Most magazine launch parties happen in fairly sedate venues: a bar, a restaurant, maybe the Legion or a particularly hip office building. Up & Coming, which features a blend of photography, essays and smutty stories, took a different tack with their first issue. They threw themselves a coming-out party at Oasis Aqualounge, a water-themed sex club in downtown Toronto. Oasis caters primarily to women and couples, but they opened their doors to the magazine, and we had full access to two bars, a hot tub, a heated outdoor pool, and dozens of nooks and crannies to relax with friends (or work up a sweat with lovers). Before we went, my boyfriend and I negotiated rules and checked in about expectations. Neither of us had been to a sex club before, so we had visions of older men and women who had discovered their love of sex on red vinyl. I’ll admit it: I was a little nervous.
We arrived at a cozy space, where underclothed ladies checked our tickets and handed us copies of the magazine. We went with a crowd of friends – some who were stoked about the pool, some who had jumped at the chance to let their exhibitionist freak flag fly, and some who were curious about and supportive of a new magazine. Up & Coming’s crowd was distinctly younger – most seemed to be under 30, while Oasis’s usual crowd is about 40 – and, according to some eavesdropped-upon regulars, far more clothed than the nudists who usually populate the place. Oasis was packed with a blend of drag queens, trans folk, excitable gay boys, peeping toms, straight couples, and the usual hipster crowd who come out for indie Toronto events.
Some party-goers were nude or partially nude, while many more opted to swim or hang out in their underwear or bathing suits. The swimming and deck area is gorgeous, and the night was mild, so folks hopped in and out of the pool until the police delivered a warning to keep the noise down. If you were into nudity, there were plenty of heavy-petting couples who invited curious onlookers to watch, including one tireless foursome who kept themselves busy in the red playroom for hours. Windows along the wall allowed bar patrons to catch a peek, if they were so inclined.
The live sex show was an unequivocal hit. The dungeon (located, hilariously, on the second floor) was packed to capacity and voyeurs craning for a peek crowded at the door. Before I was jostled out of the way, I watched a girl get her wrists strapped together and and blow a strap-on while her grizzled domme barked “You’re a slut!”. It was hot, but I preferred watching the trans women cackle jokes at one another as they casually dominated and humiliated the sexual tourists in the post-midnight encore. Blending humour with sexual domination always makes the medicine go down smoother.
We had a great time – it was sexy without being seedy, which was a relaxing and much-appreciated surprise. Oasis was a great host, and the venue was a terrific choice for a new sex-positive magazine. I picked up an Up & Coming tank top and a mild hangover, both of which I sported with pride the next day.
If you’re interested in reading or writing for Up & Coming, check out their website. They offer a highbrow, international look at the smutty side of life (I was a contributor for their first issue). For more information about Oasis Aqualounge, read Will and Chantal’s review of the club for xoxoamore.
Photo Credits: Shedoesthecity / Becca Lemire