'Loofah code' explained: Swingers guide to swapping at Florida's largest retirement community (2024)

Editor's note: This story originally published in 2023.

There’s a story making the rounds these days about how people who live in The Villages, Florida’s biggest retirement complex, convey their kinky partner-swapping sexual appetites by placing color-coded loofah poufs on their cars.

A Reddit thread even goes as far as identifying “the loofah code” — spelling out the seven loofah colors and what each of them means.

(Spoiler alert: Purple poufs just like to watch.)

This is, of course, one of those stories that is too good to be true. And just the latest chapter in the folkloric canon of sex-sodden tales that collect so easily at the sprawling, three-county, 76,000-resident, 55-and-over community that bills itself as “Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.”

'Loofah code' explained: Swingers guide to swapping at Florida's largest retirement community (1)

OK, and yes, some of those stories are true. Like the one about the couple who were caught in flagrante delicto on a metal utility box near a street intersection at 8:30 in the morning.

Or another pair of Villagers who were arrested for having public outdoor sex in a town square pavilion that was otherwise used as a location for Republican candidates such as Rick Scott, Mitt Romney, and Sarah Palin to give political speeches.

With live music and alcohol flowing nightly and older, leisure-seeking adults looking to be friendly, there’s more to life than pickleball there.

The Villages' loofah code: a serious devotion to good times in Florida

'Loofah code' explained: Swingers guide to swapping at Florida's largest retirement community (2)

“Every night is Saturday night in The Villages, and nobody’s going to get pregnant,” said Andew Blechman, who wrote about the randy nightlife in The Villages in a 2008 book titled Leisureville: Adventures in a World without Children.

“You put a bunch of people in a terrarium with beer and Viagra and things happen,” he told me.

Blechman said his research of the nightlife in The Villages found many one-night stands and “serial monogamy," but not a swingers scene.

“I was quietly on the hunt for any sign of swingers,” he said, “but I didn’t find them. And if there was a loofah code, it would have made it much easier.”

Fact and fiction hard to separate at The Villages

For years, The Villages has been batting down stories that claim there’s a higher incidence of sexually transmitted disease there than in Miami.

Ryan Erisman, who publishes the “Inside the Bubble” blog about life in The Villages, wrote that the new stories about residents using loofahs to signal their sexual appetites aren’t true.

“The Villages regularly leads the nation in number of new home sales,” Erisman wrote. “I think that if this luffa rumor were actually true they’d probably be selling a lot more!”

So how did this loofah story come to life?

Get ready for a real Florida answer: a local drag queen.

'Loofah code' explained: Swingers guide to swapping at Florida's largest retirement community (3)

One of the main vectors is an Orlando-area drag queen who goes by the stage name Tora, and is now starring as the lead role in a Villages production of the musical La Cage aux Folles.

Tora made a TikTok video last month that shows grandparent-aged Villagers shopping for loofahs, and scenes of cars and golf carts adorned with different color poufs.It’s played to a soundtrack of the Dubskie song, “Oh No Oh No Oh No No No!”

“They are everywhere!” Tora wrote.

The drag queen’s video has been watched at least 6.3 million times, and spun off into stories in The New York Post and London’s Daily Mail. "Not so aloof-ah!," read the London tabloid headline about the "frisky senior swingers" in Florida.

Blechman’s not surprised that stories like this resonate and become the object of fascination.

“There’s a lot of bias about age in our culture, and with anything about older people having sex there’s an eww factor. People are both interested and repulsed at the same time. It’s a sign of ageism.

“I wish for older people to have sex,” he said. “All the power to them.”

The non-sexy truth about the loofah puffs

So, if they’re not driving around with loofahs on their cars and golf carts on a quest to find a group activity more bracing than canasta, what are they for?

It's because people forget where they parked, and the colorful loofah poufs help them find their cars, Erisman, the Villages blogger said.

“Much like putting a colorful luggage tag on your black suitcase so that it stands out among all of the other black suitcases on the luggage conveyor,” he wrote. “It’s the same idea, if you’ve ever stepped outside of Publix on a sunny central Florida afternoon and tried to spot your white car among a sea of all the other white cars, and don’t quite remember which aisle you parked down.”

So, it’s more about being confused than enthused.

'Loofah code' explained: Swingers guide to swapping at Florida's largest retirement community (4)

Oh, well. Another good story shot down by too much reporting. Just in case, I phoned up legendary retired Palm Beach Post sportswriter Chuck Otterson, who has been a resident of Century Village in West Palm Beach for the past 20 years.

Any loofah-signaling swingers in Century Village?

“The only thing I noticed was that some people put plastic flowers on their aerials,” Otterson said. “But that’s just to help them find their cars.”

Frank Cerabino is a columnistat The Palm Beach Post, part of theUSA TODAY Florida Network.You can reach himatfcerabino@gannett.com.Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

'Loofah code' explained: Swingers guide to swapping at Florida's largest retirement community (2024)
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