Do you visit gay saunas/baths or are gay saunas 'outdated' in the age of Grindr, etc?
They're not out of date, in San Francisco and the Bay area, but covid has dampened it down. Groups of men are a different thing even if it comes to one on one. They still do well and will for a long time i suspect. Like bars, they are a social scene as well as that "other" stuff.
Sadly, in the SF Bay Area, I think the only one left is the Steamworks in Berkeley. I often attend their "Bears, Baths, and Beyond" event. I do miss The Watergarden in San Jose, however.
Never been to one, but did work next door to one when I first moved to Canada. Took me a while to get the irony of the sign out front "Entrance in Rear".
I attended the Steamworks in Berkeley CA for more than 20 years, starting in the 1980s. I was on the down low. The baths gave me a place for safe release of my sexual tension. Haven’t been there recently but get very nostalgic reading their website.
There is a place in Grand Rapids Michigan called the Diplomat Health Club. Not sure about the "health" part since there is no work out equipment. There is lots of other rooms with sauna, hot tub and showers. They take you driver's license when you enter and give it back when you leave. I brought a lock for my locker which allowed me to walk around in what ever clothes or lack of clothes there of. I haven't been there in years, however I have a friend that visits it frequently. It's an exhilarating feeling to walk around in your fetish clothing and not have to worry about detectives. When I was ready to leave, I went into the communal shower and enjoyed a nice hot shower. I probably washed my male parts more than I should as other men walked by and watched me wash up and down and up and down my male parts until the lotion came out...
Although this other place was actually a fitness center with a communal shower and sauna. I was in the shower and there was another man in shower across from me. He kept staring at me as he washed his man parts more than needed. I followed him into the sauna wearing a towel. We talked for a while and the subject turned to sex as there was a pronounced tent in my towel. We went back to the showers and I proceeded to wash my man parts up and down, up and down until the lotion came out as he watched me...
I went to a bath house several times years ago. It was fun just walking around with a towel around my neck and checking out the other guys. Received my 1st anal sex there with a guy using a condom of course. But he went so fast he was done in a few mins. 🙄
I think the tech age has definitely put a damper on cruising irl, and bathhouses are a cruising venue. Not unusual to see a bunch of guys on their cell phones looking at grindr while at a bathhouse. A lot of bathhouses are closing, and covid put the final nail in the coffin of several bathhouses.
Cruising irl in general has become more of a thing of the past. i lived in VA, Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads area for many years in the 80's and 90's. Norfolk is the world's largest Naval Base, and there were some very cruisy places. Back then things were less open, gays (and gay sex) were still largely social pariah and had to meet secretly. i think that fueled a lot of how cruising/connecting took place. Parks, restrooms. i can't count the number of times i've been fucked under a restroom stall wall. Secrecy, anonymity were the rule. Gay bath houses and bars were places where one could be more their self, it was about more than sex.
One irl venue i think that still survives, and in many places thrives, is the venerable "Adult Book Store" (aka "ABS"). Of course, there are no longer books or magazines, it's mostly sex toys and backroom booths where one can watch porn (read: "have sex"). Those places not only cater to gays, but i think more to DL guys who are maybe Bi or closeted gay. Even in the 21st century, there is still a lot of shame and hiding when it comes to sexuality, but i think the gay community has switched to technology for meeting for the most part.
I agree with tallslenderguy, but think that once a youngster has got over the delights of the quick pickups one can have on Grindr or similar, they may very well go for meeting future liasons/partners in a sauna, pub, bar or similar because one can chat up another man and get to know him a little better, and therefore get more out of a meet or series of them, because of that knowledge before things got very physical. Perhaps it's an age thing? I'm not really sure!
I think they're suffering due to high energy prices. "Boots only" venues can offer much of the same for a fraction of the cost. Grinder etc may be free, but many younger people rent with housemates and can't accommodate. I think the age of people at saunas has been rising in recent years, even pre 2020 due to the entry price. London's Chariots network of Saunas, once 4 or 5 strong has closed down. Independent London Saunas have survived.
In my teens, 20s, and 30s, I went to the sex clubs and baths frequently, as well as some of the rotating parties like the Dome Party in NYC. Online hookups really did change the landscape. If you want group sex, there are always groups being organized online and held in private homes. Of course, that always existed, too - except for the online part. But a big part of the crowd that you used to find at sex clubs - because there was no other option for easy, anonymous sex let alone group sex - is now content to stay home and scroll. I have kind of aged out of the scene anyway, but I am happy that I came of age when you still had to actually go out and hunt for sex and be physically present and available in a particular place.
While Grindr and similar apps have made connecting easier, I don't think it necessarily makes gay saunas 'outdated.' They offer a unique experience, often focusing on relaxation and community. Sometimes, stepping into a sauna can be a great way to unwind and meet people in a different context. It's all about personal preference and what you're looking for. So, whether it's Grindr or a sauna, as long as it's a safe and enjoyable experience, why not give it a go?I found some helpful tips about home saunas and saunas in general that might interest you. Check them out here: https://solasauna.com/outdoor-saunas
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