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.