It is no surprise to anyone that Ireland’s relationship with sex and the general discourse surrounding sex is lacking, to say the least. With engrained societal Catholic guilt and a general lack of sex education in Catholic schools, it is not uncommon for some Irish people to feel discomfort in openly discussing their personal sexual desires with their peers, and they definitely do not often admit to searching for sex clubs and spaces to explore swinging, polyamory, and more. This absolutely does not mean that there isn’t a significant demographic of Irish people seeking safe, open sex spaces. So, in this light, why is it that when we think of sex clubs and open attitudes to sex, we think of other European capitals like Berlin and Amsterdam? Does Dublin have a gap in the market for clubs and spaces like Berlin’s infamous KitKat and Amsterdam’s Red Light District?
The rapid rise of OnlyFans has opened up an entirely new dimension of transactional sexual encounters and has in turn encouraged people to explore the world of sex work.
In short, yes; Dublin has a sizeable population interested in open sex spaces and the purchase of sexual experiences. The rapid rise of OnlyFans has opened up an entirely new dimension of transactional sexual encounters and has in turn encouraged people to explore the world of sex work. However, there is also evidence online, mostly on anonymous threads and Irish swinging websites like fabswingers.com, that there are many looking to buy into in-person sex experiences as well. Whether you are looking for a swingers club or just a sex club, one issue is common: how does one find reputable clubs that are guaranteed to be safe?
The 2 Johnnies Podcast, one of the most popular podcasts in Ireland, reached out to their listeners in 2021 to ask if their listeners engage in polyamory or attend swingers parties. In response, their audience helped to shed light on the numerous private swingers clubs around Ireland, while many reported that there are plenty of parties privately hosted in Dublin and elsewhere. Despite this open discussion, information is difficult to find without being invited into or already existing in the community. The podcast mentioned the popular website www.killingkittens.com as a frequent organiser of sex parties all over the world, with a recent event being held in Kildare.
It seems to be that, in Ireland, the closest place to find sex parties that are open to the public and advertised online is often the UK.
When you search for sex parties in Ireland online, it can be difficult to find trustworthy websites with genuine reviews; many organisations and pages lead to dead ends, with users reporting them as scams or generally unsafe. It seems to be that, in Ireland, the closest place to find sex parties that are open to the public and advertised online is often the UK.
Evidently there is a market for sex parties and clubs alike in Ireland, so why has Dublin not indulged in that market? In 2017, Ireland introduced the so-called “Nordic model”, criminalising the purchase of sex but not prostitution itself, while increasing the penalty for brothel ownership. One can receive a €5,000 fine or a yearlong jail sentence for such an offence. Prior to this, paying for sexual services was only punishable if the sex worker was a victim of trafficking or underage. While the criminalisation of purchasing sex was meant to protect sex workers, it has instead pushed the job into an underground market where events and organisations are often private. While technically sex parties are not illegal, as the customer is not purchasing sex but purchasing entry to an event that allows public sex in a private space, they are still generally kept under-wraps with little public information being released about the event.
If a haven of sexual liberation and a saturation in the sex market is what you’re looking for, Dublin is certainly not the place to find it. While the industry obviously exists, sex parties are happening, and, of course, people are a part of this scene, the information is mostly shared through word of mouth or found after hours of reading different anonymous threads online littered with vague information. If you do so desire to live out sexual fantasies in a culture unashamed of having sex parties open to the public, Berlin and Amsterdam are just two European cities of many leading sexual liberation, with open sex happening in every corner of some popular nightclubs.
The key difference between Dublin’s underbelly of debauchery and the culture of open sex in cities like Berlin and Amsterdam lies in that Berlin and Amsterdam’s night life is not an underbelly. Information is public, reviews on sex clubs are plentiful and unashamed, and German and Dutch people are not so shrouded in shame of sex that they cannot openly advertise and attend sex parties. Of course, this does not mean that all sex work in Berlin and Amsterdam is completely safe and vetted; while prostitution is decriminalised, it can still be a dangerous industry particularly for women, transgender and gender non-conforming workers.
Though, as a nation, we have made massive moves to adopting a better, healthier relationship regarding sex, we are nowhere near close enough to the comfortable discourse needed to have an openness to sex clubs and swingers’ parties. With contraception becoming free, the criminalisation of image-based sexual abuse, and the influx of conversations around consent, Ireland’s attitude to sex has been forcefully put under scrutiny.
The answer is simple; Ireland as a country is still shrouded in shame when it comes to more liberal ideas of sex.
Why is it that, even with these important steps made towards a more sex-positive country, we are still so behind? The answer is simple; Ireland as a country is still shrouded in shame when it comes to more liberal ideas of sex. Opportunities to engage in sex in safe spaces are hard to find because people aren’t talking about it in open spheres, leading to a small window of exposure regarding the topic. In order to become a more sex-positive country, laws around prostitution need to change and the stigma needs to be broken. It’s imperative that people have a safe space to express their interests and explore their sexuality without being judged by the toxic standards of a shamed society.