Group sex

For other meanings, see Group sex (disambiguation). For various uses of the word "orgy", see Orgy.
"Swinging party" redirects here. For the song, see Swingin Party.

Group sex is sexual behavior involving more than two participants. Group sex can occur between people of all sexual orientations and genders. Group sex also occurs in populations of non-human animals such as bonobo apes and chimpanzees.

Group sex most commonly takes place in a private sex party or semi-public swinger gathering, but may also take place at massage parlors or brothels or, in some jurisdictions, at purpose-built locations such as sex clubs. In places where non-monogamous sex is taboo or illegal, group sex may take place in private or clandestine locations including homes, hotel rooms, or private clubs.

Fantasies of group sex are extremely common among both men and women, and group sex is a subgenre in pornographic films.


Depiction of group sex in the Kama Sutra
Illustration from the Kama Sutra

In principle, any sexual behavior 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.

Circle jerk
Group masturbation among men, usually sitting in somewhat of a circle formation.
Daisy chain
Group of participants perform cunnilingus or fellatio on each other in a circular formation, permitting each participant to both give and receive oral sex simultaneously.
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").
Foursome or four-way
Sex between four people. Not to be confused with ménage à quatre (literally, "household of four").
Double penetration
When a person is entered or penetrated in the vagina and/or anus by two people 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[1]
Monogamous Group Sex or Same Room Sex (a.k.a. Soft Swapping)
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 and 88% of people fantasize about watching others have sex, between 40 and 42% fantasize about being watched by others, and between 39 and 72% fantasize about bondage.[2] 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.

Types of sex party

Illustration of a four-some by Édouard-Henri Avril
Illustration of an orgy by Édouard-Henri Avril

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.[3]

There are number of types of sex parties:

Swinger party/gathering

A swinger party or partner-swapping party is a gathering at which individuals or couples in a committed relationship can engage in sexual activities with others as a recreational or social activity.[4] Swinging can take place in various contexts, ranging from a spontaneous sexual activity at an informal social gathering of friends to a regular social gathering in a sex club (or swinger club) or residence.[5]

Swinger parties may involve various group sex activities. Partners can engage in penetrative sex, known as "full swap", or choose to "soft swap" in which 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.[6] "Soft swinging" is when a couple engages in sexual activities with only each other while other couples perform sex acts in the immediate vicinity.[7] Technically this is a form of exhibitionism rather than "group sex" per se.

Key party

A key party is a form of swinger party, in which male partners place their car or house keys into a common bowl or bag on arriving. At the end of the evening the female partners randomly select keys from the bowl and leave with that key's owner.[8]

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.[9] Rainbow parties were covered on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2003, and became the subject of a juvenile novel called Rainbow Party.[9] 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.[9]


An orgy is a gathering where guests freely engage in open and unrestrained sexual activity or group sex; and a bunga bunga orgy is an orgy in which participants have sex underwater, such as in a swimming pool or a hot tub.[10]

Sexual positions and combinations possible only in group sex

Initialism codes

Peter Fendi portrayed group sex in lithography, c. 1834

A system of initialisms has evolved to describe the variety of group sex arrangements. These codes can appear in erotic literature and film descriptions, member profiles in online communities, and personal ads. These codes consist of arrangements of the letters M (for male) and F (for female). Adjacent letters are sometimes used to signify sexual contact between the participants represented by those letters, though this does not necessarily mean there is no contact between the other participants. For example, MMF would signify a ménage à trois of two men and one woman in which the center male has sexual contact with the other male and the female, and in which it is not specified whether there is contact between the female and the other male. MFMF (situation pictured in photo to right), on the other hand, implies no same-sex contact.

Variations on this system exist that use case to convey more information. Within the BDSM and D/s subcultures, upper and lower case letters can signify dominant (or top) and submissive (or bottom).

Daisy chain

A daisy chain refers to sexual relations among three or more people, with each person both performing and receiving oral sex simultaneously.[11] Some sources consider only groups of five or more people to be a daisy chain.[12]

Self-evidently, for a closed daisy chain to be entirely heterosexual there must be an equal number of males and females, making the number of participants even. An odd number of participants would result in two people having to connect "both ways" to complete the chain.[13][14]

Thus, in an “erotic foursome or partie-carrée”, “two couples ... form a chain or Maltese cross carefully alternating man and woman”.[15]

"The matter of ... erotic or spintrian chains ("daisy-chains")",[16] i.e, "of "spintries" or erotic human chains, ... has been taken to ... permutational development in the appendix of postures to the well-known Manual of Classical Erotology (1824) of the Fichtean philosopher, Friedrich Karl Forberg, and in a Swedish work, Ju fler vi är tillsammans (“The More the Merrier”), by a schoolteacher, Ragnar Aaslund, published in 1966 and intended frankly as a manual of group-sex."[17]


Main article: Bukkake

Bukkake is a group sex practice where multiple men ejaculate onto the face or body of a female or male subject. At the end of the process, the subject may drink the semen, called gokkun. Its first filming is credited to adult filmmaker Kazuhiko Matsumoto in 1998. Bukkake originally became a pornography trend because of the mandatory porn mosaic in Japan. Since the directors could not show penetration they had to figure out new, visually appealing ways to approach sex acts that would satisfy the audience without violating Japanese law.


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.[18][19] Sociologist Stephen O. Murray, writes that, "there was never any evidence presented that going to bathhouses was a risk-factor for contracting AIDS."[20] 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.[21]

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.[22][23][24][25]

Corporate involvement

A 1996 sexual harassment case filed against Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) highlighted corporate involvement by Mitsubishi in sex parties arranged by managers and other employees.[26]

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 alleged 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.[27][28][29][30]

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[31] on behalf of the girls and won a settlement which included monetary damages and a change in the school district's policy.[32]

Similar stories concerning teenagers using gel bracelets as coupons or signals for sex also arose at the time, with a similar lack of corroborating evidence.[33]

See also


  1. Forberg, Friedrich Karl (1963). Manual of classical erotology (De figuris Veneris). Medical Press of New York. p. 233.
  2. 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" (PDF).
  3. Daly, Susan (Jun 26, 2010). "Is your teen sending secret sex signals?". Irish Independent. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
  4. 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.
  5. "Advice on Swingers' Clubs". Swinging Heaven. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  6. Wojick, Helen (Sep 2011). "What is a Swinger?". The Swinger Blog. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  7. "SWINGERS DEFINITIONS - Swinger words that begin with a S". Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  8. Bell, Robert (1971). Social Deviance: A Substantive Analysis. University of Michigan: Dorsey Press. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-256-01663-5.
  9. 1 2 3 Lewin, Tamar (June 30, 2005). "Are These Parties for Real?". The New York Times. Retrieved August 27, 2009.
  10. Berlusconi’s "Bunga Bunga Orgies"—Daily Beast 7 November 2010
  11. "A dictionary of slang - "D" - Slang and colloquialisms of the UK.". Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  12. "". Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  13. "Are teen sex antics tall tales?". BBC News. 28 April 2005. Retrieved 2006-12-18.
  14. Nigel Hawkes and Sam Lister (28 April 2005). "Teenage 'daisy chain' sex alert". The Times. Retrieved 2006-12-18.
  15. Legman 1969, p. 307
  16. Legman 1969, p. 304
  17. Legman 1969, p. 305
  18. 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.
  19. (Woods & Binson 2003)
  20. (Murray 1996)
  21. 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.
  22. Westerfelt, Alex (August 2005). "Bathhouse Norms: What goes on in the Bathhouse?". Healthy Living. Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  23. Bernstein, Sharon (March 23, 2004). "Rising Rate of HIV Infection Renews Bathhouse Debate". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  24. "NHS to hold STI testing in gay sauna". Pink News. October 15, 2007. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
  25. "QX journal article". QX Magazine London. QX (758): 44. September 17, 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  26. "Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc.", Adam J. Conti, LLC, Filing 96-1192, September 15, 1997
  27. Morin, Relmin (August 26, 1951). "'Non-Virgin Club' New Aspect of Teen-age Sex Misbehavior". Eugene Register-Guard. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  28. Cahn, Susan (2007). Sexual Reckonings: Southern Girls in a Troubling Age. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. (p. 199) ISBN 978-0-674-02452-6
  29. Peril, Lynn (2002). Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons. New York. W.W. Norton & Company Inc. (pp. 100-101) ISBN 0-393-32354-4
  30. "Mattoon, Illinois History 1950-1959". Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  31. "NYCLU Sues New York School Officials for Forcing Teen-Age Girls to Undergo Intrusive Medical Exams" (July 8, 2003). Retrieved February 2, 2007.
  33. Mikkelson, Barbara (2003). "Sex Bracelets". Retrieved December 22, 2005.


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