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Sexpectations: How to up your chances of picking up at a gay venue

It’s been a long week and you’re ready to head out and have some fun. It might be an all-nighter on the dancefloor, or a steamy cruise session at a sex club or sauna.

Gay venues offer a lot that you can’t get anywhere else, and they’re a nice way to mix it up if you’re sick of chatting to guys with a teeny-tiny touchscreen keyboard. They’re also great places to make simple, satisfying, in-the-flesh connections, when you have an itch that needs a certain sort of scratching.

Here’s how to maximise your chances of success, for when you’re out and about and looking to put the ‘D’ in your weekend — with no regrets come Monday.

1. Check your first impression

In a lot of gay venues, you’ll have a few seconds to make an impression. Usually it’s dark and/or loud, so regular, subtle social cues just won’t register.

So it’s worth taking a step back to check exactly what impression you’re making. If you sit or stand with your arms folded, looking at the floor, you’ll come across as unfriendly or bored, even if you’re just a bit nervous. Strong, open body language (e.g. back straight, arms by your sides, or legs in the air) gives an immediate signal that you’re approachable. Confident eye contact is another easy way to show you’re looking for company.

And this may sound weird, but try to maintain an active, meaningful facial expression — you don’t have to smile, but nobody ever made friends with resting bitch/butch face.

2. Make the move. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know

If you’ve exchanged a smile with the hot guy(s) in the corridor a few times now, it’s time to make your approach. If you’re in a sauna or a sex club, this is one of the few occasions when it’s appropriate to open a conversation with an invitation to suck your dick, so make the most of it. And if he’s not into it, take the hint and move on. The night is young.

3. Be respectful

Everyone’s boundaries and preferences are different. ‘Sex-on-premises’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘sex-with-anyone-on-the-premises’, so if a guy isn’t interested, be respectful and don’t take it personally. Likewise, when you’re receiving some unwanted attention, refuse firmly but politely. Then go find someone you do want to play with.

Essentially, say ‘yes’ enthusiastically and ‘no’ politely. This will ensure pleasant and productive interactions with fellow patrons.

4. Breath mints

Buy them. Use them.

5. Location, location, fornication

Get mobile and do some exploring. Check who’s around and what’s going on – you never know who or what you’ll find in the pool, the maze or the upstairs bar.

If you’re at a venue with friends, try not to stand or dance in a closed group, unless one of you is kneeling in the middle. It can be intimidating to anyone else who might be interested in getting your attention.

6. Be clear about what you want

Romance isn’t dead, but it’s usually not invited to the sauna. Be clear and direct about exactly what you want, from the beginning. Your hot four-way in the steam room will only end in tears if it turns out you’re all power bottoms.

Whatever you’re into, you’re much more likely to get it if you’re up-front about it. Say it out loud. Show what you’ve got. Now is not the time for subtlety.

7. Don’t get into the sling when you should be getting into a taxi

A few drinks can be the start of a great night. A few too many can turn a great night into a disaster.

Know your limits and look out for each other. You’re much more likely to make good decisions and get the fantastic sex you deserve when you’re not a boozy mess. Take extra care if you’re using any other substances as well. It’s hard to tell what you’re taking — and how much — in hot, dark venues, and the consequences of overdoing it can be very serious.

8. Be prepared

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, and the temptation to try new things is part of the fun, so be prepared for anything. Carry condoms and lube on you if that’s the sexual health strategy you use. Most lube brands have pocket-size or sample-size options, so there’s no need to haul around your pump-pack. Know your status and be open about how you and your partner(s) want to manage your HIV and STI risk. That might be PrEP, the utilisation of an undetectable viral load as an HIV prevention strategy, condoms or a combination thereof.

Regular testing is part of being prepared, too. Get into the habit of getting your STI tests done regularly, and get treated if necessary. That way you can get as dirty as you like, while helping to minimise your risk of acquiring or passing on STIs while you’re doing it.

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