Gay bathhouse tips for men
At one time, visiting a gay spa was all the rage. But in recent years, establishments that cater to the sexual needs of men have become less popular.
The reasons are plentiful – from the proliferation of hook up apps to the homogenization of nightlife. Still, the gay spa lives on.
You’ll usually find them in large metropolitan areas, like New York or Chicago. Cities in Europe, like London and Paris, have their fair share of places, too.
The reason I decided to pen this article was to impart several points of wisdom to my younger gay brethren. When you think about it, there really isn’t a “how to” guide on the web regarding bathhouses.
In this brief article, you'll learn:
- The definition of a gay spa
- The importance of ditching expectations
- Several suggestions on gay spa etiquette
- Tips for keeping yourself and belongings safe
- Suggestions for spa etiquette
- The importance of breaks
Before continuing, I’d like to share with you a few things about myself. After all, you have a right to know who is authoring this post.
I’m a gay man in my late 40’s. While not a frequent connoisseur of saunas, I can reveal to you that I’ve visited plenty during my adult life.
Looking back, the first time I went to the bathhouse was way back in the early 1990’s. Without going into a lot of detail, I’ll share that it was in Montreal, in an area known as The Village.
This was well before HIV anti-retrovirals were available and eons before PREP became a reality. I mention only because the meds have changed the entire ethos of sexual behavior, particularly at the spa.
Interwoven into the tips below, I’ll share with you my personal experiences. Hopefully, through my mistakes, you’ll learn new insight in a way that allows you to enjoy your sauna experiences.
Speaking of sauna – here’s a basic definition that’s direct and to the point.
A place where men gather for sexual contact. A spa may have special play areas, themed rooms, glory holes and wet areas.
1. Avoid expectations
That first time I went to a spa, I had it in my head there would be a bunch of hot guys running around, eager to play. It’s funny what the mind conjures up, you know?
Here’s the truth. Most of the men I saw were average (like me). There weren’t a bunch of male models bouncing off the walls. In addition, the guys who were hot were looking for similar types.
All of this is to say that if you go into it thinking you are going to see something out an adult video, you may be sorely disappointed. I know that I was.
2. Don’t assume touching is OK
Imagine being in a steam room with a bunch of men and being attracted to one of them. Now imagine reaching out to feel this same guy’s chest.
Suddenly, he takes his hand and shoes you away. Would you be embarrassed? I sure was when it happened to me.
Had someone told me, I would have known that it wasn’t OK to touch guys just because they are in a sauna. There needs to be mutual attraction – or a signal – before grabbing for the gold.
Through a process of trial and error, I ultimately learned that some guys just like to be watched, which leads to our next point.
3. Group exhibitionism
One of the first things you’ll notice upon visiting a spa is group activities. Some do it in a room with the door open. Others have fun in special areas designed for watching.
Should you discover something like this, it’s best to keep in mind the guys doing it are putting on a show. Avoid doing what I did and assume it is OK to join in [I did this and was to pushed away].
Instead, keep a healthy distance and pleasure yourself. If the duo or trio wants you to be part of their fun, they’ll let you know without hesitation.
4. Breeding and seeding
Earlier I mentioned that the meds today have changed everything. Here, I am talking about how guys play and specifically what they do.
Over the last several years, I’ve noticed that the majority of men at the baths don’t use condoms. This is a major change from back in the early 90’s where it was the norm.
The reason I’m mentioning is this: Learn about breeding and seeding.
What’s important to know is you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If going raw is your thing, right on. But if you prefer to use protection (aka rubber) that’s fine, too.
I’m sharing this with you so you aren’t shocked by what you may see when at the spa.
5. Don’t join the troll train
Under this point, I’ll share with you a super embarrassing experience. During a visit to a Midwestern spa, I saw a handsome young guy walking around in a towel.
Hoping to hook up, I began to follow him around. Over the course of time, I noticed other guys behind me who were also in pursuit.
At some point, I heard someone say: Look at the troll train behind the hot guy.
It took me 10-seconds to figure out what a troll train was. Moreover, it dawned on me that I was part of it. And let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than realizing you are “that guy”.
My practical advice is this. If you see a good looking dude at the spa, keep your eye on him but don’t follow. If he’s interested, he’ll signal in his own way.
6. Get a lockbox
When you check into a sauna, the facility may offer you the ability to lock up your valuables. Examples include wallets, jewelry, and money.
If they have one, you should use it.
That’s because at some bathhouses, there are scummy creeps who check-in with the goal of ripping others off. That’s not true everywhere and I don’t want to generalize. Still, it happens more than you think.
I learned my lesson when a guy tried to steal my wallet from my room. He snatched it right after we were done playing. I know this because through my peripheral vision, I caught him in the act.
If you want to have a few bucks on you for the vending machines or for items like lubricants or brown bottles, that’s fine. But just to be on the safe side, I encourage you to leave anything of real value at home.
7. Don’t be super picky
This point relates to what I mentioned earlier about not having expectations. All I’m saying here is that if you get super picky, you’ll end up with a whole lot of nothing.
That’s not to suggest you should lower your standards to ground level. That’s silly. But if you are open to meeting new people and engaging in new experiences, you’ll have much more fun.
8. Glory holes have benefits
Speaking only for myself, I’ve learned that visiting the glory holes at a sauna hold many benefits. First, you avoid all of the small talk that’s involved with hooking up. Second, both people get their needs met.
When you have a chance, check out this glory hole guide for gay men that gives useful tips for getting your fun on in alternative ways.
I love getting topped through one and working on someone else orally through an adjacent opening. You’ll have to figure out if these types of activities are right for you.
9. Yes, drugs happen
The vast majority of guys I’ve played with at the sauna have been completely sober. Sure, there may have been a few that were on something but it wasn’t completely noticeable.
With all of that said, I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that drugs are part of the bathhouse environment. Most establishments have zero tolerance policies for usage and strictly prohibit anyone from bringing inside.
Still – it happens. I’m not trying to give these places a bad name. Instead, I’m just keeping it real.
If you don’t drugs and aren’t into PNP, don’t feel compelled to partake. And if you do party, that’s fine, too. No judgment here.
10. Take breaks
The final tip I’ll give is fairly straight forward – take breaks. Trust me. When you walk around for an hour or two to get your hook up on, it can get tiring.
If you can swing it, opt for a room over a locker when checking in. This way you’ll have a place to chill. If you’ve been busy playing all night, you’ll want some down time to relax and restore.
If you can’t get a room and only lockers are available, find a sitting area at a distance from all the excitement. Examples include a TV room or a table where guys are reading.
Breaks also afford you an opportunity recharge your batteries so that you are ready for the next session.
Visiting a gay sauna isn’t for the faint of heart. In truth, it takes real balls to walk through the door. But if you approach the experience with the right mindset, it can be loads of fun.
I hope you found this short guide useful. Feel free to share with others if you think they’ll benefit! Stay safe and have fun.
Have you been to a gay bathhouse before? If so, what was your experience?