It's better with the lights off.
The UC Auditorium buzzed with anticipation and nervousness Wednesday night as students filled seats for for the Sex Week Fall Preview event "Sex in the Dark."
"Sex Week in general just seems to be very open to new ideas," said Amanda Prevost, a junior in accounting. "So having the dark aspect means there will be a lot more free voices."
Brianna Rader, co-chair of Sexual Empowerment and Awareness in Tennessee, opened the event.
"So, the way this works is about you guys talking about sex and relationships and gender with each other," Rader said.
Participants were reminded to be respectful and sensitive to the personal nature of the discussion, and instructions were given to prevent the offensive use of slang.
Cheers erupted as the lights were extinguished, and initial questions met with a mixed reaction of laughter and serious responses.
However, some attendees left the event shortly following its start due to discomfort with audience reactions like laughing over questions and shouting obscenities in protest of questions and answers.
As the program went on, the panel of experts present to ensure the accuracy of health information contributed to the discussion, and the audience simmered down to listen to the advice.
Questions ranged from how to be sexier in bed to how to tell your best friend that you are gay and like him, representing nearly every member of the diverse audience.
"I definitely enjoyed it," said Mitchell Herringshaw, a junior in computer science. "I think the most important thing was how people asked questions about alternative things that the majority of people don't really think about, like polygamy and anal sex and things involving homosexuality. Opening people up to sexual ideas that they haven't heard of is really important."
Freshman Haley Boles, a graphic design major, agreed, and said that the variety of information was highly valuable.
"I liked that it's a lot more open than high school sex education because high school sex education, in the South, mainly teaches abstinence. I think it's really important that we're trying to educate people about real sexual education," Boles said.
The event appeared to be a success among audience members, despite potential for insensitivity and immaturity.
"I thought a lot of the questions were really good and more insightful than you would expect from a fun event like this," said Summer Awad, a sophomore in sociology. "The crowd was a little loud at times, but I think that just comes with this kind of thing where everybody is excited about a topic you don't talk about normally."
Elizabeth Stanfield, a sophomore in anthropology and geography, said she believed "Sex in the Dark" brought a unique experience to campus.
"We had a more academic event last night where we had a real serious panel, and this was a more open event," Stanfield said. "I think it was able to draw in more people who wouldn't have come to a more academic, silent event and get them into the conversation about sex and sexuality and hear about what other people think which is always a positive."