Stepping into a gay sauna for the first time can be unnerving and you may have loads of questions, like, 'what do I do?' 'How does it work?' and 'who can I touch?' Alternatively, you may be so familiar with your local bathhouses that the staff there have already issued you with a discount stamp card!
Whatever the case, gay saunas or bathhouses are sex-positive places that welcome both the experienced and the inexperienced. So, whether your are a first-time user or seasoned pro, here are some of the unwritten rules to gay sauna etiquette and seven top tips to make the experience one to remember.
First things first, if you're heading to a gay bathhouse or sauna for the first time then there are some practicalities to consider. Aside from a raging hard-on and a desire to shoot your load, what else do you need to bring? Most gay saunas hire sliders, but you can also bring your own flip-flops for skulking around in.
A soft, drawstring bag is a great tip for those other essentials you might wanna bring: water, poppers, lube. All gay bathhouses have lockers for your clothes and valuables but that constant dipping in and out is tiresome (unless we're talking about dipping in and out of ass). Of course, if you're heading to a gay bathhouse direct from a night on the sauce, then completely ignore this first tip.
Seriously, though: Always be aware of what you consume in saunas – never take a sip from a glass or bottle that isn't yours. Although many gay bathhouses have a zero tolerance rules regards GHB and other narcotics, drugs are still commonplace. Only sip from your own drink and never accept a bevvy from someone else unless you're with them when it's bought.
Gay bathhouse etiquette: don't speak unless spoken too
Silence is golden in the gay bathhouse. Anything else risks destroying the mood, which must, at all costs, remain highly sexually-charged. The only soundtrack that is allowed is the pounding techno or dance music to which you will stomp the corridors in an endless circuit for miles on end as you attempt to seek out the lesser spotted Dick of Doom.
To break the boredom, you may well be tempted to break into a full-throttle rendition of Rihanna – or, God forbid, Olivia Newton John in Grease – but resist you must. Body language and decorum is everything. So, keep your mouth shut at all costs (unless you're lucky enough to be invited to gobble on some cock, of course).
“If you're heading to a gay bathhouse or sauna for the first time, there are practicalities to consider. Aside from a raging hard-on and a desire to shoot your load, what else do you need to bring?”
Seriously, though: While a lot of communication at a gay sauna remains non-verbal – aside from the many moans you'll hear emanating from the cabins – there are also plenty of social areas within a bathhouse where people talk. You'll normally find chatty guys hanging out in the spa together or at the bar. Indeed, gay saunas aren't only about getting your rocks off – many guys go to enjoy the social side of things, too.
The gay world can be a disturbingly small place, and it is, therefore, not improbable that you may well bump into Nigel from accounts who is indulging in some double entry book keeping in his off-hours. Discretion is everything. Acknowledge the men you may know with a nod, but not a hysterical squeal. It goes without saying that the unexpected meeting should never be alluded to again – particularly at the Christmas party, in the presence of others, after one too many sherries.
Seriously, though: Don't worry if this is the first time in a bathhouse and you recognize someone and are fearful of them telling someone else. They are likely to want to keep the fact that they are there equally under wraps!
Along with the absolute necessity for silence, those visiting gay saunas should maintain as macho an image as possible. No mincing around the corridors – even if the family of verrucas you’ve been lovingly tending is causing you some serious discomfort. Thrust your chest out, swagger along like you’re John Wayne, and maintain correct posture at all times. Cut the camparama.
Seriously, though: A multitude of gay tribes of all shapes and sizes visit saunas – chunky bears, camp crossdressers, gangly geeks and orgasmic otters.You will find every type of guy under the sun. Thankfully, we all like different types of men, which means there will be someone for everyone. Our real advice is: just be yourself.
Relaxing in the pool. Photo: Artur Potosi, Flickr
Just because there are a bevy of beauties (if you’re lucky!) wandering around with their butts on full display does not mean you should lunge at them in uncontrollably every time they pass you by. In fact, technically, grabbing someone’s ass or tackle when uninvited is classed as sexual assault in many countries. Judge the situation carefully. Just because a couple is at it hammer and tongs with the cabin door open, isn’t an open invitation for you to plunge in and start banging away.
Seriously, though: Despite the tip above, it's inevitable at some point you may be on the receiving end of being felt up in a gay sauna due to the loaded sexual tension in the place. Unless it's welcome, try to maintain politeness if you're not interested in someone. A simple 'not for me, mate, thanks' should send an unwanted groper on their merry way.
This gay sauna tip flies in the face of the last one. You see, the dark rooms in gay bathhouses and saunas have their own particular set of rules. Indeed, anything and everything goes in these spaces. Should you waltz into the dark room, be prepared to be groped from all angles like a prize piece of meat covered by rancid flies at an outside bazaar!
“Dark rooms in gay bathhouses and saunas have their own particular set of rules. Indeed, anything and everything goes in these spaces.”
If you're visiting a gay sauna and entering a dark room for the first time, be sure to sit nearby and see who is going in and out before you enter. When you spot the man of your desire, literally staple yourself to him (brace yourself for the onslaught and accept that you’re probably going to lose him in the ensuing carnage). Under no circumstances is it cool to stumble drunkenly into a dark room, waving a cigarette lighter around (particularly in the presence of poppers), as you search for the rose amongst so many thorns.
Seriously, though: Dark rooms are called dark rooms for a reason. Don't attempt to illuminate matters by turning on your mobile phone's torch. Respect the privacy of the space.
All bathhouses contain communal areas. Should you witness a particularly rampant gangbang occurring, and you know full well that colostomy-clad geriatrics surrounds the hot guys trapped in the middle of it, you'll need to navigate the scenario with appropriate care and tact. As tempting as it is to barge the unwanted out of the heave your artillery to the frontline, do try and remember that you too may one day be that desperate pensioner who everyone ignores.
Seriously, though: Indeed, respect is key. All sorts of gay men of varying ages go to gay bathhouses, so be respectful of the elderly LGBTQ community (who probably fought for your rights).
Visiting a gay sauna or bathhouse for the first time can involve a mixture of emotions – curiosity, excitement, nervousness. Some guys love 'em and keep visiting them all their lives while for others it's something they dip in and out of every now and again. Whatever your choose, these first-time gay sauna tips should stand you in good stead in the steamrooms. Stay safe and enjoy! • Main image: shutterstock/dotshock
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