Swingers Redux

Fed up with fear of infection and bored with the Internet, a new generation of swingers reinvents South Florida's sexual underworld

He also suggests there might be a causal link between recent law enforcement efforts vis-a-vis the mainstream sex industry in Broward and the robust health of the swinging sexual underground. "As the county tries to crack down on more sex businesses, people are going to develop the idea that social clubs where alcohol is not sold is the way to go," Kent posits.

Exactly who burned down Trapeze, a swing club on Powerline Road that existed until the night of August 5 last year, is a subject of much rich gossip on The Lifestyle circuit. "There are three theories," explains one 48-year-old gent who works in Broward's marine industry and tonight is visiting the new Trapeze for the fifth or sixth time. While he talks he's watching a young woman on the dance floor who is wearing a red dress as sheer as the shroud of Turin. "The first theory is they did it themselves, but that doesn't hold up because it turned out they didn't have any fire insurance. Theory number two is the Plato's people did it. Theory number three is their neighbors in the shopping mall." The man doesn't particularly believe any of the theories. ("Good," says a Broward police detective. "Because the correct answer is theory number four, and I'm not gonna tell you what that is.")

All Alan Mostow knows for sure is that this time around he has plenty of fire insurance. Mostow, Broward's up-and-coming King of Swing, reopened Trapeze three months ago. He has a different idea about why The Lifestyle is back. "The Internet," he says. "Period."

On the Internet "you can talk to someone about your wildest fantasy or fetish, and do it anonymously," Mostow notes. Swingers communicate directly with one another in various chatrooms, and scan swing club Websites -- every club in Broward has one.

But what Mostow also knows is that after a while all that anonymity gets kind of stale. And so he has sunk somewhere in the neighborhood of a half-million dollars into a forlorn strip mall in western Broward, knowing that in the end a few hundred of those Internet communicants will wander out Commercial Boulevard until they arrive at Trapeze II, South Florida's newest and ritziest swing club.

Like all the other clubs, Trapeze II verges on invisibility from the outside. And like most club owners, Mostow wears a diamond-studded pinkie ring. The ring, though, is a form of sophisticated self-parody. Mostow and his partner, Dennis Freeland are different.

On the one hand, they pay homage to Larry Levenson -- or at least to Levenson's notion that Kings of Swing ought to be swingers themselves. "We've spent years, firsthand, participating in The Lifestyle," says Freeland, a general contractor who helped design Broward's smallest sex nest, Hedonism Le Club. On the other hand, Freeland and Mostow have created the next generation of swing aesthetic by carefully packaging sin for middle class consumption in a way that would make any business consultant proud.

"South Beach," Mostow says, showing off the Art Deco decor. Discussing the price structure, which makes Trapeze II significantly cheaper per visit than any other club, he says: "Volume."

Enormous on the inside (three Jacuzzis, a series of rumpus rooms with jumbo beds on actual box springs, muted lighting, a vast L-shaped mahogany bar), and packed on a recent weekend night with the young and well-dressed (for the moment), Trapeze is still "only 60 percent done," Mostow says. Meanwhile, he and Freeland also operate Club Chic, also known as Club Kink, an off-premises swing club in Pompano Beach. There swingers meet socially and perhaps retire to someone's house after leaving the club.

One hour hence a population shift will begin toward the back rooms and Jacuzzis, but for now the dance floor remains crowded. The man watching the woman in the red shroud waxes eloquent on the virtues of swing.

"Some people come here to have sex, obviously. But some people come here to meet people that they have a common interest with. To get to know. Not just 'Wham, bam, thank you ma'am.'

"The flavor changes later in the evening. People move to the back bar, to the rooms. You have people who want to be seen. You have girls who want to hook up with several guys."

Says another club member: "The idea of swinging is that you have one primary relationship. That is the most important thing in the swing concept. He or she is the most important person; anyone else is secondary.

"Some couples like to swing with another couple and never see them again. Some like to split up and not see each other, and then leave together at the end of the night. Look, 90 percent of men cheat on their wives, and 50 percent of their wives cheat on them. We're not a monogamous people. Swingers feel like, 'I love my husband, I want to spend my life with him and have children, but once in a while I want something different.' But in The Lifestyle there's no sneaking around, no writing down telephone numbers on matchbooks.

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