Did your parents live in or around Minneapolis during the second half of the 1970s?
Ever see pictures of them from that era and wonder "Man, what were they getting into back then?" Well, it's time to think about your parents having sex.
No, wait! Don't run off, it's not like that! Don't think about your parents having sex with each other. Think about them doing it with other people!
(Eh, you're right, it's not that much better, is it?)
Anyway, your imagination will have to do all the work as you read through a GQ magazine story about a Minneapolis swingers club founded in 1974. As writer Jack El-Hai tells the story, what started as a set of four frisky couples getting all-the-way-together under the name "Silver Chain Social Club" grew to include "hundreds of members," who traded partners for at least the better part of five years.
The story stems, naturally, from research in the sexiest place in the Twin Cities: the library at the Minnesota Historical Society, which is in possession of copious notes produced by Silver Chain members documenting club business from 1974 through 1978. (If the group existed beyond that, the record does not.)
The notes were discovered in a safe deposit box in 1990, and defaulted to the history center's collection as unclaimed historical materials. El-Hai describes the notes as "maybe the only such records preserved anywhere in the world in a historical archive."
The group was founded on a set of rules to ensure polity and fair play: You had to be a member of a couple, both over age 21, and needed a current member to vouch for you to get you in the door. Sex swaps were at the discretion of all parties involved; if someone shot you down, you were to "accept the turndown gracefully, and move on to socialize with others.”
But then, once you'd bonded with another person and/or couple, you would... well, actually we don't know. If the participants' notes include the sweaty details of swinging itself, they've been left ouf of GQ's story. (One passage describes how someone "complained in the [club] newsletter that sex too infrequently followed the partying.")
The archive identifies members only by first name and last initial. These, like nudity, are also missing from GQ's story: Though they are "technically public" as part of the historical record, the magazine has "chosen not to out any members."
Well, fine, good for them. We at City Pages have obtained the full roster of members, and have no such qualms about public disclosure. As a service to our readers, who are clearly mature enough adults to handle this information, we've decided to make the names public once and for all.
Scroll down to find out which Minneapolis-area residents were involved in the swingers lifestyle during this time.
(All of them.)
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