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Fidelio doesn’t live here anymore – A guide to fetish parties worldwide

This article was originally commissioned by the Italian edition of Playboy magazine, but never got printed due to administrative divergences. The launch of the revamped website looked like a good occasion to share it with you.

If the one scene everybody remembers from Eyes wide shut is the masks one, in which a very dazed Tom Cruise gets into troubles for crashing the wrong party, it is not by chance. Fact is, Kubrick used it to stage one of the most powerful erotic fantasies there are, with all its archetypes in full display: a mysterious and almost sacred place, an impenetrable cult devoted to strange sex and power rituals, beautiful but faceless bodies, a mix of danger and arousal, refined and suggestive costumes… As a matter of fact, you are forgiven if you – like many others – have forgotten what exactly happened in that sequence; when faced with such imagery, losing your concentration is normal. The other normal reaction is to ardently wish to live a similar experience, so much that it’s thirteen years now that finding a ‘Fidelio party’ (from the password used in the movie) is a sort of holy grail for anybody dabbling in extreme eroticism. And here, just like they say in the movies, I have two news for you. A good one and a bad one.

Let’s start from the latter: I’m sorry to ruin your dreams, but those parties just don’t exist. Not by lack of will, but for a concrete technical impossibility. Let’s put aside for a minute what such a carnival would cost, and think about the practicalities: how, in your opinion, would it be possible to select the partecipants and gather them keeping it all a secret? Exclusivity is fine, but how many people (beautiful, extremely well-mannered, uninhibited, supposedly important) would really accept such a mysterious invitation?
And this is just the beginning, because you’d also have the problem of making everyone agree on how to behave. What were you thinking of? Weekly meetings before the party to practice choreographies? Can you seriously picture one hundred satyrs waiting patiently for some mysterious high minister’s signal to take advantage of all those beauties? Reality check… Of course there are orgies worldwide, but unfortunately they happen quite differently.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that nobody is trying to “fidelize” swingers parties everywhere. The results are often abysmal, but not always. The best experiment happens several times per year in Germany, in a castle about 100 kilometers off Frankfurt: the Night of the masks includes a gourmet dinner, a strings quartet and shuttle service from the airport, while the Night of passion is played unmasked and is reserved to a maximum of 150 élite couples. To try your luck you can visit their official website… but be very careful.
The Web is teeming with scammers leveraging these intriguing flavours to empty the wallets of fool wannabe adventurers. Trusting the wrong website or spam messages and advertisements too good to be true can have very dire consequences. The last few years have seen several cases of people blackmailed after they foolishly gave their personal information ‘to be evaluated by the club and be partnered with their ideal girls’, or others who transferred impressive membership fees to groups promising exceptionally exclusive erotic experiences that were entirely imaginary.
Luckily you also have your good news, though. To live the emotions of such an intensely sensual event – even if a bit different from what you saw at the movies – there are many other opportunities, all of them very real and much more accessible. You only need to go for it.

 Fetish performers

Let us take a step back. The features of Kubrick’s party have a very specific name:fetish, which doesn’t actually denote only the latex-clad models who appear on Googleby typing this word. To those walking on the winding paths of unusual sexualities, fetish is a much more complex aesthetic, involving all five senses and countless different possibilities sharing one basic principle. Real fetish – which is only barely related to the more trivial fetishisms – consists of taking a sensual lure and push it to its extremes, hugely multiplying its intensity. In example, if high heels are stimulating because they make legs look thinner, changing the posture of bottom and breast and encouraging a very alluring swaying, a fetish enthusiast will wear 12, 15 or more centimeters tall stilettos. Corsets are nice because they glorify the femininity of an hourglass figure? So, on with literally breathtaking waist clinchers! Uniformed men are fascinating? Then just imagine what happens if the uniform is recreated in butch black leather…
Clothing is however just one of the recipe ingredients. As we saw before, there are lots of even subtler elements contributing to charge the air with an unique spark.

To experience all of this without risking to end up in the clutches of some weird cult you just have to attend a fetish party, choosing well among the extensive offer – of quite variable quality – available in most European major cities. With its catholic hypocrisy, Italy is unfortunately one of the worse off countries, but boarding a plane you can find an average of two interesting events every month (see The unmissables box). To get in you don’t need much: just a ticket, which you can usually book online, the right dress code and the knowledge of some easy etiquette. The boxes in these pages will put you on the right track.

 Fetish party doorbitch

Once you pass the doorbitch’s look check at the gate, you can find yourself in very different ambiences. Every party has its own spirit, and if at the Dutch Wasteland(where these pictures were taken) you get lost in a sea of over five thousand persons feeling more like a disco than a boudoir, the Secret party in Milano is in example a much more intimate experience, focusing on looks reflecting the town’s fashion culture.
The Torture Garden parties in London – especially the colossal “birthdays” – are characterized by highly spectacular performances; the Nuit Dèmonia in Paris is a grand stage for infinite themed catwalk shows; Germany tends to more direct and explicit approaches instead. Local culture always influences how fetish is portrayed: Barcelona’s even too intellectual discussions are extremely far, and not only geographically, from the stars-n-striped mess of the fetish “holiday retreats” held in the Caribbean.

Shibari performer

There also are, of course, many features common to every party of this kind. Starting with the often surprising shows by artists who managed to turn years of erotic research into real performances. So-fashionable burlesque was relaunched just by fetish parties, and is now being followed by shibari, which is to say Japanese-style bondage. You can expect themed art and photo exhibitions, formal and informal seminars about the most unusual practices you can imagine… but above all get ready to a mental openness unknown in normal clubs.
At a fetish event it is normal to meet people 18 to 70 years old, of every gender and orientation, coexisting in total serenity. Contrary to what you might imagine, neurotics and maniacs (always present here like anywhere else) are a clear minority, like rude people. Many behaviors which are commonly accepted in common clubs are taboos at these parties, and the ever-present security staff is very fast in expelling those who don’t respect other partecipants.

This is, in the end, the real paradox. After a couple of hours of diving into the maelstrom of joyful freedom and unbound sensuality of a fetish party, you start noticing that the dangerous perverts are clearly those who remained outside, in that “normality” made out of repressed desires, obsessions, violence and bullying. No surprise then if most partygoers confess they feel somewhat uneasy as the dawn breaks and the time comes for them to hide their clothes and their “secret identity” in a closet, before going back to their daily routines.
Fortunately, a brief Internet search will soon uncover another latex party, another occasion to flaunt a new look and keep on discovering new facets of the largest and most exciting universe there can be: ourselves. With no masks on.

Fetish girl greeting

THE UNMISSABLESIf you can’t wait to go to a fetish party, I suggest…

Still to be announced:

Many more events are listed at



Fetish girl at the mirror


Don’t worry: you’ll never really find yourself under trial for a misbehavior like Tom Cruise in Eyes wide shut. Nevertheless, ignoring the basic rules of every fetish party might get you expelled from the club… and getting laughed at by the ladies there. So here is some help…



Dressing according to the required dress codeCriticizing the look and tastes of other partygoers
Approaching people in a courteous wayTrying to snap photos or videos inside the club
Using your personal toys onlyTouching without asking for permission to first
After use, cleaning “public” toys and furnitureGetting drunk or high
Enjoying the performancesBarging into other people’s games, even if public
Keeping your eyes open: there is always something to learn…Talking about the other partecipants with someone who wasn’t there

Fetish party


The very reason of a fetish event is, obviously, to create a special ambience by dressing in tone with the party. The bad news for males is that tuxedos usually just won’t be accepted, and the few good brands of fetish clothing for men are usually very expensive. We asked the experts what their tricks of the trade are, and here are their answers…

  • Always check what the accepted looks are for the specific event you want to attend: rules can be very strict (i.e.: no PVC garments) and doorbitches really enjoy bouncing those who don’t follow them
  • Get hold of some quality black leather trousers and suitably macho (and shiny!) combat boots: you can build several great ensembles on this basis, and if you are very fit it could be everything you need
  • Avoid sex shops at all costs: they generally sell inferior quality and ridiculous stuff at criminal prices, especially for something you won’t probably be using much
  • The Web is your friend. Turn to some good online shop to find a larger catalog (you can find dozens in the Resources page). Better yet, try the direct outlets held by most brands on eBay
  • In doubt, never mix different materials. Especially leather and latex, which even damage themselves each other. Anyone selling latex clothing can explain how to treat it to keep it in top shape, and will be selling specific care products
  • Complete your look with some original accessory making you stand out and even more unforgettable
  • Remember that a fetish party is not Halloween…


Shibari performance

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