Andrew Giambrone, reporter for Washington City Paper, has written a story about D.C.’s Gay Bathhouse Crew Club. Why it endures in the Age of Grindr.
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. “Trying to hook up on Grindr can be very shady, very bitchy,” says frequent customer William. “When you get off Grindr, you can kind of feel horrible, terrible about yourself. What people say on an app is not what they’ll say to your face.”
Crew Club owner David Caldwell Allen says the rise of the internet and on-demand sex has had a counterintuitive effect. “In the past couple of years, we have seen an uptick in business because, basically, I think men are tired of spending hours online,” he says with a chuckle, adding that clubs who are members of the North American Bathhouse Association have reported the same trend. “Some of the clubs have said 5, 6 percent, others have said 10. We’re probably somewhere in between.” Allen’s establishment has also recently seen more patrons in their twenties and thirties. Younger guests arrive as bars approach closing time, William observes, and regulars show up earlier in the night.
“Once you’re a customer in the club, I really think we’ve got you,” Allen says, declining to share how many memberships the business tends to see each year. “The place is clean as a whistle.”
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