While orgeys are not a new phenomenon, the internet is; and for a few years now the latter has made of the former a veritable business. This summer the offers for group sex have spread to a wide range of forums, from resourceful chat rooms over agencies with their own websites to holiday destinations prepared especially for the occasion.
There are offers to suit every taste. Barcelona's 'party europea' (Europan party) organizes groups of people from all around the world. It then asks for photos and passes them on to others, wishing them good luck in their final choice. In Malaga we find anchored boats awaiting hoards of Englsih tourists who then let their imagination go wild. It is precisely from England – where chats full of Erasmus students organise orgeys nearby their universities – that Spain has imported dogging. This phenomenon, growing in popularity, gets its name from sexual act performed in the canine style, shamelessly and in public places such as parks and parking areas. Dogging-style orgeys are organised to be held all around Spain and called for discretely via the official website, viewed by 18, 000 daily members. In all cases, it is specificified how many people can attend, whether one should bring one's partner, whether it is to be a gay meeting, or whether one can attend as spectator only.
Though perhaps not quite as old as ritual orgeys, the phenomenon of a nudist part of town, as exists in Cap d'Agde in France, is already a classic for orgey-aficionados. Whether in shops, streets or beaches, people walk around naked. And on beach number 4, couples have sex for all to see, and spectators can join in.
The 'participants' tend to be around 45 years old and are generally well off, although summer sees the arrival of students too. Emphatically liberal, the beach-goers are also protective of this 'liberty' against the threat represented by French laws prohibiting the performance of the sexual act in public: unofficial guards look out for policemen doing their rounds, and give a whistle of warning to those in the middle of having sex when danger is near. The only inconvenience is that although they are given away for free, condoms are not normally actually used.
Orgeys with a meaning
All orgey offers have one thing in common: pleasure as the end. This goal was shared by the orgeys of classical times but they also had a meaning. According to Mircea Eliadem, specialist of cultures and religions, 'most collective orgeys are justified by their promotion of natural forces, so human actions are justified by an extra-human model.' Some current sects have tried to copy this idea: a spiritual theme dignifies orgiastic rituals, but end up merely being an excuse to organise huge sexual meetings.
Orgey means work
The word 'orgey' derives from the indoeuropean root uerg means work, and refers to the critical task in rituals seeking the favour of the mother godess, the earth. The oldest rituals in her honour were centred around feminine auto-masturbation. Later, the women started to stimulate each other, and eventually animals were introduced to the game too (cunnilingus with dogs). Then came polytheism and with it, gods and priests. Men and women represented the divine couple. In all these different ways, it was always fertility and health that were invoked – typically during the solstices. But the meaning of the orgeys was not exclusively sexual. Indeed, during the Greek rituals, it was often more a case of liberating your psyche, expressing your most intimate feelings. Orgeys should not therefore be confused with the Greek and Roman rituals in honour of Dionisos or Bacus respectively, as these were often messy. Those in honour Bacus (Liber) took place secretely in Rome from 16 and 17 March 200 AC. However, the Senate outlawed these rituals in 186 AC when it was discovered that they were used for planning a conspiracy. They continued being celebrated, and spread beyond the frontiers of the Roman Empire, to the extent that almost every barbaric nation had its own version of Bacus.
Are orgeys liberal?
As we have seen, orgeys were free, it was not all about sex, and they were celebrated on days of symbolic importance – we use the same word to describe different phenomena. The funniest thing is that in almost all of the above-mentioned orgey related websites, we find the word 'liberal', in most cases written by a childish 'pseudonym'-writer who can't get his spelling right. Is it liberal to charge men but not women? Or to do castings of aspiring participants? It turns out many orgeys are private and luxurious – introducing an element of class discrimination which undoubtedly makes the sexual encounter blander, less exciting. The original, non-elitist form of carneval (literally, 'flesh is allowed') has long been forgotten; originally, this name was given by the Church to public pagan celebrations, also known as Roman saturnalias. Costumes, parades and street celebrations all featured prominently; and, in them, masters and servants exchanged their clothes and social roles.
When the gods die, the magic vanishes and only pleasure remains
Just as the Church adopts and adapts carneval before Lent, companies and publicity increasinlgy control 'free love': they indicate their site – while a banner of lubricants moves across the screen – in order then to charge you. Trouble is that if you're not a looker, you may not be able to participate, no matter how much cash you are willing to pay. If you're lucky you might get a discount for going as a spectator only. That is as near as the spectator's class can get, although orgeys originally aimed at involving everybody fully.
Sade, in his Dissertation et l'orgie, says that 'man must always love and pray.' But now that the gods have died and the magic has vanished, we are left with pleasure only. At this rate, can we really enjoy the orgey experience freely?