Feeling Shy About Play Parties? Mint Tease Has a Lesbian Dominatrix On Site To Warm You Up

Maria Vlasova

People rather sheepishly sat around in a big circle waiting for a dominatrix to start a game of spin-the-bottle…

To my left: a nun in a habit watches a pole dancer performing a flawless butterfly. To my right: an espresso martini and shot of tequila – because I’ll most certainly be requiring some liquid confidence this evening. I was at an undisclosed private member’s club in East London, where Mint Tease: Play Edition – the promiscuous wing of the UK’s longest-running and most prolific lesbian party Mint – was holding its third play party.

 

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After the initial ordeal of lingering outside for 20 minutes, trying to pluck up the courage to go in, I was greeted by the loveliest of door staff. Each was a soothing tone-setter who’d call me “sweetie,” and “honey,” while telling me to “explore as much as you feel comfortable,” and “remember our dominatrix’s are on hand should you need anything at all.” Pet names and reassuring words: all one really needs as you enter a fancy dress sex party. 

This wasn’t any sex party though: this was a sex party run by queer women, for queer women, making it as rare as… well, you just type ‘lesbian sex party’ into Google, and you’ll see for yourself how rare it is – or get bombarded with porn. 

From the moment I rocked up to the ground-floor cocktail bar, I was flooded with an overwhelming sense of relief. The venue was chic and airy, high-ceilings and velvet sofas lining the walls, with rich colours and tasteful textures all around (none of the must’n’pleather sex club vibe I was anticipating in those long 20 minutes outside in the cold). The music – served by Mint DJ and house legend El Conchitas – was tastefully uplifting and jovial. People were chilling, sipping cocktails and talking amongst themselves. The atmosphere was looser than at a standard lesbian party; people seemed to have their guards down, glances wandered and eyes locked, as an aura of anticipation enveloped the venue.

Our outfits helped to create this atmosphere – it was, after all, a dress-up party (hence the nun in the habit) and a play party. People were really experimenting with their sexual self-expression. A handful of people with tattoos on their chests and necks were contained in heavy-duty harnesses, while towering regally in Dolls Kill platforms. A few feet from them, the lacy Agent Provocateur underwear crew lingered, adorned in fitted blazers and neck harnesses so delicate they looked as though they’d snap if you tried to lead a Chihuahua with them. Others were donning fancy-dress classics – cat-women, police, nurses – while others were defying all themes and chilling in shirts and chinos. 

“The event is designed for those who are first timers at a sex party; they can just chill, have a cocktail and a little boogie, seeing how they feel in that atmosphere,” Mint founder, Nicola Chubb tells GO. “It’s also for experienced play party-goers, who are looking to experience a fun night in a queer women’s utopia,” she adds.

Though there seemed to be different degrees of experience with play parties (and fetish gear), there was a resounding coyness around the bar, which added to the softness of the space. “Single or double?” I overheard amongst a group who’d just arrived and bee-lined to the bar. “Um, do they do triples?” one replied. Women in thigh-high suspenders, gulping down their liquid confidence. 

This is hardly surprising considering how few femme-centred sex parties there are in the city, the country, the world. “There really is no other space like this in the UK at the moment,” says Chubb. “Years ago, there was Clit Club which was great at the time but this was decades ago, in [the] 1990s, and very BDSM-focused. Obviously there’s Skirt Club too, but it’s not intended for women who identify as queer or lesbian,” she says. 

Though Skirt Club is a very successful international member’s club, centering women’s pleasure, it is (generally speaking) aimed at cis, bi women, looking to rumble in the girl-on-girl jungle for a night while their partner waits eagerly at home. 

“I wanted to create something for our community, for queer women, somewhere they can experiment more with their sexuality,” says Chubb. “At our Mint Tease Play Parties, you know queer women’s sexuality is centered and celebrated. There are literally no men involved – it’s all about queer women, in all our diversity and glory. There’s no going home to your man, no dressing up in a man’s fantasy outfit, no talking about men… male sexuality doesn’t belong at our events,” says Chubb.  

As newbies and seasoned sex partiers slurped down their Dutch courage, people set off to explore the three floors of the Sapphic play palace. Down a winding staircase sat a fully equipped dungeon… St David’s Cross, spanking horse, sex swing, you name it, it was there, red-lit and ready for action, but the evening’s occupants seemed a little overwhelmed by the apparatus. It was a BDSM Lite crew, or “all the gear, no idea,” as someone in a dog-collar said to me while sitting on the spanking horse like it was a park bench, nursing a Porn-Star Martini. Most people entered the dungeon, had a little swing of a harness or cracked a little joke, before heading back upstairs. Most… save for one couple who were going at it with the ceiling restraints and a paddle for most of the night – saving face for the entire party.

Past the cocktail bar, on the top floor, was where most of the action was unfolding. Private playroom after private playroom was fully utilised, as couples new and old appeared to be getting (even more) off on their audience of intentional (and unintentional) voyeurs.

Continuing down the corridor, the open playroom – with two fireplaces and an antique’s shop-worthy collection of furniture – was also pleading for action. The space was full, but not as you might imagine. People rather sheepishly sat around in a big circle waiting for a dominatrix to start a game of spin-the-bottle. There were couples, solos, groups of friends, women of different sizes, ethnicities. The crowd was a little younger than the usual Mint party crowd (usually 30+ professionals), all sitting in this open playroom, in this once-in-a-blue-moon sex party, having a free-for-all conversation in a Kumbaya circle – a not so carpe diem moment for us all. 

That said, we gladly talked, lightly flirted, made each other laugh, made each other feel comfortable. If it wasn’t for the NSFW outfits and odd murmur from the neighbouring rooms, you could just about convince yourself you’d wound up at a lesbian book group instead.

Before the spinning bottle arrived, I made my way downstairs to the cocktail bar. Though sex wasn’t ubiquitous throughout the venue, there were incredible pole performances and dominatrixes striding around leaving all jaws on the floor. Meanwhile, more than a few people were casually making their way around, non-intrusively asking, “Are you looking for anything tonight?” 

With women chilling and chatting on fluffy velvet sofas, an effortless ease and safety flooded through the bar. You could leave your phone and drink down without a second thought. Spiking has been prominent in the UK’s cultural narrative of late, after a national ‘Girl’s Night In’ was held last month in response to a surge in reported drink spiking incidents in clubs. I spoke to a couple of people at the bar, one sipping a G&T who said, “It’s so nice, so refreshing, because it’s only women!” The other, emphatically agreeing, said she’s been to plenty of sex parties before, “but this feels different, it must be the most relaxed, the safest I’ve ever felt at a night like this.” 

At midnight, the night ended a little too abruptly. (In the future, Mint hopes to keep things going until 4 am). Women figured out their way home, likely just at the point when people were warmed up enough, comfortable enough and drunk enough (probably a little of each) to get the play party ball rolling. The cloakroom was full of last-ditch flirtations, as it dawned on people that this unique atmosphere of possibility and comfortability for queer women was about to vanish. 

Before we knew, we found ourselves outside, winter coats wrapped around fishnets and leather harnesses. With arms folded and phones out, there was a definite lingering… as women waited for Ubers, for after-party invitations, for that special someone to finally come over and break the ice. 

I’m not sure if anything more than Ubers came of all the lingering, but I am sure I’ll be heading to another Mint: Play Edition. It’s a rare phenomenon for our community, and clearly something we need to get a little more used to. I reckon with more time and a few more events like this, London’s queer women can evolve into true creatures of the night… with all the gear and all the ideas. 

For more info on the next Mint Tease: Play Edition, head here – Mint founder Nicola has promised plenty more hot under the (dog) collar nights in 2022.


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