In the first two it was frequently possible to indulge in what the Spartacus Guide coyly describes as 'action', but behaviour at all times had to be reasonably cautious.
In the Grange Road baths in Bermondsey, however, all restraint could immediately be discarded with the small towels provided to cover your nakedness.
Another service offered by the baths was voter registration. Mark's Baths in New York City, with the assistance of the League of Women Voters, conducted a voter registration drive on its premises.
In Melbourne the first gay bathhouse was Steamworks in La Trobe Street, which opened in 1979 and closed 13 October 2008.
Six men aged 14 to 22 were prosecuted for an offence against public decency and the manager and two employees for facilitating pederasty.
In the United States on February 21, 1903, New York police conducted the first recorded raid on a gay bathhouse, the Ariston Hotel Baths.
A tradition of public baths dates back to the 6th century BC, and there are many ancient records of homosexual activity in Greece.
In the West, gay men have been using bathhouses for sex since at least the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a time when homosexual acts were illegal in most Western countries and men who were caught engaging in homosexual acts were often arrested and publicly humiliated.
Men began frequenting cruising areas such as bathhouses, public parks, alleys, train and bus stations, movie theatres, public lavatories (cottages or tearooms), and gym changing rooms where they could meet other men for sex.
Bathhouses vary considerably in size and amenities – from small establishments with 10 or 20 rooms and a handful of lockers to multi-story saunas with a variety of room styles or sizes and several steam baths, Jacuzzi tubs, and sometimes swimming pools.
Most have a steam room (or wet sauna), dry sauna, showers, lockers, and small private rooms.
A gay bathhouse, also known as a gay sauna or a gay steambath, is a commercial space for men to have a sexual activity with men.