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Swingers clubs making a comeback

 

Swingers clubs making a comeback

These are places where couples come to meet in the hopes of making a connection.

Back in 1998 police cracked down on these types of places, saying they were common bawdy houses. Now, swing clubs are back.
From the outside Bar L'Orage looks like any other bar on St-Laurent street, but what goes on inside is, to put it mildly, different.

Strip shows designed to encourage people to get in to the act - to mingle - all in the hope they`ll meet other couples and swap partners.

L'Orage caters to that with rooms that we can't show you. But we can tell you they come with beds and condoms.

It may sound illegal, but it isn't...really.


            

''There's no law forbidding swinging. What is illegal is the common bawdy house and the legal definition of that is to solicit the public to have sex and we are not doing that. We are soliciting the public to become members and when people become members they are not the public anymore. When they are members we can organize private parties,'' says L'Orage owner Bernard Corbeil.

It wasn't always so easy. In 1998, 40 people were arrested at L'Orage charged with being in a common bawdy house. These days police leave swingers alone.

''In the criminal code there's not a wine list of which sexual activity is legal or not,'' affirms criminal lawyer Robert Lahaye.

Which means Gilles and Rose are free to go to swingers clubs. They've been together 18 years, and after the first three the relationship became stale.

''We had nothing to lose because our relationship was dead. We discussed swinging and went to some parties. After the first times we did it, it was hard to talk about it with each other, but it made us closer than ever,'' said Rose.

Swingers say improving their own relationships is part of the appeal. This author believes the other part is the fantasy.

             

''It allows middle-class people to live in the lifestyle of the rich and famous,'' insists the author of 'The Lifestyle' Terry Gould.

Clubs like L'Orage do well. There are roughly four million swingers in Canada and the United States. In Montreal alone there are about 20 swingers clubs, and unlike L'Orage most stay fairly underground.

''They're quite leery of announcing their presence such that people that didn`t know about them say what`s going on in there,'' says Gould.

But to some, what goes on in swingers clubs is not the way to save a troubled relationship.
''It's a kind of thing that works in a very short term, or it works in a relationship where there is not a lot of emotional connection,'' says family therapist Vicki Stark.

Swingers don't buy that.

''Love and sex are two different things,'' says Corbeil.

And they say as long as people have fantasies about sex there will always be clubs like L'Orage where they can live them out.

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