Sex secrets of the swingers: TV stars, threesomes and 25,000 members – tales from inside Sheffield’s La Chambre club

It boasts 25,000 members from all over the world and attracts hundreds of couples for fruity fun every week – but what is it really like inside Sheffield’s iconic La Chambre sex and swingers’ club?

As the venue marks its 20th birthday, we met up with club owners and founders Barry and Marie Calvert for a guided tour, a few spicy stories and secrets and a taste of what really goes on behind closed doors at Britain’s very first swingers’ club…

The mirrored play room at Sheffield's La Chambre club. (Photo: Steve Ellis).

The mirrored play room at Sheffield's La Chambre club. (Photo: Steve Ellis).

WARNING: STORY CONTAINS ADULT CONTENT

On a corner plot in an unfashionable part of Sheffield stands a building that to many has been shrouded in mystery since 1998.

A former pub, there’s only the blacked out windows and signs advertising a venue ‘for liberated adults’ that give any clues as to what goes on inside three nights a week.

READ MORE: Sheffield’s La Chambre swingers’ club hosts open evening

La Chambre owner Barry Calvert who set up the club 20 years ago.

La Chambre owner Barry Calvert who set up the club 20 years ago.

Each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, couples and single men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes descend on La Chambre for sex and swinging to suit all tastes.

Inside a series of themed ‘play rooms’ hundreds of people strip off and indulge in all sorts of fun and games – most of which we can’t print and which we’ll have to leave to your imagination. But the word orgy is one that fits the bill pretty well.

It is all perfectly legal and such is its reputation, that it has attracted household names – actors, millionaires, business chiefs, TV and music stars and a string of well-known faces from the world of sport over the last two decades.

It’s fame has even spread to Las Vegas – where it was once named in the top five best nights out in the world.

The club in Attercliffe Road

The club in Attercliffe Road

READ MORE: Behind the scenes at Sheffield’s La Chambre swingers’ club 

All a far cry from when dedicated swingers Barry and Marie Calvert first established the club back in 1998.

“It was a nightmare back then,” said Barry. “No-one knew what swinging was and we had to jump through a lot of hoops to get started.”

For those not in the know, swinging  – which used to be more popularly known as ‘wife swapping’ – sees married couples meeting other married couples and singles from across the country for sex.

The club boasts a number of themed play rooms.

The club boasts a number of themed play rooms.

After a bad encounter with other couples at a swinger party in a cold, dingy, damp and seedy pub basement, Sheffield-based Barry and Marie decided to set up their very own sex club. That was twenty years ago – and the rest is history.

The club now has 25,000 members – ranging from men and women in their early 20s to pensioners with dozens of nationalities, people from different ethnic backgrounds and the full range of sexuality represented, with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members in addition to thousands of people from all walks of life.

The club prides itself on its discretion – but the pair say that doctors, nurses, lawyers and solicitors all regularly haunt the doors of La Chambre.

So, here, in their own words is how the couple’s voyage of sexual discovery led them to establishing Britain’s very first swingers’ club.

Barry, 69, said: “There was nothing at all like this when we started – but we saw a gap in the market.

“In Holland and Germany and places like that, they were 20 years in front of us and swinging was all the rage. Attitudes to sex are very different in Europe.”

The downstairs bar and lounge at La Chambre

The downstairs bar and lounge at La Chambre

Their vision formed, the couple, who had previously made a living selling shoes, found the former Robin Hood pub on Attercliffe Road – and set about transforming it.

READ MORE: PICTURES: Inside Sheffield’s La Chambre sex and swingers’ club

“It was derelict when we took it over,” added Barry. “It was an absolute mess – we had to do everything.”

Over the past twenty years, the couple have spent more than £200,000 on La Chambre – and were on the brink of financial ruin as they sought to transform the building into their dream of a French baroque styled pleasure palace for untold naughtiness.

Set across three floors, the building now houses a fully-equipped bondage dungeon, a downstairs lounge and bar area and upstairs – at the top of a flight of stairs dubbed the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ - a warren of themed play rooms where couples go to get naughty with each other.

Huge beds scattered with bright red cushions dominate the rooms. Some boast televisions screening hardcore pornography, others have signs warning ‘couples only’ or notices such as ‘no high heels on beds.’

Walls are adorned with sexually explicit murals and the darkened rooms and corridors allow members to move from one den to another to indulge in whatever takes their fancy.

There are mirrors, viewing areas where those wanting to simply watch can do just that and private rooms where couples can lock the door – with only the sounds from the other side suggesting what’s going on inside.

Back in 1998, the only noises coming from the couple were directed at Sheffield City Council.

Said Marie: “We went to the council and told them what we wanted to do. We told them, established that it wasn’t illegal and they simply said ‘go for it.’ 

Their next meeting was with South Yorkshire Police. 

“They asked if we were selling sex. We said no. Then they asked if there were drugs or there was anything under age. Again, we told him no and that it was all about consenting adults meeting each other for sex. We were told there was nothing wrong with that and to get on with it.”

The couple’s own introduction to swinging came many years before La Chambre was born.

Teenage sweethearts and married for more than a decade, both admit that things had gone a bit stale in their relationship – and when Barry brought home a contact magazine – the way couples met others back then – Marie was intrigued.

“We decided to give it a go,” said Marie, 67. “And we’ve not looked back.”

The couple estimate they’ve spent time with thousands of couples over the years – but have now stepped back from the scene – and have also taken a step back from the running of La Chambre, handing the reins to friends and family on a day to day basis.

However, that hasn’t stopped the club being packed to the rafters with frolicking couples each weekend.

On Saturdays, as many as 80 couples can jam in – with people travelling from across the country and even abroad to get involved. One couple even moved to live in Sheffield because they were so hooked on what La Chambre had to offer – and women make up a large chunk of the membership.

Said Barry: “Women rule the roost here. The women hold all the power.

“The women decide what happens and what they want to happen.

“If a woman wants to take on 20 or 30 guys in one night, she’s treated like a goddess. She’s revered. The women are the driving force of La Chambre.”

A strict set of rules is enforced – no-one is forced to undress or do anything they don’t want to – and anyone wanting to join in a threesome or group sex must ask for permission – or be invited to join the fun.

Safe sex is encouraged – with condoms available from behind the bar – and entrance to the club is strictly by membership card only.

“We get groups of young lads trying to get in,” said Barry. “And taxi drivers who drop people off outside are always asking what its like inside and what goes on.

“We’ve seen pretty much everything these is to see over the years – some pretty weird and extreme things that a lot of people would consider shocking and filthy, but when you have been in the game as long as we have, nothing fazes you anymore.”

“When we first started we were called perverts and weirdos and we had a load of religious nutters on the phone saying that they were praying for our souls and that we were going to hell and all that. But the scene has changed. People are now a lot more open about their sexuality and sex.

“We say that couples that play together, stay together. And that’s true. We’ve seen plenty of friends whose relationships have collapsed because of cheating and affairs.

“With swinging, there’s no cheating going on because its all done with the consent of your partner. People who swing have the strongest and most stable relationships. They are the ones who are happiest.”

And the couple’s own happiness came from a real turning point for the club not long after it had opened.

“We were struggling,” said Marie. “We’d put everything into it and were literally down to our last penny.”

Added Barry: “We had been subsidising it for a whole year but we really were struggling. No one knew what the club was, how it worked and we couldn’t get people coming in.”

But then the now defunct News of The World newspaper exposed the 'sleazy sex antics of the Sheffield swingers’ with an undercover report – and their fortunes changed overnight.

“The report said that the findings were being passed to the police and we thought we were finished,” said Barry.

“But the paper included a photo which had La Chambre's number on it and all of a sudden, the phones were going red hot with calls from all over the country. We couldn’t keep up with the demand of people wanting to join and that’s where it all took off.

“We even sent the News of The World a bottle of champagne to say thank you!”

Over the years, the club has featured on a string of late night TV programmes, hosts regular fetish nights, porn films have even been shot inside the club and Barry has written three books about his sexual exploits.

“The scene has changed a lot over the years,” said Barry.

“It is a lot younger than it used to be and its far easier to get involved in swinging than it used to be. We paved the way for all that.

“There’s clubs all over the country now and it is easy for anyone to open a club. We had to jump through all sorts of hoops when we started.”

“To be honest, it is a social club more than anything,” he said. “People come along, have a drink, have a chat then go upstairs for fun.

“People worry about bumping into someone they know, but everyone is there for the same thing.

“We pride ourselves on offering people a place where they can be anonymous and not worried about people seeing or knowing what goes on.

“We’ve had celebrities, sports stars the whole lot in here – and even though people might recognise a few famous faces, the whole thing is very discreet.”

“At the end of the day, sex is a basic need for all men and women. Its not about love, jealousy or emotions - its about sex. We offer pure fun and pure sex.”

“It only takes one couple to head upstairs to one of the play rooms and that opens the floodgates. Within minutes, everyone is upstairs and at it!”

Now the couple are older, they hope La Chambre will continue to live on.

“Unless someone buys it off us, the club might well die with us,” added Barry. “But we're still here and going strong for now. We’ve come a long way and seen a lot in twenty years and we’re planning on being around for a while yet.”

Stay tuned to The Star’s website over the next few days for an exclusive photo gallery inside La Chambre – giving you a complete guided tour of the venue – and what goes on inside.