ouple swapping is the new fad in Delhi's party circuit, sometimes preceded by "groping parties" to familiarise unsure entrants about the "experience" that will follow. The city has its share of "clubs" — a group of people — that organise swinger parties where couples swap partners with complete strangers for a night.
"A lot of couples come to high-end parties to meet like minded people and have fun for a night. Both married and unmarried or live-in couples openly solicit with different people at a party and leave the place with a different partner," said Aakash (name changed), a banker, who attends these parties.
According to the partygoers, any couple can form a swap club by sending emails to party regulars. These emails are forwarded as chain mails and those interested get in touch with the concerned people. Event managers who organise private parties are often called to take care of the logistics. Membership to these groups is free, although couples have to share the cost of hosting these parties. Couples are also screened before they are allowed entry to these highly secret parties.
To recruit new couples in the group, one of the club members first meets the couple at a coffee shop and has a casual chat with them. The couple is then "thoroughly screened" and asked questions about their financial status, their purpose of joining the club and other such matters. "The idea is to ensure that they are not a fake couple," said a member.
"In order to operate, the groups must have a minimum of six couples. Also, we cannot risk having a fixed meeting place so we have to keep changing the venue every time," said a swinger who organises these parties but did not wish to be named.
These parties are mostly held in hotels, farmhouses and resorts on the city's outskirts. The budget for one night is a minimum of Rs 30,000 and goes up to around Rs 1 lakh depending on the venue, the liquor, food, arrangements made (rooms booked, theme for the evening, DJ, et al) and the number of members attending the party. New entrants are given the option of attending "groping parties" if they are initially uncomfortable with the idea of swapping partners.
Who swaps partners with whom is decided by a draw of lots — generally a bucketful of sandals of the ladies attending the party. Else key rings are used. 30-year-old software professional Radhika (name changed), who is a member of one such swinger club, said, "Suggestive songs are played. There is close dancing with someone other than your own partner. Alcohol is mandatory in order to break the ice. Sexual jokes are cracked to set the mood. The group looks at expanding its network and therefore every member (read couple) is asked to meet like-minded people at regular parties and add them to the club."
These clubs are very particular about the age of the couple, according to Radhika. The members have to belong to the age group of 25 to 40, and sometimes a little above, but not "old". "We do not accept couples in their 50s as we believe that they are lousy in bed. Such requests are not common anyway," she said.
Any couple talking about the party to outsiders faces expulsion. These clubs practise safe sex and suggest that members should get themselves checked regularly to avoid spreading diseases. "Drugs are strictly prohibited and members who get sloshed are asked to leave the venue immediately. Also, the club does not allow any cameras and mobiles, to ensure complete privacy and security of the members," Radhika said.
When asked why they feel the need to swap partners, another swinger justified, "It is a great way to cement your relationship with your partner. In today's day and age when partners cheat on each other isn't it nice to fulfil your sexual fantasies while you remain honest and loyal to your partner by swapping?"
However, Dr Ripan Sippy, a Delhi-based psychologist asserted, "Couples who go for swapping generally lack an emotional connect with their partner and have trust issues in the relationship. In the long run, these people get a feeling of chronic emptiness, which may get them addicted to alcohol or drugs. They may also fall victim to depression. As for couples who are parents, it can be disastrous for their children."