Giving new meaning to the term “flash mob,” the British have invented a new sex craze called “dogging” that mixes sex, exhibitionism, mobs and the Internet.
Dogging combines technology with swinging, cruising and voyeurism. To wit: Crowds big and small watch exhibitionist couples who’ve met on the Net have sex in cars, and sometimes join in.
“Dogging is the broad term used to cover all the sexual outdoor activities that go on,” says the dogging FAQ at Melanies UK Swingers, a popular dogging site. “This can be anything from putting on a show from your car, to a gangbang on a picnic table.”
Dogging appears to be popular and widespread, attracting heterosexual couples and single men and women of all ages, income brackets and backgrounds. Not surprisingly, however, dogging meets tend to attract more men than women.
Dogging is most often practiced in cars at rural parks, lover’s lanes and superstore parking lots. The term dogging has a number of suggested origins, but it probably refers to the “walking the dog” excuse proffered to spouses for an evening’s absence.
Dogging sessions are usually organized through the dozens of dogging sites and message boards that have sprung up in the last couple of years. Photos are exchanged and meetings arranged by e-mail or mobile phone text message.
At the meet, cell phones and text messages are used to confirm meeting places and, crucially, identities. Cameras and videophones are increasingly used to record what goes on.
“Technology is vital and is the main driver (of the dogging phenomenon),” said Richard Byrne, a lecturer at Harper Adams University College in the United Kingdom who produced a survey (PDF) last year that found dogging to be a widespread and growing problem in Britain’s country parks.
Dogging is so prevalent, 60 percent of U.K. country parks are affected by it, Byrne’s report estimated.
In addition, cases of sexually transmitted diseases in some districts rose markedly last year, prompting health authorities to post safe-sex warnings on dogging sites, according to the BBC. One dogging group on Yahoo has 22,000 members.
Although dogging has been growing in popularity for the last couple of years, it only reached the mainstream earlier this month when soccer player Stan Collymore, one of Britain’s most famous athletes, admitted to attending numerous dogging meets. Naturally, Collymore’s confession sparked a storm of tabloid controversy.
Dogging is becoming so popular, or so notorious, that a trio of music professionals this month released a single celebrating dogging – and an accompanying sexy video.
“Sex in public feels so right. Honk your horn. It’s a dogger’s delight,” go the lyrics to “Dogging,” a new single produced by URockers, a “collective of sexual anarchists born of the Internet,” according to the group’s site.
Members of the group claim to have met at a dogging meet. The trio are all music professionals, including a nationally known DJ and a high-profile producer who’s worked with Kylie Minogue and Robert Plant.
The single is part of a forthcoming album called A Momentary Lapse of Income, which will be released later this year in the United Kingdom. The group is seeking a U.S. distributor.
“Last summer in England was one of the hottest summers on record and there was a massive upsurge in interest (in dogging),” said GRocker, one of the groups’ members who declined to reveal his name and consented only to an interview by e-mail.
According to GRocker, the dogging scene attracts people of all ages and backgrounds, but mostly middle-class, middle-aged heterosexuals. There is also a sizeable contingent of hot rodders involved, he said.
“The modified car scene has added to the interest too,” GRocker said. “Young people with custom cars meet in countryside public spaces … which inevitably leads to them fooling around and having sex in public. So there’s a strong relationship between kids with cars and swingers/doggers.”
The scene also attracts technophiles. “I think mobiles and the Web have made a massive difference. Women I know feel much safer,” GRocker said. “(Technology makes) it easy to find out where to go and what other folks are looking for. It’s much easier to hook up with the right people and check out if they are cool or not.”
According to Byrne, meetings are organized through several online exchanges, mainly half-a-dozen Yahoo groups, which form the backbone of information exchange in the United Kingdom. He noted there are also several dogging-oriented porn sites.
Byrne said video and camera phones are used to record meetings. Byrne said he’s seen people in the United States trying to set up trans-Atlantic video links for “virtual dogging.”
“(Doggers) appear to be from all age groups,” said Byrne. “We even came across someone who was 70. And they come from all sorts of backgrounds: professional, manual, etc. I think the majority though are in their late 30s to 50s age group.”
But Byrne warned that dogging is not all fun and games. As well as an increase in STDs, there are reports of sexual and physical assaults, robberies and blackmail (as in Collymore’s case: The footballer was about to be the victim of a tabloid sting). There are also incompatibilities between those who use country parks during the day – usually families and kids – and those who use them after dark.
Nonetheless, dogging appears to be catching on in other countries, Byrne noted.
“Up until now it’s been really the U.K., but it has spread to Germany, France, Ireland,” he said. “I think it is growing in (the) U.S. and Canada.”