Wherever Sex Happens

Sex on premise venues

Sex clubs, saunas and backrooms. These are privately owned spaces dedicated to sex. They have rules, legal restrictions and a culture all of their own that you should be aware of.

What is a sex venue?

Sex venues (also called sex-on-premises venues) are privately owned businesses that provide a place for men to go to have sex with other men. You pay a fee to enter and this allows you to use the facilities.

Sex venues have developed a culture of their own. Probably the most surprising thing for first timers is that most communication is non-spoken – guys can cruise each other, negotiate and have sex without saying a word. In some venues, all communication is non-spoken whereas in others some guys find they can chat easily to others.

Reality Check

How much you enjoy a visit to a venue will depend on lots of different things, especially what you expect to get from it.

If you go to a venue with very high expectations that are not met you may feel disappointed. Not everybody is there for the same reasons as you. If you go with realistic expectations you won’t be disappointed and you may have a lot of fun.

what are the types of sex on premises venues?

There are basically three kinds of sex venues: sex clubs, saunas and backrooms. They all have things like cubicles with lockable doors, cubicles with glory holes, most have TVs that play porn, access to HIV/AIDS information, and free condoms and lube. But each of them is also a bit different from the others, so let’s look at each of them

Sex Clubs

Sex clubs offer a wide range of sexual activities. They generally have playrooms with equipment like slings, as well as public sex areas and theme events like leather nights. They may attract a crowd looking for more adventurous sex than they would get at a sauna or backroom.


The main features at a sauna are the ‘wet areas’ such as the sauna, steam room and spa. At a sauna guys wear towels rather than clothes. You will also get most of the things that a sex club has – like a darkroom, slingroom, private rooms or playrooms – but they may not be as well equipped as you’ll find at a sex club. There are lots of cubicles with vinyl mattresses, as well as extra facilities like showers, rest areas and snack food.


All backrooms are attached to adult bookshops (but not all bookshops have backrooms).

Backrooms tend to have fewer facilities than sex clubs or saunas and do not have lounge areas where you can sit and take a break from cruising. This means that guys tend to use backrooms for quicker sex. Backrooms often have a lunch time and after work rush.


Getting through the front door

Sex clubs usually have doorways or stairs directly off the street. Inside the entrance you will come to a locked door with what may look like a ticket booth.

Saunas are pretty much the same as sex clubs up until you pay. You will then be handed a locker key and a towel (in some saunas the towel will be in the locker). Once you’re in you take off your clothes, put them in the locker and wrap the towel around yourself.

Backrooms are entered through adult bookshops. Not all adult bookshops have backrooms so make sure you are in the right place. To get to the cruising area go to the counter and tell the attendant that you want to go out the back.

Tips for first timers

If you are worried about being seen going into a venue, try one that is away from where you live, work or socialise or that has a discreet entrance located off a main street.

If the staff don’t recognise you or you look new to venues, they may ask if you realise you are entering a gay sex venue. They do this so that people don’t wander into the venue by accident. Generally venue staff are friendly and will help you if you seem unsure or nervous, so don’t be afraid to ask for directions if you need them. You could try calling a specific venue before you go so you can get directions and an idea of what it is like.

Watch and learn

To get the hang of cruising in venues or when trying a new activity for the first time it is a good strategy to spend some time watching how others do it. Keep an eye out for:

  • Where people have sex;
  • How they cruise each other;
  • How people move around the venue;
  • When the busy times are; and
  • The dress code

After you have spent some time watching what goes on, you could get started yourself. Try out some of the techniques and see what’s best for you. Watching others in a venue before you get started can give you an idea of how this is normally done in a venue.

Do not assume that just because someone is at a sex on premises venue that they are interested or available for sex with you. Always seek consent.