"What bra size are you?" Erm, I'm not sure. I tend to wear comfy crop tops I pull on over my head. I don't know when I last wore a bra, but luckily I'm not about to be scolded by a bra fitter in an M&S changing room. It is 1am on a Saturday night and I'm sitting by a lemon tree, on a balcony overlooking London. I'm wearing a slinky red dress and so is the woman next to me. She reaches out and bounces the underside of my boob, saying, "feels like an F cup to me." Erm, I'm not sure I’m an F, I say, protesting mildly, but unwilling to put money on it. I've drunk a case of Champagne by this point, and I'm not sure I can recite the alphabet, let alone identify the letter that best describes my boobs. "I'm an F," she says, with the air of one who knows. Oh really? I reach out and touch her boob back. Then I wonder if men do something similar with their ballsacks.
I'm at Skirt Club, a women-only event for the bi-curious and bisexual. There's a pile-up of semi-naked women on the balcony's al fresco furniture, and someone is smoking a (post-coital?) cigarette. Inside, I can see a melee of limbs on a camp bed that was earlier strewn with synthetic gold leaves, like you might get in a Christmas pack of potpourri from Morrisons. There are six bare-skinned girls in the bathtub, and something resembling the game "suck and blow" is going on in the bedroom. Skirt Club encourages its members to explore, and these women are out to make Sir Ranulph Fiennes look lazy.
It started off a tad corporate. Fully dressed, sober, and making small talk, we might have been in a conference room wearing name badges. Only the sight of the hostesses, in stockings and suspenders, indicates this isn't just another networking event. Wearing black lingerie and bird feathers, the hostesses replace our flutes with half-full ones as we empty them. I am not a natural networker, so my awkwardness means I make a fair few of these swaps, as I dodge questions like, "so, what's your journey?"
The dress code is "casino chic" which has resulted in lots of red, black and leopard print. I've worked in casinos myself, so as I choose my outfit, I cast my mind back to what the women in casinos wore. However, as 80% of them were escorts, I struggle to unearth any inspiration. But I do recall one who wore a leopard print blouse five nights in a row, so the Skirt Club girls are onto something.
We're ushered inside for a sales presentation about sex toys. The speaker is Samantha Evans, a former nurse, who set up vibrator brand Jo Divine with her husband. "This one made me squirt," she says, handing round a bendy one. I would not like to squirt. I once interviewed some women who did, and it sounded like a lot of cleaning up afterwards. If I'd paid £65-95 for a ticket, I'd feel swindled at being offered up as a captive audience for a company to promote their brand — but everyone is loving it and to be fair, I like Evans. I'd like her on the end of the phone if I ever had a sex injury. Her talk is literally the best bit of my evening.
After Evans, magician Laura London does some card tricks. This is popular. I feel like Dinah in The Demon Headmaster, who moves to a new school and doesn't understand why everyone is clapping and whooping in assembly (it later turns out they're all robots).
Then it is Spin-the-Bottle. We will be kissing. We form a circle and one of the hostesses puts a bottle in the middle, then spins it, and kisses the person it points at. I'm glad it's not me. Hands up, I don't like forced fun. And I don't want random mouths on mine, whether they're male or female. Also, there are a few people in this room who look as if, over the years, they could have brushed their teeth a bit more. So I sit there, willing the bottle not to stop at me; and after a few spins, when I feel I've been as lucky as I'm going to get, I take a strategic toilet break.
I return to find a new game has begun. The kissing hostess is taking off her bra, then she lies down on the floor in her knickers. Another hostess wedges a bit of lemon in her mouth, and sprinkles salt all over her boobs. Then she asks who wants a Tequila shot. You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to work out the rest, and as with everything that had gone before, the ladies loved it.
Skirt Club's mission, according to the press blurb, is to "build an exclusive all-female community for empowerment and sexual discovery. A network of professional women with common interests." It might be that the semi-naked hostess was a former Club Rep for 18-30 holidays, who couldn’t leave her life in Magaluf behind. However, according to one of the other hostesses, Skirt Club follows a tried and tested format all over the world. So presumably the bare boobs, snogging and being licked by anonymous ladies, were amongst the requirements of her as a Skirt Club hostess. I didn't feel quite comfortable with that. It was like she was being used as some sort of sex surrogate for middle-class women who wanted a controlled environment (and person) for a toe-dip into bisexuality. And I knew that if I'd seen a semi-naked girl lying on the floor, surrounded by a similarly rowdy group of guys, I would be horrified for her.
"Surely the power dynamic is different," says Libby, one of my personal think tank when I put this out there the next day, after my hangover's subsided. Yes, good point. Although, "it's blurring the lines of consent — is it likely the woman would have done it without being paid?" asks Emma. I don’t know… Sarah joins in to suggest the event is operating on, "the basic misunderstanding that women who are attracted to women would want to behave in the same way men do, with scantily clad women laid on for their titillation." But the women were enjoying themselves — I was literally the only uptight fun-sponge who had a problem with it. "It sounds like a grotesque display of internalised misogyny," says Beth, adding, "I wish women would wake up about this shit!"
Games over, the interaction shifts from organised to organic, as structure is shown the door and clothes hit the floor (I'm joking, obviously — they are put away tidily somewhere). It's at this point, when the girls start getting together under their own steam, that I think my friend Amber, who joined me for Liquid Love and Rio's would love it here. Bisexual and adventurous, she would have a great time with this bunch of attractive, bi-women who are up for having fun.
Looking at it from this perspective, Skirt Club's suddenly got legs. And I recall another friend telling me that the female-only environment meant she'd enjoyed her first experience with a woman here, without feeling like she was performing for men. I feel almost guilty for not throwing myself into an orgy. Have I taken the place of someone who'd have got more out of it? Skirt Club's London Events Director Hannah metaphorically strokes my over-thinking mind. "Everyone is welcome," she says. "You don’t know how you'll find it until you get here, and even if you decide it’s not for you, at least you’ve tried it!" So it's alright that I haven't taken off my clothes and licked strong spirits off strangers? "Yes, of course it is!"
It's 2am now and I head home via the bathroom, where I do a wee next to several naked women who've crammed themselves in the bathtub. On the last leg of my journey, I buy the McDonalds I've craved all evening. I wake up in the morning with a hellish hangover, to find the discarded packaging by the toilet. "All our members are effortlessly stylish" says the Skirt Club blurb. My reservations about forced fun aside, I'm not sure I'd meet their standards anyway.
Samantha Rea can be found tweeting here.