The "Internet Probably Killed" The Irish Gay Sauna Scene

A picture of a gay sauna room with heating lamps

The owner of The Dock would “probably close” his gay sauna if he had his own way


Michael Campbell, the proprietor of The Dock gay sauna in Dublin, thinks that apps like Grindr and other hookup websites have essentially killed the sauna scene in Ireland.

In an interview with The Irish Times, The Dock’s owner said he believes that the majority of people who use his sauna probably “can’t use the internet,” with most of their clientele being over 60.

“You don’t get many young guys. Most people who come here would be over 60, and I would think that’s probably because they can’t use the internet,” Campbell said.


Gay Sauna Shutdown

“I think the internet probably killed them [gay saunas]. We would only get five visitors a day, and at the weekend we might get maybe 15. [It] would be quite empty. It wouldn’t be the hive of the gay community.”

In the past, Campbell said that saunas offered gay men something important.

Campbell also indicated that the other gay sauna in Dublin gets the majority of business, estimating that his sauna gets only 3-5% of all sauna traffic in the city.

“To be honest, if I had my way, I would probably close it. I think they died a death. And I think the Boilerhouse probably has a total monopoly. They probably get 95 or 97 per cent of all the trade.”

Campbell looks to Europe to see if he can glimpse the future of gay saunas in Ireland. “The biggest sauna in Europe has closed down. Maybe that’s an indication of where they’re going.”


Gay Sauna vs. Adult Cinemas

While gay saunas may look to be on their way out, adult cinemas are becoming increasingly popular amongst gay and straight people.

Campbell figures that Dublin has as many as a dozen adult cinemas which can be found in sex shops across the capital.

“I’d rather go to a cinema than a sauna. A sauna is a very personal thing, with your clothes off,” he said. He also indicated that a cinema is a similar experience to a gay sauna for a lower price.

GlamWorld on Mary Street provides a cinema space where gay and straight people can come to watch adult films and provides private booths where those who visit can have sex.

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