I'm a reasonably straitlaced -- more girl next door than wild exhibitionist. So what was I doing in a Manhattan sex club?

I believe Jamie Foxx said it best: Blame it on the alca-alca-alcohol.

Allow me to explain, your Honor. I was out to dinner with the guy I was dating, full of wine and feeling frisky. I suggested that maybe it would be fun (or funny, at least) to drop in on one of the many sex shops that dotted the neighborhood. He was skeptical -- was I sure I wanted to do that? I laughed him off. If I could prowl through the adult sections with my gay roommate, I could certainly make the trip with someone I was actually sleeping with.

It wasn't until we headed back to his place that I realized that while I was thinking "sex shop" -- you know, battery-operated sex toys and videos with titles like "Slumdoggy-style Millionaire" -- Loverboy had heard "sex club." As in, swingers doing the nasty in plain view.

As in, the one that happened to be conveniently located right next to his apartment building. By the time I realized this, he'd made arrangements with the club to get us in, and it was too late to back out.

Click here to read what really goes down in a sex club ...

The club was welcome to couples only, though you could bring a female guest for an additional charge. We made our way through what looked like your typical seedy, low-lit nightclub and into the locker room.

The ground rules: Everyone had to change into a white towel (I managed to keep my undies on), and couples had to stay together. I stole a few glances at the other couples. There were a few average-looking middle-aged partners, an old man accompanied by a beautiful Asian woman young enough to be his granddaughter, and a handful of young black couples. Would I soon be watching these folks get it on?

Sex As a Spectator Sport

Dressed for a sauna in our bulky white towels, we were led to a common area where "She's So High Above Me" was playing, and non-alcoholic refreshments were served. My date stepped out onto the carpet with a glass of lemonade in hand and was immediately scolded. (Apparently lemonade was one of the only fluids you weren't allowed to get on this floor.)

Finally, there was no escaping it. We would have to make the rounds. My date led me up a staircase and into a series of tiny rooms. It was dark and he was tall, so it was difficult to process exactly what I was seeing. I could make out many men masturbating while their partners looked on, and a blonde who was having the time of her life with two guys. We didn't linger -- we'd pop our heads into a room, and immediately pop them right back out.

Thanks, Butt No Thanks

Sightseeing done, we moved to a semi-secluded corner of the room and tried to get down to business. There was kissing and some mild groping, but neither of us could get in the mood. We were too exposed, too ... skeeved out. That's when a heavyset couple in their 30s approached us and asked if they could join us.

I froze. My date simply shook his head and said, as gently as possible, "No thanks." We waited about a minute, then got up and headed to the locker room, pulling on our clothes as quickly as possible. Stepping out into the Manhattan night and hearing the club doors slam shut behind us was the best release I got that night.

Beth Brennan is a Lemondrop contributor who works in media in New York.

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