Are swinging clubs the new gin palaces?
After relaxing with a rather nice raspberry gin and soda last night, my eyes scanned the club and I began to wonder about the history of the two.
The history of gin is rather interesting. From it's humble beginnings as a juniper medicinal cure to the 'gin craze' of the 1700's, the consumption of that delicately infused drink has had a rather chequered past, a far cry from the rather genteel gin fairs we have today. Those of you who enjoyed visiting one of the wonderful gin festivals across Nottingham this summer and autumn would not have experienced the same sort of atmosphere as one might have in Hogarth's Gin Lane (well, hopefully not anyhow!). Gin has come a long way from how it was once viewed:
Gin, cursed Fiend, with Fury fraught,
Makes human Race a Prey.
It enters by a deadly Draught
And steals our Life away.
The popularity of today's gin craze, from glittery unicorn gin to gin distilled at half the pressure found on Mount Everest, shows how one example of a recreational adult activity has gone from something connected to debauchery, to something now so very fashionable. The cries of how gin could corrupt the soul and lead to the downfall of the great British society have been drowned out by time and the tinkle of the ice cube in the bottom of a G & T.
A similar thing is happening with clubs dedicated to the alternative liberated lifestyle. Victorian values, washed away by the changes in society from two world wars, sexual liberation in the 60's, the AIDS scare of the late 80's and more knowledge and education into consent and sexual health is taking away the sleazy, dirty image of clubs to ones across the UK turning to safe places of expression and acceptance. The Caligula-style club of wanton debauchery doesn't really exist (unless it's a theme night), clubs are now filled with safety-savvy customers and members who
are very much part of a functioning society, not filled with caricatures from Hogarth's prints. Exactly the same people that now enjoy a tipple at the weekend, which once would have had them submitted to the work house for drunkenness and being a burden to society as a whole.
Gin palaces, built across Britain in the mid 1800's saved the image of gin from one that would destroy functioning society to something to be enjoyed by adults in the right environment. That long history has many parallels that clubs and liberated adults can learn from - although I can't see swinging having a 2-4-1 offer in my local supermarket just yet.
Now, who's up for a cheeky one this weekend?... and I'm not taking about Gin...