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The following is copyrighted Material, reprinted, with permission, from LifeStyle Magazine.

An Old-Timer's Perspective on the "New Swinger"

You're sitting with some friends/ playmates you know at a local bar meet when through the door walks a group of people. Their average age is in the mid-thirties. They're attractive. They're, surprisingly enough, dressed to thrill in some of the hottest club clothes you've seen outside of a swing club in a while. There's a bold confidence in their stride and the attention they receive from the other bar patrons only serves to intensify the bravado. They move quickly to a prominent part of the bar and begin to make their presence known. They fill the dance floor and soon hot, fit, gyrating bodies are all over the place and, just as quickly as their entrance, what little clothing they were wearing is falling off of those bodies to the delight of everyone except, possibly, the bar owner and the security people. The bar meet has just been invaded by the "New Swingers". The next generation of the LifeStyle has arrived. They're visually and sexually fearless. They have entered the LifeStyle through the Internet and have embraced it in the same manner they do every aspect of their lives. Their attitude is fast, fun, outrageous and contagious. The New Swinger has been in the LifeStyle an average of less than five years. They are, for the most part, "upwardly mobile", trendy, fun, forward thinking people. They are, to one degree or another, physically self-absorbed in a way that is as bold and aggressive as the rest of their lives. They are euphoric about their newfound LifeStyle and the people they've met and now call "Friends with Benefits." The New Swinger even has toyed with the idea of finding a new word other than "Swinger" to describe what they are. This is not to say that all people that have been involved in the LifeStyle for that five-year average or less are "New Swingers." This is hardly the case. I have met many wonderful couples that are, by the above stated criteria, "newbies" to the LifeStyle and have approached the whole thing from a completely different perspective. They may have the same, values, aspirations, and desires the New Swinger does, but they've somehow managed to maintain that low key "all-inclusive" attitude that has been the mainstay of the LifeStyle since post World War Two modern swinging came to be. Many people new to swinging feel somewhat intimidated by the New Swingers approach. My observations may seem a little harsh or even excessively critical at times but make no mistake; I admire and enjoy the New Swingers enthusiasm. Even though I have been in the LifeStyle more years than I care to admit, I still find myself adopting some of the new innovations the New Swinger has brought to the table. Their approach is usually over-amp'd, and so shot full of adrenalin that even Red Bull can't compete with it, but you can't help but like it. I would be lying if I said the visuals and energy they bring to an event isn't breathtaking. The New Swinger tends to regard every LifeStyle event as an opportunity to play regardless of where the event is held or how public it may be. I have been to many bar meets, swing clubs, and other LifeStyle events and watched with a certain degree of admiration how the New Swinger and their enthusiastic exhibitionism can change the whole mood of an evening. I have also witnessed how that, sometimes, leaves a great deal of tension in its wake. In their attempt to forge a "new" LifeStyle that mirrors the trends, values and attitudes they feel are important they have unwittingly divided many of the people they were attempting to influence and include. By doing so they have, unfortunately, created a maze of double standards the swing community finds itself having to navigate through on a daily basis. This, as I said a moment ago, sometimes leads to friction with others that have been in the LifeStyle for longer periods of time and/or may not be on the same site they are. Their divisiveness isn't, by any means, intentional, but more due to naivet‚ on their part and the rather raw nerves currently associated with the LifeStyle and the legal and political battles the LifeStyle has been forced to fight of late. It has created additional frustration for many whom, now more than ever, would like nothing better than to have a unified LifeStyle to assist with those battles. Never in the history of Swinging has the LifeStyle been more fragmented than it currently is. We owe much of this fragmentation to the Internet and its "arms length" approach to everything from information gathering to building relationships. It's easy to become cold, impersonal and rude to people we don't have to look in the eye. Thanks, in large part, to the Internet we, as a society and as a LifeStyle, have abandoned basic social skills in favor of instant acceptance from a global audience of soulless, sometimes faceless pictures attached to a few poorly worded profile questions. The New Swinger had adapted to this new social phenomenon much like the rest of the world has. In ways they may have adapted far better than the general public. They are boldly sexual with it. The difference is that sooner or later they're going to find themselves in a far more intimate social setting than straight society. This new tool, with its built in exhibitionistic anonymity, has lulled the New Swinger, and the rest of us, into a false sense of sexual self from the world at large. It becomes easy to forget that there is another society to deal with outside the LifeStyle and the swing site we spend so much time on. We also find it easy to forget we're still in the minority of the general public and that they may not agree with, or wish to view, our chosen LifeStyle. That false sense of security is what allows people who normally are apt to say things like " I can't tell people like my family, friends, co-workers, boss, etc. that I'm in the LifeStyle. If they found out I'd be dropped like a hot rock, fired, ostracized, written out of the will.whatever." to suddenly go into a public place wearing next to nothing and dance and play provocatively with their friends and sometimes complete strangers. Not only that they openly thrive on the attention from the straight patrons who could be any of the above-mentioned people they don't want to be found out by. It causes several questions to come to mind. The first being, should we as a LifeStyle become more open and, perhaps, more public about what we do? Maybe we should, in a positive way. The second question might be "how do we achieve this without giving up a level of discretion many in the LifeStyle still need to have?" Discretion, after all, has been the mantra of this LifeStyle since as far back as anyone can remember. The Internet has made it relatively easy for someone to quickly put together a group of like-minded people and assemble at the hotspot of your choice for an impromptu party. On just about any given night of the week there will be at least one bar meet created by a group of New Swingers near you. It's always guaranteed to be a good time. The inhibition levels go right out the window shortly after the New Swingers arrive, much to the chagrin of the regular patrons. There's no way of telling how naked they're going to get or how blatantly sexual they're going to get. They are even encouraged by some of the trendier bars and nightclubs to do so. I have heard and seen where bar owners or managers have egged on the New Swinger to push the envelope of what is socially, and legally, acceptable in a "straight" bar or nightclub. In some places the more naked they got the more free drinks they get. The visual imagery and goodtime attitude they bring is generally great for business and causes a large number of curiosity seekers to show up as well. The staff loves them because they're usually the most fun to be with (and they tip pretty well too). I can recall an evening, not too long ago, where a group of us showed up at a bar to hear a friend's band play. He and his wife are New Swingers in the LifeStyle and so a good number, but not all, of the people invited were swingers also. It took little time at all to take over this rather large, trendy bar. Before long body parts were getting exposed and at one point a woman in the group was sitting on a bar stool just off of the stage, in full view of the entire bar, with her legs spread wide apart while she was being vigorously fingered, to the point of being fisted, by one of the other women in the group. The woman doing all of the finger work had her, rather short, skirt pulled up over her ass exposing the lower half of her own body to the appreciative crowd on the dance floor. Once that was done the two women changed places and began anew. The crowd nearly got out of control attempting to watch the action and the straight patrons, including the ones invited by the band, could only sit there in shocked disbelief while all the security personnel could do was shake their heads and wonder if they should put a stop to it all. Afterwards the participants in that scene were quite shocked to think anyone would have a problem with what they were doing. The funny aside to this incident is that the people involved in that particular escapade are not only New Swingers but they don't show their faces on their Internet profiles for fear of being found out by someone outside the LifeStyle. Forum pages on swing sites are filled with postings of similar catastrophes and they all seem so shocked that they got "outted". Bar meets aren't the only new social outlet brought on by the New Swinger. Specialized parties are popping up in every community these days. Your ticket to entry may be age, physical attributes, what kind of plastic you have in your wallet, music you listen to or what type of transportation you ride or drive. All you have to do is fill out their questionnaire, supply a pic of yourselves, and then get "approved" by the people giving the party. With the growing number of people that the LifeStyle now has to deal with these parties are, unfortunately, necessary even if the commonality of just being in the LifeStyle is being eroded and causing even more fragmentation. There are just too many people in the LifeStyle not to have these kinds of parties. Individually the New Swinger is a delight to be around. Their energy can carry the moment and make an evening special. When a group of them congregate that all changes and a mob mentality takes over. They get that "safety in numbers" attitude. It takes on the vibe of being in a room full of rock stars and divas. They will tell you they have been empowered to behave the way they do because they're all members of (your favorite Internet site here)! Once again their lack of knowledge about the history of swinging works against them. The biggest problems the LifeStyle faces seem to arise when it's necessary to blend all of this diversity at one event or venue. This always seems to be when the naivet‚ of the New Swinger appears in full force. Armed with a faux sense of entitlement granted to them by the Internet and their circle of friends. The New Swinger will be quick to demand what they want, when and how they want it with little regard to anyone else. If they don't get what they want their first line of reason is to create their own event. This recently happened after a National LifeStyle Convention. Unhappy with everything from the location to the music, the attendee's and just about everything else and, spurred on by the Internet swing site this particular group belonged to, it was decided to create their own "Convention" for select members of that Internet site only within days of the National event concluding. There is such a diverse group within the LifeStyle these days that it would be impossible to keep them all happy if they were in one room. Still we have to look for ways to do just that. Differences of opinion and approach are inevitable. How we, as a LifeStyle, resolve those differences will determine how much more growth we'll achieve in years to come. With examples like this.it doesn't look promising. We have grown so fast. Partly fueled by the arrogance of youth and the euphoria of something new that we may, in fact, implode instead of grow further much the same way the DOT COM stocks did. The growth has come at the cost of where we have come from historically in the LifeStyle. That doesn't mean we need to remain in the past, far from that. We need to move forward but without loosing sight of how we've gotten to where we are now. If we, as a group, are going to make our LifeStyle more public than it should be done in a way that causes positive interest and illustrates the fun and the camaraderie the LifeStyle has to offer. The New Swinger does this but not always in a way that's beneficial to the LifeStyle as a whole and to all members of the LifeStyle. The Internet didn't invent swinging. Nor did the swing sites. Yet the New Swinger almost believes they did. The LifeStyle grows because of them just as they grow because of the LifeStyle. New Swingers aren't bad people. They may be a little drunk on their newfound freedoms, but they're not bad people. They're fun, energetic, adventurous, sexy people. Which is exactly what the LifeStyle is always in need of. Especially right now. Swingers of all stripes welcome the New Swingers with open arms. We embrace their movements on the dance floor and in the bedroom. We admire their boldness of attack. We are amused by their ability to make any venue a LifeStyle event without fear of reprisal. We even agree with many of the things they would like to change. We fear some of their exclusionary tactics. We also know that, this too shall pass. One day they will simply be swingers like the rest of us. One day a new generation will pick up the torch and, bolstered by a new level of acceptance the current New Swingers have paved for them, this up and coming group of "Newbies" will take swinging to the next level. We are in a new century and a new millennium. Sometimes a significant change in the calendar requires us to look at things with fresh eyes and discard those things that don't work anymore and, possibly, replace them with other ideas that do. Change is inevitable. It should, however, be a co-operative effort from all members of the LifeStyle not an end run around the past. Welcome "New Swingers" of the LifeStyle. Come in. Take your clothes off. Enjoy yourself and stay as long as you like. Our life is your life. Just don't forget. it isn't your house.

Alan Eakins azroticcpl@yahoo.com