Gay Bathhouse Etiquette
Gay Bathhouse Etiquette

First and foremost, bathhouses are places for men to have sex. It is a sexual playground for men to do whatever they want: a place to get sex 24/7, like a 24-hour convenience store. Come to think of it; the Baths are like a supermarket. You can shop for whatever you are looking for. You have Latinos, Twinks, Bears, Chubs, Asians, Blacks, whatever type of guy you are interested in, you will find in a Bathhouse. There is something for everyone at the baths, much more than in the bar or club scene. As you will read in my stories, I have seen some weird combinations at the baths.

There are two myths about Bathhouses. One, only dirty older men go to the baths. Two, only gorgeous men get lucky at a bathhouse. Neither is true. As I mentioned at the start, there is something for everyone. Sometimes, men use the baths to find a specific “type” of guy they can’t find anywhere else, such as an Asian, Chub, Bear, and so on.

Locations of bathhouses range from a side street to an out-of-the-way neighborhood. Most times, there is no sign on the door. You walk in and see a cashier located behind a protective window. The list of prices to purchase a room or a locker will be on the wall. Renting a room will give you privacy. If you decide on a storage locker, cheaper than a room, you have no privacy (in case you meet a cute guy!). Most bathhouses will allow you to lock up your valuables in a safe – like a watch, wallet, or jewelry. Once you pay, the cashier will buzz you in, and you open the door. Which automatically shuts behind you. There is no chance of any strangers walking in by accident.

Depending on where you live, you might be required to purchase a bathhouse membership. The reason? According to some state laws, a bathhouse can only operate as a private men’s club. Hence the need for every customer to have a membership. Some bathhouses may only need you to fill out some information on a card. But other bathhouses may request a Photo ID and your membership. If you are closeted or openly out, you needn’t worry about your personal information being leaked.

Bathhouses need customers to be profitable. How would they be able to keep customers if they leak personal information. Not to worry, as bathhouses are very discreet when it comes to maintaining membership confidentiality. So there is no need for you to worry about being outed. The good news is that memberships may also give the customer discounts, if he plans on making multiple visits to the baths. After years of going to my regular bathhouse, I have recently purchased a membership. It lets me save money since I go so often. Every bathhouse does not require a membership purchase. But be prepared if your local bathhouse requires you to buy a membership.

Once you get in, remove all your clothes, place the towel around your waist, and then cruise. It would be best if you showered before you cruise the halls. That way, you are fresh for whomever you encounter. Then after you have done the deed, take another shower. This way, you can refresh yourself for the next guy you find. For some, taking three to five showers in one visit is common! That is how many times some guys get lucky at the baths. Some men are paranoid about foot fungus and bring slippers or sandals to protect their feet.

The baths consist of dozens of rooms; all lined up among a maze of hallways. You spend most of your time walking the halls looking for a score. Everyone knows why the other person is there. Men are lying in their rooms, seeing what passes them by. Or they are standing in the hallways, observing who is walking about. Everybody is cruising, everybody. There is even a bulletin board for people to advertise themselves. For example, on the board, “Room 218, submissive bottom, shoot your load inside me.” The board has dozens of messages like that.

All bathhouses will have a sauna, steam room, and showers to clean up. Many will have a hot tub or a swimming pool, with some places having both. Most have porno rooms to pass the time. Condoms are free of charge, but you will have to pay for lube. Every bathhouse has a snack bar and a pay phone. Also, there is a lounge area where you can sit and watch television. Or read gay magazines like Advocate or Instinct.

The rules are straightforward at the baths. You will know right away if someone likes you. They make eye contact with you. If he makes eye contact and you return the eye contact, well, you know what will happen next. Some guys will not make any eye contact and even look away. You cannot take it personally. That is the most significant rule at the baths, though it is still hard for many to digest.

If someone makes eye contact with you and you want to cruise that person? Try stroking your dick or playing with your nipples. Touching can also be a helpful cruising tool. If you are sitting near someone, you may want to try playing footsies or reaching over and pinching his nipple. If you pass by someone in the hallway, you may decide to have your hand brushed against him. Some older men will even be bold enough to grab a guy’s crotch! You can do this light touching to gauge someone’s interest. But don’t throw yourself at him. That makes you look desperate, which is a turn-off for most men. If the guy turns and pushes you aside, walk away. Do not prolong the agony of trying to create something that will not happen. He is not interested.

If someone approaches you that are not up to your standards, be gentle in turning him down. Remember the treatment you would expect. We have all been the recipient of rejection at one time or another. I usually tell guys I am just walking around to get a feel for the place. If you want to be direct, say, “I am not interested.” Do not say, “Get out of my face.” That is rude, although you will encounter guys who will be that blunt.

Conversely, accept it gracefully if someone turns you down and move on. Do not stalk the person and hang around outside his room. It makes him uncomfortable and makes you look like a fool. Everybody is observing everyone. You may miss out on someone else by stalking someone uninterested in you.

When you start cruising the rooms, men will lie on their beds in all positions. Lying face down means he wants anal. Sitting up could mean many things, but probably just a good time. Kneeling on the floor says he wants oral. If you pass by a room and the guy looks away, he is uninterested. However, you know where that will lead if he looks at you and starts stroking himself.

If you see two guys getting it on, wait for a signal that you can join in. The wink, nod, or even a hand wave is a sign. They are not interested in a third party if you see none. If you try to join in, you will get pushed away gently or forcefully. That is embarrassing, so wait for the signals.

Remember, this is a bathhouse where rejection happens every second. So you cannot take it personally; that is how it is. If you cannot accept that, the baths are not for you. If you walk away with anything after reading these essays, walk away with this. A bathhouse is a place where quickie sex is the norm. If you are looking for a long bonding experience with someone, you will not find that at a bathhouse. I am not saying that it cannot happen, but it is rare. Most times, at the baths, a man’s focus is to get off and move on. It is the norm in a bathhouse environment for a guy to get up and leave – all within 30 seconds of reaching ejaculation.

Many times before and after sex, no pleasantries get exchanged. It wastes time because both of you are there – FOR THE SEX! So why spend time talking? Time and time again, a guy will get up, put his towel back on, and leave your room once the sex finishes, all without saying a word. Afterward, you may run into him, roaming the hallways, looking for the next encounter. Some guys are insensitive enough to act like they’ve never seen you. Again, you cannot take it personally. The baths are for quick and easy sex. You are not there to make friends. Some guys don’t even stick around looking for round two. Satisfied by getting off, some immediately leave the baths. It is not rare for men to spend only 20 minutes on the premises. Their sole purpose is to get laid, and if they accomplished that, why stick around? But some guys in the closet feel guilty after having quickie sex. They find it cheap and sleazy. These men run out of the baths guilt-ridden, vowing never to return. But that only lasts a few hours, and they return to the baths the next day.

One common question I frequently get asked is, “Can you go to the baths as only an observer? Can you watch without being hit on?” The answer is yes, and here is how you do it. Do not get undressed. No rule says you have to strip off all of your clothes. Being fully clothed is a sign to other men that you are off-limits. When customers see someone fully dressed, they assume that the person works at the baths. All patrons know bathhouse staff is off-limits. My friend Ari will do just that. When he goes to the baths, he stays fully clothed, sits in a well-lit part of the bathhouse, and watches people pass by. No one bothers him. If Ari sees someone attractive, he will pursue his object of desire while fully clothed.

Above all, please play it safe with condoms and lube. Someone told me something that has stayed with me, which I will pass on to you. Do not do anything that you do not want to do. It is not worth it. Many times, you will be in the throes of passion. Do not feel pressured to bareback or do anything you are uncomfortable doing for one second. Around the corner, there is another guy who will do what you want to do. So be patient.

Final advice on Bathhouses.

Have Fun!

57 thoughts on “Gay Bathhouse Etiquette”

  1. Hi – your post is very interesting. I am straight Italian guy, but had experiences with some guys, so I guess that makes me more of a bisexual. Don’t know. Anyway, I am in a relationship with a woman but have always wanted to try something like this. I will be going to Koln in September and wanted to try their gay sauna with cruising area. I am very shy but can get very excited in this kind of situation. I once had a public experience in a public toilet – a guy was jerking at urinals and came to touch my penis. I was so nervous about it, not expecting it, but also so excited I just cum in a second, without even getting hard. So this is my first concern: what if I go there and cum right away!? My second concern is, can you cum anywhere? Or do you cum only in a condom? What if I start stroking and want to cum where ever I am, can I cum on the floor? How does that work? Would love to have some advice on this, even though your post is the most complete one I have ever found and really opened my mind about this kind of experience. Hope to hear from you, even though your post is pretty old 🙂

  2. I would like to ask when gam sucks how do they feel in mouth.
    Don’t you have gag reflex how you stop when long rod goes very deep

  3. I’ve been to bodyline many many times and it has been great all the time. Monday and Wednesday’s are two of the greatest days to go and get laid or have fun so I can’t wait to go their this Wednesday which is new year. I’m only 21 and love taking it anally. Any one in Brisbane contact me plz!

    1. Considering going to BodyLine, been to Wet (Bowen Hills) and don’t mind it there and I am only 18 (almost 19), are there many young guys at Bodyline or is it full of Oldies?

  4. What an interesting read! I got hooked and read about ten entries in one sitting. This is the most true-to-life, while intellectually written, account of gay culture I have seen — EVER. Amazing work. This should be published. I am passing this site on to as many people as I can. Your writing sheds serious and humorous light on the darkest areas through which many of us have already been. Bravo!

  5. Went to Wet Spa last night on Towel free day, was really great as always, great mix of ages, shapes and sizes and felt really comfortable. No pretentiousness at all. Best times open Tuesday for me is between 7-8.30 PM. Gets very busy early and quietens very early.

  6. Love all the entries, so informative! One thing I was hoping to see in this one though was information like ~in the steam room, is the top bench for tops or those who want to be topped?~ etc. Or is there another post with this type of info that I haven’t read yet?

    1. Thank you for the compliment. To answer your question there is no etiquette in regards to top bench vs. bottom bench. In the steam room guys cruise one another by stroking off. As for a bottom looking for a top, the receiver (bottom) lies face down on the bed with the door to the room wide open. That is the open invitation for a top to penetrate you. Or you place yourself in a sling, usually located in the playroom. If you are not picky about who screws you, you will have plenty of opportunity. For tops look for bottoms in the positions I described above. Hope this helps and thanks again for liking my site.

  7. Great site – informative yet quietly sexy. I am always unsure about bathhouses because I do not know the etiquette. Thanks for the advice. And continue to have (safe) fun.

  8. Thanks for an interesting and informative site. Now I really don’t know if I want to visit a bathhouse !

  9. Thanks I wish I had looked at this earlier, I have been to a gay sauna a few times, but did not know the etiquette, I thought invitations as a receiver would be more explicit. I had many intense looks, which I returned, but did not respond to. Should I have gone to a room, laid on my stomach and waited with the door open?

  10. I started going to bathhouses about six months ago. It was great. I met a lot of interesting guys. I met someone there that I like so much, but he made be brokenhearted. I learned my lesson, don’t go to sauna looking for love, just go there and have fun. I like your blogs about the sauna etiquette. Also, sauna here in Asia is really different from sauna in your place.

  11. I want to commend you on your bathhouse info blog. I think it’s an excellent thing to post for those who are afraid to try it out for the first time.

  12. Thanks for posting this on Facebook. I found it before the link got removed.

    I wanted to say that this is something that needs to be shared with every male to know about the rules and safety in the bath houses. So great work.

  13. Hi! love your site. I am writing from Malaysia and about to spend some time in the US in 2009.

    I needed your advice on why some folks get arrested in the US on charges of gay cruising (George Michael, Larry Craig etc.)

    Are the bathhouses safe – in all states?

    any advice would be helpful. cheers

  14. I really liked reading about how to meet guys in a bathhouse – I have never been to one but would try anything once.

  15. Terrific website! I didn’t know much about the world of bathhouses. I’ve visited two in my entire life and your insights are invaluable about the protocols and culture. Really interesting and thought-provoking. Thanks for taking the time to set this up for us!!

  16. Great group of stories not just one, as it shows the human dynamics of the psyche and the need to connect.

    These are intelligently written. I hope they’re published in multiple places.

    I have been to the baths for a variety of reasons and witnessed the very behaviors you write about.

    I love good writing on anything that is approached intellectually and takes into account the melding of dynamics.

  17. Hi! Thank you for writing about your experiences at the baths. It’s quite enlightening, and answers a lot of questions that no one in the world seems to want to post publicly. I’m a GAM, 22, and recently moved to Chicago. There’s definitely a few bathhouses here and out of curiosity I went with an older guy and just sort of checked the place out. I was looking for an entry that may help me with my problem. I am at the same time quite attracted to the bathhouse ‘scene,’ but I am also very, very anxious about sexually transmitted diseases. I’d like to do more, but as I’m studying to be a medical worker, I can’t afford to get a serious illness and endanger my future patients. Yet, at the same time, I am a young man, and the baths are quite appealing. Do you have any pointers on how to alleviate STD anxiety, or any ‘words of wisdom’ on the best ways to play, safely, what to do in a sudden exposure, etc… From your entries I take it you have stayed in good health for all the years you have frequented your bathhouse. I would love to explore my sexuality more, but I do not want to get sick. One issue I have is communication – since no one at the bath I went to seemed to talk, how can you best ‘ask’ about STDs? And how do you politely reject someone? … Anyways, I appreciate your time, and thanks for reading.

  18. I was hoping the stories would be a turn on; so far too much whining and negativism. I know you really enjoy going and have a good time… so share it!

    Although I am sure there is always a certain amount of preference/prejudice in the Baths I think it would be better to overlook it. Than to dwell on it and let it ruin your good time

  19. Bravo! I truly like your concept of building this blog. Good story (Sauna Etiquette). Well written. Well done! Will pass on this site to friends, and surely will come back.

  20. Until you mentioned the fireplace…you could have been at the bathhouse I go to in Lauderdale. There are two exact opposites just as you spoke. We have one here in jax..but is cold…uninviting…and I nearly went there tonight

  21. I found your website. Great site!!! I have a question though. I’ve always been curious about bath houses, so I’m glad you have this site.

    Are you at all familiar with the FTM transgender community? I know a lot of us fantasize about going to a bath house, and some apparently do in Canada and maybe San Francisco. Have you heard anything about this? Or do you have any experiences w/ seeing any at one? If so, how were they treated?

    I would love to hear anything you have to say on the subject. Thanks.

  22. What an interesting read! I got hooked and read about ten entries in one sitting. This is the most true-to-life, while intellectually written, account of gay culture I have seen — EVER. Amazing work. This should be published. I am passing this site on to as many people as I can. Your writing sheds serious and humorous light on the darkest areas through which many of us have already been. Bravo!

  23. I have just started to read your Bathhouse blues . I have become the 40 GWM so I guess I am invisible . I am closeted and never had the balls to go to a bathhouse . I have learned so much from your stories . I am so naive . I knew nothing of the gay life or bathhouses . I kind of want to go now . I answered a personal ad in yahoo that was looking for a white top . The reason I answered was he was the same age and lived close by and was looking for discreet get together We see each other every week (a standing date) He is Chinese and we have mutual fun .

    We both like sucking and being sucked but he is a bottom so it works great , we did switch once but I can’t say I cared much for being a bottom . Maybe you can write why some like bottom . He says he just does . I think he is a lot more experienced than me but stays closed lipped . He is my first Asian , I have only been with whites but I was only around whites growing up well I was around blacks so I guess you might be right . Another problem is I am a outdoor type person who likes to go to the mountains and desert in my jeep on day trips and camping on the weekend , but he is a city boy and doesn’t want to spend his weekend getting dirty . I had not gave a lot of thought to it because I am not a night club , dining out kind of guy but you said something that made me think yea people should associate with people that have the same interest I wish we had more in common I would love to take him with me but I never seen a Asian out on the trail 4 wheeling either .

    It sounds so crazy sucking off a stranger in a bathhouse or jumping into a pool and having people touch you or the glory hole . I feel you have taught me so much and I feel I almost know you now . I wanted to thank you and tell you a little about myself I hope you find work soon and if you move to LA you could show me a bathhouse

  24. Your comments are “right on” and obviously from experience. I only wish Spartacus made the slightest attempt to be accurate and up-to-date in their sauna/bathhouse references. What I will look for on future trips is a report from an individual like yours (for a particular city) prior to making the trip. I am 40, nice looking and in good shape, and have been to bath houses in 30+ countries in the last 20 or so years. I do not drink so they are obviously an ideal outlet. The only thing that has weirded me out a bit lately (on trip to Australia) is the presence of the sharps bins all over the places. I understand the safety value of these, but what percent of the guys in there are shooting up drugs? And what are they shooting most often? Yes, it would be great to have an online gay sauna guide that is actually kept up to date. I have been to at least 25 this year already in various countries and could contribute as well. Keep up the good work!

  25. Love the site and love going to baths. Like youI have been going since I was 19 (now 35) and have been to baths all over the US and Canada.

  26. Hi, I am new to bathhouses. I am a little concerned about std. do you get STD going to bathhouses? How do you prevent yourself from getting herpes or warts, etc., even practicing the safest sex?

  27. I’ve Never Been with a guy before and I really want to go a bathhouse and play. but I don’t know what to do …how to act. or where it is?. All so I’m really in to Asian men and women.. do Asian men go too the bathhouse in Calgary?> and where is it?. Also …are there cross dressers there. that’s my BIG BIG kink. an Asian cross dressers…roooooorrrr…thank you

  28. All I can say is ‘Wow’… it’s long past my bedtime, and going thru your site is like reading a good book.. it’s time to put it down, but you have to read just one more page. This is one of the best sites I have ever seen, and I hope you continue to post more. I find myself adsorbed and agreeing with much of what you say. Thank you for your efforts. Michael

  29. Hmm….overall it was good but u really missed out the most important thing. Haven’t u heard things like, this man “smells”. i hate people getting into the sauna and straight go and cruise!! this is just unhygienic, as by right, he MUST have a shower first. SOME bastards, even come on the floor in open dark rooms, or just wipe it somewhere say on the sofa, which is so annoying for the others. Also lubes and condom is fine. What about mint chocolates or mouth fresheners. Also have a shower every time u come. Also have a shower before u take a dip in the hydro pool. Many don’t even observe all this. Contrasting, I am an Indian, and most Singaporeans have to say that Indian men smell or are unclean. Well, pls note that they do NONE of what i have written above. also on the physical side….it does not matter if he has a big or small one, but PS ADVISE the folks to shave their pubic hair as well as their arm pits, as it’s much cleaner then (BTW,NONE of the Chinese here do so). Else u may have to reach out for the branches before the actual THING. ha ha. Just some serious tips from my side..

  30. Stop a desire is the beginning. tell me do you have some generals rules to recomend about my manners at a sauna bathroom

  31. Hey, I just want to say I think this site is really cool. I don’t think I’m gay, but it really gets me interested in gay sex. I hope someday to try it, but I’m really worried about someone I know spotting me. Any suggestions?

  32. Cool site! Many of my questions were answered since I’ve never gone to a bathhouse. Still haven’t built up the nerve but hopefully someday I’ll meet another guy and try it together.

  33. Thanks for taking the effort to write down all your encounters at the bathhouse. Personally, I have went through a two hours educational tour by reading all your stories.

  34. Hi you know, I found your comments quite interesting because actually the only time I have been in a place like this was in Toronto and I remember I did not want to enter because all the things I had been told about these places. Nowadays I sort of regret not to enter because I was curious. Definitively I am planning to go one more time and visit this place to have my own opinion. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  35. I enjoyed reading your stories, thank you for sharing them with us. I have never been to a gay bathhouse but I did got to a local men’s bathhouse. Yes, it was actually a bathhouse with steam room, hot tub, showers, etc. But, it was definitely not designed for sex and in several hours I did not see any sex and only saw a couple hard cocks. I was wondering… is it possible to go to a gay bathhouse and NOT have any sex or touching? I would like to go but I just want to check it out without any physical contact. Is that acceptable within the bathhouse or should I expect that at least some physical contact will take place? I would love a response from you to my email address above but I understand if you get too many messages to respond to. Thanks.

  36. I really like your writings, and it has mirrored many of the things I have noticed at the baths. Thanks for the honest discussion as to what the baths are really like, good and bad parts. Keep up the excellent work.

  37. Hi this is Jason and I’m 20 years old. I was wondering if you can help me. For the last year or so I have wanted to go to a bath house and meet guys, but I’m nervous about it. The only clubs I have went to is local clubs. I always stare at the men in the locker room but know they are straight. Well to keep this short is a bath house a good place to stare at men and just touch? If you can answer me I will be appreciative, thanks Jason.

  38. You write well, are obviously an intelligent man, and have a very good site. I have only been to a bath house once, not really my caffeine-laced beverage but a coming out process. I don’t like or dislike Asians, you’re people like the rest of this funny animal – please accept a virtual hug from a newbie gay guy who’s heart you’ve touched with your stories. I hope that you have a happy and long life, and find Mr Right (even though you don’t seem to be looking for a particular “him”). I’d say “god bless” but it doesn’t mean much from an atheist!

  39. I read your stories on going to the baths for the last ten years. You are a good writer. You might try a series of short stories using the bath house as a frame. They wouldn’t have to be pornographic at all.Just tell the lives and contacts of all the people who meet at the baths. I used to go to the baths but stopped when the AIDS epidemic began.

  40. Like the articles. Had many of the same thoughts over the years (also about the same number of years going to the Baths). Have a safe New Year!

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