Updated: Mar 14
History of Gay Cruising
Gay cruising is an age-old tradition that predates “Grindr” or any other app and has been the preferred way for LGBT people to meet others over time. The term derives from sailors who cruise — that is, travel from port to port in search of sex partners. While sometimes used interchangeably with hookups or casual sexual encounters, cruising has historically been a more specific term for queer-specific hunting parties — travelling together for group sex (with multiple partners).
People have been having sex in bathhouses, in parks, and on leather sofas, for generations. The tradition of all-male group sex stretches back to the ancient Greco-Roman culture, where men would meet for orgies in their baths called bathhouse. A cruising bar was originally a bar where gay men meet in public areas such as toilets or parks as a place to pick up partners for casual sex. They also sometimes refer to bars with dark rooms, glory holes and other sexual spaces.
The history of queer cruising has been lost to time as it goes back so long ago. However, some of the earliest documents about cruising date back to 1800s. In England, people used to cruise for heterosexual male sex and most often on land. A lot of these men were sailors, who were often away from home, and sometimes exploited and robbed of their money by men they meet during their cruises.
When the AIDS epidemic first struck in 1981, queer culture was forever changed. On top of the existing threats of policing and violence, the virus presented a new threat to men who went out cruising. Many gay bathhouses were shut down by authorities who were more concerned with clamping down on sites for same-sex encounters than promoting safe-sex.
Clubs, Bars and Sauna
357 Sauna Sydney City Steam - 357 Sussex Street (Darling Harbour)
Sydney Sauna - Level 1/38-42 Oxford St, Darlinghurst
The Stonewall Hotel - 175 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
The Colombian - 117-123, Oxford Street, Surry Hills
The Oxford Hotel - 134, Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
Universal - 85-91 Oxford Street, Surry Hills
Trade Club - 273 Crown St, Surry Hills
Wet On Wellington - 162 Wellington St, Collingwood
Subway sauna - Vault 13, 397 Flinders St. Melbouren
Peninsula Sauna and Spa - 16 Cumberland Dr. Seaford,
The Laird - 149 Gipps St. Abbotsford
The Peel - 113 Wellington St. Collingwood
Prince Public Bar - 2 Acland St. Kilda
DT's Hotel - 164 Church St. Richmond
Poof Doof - 386 Chapel St. South Yarra