Crossbreed has found a home in hipster Hackney, and presents a new kind of entry into the world of non-conventional sexual lifestyles. Though it started before the 2020 pandemic, it has survived and developed into a new community, crossing clubbing, queer culture, kink and sex-positive play opportunities.
What is Crossbreed?
The event is said to have come about as an idea to crossover the worlds of clubbing, kink, queer culture and sex-positivity, making a welcoming and super-inclusive environment for those who may feel marginalised (due to racial, gender, or other presentation) in daily life and at more classic kink and swinger events.
Is Crossbreed different?
We all know the usual status quo-let’s be honest- a lot of events, especially the ones who market as ‘elite’ or ‘selective’ base their membership on age, body type and conformity to an Instagram-esque ideal. Even where this is not set out in their agenda, the marketing makes it pretty clear who they hope will attend. The young, white, slender, lingerie-clad cisgender women who adorn the websites and advertising make it obvious who is welcome, and feed into the notion that this is what women are for, and the only type of women of value. Don’t you feel important and desirable when you get selected? It’s all part of the ruse. This is different.
Is Crossbreed a queer event?
Crossbreed has very much thrown this on it’s head, actively setting out to make a queer-friendly, trans-friendly, poly-friendly, kink-friendly, body-positive space where guests can live the life of the sexually-liberated without having to buy into the out-dated roles, gender dynamics and privileges inherent in the London swinger world of 10 years ago. Although you can attend as a cishet white male, you’ll need to dress as anything but to get in.
What to wear?
The door policy is that if people wouldn’t stare at you on the bus, you won’t get in. That leaves a lot of leeway for creativity, and the attire is something between Brighton Pride, Rocky Horror Show, Mad Max and Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Everything from rainbow festival attire to full-on latex and a dog mask. You’ll see a lot of harnesses, fishnets and bare breasts of all descriptions on people of all gender presentations.
What was it like?
I rocked up on a Sunday with my super-sexy lady friend (for want of a better relationship title) to see what it was all about.
We instantly made friends with the guy (We checked pronouns) in front of us in the queue, a music producer from Germany. The door staff were lovely, checked we had suitable attire on under our daywear, and made sure we had read the rules. There is a no-cultural appropriation rule, and this might be a little confusing, so here is what I’ve found it to mean:
No Asian baiting- Kimonos. Chopsticks in the hair, dragon designs and Kawaii style aren’t allowed unless you present as ethnically Asian
No Blackfishing- no box braids or dreadlocks unless you appear to be of African descent
Septum rings, undercuts and kilts don’t appear to be classified as cultural appropriation
I’m unsure what the rule is about tattoos that have a theme based in a culture other than one’s own- it must be pretty common. Maybe you cover them up or something?
Whether or not you identify as queer, gay or trans, you’ll need to dress super-camp. If you aren’t worried it’s way too much, then it’s not enough.
It was my first time last Sunday and I just wanted you to know how wonderful it was to be surrounded by so many inclusive and thoughtful people. For someone who struggles with self esteem and body issues it was such a life-affirming experience and I can’t wait to come back again!Sexy Lady Friend
Why the dress code?
The irony of some of these rules isn’t lost on me and can lead to a little confusion, but you know what? It works. It works to force everyone to leave the privilege they are used to, by merit of ethnicity, wealth, gender or sexual conformity at the door, and come in as an individual. An individual who can chat to anyone, without status difference. Welcome to a world of sudden equality.
The place has very much redesigned the ethos of the swing and kink world with a new Gen Z twist of enforced respect, and it’s actually great.
What is the venue like?
Coming into the venue, there was a large covered garden area with picnic tables, benches and heaters, where one can smoke, chat and even order food to the table. Me, being a little extra, came with about 50 red Mardis Gras bead necklaces. One of the guests suggested that that itself might be cultural appropriation as I’m not from New Orleans, but the staff didn’t complain. I brought them to give out to everyone there who talked with me, and they were all gone long before the end of the evening (welcome to my hedonistic cult, libertines!)
What is the crowd like?
We met loads of interesting people, exchanged names and offered our pronouns (which is less difficult to get used to than you might expect), chatted away, having cocktails and sharing stories. There was a beautiful young woman dressed in vintage looking 50’s lingerie, who told me about her side hustle she had started making bespoke latex-wear. A fantastic guy in black eyeshadow and hardcore BDSM wear from Austria. A beautiful blonde in nothing but a long scarlet cloak, like a red-riding hood fantasy.
We had a boogy on the dancefloor. The music was great, the crowd was friendly and chilled. There was no groping or sleazy drunken behaviour like you’d get at a vanilla venue. All good vibes, everyone there to have fun, make friends, and indulge their wildest, most uninhibited presentation of themselves. The lighting may present issues for those with sensitivity to strobe or smoke machines, just to give you a heads up. I didn’t notice any strobe when I was there, but it’s on their website that it may be in use.
Women and trans only playroom
Apart from the large, well equipped main playroom on the mezzanine floor, there is an accessible women and trans only playroom on the ground floor. This is such a good idea. Any woman who knows the unmitigated horror of having your girl-on-girl play interrupted by some neanderthal stranger who sees fit to mount you from behind (because, clearly, it’s all done to lure in random men, right?) can appreciate the value of such a space. Unfortunately, this is a lot of women. Maybe even most. It’s really nice to go somewhere and not feel like you need a man to watch your back.
There was a hut in the garden that’s a designated wellness area/chill out room- apparently they give you a cup of tea and a safe space if you’ve overdone it or need a mental health moment, but I had such a good night I never felt the need to go in.
Top tips for Crossbreed
My top tip would be head to the cloakroom early, well before closing time, as if you have work on a Monday an extra hour of waiting can really throw you off catching the last train back.
All in all, Gen Z gives me hope for the future. They seem to select the best and remove the historic problematic elements, reinventing the scene and the wider world with a confidence and self-assuredness that goes beyond the lip-service and hypocrisy of woke-ism. Pragmatic social activists, designing the future the way they want it to be. It’s kind of lovely.
Will I love Crossbreed?
Is crossbreed for you? It’s a great place, especially for those who may feel excluded from a lot of other events. I’d say the people who wouldn’t enjoy it are those who are very comfortable in their social privilege, and unwilling to leave it behind. It’s not a place for wealth privilege, couples privilege, white privilege, cishet privilege or body-type privilege. It’s a place to celebrate individuality, and find community in that.
Learn more about Crossbreed at Crossbreed (crossbreedworld.com)
Have you been to Crossbreed? How did you find it?
😊 GUESTS ARE APPROACHABLE – the vibe is super-friendly, with a nice garden area with heaters where you can join a table, start a chat, and even order food delivery
😊 ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE – a complete mix. crossbreed is designed to be inclusive, and you’ll see all sorts of body types, ages and looks. its largely a young crowd in their late 20’s or so, but plenty of people in their 30s, 40s and 50’s were there too
😊 SWINGING FRIENDLY (PROVISION, ATTITUDES) – there is play allowed in all the sensible areas, with provision especially in the large playroom on the mezzanine. there were a line of male-female presenting pairs all at play along one wall at point. the difference here is there isn’t really the couple priviledge and unicorn hunting, or male-gaze and hierarchy you’ll see at a lot of more classic swinger events. you come as an individual, and you’ll need to be happy to leave whatever privilege you are used to having (from ethnicity, income, sexuality, couple status or gender) at the door
😊 KINK FRIENDLY (lots of equipment, in both the main play area and the women & trans only playroom) – absolutely solidly a kink event, aimed at kinksters, and kink dress is one of the prevailing looks here. definitely solid kink ethos, of inclusion, safety and community
😊 TRANS-INCLUSIVE – very. deliberately so. the dress code means it would be very hard to guess what gender anyone identifies as, and whether they are trans or cisgender. it’s a rule not to guess pronouns, but to offer yours or ask to avoid misgendering.
😊 BODY SHAPE INCLUSIVE – yes, totally. though some people online have complained that their body shape means they wouldn’t feel ‘comfortable’ with it all hanging out in fishnets, its not actually obligatory to show a lot of flesh (though many do). the dress code seems to be more about creativity and making an environment where everyone is dressed so extra, glam and over the top, that nobody will feel like they have overdone it and feel embarassed to present their most fabulous version of themselves
😊 AGE INCLUSIVE – yes, though it’s obviously for adults only
😊 Racially inclusive – this is possibly the most racially inclusive event i’ve attended, and they have done it this way on purpose. there is no cultural appropriation allowed, and the door policy means if you are a cishet white male, you are going to have to really step out your comfort zone with your attire to actively leave your privilege at the door.
😊 COUPLES – yes, no special ticket privilege. you can attend as a couple, three, friends, as a single or however you like. if you are used to parties where couples have privilege this will be a different experience for you. the focus is very much on individuality
😊 SINGLE WOMEN – yes. though the event declares it is not a ‘safe space’ there are watchful staff and when you come in they will check everyone has read the rules. the women and trans only playspace is a great touch and it feels as safe a place to be a woman attending alone as anywhere i’ve been to
😊 SINGLE GUYS -yes. good luck guys, you can attend alone and you won’t face a price hike. you’ll have to be respectful and non-creepy though, strictly no solo wanking (which is honestly quite unpleasant anywhere)
😊 affordable and value for money- it was £20 each on the door, but you can get early bird tickets in advance for less, and they even have tickets set aside for those on a low income. some people have said that the dress code means that those on a low income are excluded, but thats not really true. you can do a lot with some primark fishnets, underwear and accessories from poundland. unlike torture garden and some venues which require high end kinkwear, there are no rules banning artificial leather or insisting on a full latex catsuit. you can be creative, colourful and fun on a low budget and still meet the entry requirements. The drinks, including cocktails, were pretty affordable for london prices.
😊 SAFE – no public access to the venue, lots of security and staff around, very friendly mellow vibe. kinksters are all about consent. there is a staffed cloakroom where you can hang up your coat and bags (though its not the cheapest)
😊 SPACIOUS – colour factory is a big warehouse-looking club, mostly on 1 level except the mezzanine floor where the playroom is. there are high ceilings, outdoor space and it’s not packed to capacity. much of the dungeon equipment was free most of the evening and there is plenty of space to play if you find a consenting partner or 2. it is busiest from about 7-10pm
😊 WELL EQUIPped – there is plenty of dungeon equipment to use in the main playroom and the women and trans only playroom, as well as sexual playspace provision. there are plenty of tables and seating in the garden, two bars serving drinks and cocktails, a large dancefloor with a great DJ, lights and smoke. there are enough bathrooms that there isn’t a long wait
😊 DIFFERENTIAL GENDER PRICING- no
😊 DIFFERENTIAL COUPLES PRICING- no
😊 ROCK UP LAST MINUTE WITH A FRIEND? absolutely! arrive early to make sure it hasn’t sold out. just make sure you’ve done your research on the rules and dress code in advance
😊 EASY TO GET A MEMBERSHIP- none required. I understand you can apply for a membership to get discounted entry and drinks if you decide to make crossbreed your new second home
😊 TRANSPORT- closest station is hackney wick on the overground, 5 minutes walk. there is parking by the venue as well
😊 Disabled access? most of the venue is ground level- they have made effort to put in ramps for any small steps and there were several people using wheelchairs there. though the main playroom is upstairs on the mezzanine, the rest of the venue is accessible and they even have a more accessible entrance for those with mobility issues.
*Photos are freesourced online for illustrative purposes only and are not of the event
*This review is written from personal experience of 1 event and unicornhunting.blog is in no way affiliated to the event or it’s organisers
*This review was written without financial incentive or payment
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