NEW YORK—New York City is the latest hotbed of a growing trend of fetish clubs that allow people to engage in sexually charged activities such as dancing, sex toys, BDSM, and anal sex.
The New York City Dance Club Association, which oversees the city’s dance clubs and is based in Queens, is the biggest of the new adult clubs in the nation, and its president, Andrew Lips, says that in the past year alone, it has grown from 10 clubs to 100.
“We have a number of clubs that are thriving, and we’ve been able to add new venues as well,” he told Newsweek.
Lips is the owner of the New York Dolls, a Brooklyn-based company that specialises in selling sex toys and other accessories to people seeking sex.
He says the industry is booming in New York because people want to feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves.
“People are looking for something that is authentic, something that they can identify with and feel comfortable in,” he said.
Some of the most popular adult clubs have taken off in New Zealand, where people who like dancing, BDSL, and other fetish-themed activities can now meet up at clubs in Auckland, Wellington, and Sydney.
“I’ve never been a dancer before but I’ve been into it for years,” says Emma Gervais, a 19-year-old New Zealand resident who started a dance club in her hometown of Hamilton.
“You know, I had been watching the X-Men movies but I just thought, ‘I don’t know if this is what I’m looking for,’ so I joined.”
Gervas was not alone in her curiosity about the new porn culture.
“It was a really weird time for me,” she says.
“But it was kind of nice, because it felt like I wasn’t alone.”
The internet has given many of the people who come to dance clubs new avenues to meet other people with the same desires.
“There’s a community of people that are looking to be part of a community and meet other dancers,” says Lips.
“This allows you to meet people who are interested in having a club.”
Lips says that many of his clubs have become places for people to meet new people, including young women.
“They’re coming in from all over the country, and they’re kind of like, ‘Hi, I’m from New Zealand and I’d like to be in your club,'” he said, laughing.
“Most people come here to meet the people they like, and this is a great way to meet someone that you like and want to be friends with.”
But for the people in New England who prefer to keep their personal life private, the online community can be dangerous.
“Many of these people are really looking for sexual partners that they don’t have, or they don, and are looking online to meet somebody they don ‘t necessarily have,” says Gervases friend, Sarah.
“A lot of them are looking out for their own self-esteem and being seen as sexual objects.”
“There are definitely some very scary people out there,” Gervices friend says.
In a typical club, women wear costumes that can include nipple rings, latex costumes, or “trimmed-up” bikini tops.
“The club is basically a place for the club to be,” Sarah says.
At New York’s The Bowery, a dance venue that opened in 2010, people can dress as their favourite superhero or the Joker to meet their sexual fantasies.
“That’s really fun to do, especially for people who love superheroes,” says the owner, Eric DeBrun.
“For example, if you’re looking to have a sexy time, or you’re in a mood to go dancing, we’d love to do something with you.
That’s what we do at The Bowers.”
It’s not just the people at The Baths who are embracing the new age of fetish clubbing.
The dance clubs are starting to spread to other parts of New York, too.
The Queens Dance Club, which started in 2011, is one of the biggest in the state, with over 100 locations across the city.
“As more people are coming to dance, it’s been great to see that we’re really catching on,” said Lips about the number of new adult dance clubs.
“When I started the NY Dolls club, we only had 20 clubs in New Jersey, and now we’re at about 80.”
The number of adult dance venues in the United States has increased by 70% since the early 2000s.
But the number is still dwarfed by the number that exist in countries such as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, according to the American Sex Research Council.
New York is not alone.
The United Kingdom’s National Adult Education Trust estimates that between 200 and 300 new adult venues are opening each year.
And the United Nations International Adult Education Association estimates that over 400,000