A peek inside Les Chandelles, home to chic orgies and blue steel. Inhibitions are thrown to the wind as champagne bubbles over glass flutes and the immaculately groomed eye fuck one another while nuzzling their dates. This world is a labyrinth of dark corridors and plush rooms, fine china, chandeliers, and the occasional strip pole. It is where former French finance minister Dominique Strauss Kahn used to spend his wild evenings, and where many a politician and celebrity still do.
That is slowly changing. What used to be a secretive society made up of mainly wealthy middle-aged married people has been infused with dashing millennials. Some of these bright young things are fully immersed in the libertine culture, while some are merely testing the lascivious waters. They are the equivalent of elite sexual speakeasies. There are five kinds of patrons at sex clubs.
And the societal boundaries may be stripped away, but the Parisian air of genteel sophistication remains: Six of us three men, three women went together, as you are only allowed to enter as couples. Men are sometimes let in alone, but rarely ever women due to fear of prostitution. They are known to be a bit ruthless at the door. The dress code is strict and mandatory. Men are instructed to wear suits or, at the very least, dark pants and a jacket. Women must be in a dress or skirt and heels.
Women have to be beautiful, and men need to, at the very least, look rich. Like most upscale nightclubs. The first thing we encountered inside is an opulent cloakroom where we were asked to check our coats, bags, cell phones, and wallets. You are not allowed under any circumstances to have money or phones on you downstairs. They gave each couple a card on which the bartender would record our drink purchases, and off we went downstairs.
A part of me expected to descend into a lusty lagoon of HPV, but such was not the case. People were sauntering about the pinkish-red tinted main room, sipping their steep drinks and mingling. Some were friends, and some were strangers feigning conversation while pondering whether said party was, in the immortal words of Elaine Benes, sponge-worthy.
Climb a flight of stairs and you encounter more intimate rooms decorated with antique furniture and lavish tables befitting Marie Antoinette. My group and I ended up in one of these rooms, sat down and made ourselves comfortable. But after about 40 minutes of casual banter and imagining what libidinous deeds were going down on the outside, we decided to see les boudoirs. There are two rooms on either end of a long, dimly-lit corridor where le fucking is done.
On one side of the corridor are dark enclaves with chairs and tables occupied by modish people smoking and murmuring to each other. On the other side is a long, cushioned bench where couples were parked, some making out, some pulling straps back over their shoulders or fumbling with shoelaces. Some of the women were in lingerie; some of the men were sitting in their dress pants with their shirts unbuttoned.
We all took a deep breath and walked in. My idea was to ease into the situation, but the first thing that happened as I stepped inside was to immediately, and inadvertently, lock eyes with an attractive, middle-aged woman.
She was already busy riding a man who resembled a French Richard Gere circa Pretty Woman, but the instant we walked into the room, a different man began taking her from behind. She looked up, wide-eyed—gasped—and then we made eye contact. That moment will be forever etched into my memory. Cheat Sheet A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know and nothing you don't.
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason. We were in the eye of the storm. At least thirty people ranging from their 20s to early 60s this is France, after all were sexing all around us.
Some were locked in intricate threesomes, others in foursomes, heaving about in the dark. A young Asian woman, however, owned the room—her ecstatic squeaking was so strident that when she finally came, the room took a collective sigh of relief. The scene throws you off at first, but you soon experience a moment of clarity: There is no judgment here. We exited the room and retreated back to the bar.
Champagne in hand, we all looked at each other and raised our glasses in salute to whatever the hell just happened.