She stood there, shocked and incredulous. My mom, that is. I had just told her with a mischievous grin that I was going to a sex club in London at the weekend. Not any sex club, but Sex Club. “You’re not serious, are you?” my dad interjected. “Of course,” I said. “But…!”

Obviously, I wanted to tease my parents a little, but I made them panic. Not because sex clubs are illegal, but much more because it’s taboo to talk about sex and sexuality, one’s own fantasies and wishes openly, directly, and honestly.
The crazy thing is: 50 % of the world’s internet traffic is generated by pornographic websites. The average man thinks about sex 34 times a day. And women aren’t entirely innocent in this respect either. Besides, people will do anything to impress potential partners: plastic surgery, expensive clothes, expensive cars, watches, glib sayings, big muscles, impossible diets, enhanced Insta pics, expensive perfumes, pickup tactics… For what? Perhaps you can impress your dream partner, but making it a dream partnership requires wholly different ingredients. While you won’t find them in the supermarket, you might find some of them at Sex Club, but more on that in a moment.

Whether consciously or unconsciously: we often associate sexuality with shame, taboo, doubt and fear – yet it’s one of the world’s most beautiful things. It’s also a fundamental part of our personality, no matter how open or uptight we are about it, whether we live it out or suppress it. That’s why it’s high time we talk about sex! In theory, you can do this anywhere, but we often lack the secure surroundings, conversation openers, and topics to get started. Too abstract? That’s why we travelled to London for a weekend! Where exactly? To Sex Club, of course. And we took the opportunity to interview founder Juliane Mueller (a.k.a. Jules) while we were there. She led the course together with her partner Conor Gregg, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to attend the interview.

Getting down to business – What can you expect at the sex workshop?

Will this get cringeworthy? As I arrive in London, I have no idea what to expect. However, the countless positive reviews and modern design of the website convinced me that it would be cool and hip. But what will it actually be like? What will the other people on the course be like? And will I fit in as a newbie?

Instead of trepidation, I feel positive vibes as I enter Jules and Conor’s Sex Club in Hackney, London. My parents are probably imagining me diving into a world of dimly lit rooms and love swings. But in reality, they’re bright, boho style rooms; a mixture of living room and yoga lounge, with houseplants and colourful scatter cushions on the floor. It’s a very trendy-looking place, with kind, inquisitive people – nothing crazy at all. Interestingly, most of the people there feel the same way as I do; almost everyone is there for the first time. Some of them have been saving up for it: a highlight on their calendar.
As an introduction, Jules fills us in on the basics: she founded Sex Club in 2017 together with her partner Conor Cregg, and now offers workshops in London, Berlin, and online. The workshops are for everyone aged 18 and over, whether in a relationship or single, young or old, having a lot of sex or no sex at all. Monogamous or polygamous? Irrelevant, but what everyone should bring to the table is curiosity. You will make unexpected discoveries, and learn to finally treat sex like a normal topic. The aim of the workshops is to develop greater awareness, and learn the language needed to talk about your own sexuality. It’s a space where participants learn to speak openly, without shame and full of vulnerability; to learn from each other, recognise relationship dynamics, and become more aware of their wishes and needs; to develop their own fantasies, reach new horizons, and acquire new perspectives with the guidance of the course facilitators. Sexual liberation and empowerment, here I come!

Juliane Mueller offers workshops where participants talk openly about sex.
The house plants and cosy scatter cushions provide the necessary feel-good atmosphere.

We talk about everything, except sex. Why?

Entertaining educational shows like Sex Education are booming and don’t just appeal to teens, but especially to adults. According to a recent Netflix study on sexuality in Germany, Germans are no longer as uptight as they once were. But a casual exchange about our sexual needs, desires, and experiences at the dinner table? Out of the question for most of us. But we’re used to discussing the topics that concern us down to the smallest detail: investment models for retirement; melatonin sprays for insomnia; the Apple Watch being a lifesaver, warning us of an approaching heart attack on our road bikes; even about the mishaps of raising children. We talk openly and honestly in our circle of friends, benefitting from each others’ experiences in all other areas of life. We share some of our deepest joys and sorrows, and we recognise that doing so enriches our lives. However, when it concerns one of our most basic needs, we falter – and very rarely go into detail. But that’s precisely where things get exciting, and where we stand to benefit the most!

Ignorance is bliss – or not? Why does sexuality get ignored?

We want to colonise Mars, but we’re yet to properly understand the clitoris. Studies on female pleasure or BDSM; courses on sexual empowerment in community college – you’ll hardly find anything. And sex education at school is often the same as it was 30 years ago: wear condoms to avoid unwanted pregnancies and venereal diseases. Get planned parenthood counselling when things go wrong. The pleasures of sex, exploring one’s own body, female and male orgasms? Nada. When it comes to exploring your sexuality, your emotions and needs, and sex itself, you’re on your own – f*ck about and find out. Neither school nor most parents care about this, and children rarely get any active guidance in their sexual development. Perhaps it’s partly because of the parents’ own insecurities surrounding the topic?

So what do we turn to for guidance? Porn? That’s not the best model either, is it? In the best case, you meet someone who already has experience, and who can teach you. However, the fact is that many adults still grapple with the insecurities of their teenage years. In that case, it’s easier to serve the commonly held ideas of a person who is “good in bed”, despite feeling like you may have other needs. Rarely do we candidly discuss our own fantasies and experiences.

In the living room vibes of Sex Club, strangers become intimate conversation partners.

How does a sex club without sex work, fully clothed?

“A band rehearses in the practice room and doesn’t go straight on stage,” That’s what Jules says is special about Sex Club. Yes – relax, Mom and Dad – there is no sex! Not because there’s anything wrong with that, but rather because you need a different kind of setting for the internal work Sex Club is about. What sets Jules and Conor’s Sex Club apart is the safe space they create. A safe space where you can open up and be vulnerable. You share the most intimate things with strangers, without feeling like you’re being judged or condemned, without gossip. “A lot of people say things they’ve never said before,” Jules says. Why is no one naked? Because Sex Club is meant to be “desexualized”. “Your attention would be elsewhere, on more physical things, if you were naked during the conversations,” she says. And “the stakes are higher when you’re naked – you’ve got more to lose, and you’re more exposed.” That’s why everyone at Sex Club stays fully clothed. And of course, the trendy boho interior design is as much part of it as an espresso tonic in a hip café – feel good deluxe!

Jules and Conor founded Sex Club.

Weekend retreats at Sex Club

Conor and Jules offer three different themed weekend retreats – orgasms; to love and truth; and boundaries and fantasies. Since the courses don’t build on each other, each course can be attended regardless of previous experience. There are online seminars too. Whether it’s about desire, boundaries, fears, love, truth, sensuality, shame, orgasms, or slow sex: you’re almost guaranteed to gain new perspectives, ideas, and inspiration. Even though we use some of the following words every day, their meanings depend on our personal interpretations. We often use many of these terms unconsciously, rarely questioning them deeply: what is my relationship to my orgasms? How and when do I come (if at all)? How good are my orgasms, and what do they depend on? If you don’t just have sex, but actually deal with your sexuality, chances are you’ll make one of the most beautiful things in the world even better, more intense, free, and honest. That would be great, right?

All the friends, acquaintances, and colleagues that I spoke to afterwards realised: hardly anyone is aware of the undiscovered dynamics and aspects of their own behaviour and sexuality. It’s no wonder; it simply isn’t something we learn about. The good news is that as soon as you become aware of something and have a rough idea of it, you can grasp and explore it, and develop yourself further!

The Wheel of Consent – Are you aware of your intentions?

An exciting concept we learned about during Sex Club in London was the Wheel of Consent. The idea behind it is that every interpersonal action – whether it’s kissing, hugging, or fondling – has different dynamics or intentions. Recognising and understanding these doesn’t just lead to more self-determination, but also provides clarity, and may even turn you on by becoming conscious of your intentions.

The whole thing was developed by Betty Martin, who offers a wealth of free resources on her website. It divides an interaction into different zones, helping us recognise which zone we are currently in, and how consent works in each of these zones. In turn, these zones differ in who initiates the action, and who benefits from it.

The wheel divides interactions into four quadrants: Take, Allow, Serve, and Accept. Each of these quadrants describes how consent can work in different situations.

A kiss is a good tangible example of the different zones of the Wheel of Consent:

Take: you ask, “May I kiss you?” After an enthusiastic nod, you firmly grasp your partner’s shoulders and press your lips to theirs, feeling the heat and excitement rise as your tongues intertwine.

Allow: Your partner asks, “May I kiss you?”, and after you whisper “Yes”, they approach you, tilt your head back, and put their lips on yours. You open your mouth and let them take over, knowing how arousing it is for them to do so.

Serving: your partner asks, “Kiss me, please.” You answer with “Yes,” and approach slowly to gauge their reaction. You kiss them gently, paying attention to their movements and breathing to see how your kiss is affecting them. It’s about giving them pleasure. After a while, you stop and ask, “So, how is it?” They blush and reply, “Incredible… Please, don’t stop…”

Accept: You ask, “Kiss me, please.” Your partner immediately answers, “Yes.” Your partner puts their arms around you and begins to explore your mouth with their lips, hesitantly at first. You make approving noises and pull them towards you to show just how much you like it.

These examples indicate the dynamics and directions a kiss can have, giving you a way to think about consent, and better understand one’s own and others’ consent. By exploring the Wheel of Consent, we can achieve sexual consensus with our lovers, and thus experience more sexual fulfilment.

Groping in the dark – Boundaries from misconceptions

I’ve realised that there are an incredible number of misunderstandings and misconceptions, even in day-to-day life, where we’re used to exchanging and discussing ideas. How often do you think you already know what the other person wants to say, and then stop listening properly? And it’s the same the other way around. Frankly, how often do we miscommunicate in everyday life?

When things get really intimate, we usually talk even less. Maybe because we think we know what the other person wants. Or because shame and fear hold us back, we don’t stand by our needs, or don’t dare to communicate them clearly. Honestly, who’s heard of the Wheel of Consent before reading this article? Especially in longer relationships, we easily forget that people change, and so do their sexuality and needs. People often get to know each other with certain preferences, and then think those are set in stone. But if something changes in a big way, because we evolve as human beings, it can be strange for us or our partner, without even realising it. My takeaway from the workshop: being self-aware and expressing your desires and needs isn’t just super important for yourself, but essential for a healthy relationship and sex life.

Sex Club encourages you to discover your own sensuality and lasciviousness – that’s what the fig represents.

The Sex Club workshop is like a master’s degree in communication

Over the years, with hundreds of participants, Jules has found that people often still feel uncomfortable sharing their experiences, even in sex-positive spaces like her workshops. There is always a certain fear of looking like an idiot when you divulge your innermost self.
At Sex Club, we learned that it’s not about whether, but about how: how you ask is everything! You can talk about anything, as long as the framework fits.

That’s exactly what Jules and Conor offer – keyword: safe space. And that’s something that can be created, whether at Sex Club or in the bedroom. The exciting thing is that it’s not specific to matters of sex, but also can apply in everyday communication – whether at work or while washing dishes.

Ultimately, Sex Club is never just about sex, it’s about everything. There is an incredible power in one’s own sexuality. It’s a mirror of our day-to-day lives, and how we deal with ourselves and others. Here, as there, it is about how we perceive ourselves, and how we communicate: our approval and our consent, our desires, needs, uncertainties, vulnerabilities, and personal boundaries. Anyone who learns to speak openly and honestly about taboo topics that are often accompanied by feelings of shame can most likely do so in all other areas of life. This doesn’t just sharpen your communication skills, but also lifts you to another level of being: the capabilities to show yourself as you truly are, understand vulnerability as a strength, and authentically connect with other people are superpowers. As a result, you might lose some people who can’t handle it, but you’ll also find more of the right people coming into your life.

Jules: “It’s interesting that we think the topic of orgasms is reserved for our partners. Why shouldn’t we openly discuss one of the best things you can experience as a human being? I think it’s important that you can talk about it with your friends at the dinner table without seeming weird.”

Practical exercise

Interested in a self-experiment? If you want to try “sex talk” à la Jules and Conor, you can do it with a person you trust first – just perhaps not at the family picnic.

  1. Create your own safe space: set the framework of the conversation by communicating your expectations and boundaries. What is the intention of the conversation, what are the boundaries and no-goes? For example: “I want to talk to you about orgasms, and talk to you about them openly and honestly. It is very important that we simply listen to each other and allow each other to speak: without judgement, and without our own thoughts. Nothing we discuss can leave this space, and it’s not meant for any other ears. I ask you to respect that – and of course I will too!”
  2. The exercise: choose a topic and think of stimulating questions in advance. For example, on the subject of orgasms: how have your orgasms changed over the years? What fears, desires, and insecurities accompany them? What helps you to come (if at all)? And what is the most beautiful way? If you don’t have orgasms, what are the biggest hindrances?

For Jules, what goes on in our heads plays a huge role: “It’s not just about technique. For example, when someone pleasures me orally, I often think: are they still having fun, it’s taking so long? If I tell them about the possibility of these thoughts in advance, they can act differently. I can tell them what I need in that case, like no pressure. Or whether it’s okay for me if I do or don’t come.”
In the second step of the exercise, you can ask: what is your relationship to your partner’s orgasms? What makes you insecure? Must they come? What are your experiences with your previous partners’ orgasms?

If such an exchange helps you understand yourself and your partner better, it can enrich your entire life. To grow and glow.

My takeaway

Looking back, I can say that it would have been incredibly helpful to learn what I learned in the workshop at age 14. Not just for sex, but also for my personal development. It’s very rarely the case that you get the guidance you need for this, and if you did, then usually by chance, because you met someone who was more experienced or had a broader horizon. There is no right or wrong; what’s important is to get to know and express yourself and your own needs better.

And that’s what’s so special about Conor and Juliane’s Sex Club. They don’t try to tell you that this or that way is right, but offer ideas, questions, and exercises that let us find the solutions ourselves. They initiate the process and normalise talking about sex.
The Netflix series “Sex Education” isn’t just an entertaining international hit, but also offers a lot of theoretical understanding for both young and old. But the difference between ogling a TV show, watching other people make their own discoveries while stuffing your mouth with popcorn, versus actively exploring the topic and opening yourself up is huge.

If you want to try it yourself:

Learn more about the art of receiving and giving:

Words: Robin Schmitt, Felicia Nastal Photos: Robin Schmitt