It was only 12 degrees, but inside the Lower East Side bar Idlewild, guys had their polo shirts hanging open, and women had nothing on top except for the itsy-bitsy flowers painted on their nipples by a man in a white feathered hat. With one hand, he applied sparkly aquamarine to the areola of a blonde in a striped skirt. The other he put up her skirt.
“This is not an orgy,” explained the party’s promoter, Palagia, a 32-year-old Greek-American with Maria Callas looks. “It is a sexy soirée promoting sensual liberation.” A better term might be swinging lite, a trend that’s been growing in the city with the popularity of bars like Remote Lounge and the female-empowerment “Cake” parties. In fact, Palagia herself is no stranger to orgies—she throws what she calls “eat-in parties” once a month at rented lofts for about 40 couples. But tonight is a “takeout party,” where couples remain semi-clothed, taking home their newfound lust.
“After the last party, we were panting all weekend,” said an assistant D.A., an arm around her financier boyfriend. “She looks so beautiful,” said a screenwriter in chunky black glasses, watching his girlfriend kiss a stranger. “I write movie musicals about military conflicts,” he added.
It’s a crowd of mostly uptown professionals, with enough hipsters and fetish types to leaven the mix; by Palagia’s estimate, only about 15 percent are into the swinging scene. She sells tickets on her Website, onelegupnyc.com; couples are $50, single women $15, and single men out of luck, though there do seem to be a few—one is crying, “Give me your panties!”
By 2 A.M., the bar was empty—even the screenwriter and his girl were gone, with an extra man in tow. “Takeout parties always end early,” said Palagia. “Everyone gets too horny.”