WARNING!! The article about the Lifestyles Convention deals with adult subject matter and, although there is no explicit language or descriptions, it may not be appropriate for all readers.

Lifestyles Convention 2004
By Dave Schwartz 

A good friend of mine, Bill, once asked an important question. "To be or not to be?" Did I mask that one well enough? All right, you caught me. Bill, AKA William Shakespeare, died almost 500 years ago. But nonetheless that doesnít diminish the significance of this, perhaps the most famous soliloquy in literature.

Shakespeare was a magical man with an unmatched knack of spinning a yarn that thrilled our hearts and minds, yarns that allowed us to live through his imagination. And a question such as this, so eloquent as it delivers us from our daily routines, immediately to Hamletís state of desperation is utterly profound.

Of course the danger of such a question has long been proven. In the centuries since itís initial delivery, the soliloquy has been repeated and prodded, used and abused by so many that today its significance appears suspect, so much so that I have little remorse for itís assassination here. For this simple, yet powerful phrase has become the literary equivalent of the every man. A nameless, faceless entity that passes between us with little cause for discern. But yet, something must be missing.

As school children, we were taught about Shakespeare. Hell, as kids some of us were even clever enough to feign a passing interest in the old boy. But where our teachers gave us an A for retaining the ability to recite the soliloquy, they failed us in the utterly hopeless task of getting us to feel it. Yes, boys and girls, some lessons are best learned first hand. But unfortunately so many of us are cast upon this earth with barely a shadow of understanding and virtually no sense of the adventure necessary to discover the brave new world thatís laid bare before us each day. Forget the hues painted by Shakespeare, most of us fail to live through our own eyes, much less his imagination. Most fall in line with the social paradigms, never ever considering to ask why. And like the soliloquy, we too become the every man.

OK, so whatís this all have to do with the 2004 Lifestyles Convention in Las Vegas? Iíll give you that itís one hell of a leap, but who knows where Bill would be today if he were alive? With a tacky white jumpsuit and a few chorus girls, the man may be finding a whole new audience! Or not. But there is one thing for which I am certain, if Bill were alive today, he would be LIVING, he would have chosen to be. And that, my friend, is the connection. That spirit of adventure is alive in all of us. Itís just a matter of choosing where to explore.

This year, the 32nd Lifestyles Convention was held at the Stardust casino in Las Vegas. This, being our fourth year DaBelly has attended and subsequently our fourth story on the event, I thought we would change things up a bit. Itís easy enough log onto the Web site found at the end of this article and check out the seminars and theme dances that most of you have missed, so I see little value in rehashing what is already available. This year weíre going to cover the most important aspect of the convention-- the people. After all, this convention or any other would be nothing without the thousands of couples that are, at least in their hearts, rekindling the spirit of adventure, an adventure that they have chosen to take together.

First some ground rules. With respect to the couples we spotlight, we have chosen to identify each of them only by the females' first name and we may or may not have changed that! Secondly, some background information. Personal observation has shown the demographic of this convention to be couples, late 20s to mid-50s, professional and a variety of races, creeds and colors. Letís meet the couples.

Kathy

Kathy and her husband sit firmly in the upper demographic of the Lifestyles community, both appearing to be in their mid-fifties. But that is not to suggest that they are experienced in the lifestyle, actually the opposite is true. This was their first convention. Never really revealing how they found out about Lifestyles, Kathy was both inquisitive and a bit nervous. But thatís not to say they werenít having a good time.

In celebration of that nightís theme, "Hollywood Glitz and Glamour," Kathy was dressed as Marilyn Monroe in her classic white halter top dress. Deservedly she found herself the recipient of a fair amount of attention. Together they were a confident self-assured couple.

Each year the banquet has been our favorite part of the convention. Itís an opportunity to sit down with people and get to know them. Kathy recognized and took full advantage of the situation. Although her husband spent most of the evening sitting assuredly, quietly watching the other couples mixing and mingling, Kathy was very curious, asking all the right questions. "How do we meet other couples?" "Iím concerned with AIDS." "What did you think when you attended your first convention?"

She revealed that they had attended several of the seminars, finding "The Newly Swingers Game" the most revealing. Like so many before them, they were armed with a mountain of fears, yet they were able to rationalize their concerns for the sake of an adventure that they both had insisted upon.

It was a delicious meal and an opportunity for some frank conversation, but in the end they excused themselves early. Weíll never know if they were overwhelmed by the evening or perhaps just off to pursue more adventure.

Molly

We met Molly and her husband Friday evening during the "Attitude Adjustment Hours" over at the Starlight Lounge. Both professionals in their late 40s, he works with environmentalists and she is in the health industry. Having attended several dances hosted by various organizations in their local area, they were not new to the lifestyle. But this was their first experience with something as large as this convention.

For them, it was a spur of the moment decision.

"We really didnít plan this," Molly admits. "We just got lucky. We were able to ditch the kids for the weekend, so we decided to drive to Las Vegas."

Having forgone the dayís seminars they purchased a ticket to the evening dance, "Moulin Rouge Lingerie Nite." But they only purchased a ticket for that one night.

"It was funny," Molly laughed. "When we checked in, the hotel didnít know we were there for the convention. After giving us our room, the girl confided that we might see a lot of strangely dressed people walking around the hotel and she asked that we please ignore them!"

As Molly and my wife got up to dance, her husband leaned over to confess, "You know Iím the instigator here. I almost have to drag her to these dances."

At this point a couple of beers certainly hadn't hurt her enthusiasm. The two were having a great time and a well-deserved break from the stresses of work / kids / home.

"But once I get her here," he continued, "itís like flipping on a switch! I know she enjoys herself."

Itís the classic Lifestyles story. The male has to drag his woman to the convention and, once there, has to drag her back home!

Unfortunately we didnít meet up with Molly and her husband later that night at the dance. But like clockwork, at Saturday's "Attitude Adjustment," we again found the couple with a table and a couple of beers waiting. Sans wristbands, Molly was sporting a very short, tight red leather dress and the two were all smiles. How did the dance go last night, I asked.

"It was fun," Molly gushed. "But I didnít bring any lingerie to wear."

She was obviously disappointed with missing a chance to dress for the evening. "After the dance we went out to the pool party," she continued. "We went over to one of the hospitality suites next to the pool. The sign on the door said, ĎNo clothing allowed.í And I thought, well hell, I brought that! So we went in!"

As Molly shared Friday nightís experiences, I noticed her continually shifting in her chair. Initially I thought she was searching for a more comfortable position in that tight dress, but then suddenly it all became clear. With each adjustment Molly was inadvertently doing a Sharon Stone impersonation from the movie "Basic Instincts." It seems that even though the wristbands were gone and they were no longer allowed to attend the convention activities, the spirit of the weekend had won the day. If you canít go to the convention, bring the convention to you!

Her husband kept rejoicing in the palpable sense of freedom experienced by most first time attendees, "You know weíre really amazed at the sense of independence this convention allows us. At the dances youíre completely safe to dress as you wish without feeling the judgmental eyes of others. I love this!"

Martha

Martha and her husband are young Latin professionals. She is a program manager and he is a graphic artist. Despite their age, early 30s, they are the most experienced couple we met at the convention, attending for the sixth year. She is slender and dressed in a black evening gown. He wore a suit.

During dinner Martha and I exchanged awkward glances and the occasional smile across the table. Our separation in conjunction with the music made it difficult to strike up a conversation. After dinner, when given the chance to mingle, the conversation was inexplicably difficult to initiate, I found myself searching for the right words when the most appropriate thing to say was simply hello. Finally Martha took the initiative and pulled up a chair next to me.

"What swing clubs do you attend?" she asked.

I smiled and apologized for the awkward moment. My quest for the right words must have been more than obvious. I explained that the convention is our only contact within the lifestyle. I returned the curiosity and she told me about the two clubs they had tried. The first in what she described as a former schoolhouse.

"Itís all right," she said. "It has a Jacuzzi and several rooms you can go play in. But I like the other one better."

Martha named a club that is several hours south of where they live.

"Itís really nice," she continued. "But itís a long drive. People greet you in the parking lot and they are all real friendly. And itís not so cliquish either. You know, sometimes you can go to a place and find 'the beautiful people,' No one seems to want to talk to you."

Given their experiences, Martha was enthusiastic about the lifestyle. "My husband and I go every couple months. But sometimes you get all excited and you may go three times in a month, it just depends."

Martha was more than generous in extending a bit of advice, "The first time you and your wife go to a club, I suggest you bring another couple. That way youíre sure to have fun!" Smiling she admitted, "But you know, if we go to a club and canít find someone to hook up with, I can always do my husband!"

We had a great time at this yearís convention. And although we only featured three couples, we met many fun people who had decided to live life firsthand. I wonder how Shakespeare would confront our couples? Would he write them off as fallen, a product of lust fill debauchery? Or would he hold a sense of intrigue, admiring how they choose to paint outside the lines? Surely, we will never know... but perchance, we can dream....

www.playcouples.com

Check out past conventions: 2001, 2002, 2003

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