Hosting a Play Party: Music Choice + CatalystCon West Playlist


I host a lot of play parties.

I invite an eclectic mix of people to parties; swingers, poly folk, kinky people, combinations of all three, people who enjoy sexy atmospheres who don't necessarily want to play, exhibitionists, people of any and every gender, orientation, and play preference out there and it's all only limited by my extended social groups. Out of all these people, everyone has different music preferences, sometimes that runs through a particular culture (rave/goth/metal) and sometimes the preferences run through age group. I also have to examine my own music preference and resolve that with what I think everyone else will be interested in hearing. At a good play party, the music takes a back seat to other parts of the party; decoration and ambiance, how hosts accept and introduce new people into the crowd, the toy layout, the general sound of people chatting, getting together, and playing, music doesn't play an active role in motivating anyone to do anything, but bad music can really ruin the mood of a party quickly.

So I spend a lot of time resolving my own tastes with the tastes of everyone else to come up with a playlist that starts in the background, stays there, maybe pushes into the forefront for a few seconds but fades right back into the background. Something with a steady backbeat, and songs that all have a similar cadence, but that in stages change. I try to put together three or four songs that all have the same feel and beat pattern, then put together another three or four songs that are different enough to be noticed, but then work together. It takes time, I generally spend a few hours putting together a good playlist for a party, but it's worth it.

In this case, along with the Bliss Bringers, the Swingset hosted a demo & meet & greet party at CatalystCon West, and I was asked to put together a playlist for the party. I had a limited amount of time but I put together a few hours of music that worked really well. Knowing that the hotel wi-fi was not firing on all cylinders and not having a large base of music myself anymore thanks to services like Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio, I needed to put something together quickly but in a way that didn't require an Internet connection once the party started. I chose Spotify, put together a playlist, and made it available offline.

Not knowing who was going to show up I wanted an electronic music feel, long winded ethereal female voices floating along with a good beat, but nothing too fast, too hard hitting, nothing that wouldn't offend people who aren't fans of edm or dubstep but that would catch enough people that are to notice it and go along with it. So I waded through lists of trip-hop and chillstep and came up with the following list (Tracks are no longer in the order I put them in, heh):


Santigold – Disparate Youth

Blackmill & Veela – Let It Be

Blackmill – Spirit of Life

Deadmau5 & Kaskade – I Remember – DJ Hero Mix

Tricky – Parenthesis

ID3 – Discolour Us

Galimatias – Noelle's Eloquence

Hooverphonic – Autoharp

Chase & Status & Delilah – Time (Radio Edit)

Camo & Crooked & Shaz Sparks – All Fall Down

Dubba Jonny – Home (Original Mix)

Clare Maguire – Ain't Nobody – Breakage's Suck It Up Mix

TwoThirds & Veela & Feint – Epiphany – Ghosts of Paraguay Remix

Bob Marley – Sun Is Shining (Brand Blank Remix)

Adventure Club – Rise & Fall (f/Krewella)

Blackmill – Miracle

Mt. Eden – Oh That I Had

Nelly Furtado – Magical World (Bassnectar Remix)

Spor – Pacifica – Kito & Reija Remix

Klaypex – Stars (f/Sara Kay)

Nervo – You're Gonna Love Again

Camo & Crooked & Ayah Marar – Watch It Burn

The Ting Tings – That's Not My Name

Hugo – 99 Problems

Blue Foundation – Broken Life

Hooverphonic – Waves

Tricky – Hell Is Round The Corner

alt-J – Fitzpleasure

Chase & Status & Maverick Sabre – Fire In Your Eyes

Alias & Tarsier – Last Nail

Alias, The One AM Radio – What You Gave Away – Remix for The One AM Radio

Nedry – Dusk Till Dawn

FNDMNTL – Huge Raven

DJ Fresh – Hypercaine

Morcheeba – Col

Metaform – My Love

The Crystal Method – Play For Real f/The Heavy – Dirtyphonics Remix

Feint – My Sunset – Original Mix

Mark Preston – Blue Hill

Beats Antique – Sweet Demure

Evenings – Friend (Lover)


It's about three hours of music that I looped; no need to plan eight hours of music, no one will keep track enough to know when it loops, and you'll prevent yourself from spending an entire day putting together a playlist.

If you have no idea who most of these artists are, it's ok… unless you're in the community or keeping tabs on certain worlds, you're not going to know where to look. So, find a song, artist, or genre you really like, then ask Pandora to start a radio station based on it. Out of all the different streaming services I've used, Pandora matches up the style of music you're looking for and does a better job of introducing new artists you haven't heard before better than anything else out there. Both Rdio and Spotify and Last.FM do a great job, but for music discovery, Pandora is the best by a huge margin.

This general strategy has worked for a long time, but I used to find two hour dj mixed/cut sets and play those, however… being reminded about BBC RADIO ONE or introductions of different music can distract from the music staying in the background and honestly… I would feel bad chopping out those interim breaks. It's hard to find an absolutely clean mix, so any time I would spend putting together a playlist I'd just dump into listening to the whole two hour set and cutting out dj commentary which just flat out felt bad.

So, this works for me, what works for you all?


As a co-host on Life on the Swingset and creator of The Gentleperverts' Social Club, Dylan Thomas speaks candidly about nonmonogamy, kink, and non-normative sexuality to eradicate the stigma and shame that keep people from expressing and being who they want. He brings awareness to issues involving gender identity, equal rights, and intersectionality by creating discussions with people who feel unaffected by them. He also creates learning opportunities for men to become stronger allies and better people. Find and feel free to engage him on Twitter.

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