The next month, the Crew Club reached an agreement with the District to ban sex on site. Allen says it has since lapsed.
Despite this, bathhouses emerged as havens for gay men to be themselves, shielded from the discrimination and oppression of heterosexual society. Now, in the age of hook-up apps like Grindr, Tinder, Scruff, and Hornet, the club offers a sense of community rarely experienced on social media, its proponents say. Allen says the rise of the internet and on-demand sex has had a counterintuitive effect.
Younger guests arrive as bars approach closing time, William observes, and regulars show up earlier in the night.
Centrally located in Logan Circle, the spa draws men from across the region and out-of-towners. Guests walk in the front door, ring a buzzer to get the attention of workers on the other side of a porthole, display IDs, proceed through another door beyond which they pay with the chance to buy lube, enemas, or poppers—the latter bottles of solvents that people sniff to get a head rush and relax certain muscles during sex. The club operates around the clock. This week, the year-old owner flew up from his part-time home in Wilton Manors, Florida—a longtime gay village—to oversee Pride preparations.
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Just think of it as a sleepover. Other gay bathhouses in D. But under a contract brokered in , Allen plans to sell in three years to Douglas Development, which owns the property to the immediate south of the Crew Club, another across the street, and more up 14th. He says he may take on a partner or two. For William, the most memorable times at the Crew Club involved making genuine connections with other men, in contrast with what he sees as the superficiality of hook-up apps and online chatrooms.
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