The Calgary Journal takes look inside Calgary Adult Playground Centre
As I walked under the tell-tale red light and through the doors of Calgary Adult Playground Centre (CAPC), the stereotypes I associated with the underground sex club disappeared.
I prepared for a sensory overload and a culture shock. I thought about the crazy sexed up propaganda associated with these lifestyles, how people say it’s ‘immoral’, and that it ‘taints the intended basis of intimate relationships.’
But the experience was nothing like I had anticipated.
It all started when a new friend told me about his first visit to CAPC and asked if I’d care to see for myself. I am an incredibly open person and I like to experience new things. I didn’t hesitate at the opportunity.
After looking up the club online, I felt both nervous and excited. My friend and I made plans to visit the club on a Saturday.
On the way to the club I was fidgeting and my mind was racing with anticipation. What is the appropriate etiquette in a place such as this? What am I opening myself up to?
Once inside, the club appeared like any other on a Saturday night. It was dimly lit. Disco lights bobbed and weaved colourful beams on the dance floor. Catchy tunes thumped on the speakers.
Couples sat at tables chatting, flirting and enjoying drinks, and laughter and music filled the room.
I had pictured freaky masks, leather clothing and extremely aggressive sexual advances. I don’t know why, but I associated this culture with pain and unwanted pressure.
Photo courtesy of Luis Prado / the Noun Project
In reality it was quite tame, and the community was more welcoming than I predicted. Aside from the giant screen playing porn, everything seemed normal.
Being a curious person, I wanted to explore the kinky part of the club. I wanted to go upstairs, where I figured that the activities my imagination had worked up would be happening.
I walked up the dimly lit stairs and around a corner. Across the hallway was a room that looked to be a smaller scale version of a 50 Shades of Grey sex chamber. Not as glamorous, but basically as deviant.
The room housed various types of furniture, though nothing like your grandma’s classic floral pattern couches.
There were instruments of pleasure and torture. Everything was metal or covered in black leather or plastic. I couldn’t decide if it was because leather is considered sexy, or because it was likely the most practical surface to wipe clean.
I continued to explore the room, gazing at the structures before me with an understanding of their most basic uses. The implements included a human-sized black wooden “X” with small leather cuffs for restraining the ankle and wrists.
I later found out this device was called a Saint Andrew’s Cross. The victim, or “submissive” to use the appropriate BDSM language, stands spread eagle facing either towards or away from the cross, with their wrists and ankles restrained. Facing towards the cross allows for easy flogging, paddling, fondling, etc. When the submissive is restrained with their back to the cross, they might be subjected to teasing, touching or humiliation at the hands of the person in charge, known as the dominant.
One of the more elite looking objects in the room was a metal “chair” resembling an electric chair. Where one would sit, there was a gaping hole. Its black scraped metal appeared sinister and I couldn’t fathom what its uses were.
Photo courtesy ofLuis Prado / the Noun Project
More strangely, underneath that gaping hole was a caged metal helmet. I studied the contraption for some time eventually sputtering, “What does this thing even do?”
A veteran of the lifestyle kindly told me that the submissive puts their head in the cage to stare at the dominant as they touch themselves over the submissive. What I assumed to be ankle straps were actually used for the submissive’s wrists, preventing them from touching the person sitting in the chair.
Being new to this type of lifestyle it seemed scary, but also entertaining to think of the events that have taken place in that very chair.
We decided to settle in an area resembling a clean living room from a porn set. There were small round-topped trays holding baskets of condoms, lubricant and hand sanitizer. The club strongly encourages safe sex.
Nearby, some couples were engaged in sex. I sat on the couch afraid to look: afraid I’d be labeled a creep or a gawker. I kept on my conversation with my friend but I couldn’t help but notice the man across from me, obviously working at full capacity, huffing and puffing. He looked up and noticed me staring.
When he was finished he walked passed me and joked about how he was “parched.” I giggled. He asked if his outfit, incredibly tight white short Euro-style briefs and nice black sneakers, looked okay. Unsure of what to say, I told him it looked just fine.
“Obviously I know this isn’t the most attractive look, but these floors are kind of sticky and gross — I wouldn’t want to walk on them barefoot,” said the man in briefs.
I burst out laughing. It seemed ironic that his biggest worry was the sticky floors, considering his recent activities on the couch that is being used in such ways.
Never in my life did I think I would find myself in such a place, let alone walk away feeling so enlightened. Stepping out of my comfort zone opened my mind to a new perspective regarding sexual expression. Overall, my CAPC experience was very positive.
Thumbnail courtesy of Miranda Dempster / the Noun Project