely a well-furnished bungalow with a swimming-pool in a polytunnel, a hot tub and a couple of outbuildings. Of an autumn evening, nipples were taut and males acquired clitores as they ventured forth, grim-faced, like Titus Oates into the Antarctic wastes. When once they reached the haven of the hot-tubs, a team of pack-horses was required to drag them back out again.
Today, covered decking walkways snake about the entire club. In the bungalow itself, there are a large living-room, bar and dance-floor (which I have never seen used), a large lounge, a cinema, a smoking-area and a couple of playrooms. Outside, there are the pool, two hot-tubs, a sauna and pamper-room (with a massage-table and a delightful chair which palpates your weary limbs deliciously) a couple of chalets, a shower-room and changing-room, a garden for those who like their pleasures al fresco… And the stables.
Where once there were stalls on either side of the stable-block, there are now delightful themed rooms – one with three side-by-side sex-swings, a cage-room, a sort of opium-den or harem with cushions and diaphanous drapes, two larger bedrooms, a massage-room, a very dark dark-room, a darkish room with a luminous spiders’ web which makes for wonderful photographs…
And this is at once AbFabParties greatest advantage and disadvantage. Playful couples tend to resort in their ones or twos to these fantasy rooms. Others line the pool or occupy the hot-tubs. This makes it far and away the best club for novices, because they can have a peaceful drink with a few surprisingly normal people in the bar, sit with a drink by the pool or in the jacuzzi and observe others at play.
It makes it altogether harder for them when they resolve that they would like to join in the fun. Either they must themselves find an empty room and vaguely pray that people they like will join them, or plunge into the dark-room. Meanwhile, the club’s only focal point – the bar and lounge – may be all but empty although there are a hundred and more people scattered about the premises.
My friends and I have tried many times to give a lead – playing on the bed at the centre of the Lounge or in the Mirror-room in the house – but seldom to much avail. Very late at night, the hardened swingers may gather in groups of five or six couples to play in the Lounge or in one of the indoor playrooms, but in general, the parties tend to be enjoyable, restful, erotic – but dispersed.
The owners’ responsiveness, however, is precisely what has made this such a great club despite its humble beginnings (as distinct from, say, Utopia, whose facilities should make it superb). When I saw David last Thursday, he told me, “Next on the agenda are a proper dance-floor nearer to the playrooms and an orgy room where people can be thoroughly companionable and uninhibited.”
So AbFabParties continues to evolve and grow. Given its position within easy reach of London (the worst-served city in the nation for swingers) and on the very edge of Heathrow’s perimeter, with a score of cheap and cheerful hotels within a few miles, I can envisage American-style international Lifestyle Conventions centred on AbFabParties, glorious private parties and balls and ever better parties there of a Friday and Saturday night.
Platitudes about great oaks and little acorns are apposite here (and not merely because they recall my responses on that far-off, freezing first night). AbFabParties has become, simply by dint of its owners’ goodwill and commitment, easily the best club in the south of England, and above all because it is a delightful environment for players and non-players alike.
Newcomers should come here first. Those of us with a little more experience can already have a civilised evening and be a little uncivilised in comfort. Soon we will be catered for still better.
Amidst the many clubs which spring up and vanish as fast and unregretted as teenage pustules, AbFabParties will be here for decades to come.
Mark Brendon - Author of the book 'Swinging'