I first heard the term "play party" when a friend invited me to a workshop on Japanese rope bondage. I'll be honest: I thought shibari was a circus skill.

Group sex, kink and orgies had always seemed to me to be underground movements, inaccessible to the average person and long depicted by the media as sordid, shameful affairs shrouded in secrecy.

However, play parties are sex-positive gatherings. The play parties of today are a far cry from the debaucherously alcohol-soaked and drug-crazed parties of the past, with many current organizers choosing to focus instead on ethics, consent, sobriety and safety.

Sex parties throughout the ages

From sculptures of tantric sex and female worship in ancient India to fertility parties in ancient Egypt to the Romans illustrating group sex with the stroke of a paintbrush, play parties are not a new concept. Sculptures and paintings from all corners of the globe depict group sex.

Historically, the Renaissance had masquerades, the Roaring '20s had cuddle parties and the 1970s had orgies. It seems the roots of sex parties can't be traced back to a single origin, suggesting that group sex is a much more normative behavior than we may have been