Nov 5, 2014

15 Reasons You Should Go to A Bathhouse

There are only about 30 gay bath houses left in the United States, down from the hundreds in the 1970s -- they have fallen prey to homophobic health regulations, a puritanical culture, and hook-up apps like Grindr.  But chances are you're within 300 miles of one, and it's well worth a destination visit.

Here are 15  reasons why you should include a bathhouse on your recreational agenda:

1. Going to bathhouses is a part of gay history.  Before the 1970s, bathhouses were the only place where men could socialize without fear of being assaulted by homophobes or arrested.  Many early Gay Rights pioneers did their organizing at bathhouses.

2. You can go during the daytime, instead of waiting around until 10:00 or 11:00 pm to hang out in a bar.

3. And there's no cigarette smoke clogging your lungs, no obnoxious drunks, and no blaring music, like in a bar.

4. You will see more naked men than you ever thought possible.  The only other place to see naked men in real life is in a locker room, where you can, at best, steal a glance at the guy stripping down next to you.  At the bath house, there are dozens of naked men, of every size and shape, and none of them mind gawkers.

5. You will discover the infinite variety of same-sex relationships.  You will meet men who have sex with men but fall in love with women, men who have sex with women but fall in love with men, men whose boyfriends are ok with "playing," men whose boyfriends aren't, and everything in between.

6. You will discover the infinite variety of same-sex behavior, from newbies who have never had sex before to regulars who have sex twenty times per week.

7. You will discover that life doesn't end at age 40.  You will see 60, 70, and even 80-year old men, vibrant, active, knowledgeable.  Where else in age-stratified gay culture can you talk to men who lived through the dark ages before Stonewall and the first heady days of Gay Liberation?

8. You don't have to spend any money except for your membership and entry fee.  You can wander around all day for free.

9. There's no hurry.  Club meetings end in a few hours, bars end at 2:00 am, but most clubs are open 24 hours a day, and your membership is good for 12 hours.  You can also go out, have dinner, and come back again.

10. There's no day or night.  Most parts of the Club are bathed in warm semi-darkness, with no windows.  Time stands still.  It's an eternal "now."

11. Finding a partner is much easier than exchanging endless "stats? pic?" emails and then arranging a meeting.  You see someone you like, make eye contact, and walk toward him, or just grab.  If he's not interested, he says "No, thanks," or if it's noisy, raises his hand in a "stop" gesture.  But to be honest, refusals aren't very common.  Most guys are interested.

12. If you just like to watch, most guys don't mind spectators.

13. If you just want to meet people, striking up a conversation is much easier in a bath house than in other gay venues.  Something about being naked or in a towel makes most men lose the Attitude.

14. They have fully-equipped gyms, so you can get your workout in before, during, and after cruising.

15. Plus steam rooms, saunas, swimming pools, and often discos and restaurants. You can get all of your recreational needs met under one roof.

When you leave, blinking, into the bright light of the city, you've exercised, had a sauna, had as many partners as you want, watched, chatted with people, and seen a hundred naked men. That's a lot to accomplish in just a few hours.

See also: 15 Rules of Gay Cruising.; That Bathhouse in West Hollywood