What happens in a bathhouse

It's so hot in the public sauna that sweat continuously flows out of your pores, each one a tiny faucet.

The Hastings Steam Bath had found a perfect location. I get up and leave, listening to his laugh being swallowed by the steam. Having sweated in the dingy, poorly lit basement that still has the original blue tiles, it's easy to picture the place packed with coal-covered bodies and reeking of a dank fish smell.

The naked man sitting across from me has slicked-back hair and Ric Flair's skin. I felt like a dirty towel being wrung out, and despite the sketchy aesthetic and rusted pipes, I also felt those promised detox benefits.

I Went to a Bathhouse to Figure Out Why Bathhouses Still Exist

As the old, tattooed man says, "They're just waiting for the right offer to come along" before it becomes another bygone Vancouver staple. Enter the 80s, when cocaine became a thing in the Downtown Eastside, leading to many of the remaining businesses packing up and leaving the area.

The lobby was decked out in "flaming pink chairs," a hot purple carpet, and tropical green walls.

what happens in a bathhouse

Customers at the time were mostly local miners, loggers, and fishermen who would roll in from the docks looking for a deep-cleanse after traveling the coast for months at a time. As a result of money-woes and unemployment rates, the hotels and bars became cheaper, which attracted a more demographic centered on drugs and alcohol. In its heyday, Hastings was the entertainment district where people would catch Chaplin shows at the Pantages theater , then head out for a drink at one of the countless bars that lined the strip.

what happens in a bathhouse

I'm nude, sitting in a men's only public sauna in downtown Vancouver, trying not to pass out from the extreme heat. Aside from the public bath, there are the far less dingy, luxurious private rooms that are often rented out by couples.

Despite being one of the longest running businesses in Vancouver, it remains a hidden, albeit sordid, gem. In the hazy room are a handful of relaxed young dudes, an old, tattooed man, and an Eastern European with slicked-back hair and Ric Flair's skin. When Finnish immigrant J.

what happens in a bathhouse

I feel no sense of emasculation despite his efforts. Most of this happened on the uncontrolled strip, which was becoming a heated national issue. Newsletters are the new newsletters. Oddly enough, Fung says that the steam bath began hosting a lot of women in this period, a trend that would continue into the coming decades.