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A gay bathhouse, also known as a gay sauna or a gay steambath (uncommonly known as a gay spa), is a public bath targeted towards gay and bisexual men. In gay slang, a bathhouse may be called just "the baths", "the sauna", or "the tubs". Historically, they have been used for sexual activity.
Bathhouses offering similar services for women are rare, but some men's bathhouses occasionally have a "lesbian" or "women only" night. Some, such as Hawks PDX, offer so-called "bisexual" nights, where anyone is welcome regardless of gender.
Bathhouses vary considerably in size and amenities—from small establishments with 10 or 20 rooms and a handful of lockers to multi-story saunas with a variety of room styles or sizes and several steam baths, hot tubs, and sometimes swimming pools. Most have a steam room (or wet sauna), dry sauna, showers, lockers, and small private rooms.
In many countries, bathhouses are "membership only" (for legal reasons); though membership is generally open to any adult who seeks it, usually after paying a small fee. Unlike brothels, customers pay only for the use of the facilities. Sexual activity, if it occurs, is not provided by staff of the establishment, but is between customers with no money exchanged. Many gay bathhouses, for legal reasons, explicitly prohibit and/or discourage prostitution and ban known prostitutes.
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