I keep hearing that cruising is dead. Men have been lamenting the loss of this sacred art, which was used for generations before the online hook-up era.
Some claim that younger men have lost the ability to enter the public sphere and use only their instincts to suss out other gay or bisexual men for sex. Such techniques are based on eye contact, body language and foot tapping in bathroom stalls. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of the find when you’re in public — but has this era really ended?
Technology has been blamed for the demise of cruising, but I’d argue that although cruising has, no doubt, taken a hit, technology has actually made it more effective to get off in public. This art is not dead — at least not for those in the know — but rather has evolved with our times, using systems like Squirt.org to make public sex much easier. (Squirt.org is owned by Pink Triangle Press, which also publishes Daily Xtra.)
Before I travel to the United States, Europe or Asia, I always check Squirt’s “Cruising” listings. Even small Ontario towns are listed, but the smaller the place, the more likely the listings are just for public parks, truck stops and mall bathrooms — which can be interesting, and very retro. If you’re visiting more of a metropolis though, the possibilities can seem endless.
In a city like Toronto alone, many major gym locker rooms, malls, hotel restrooms and city parks are listed as active places to cruise for sex. Even the Toronto Reference Library is on there. There are also listings for sex clubs, bathhouses, fetish bars and strip clubs in Toronto as well as in other cities, which can be handy when you’re in a new place.
You soon come to realize that the whole world is one big cruising ground — you just have to know where to look and when.
That’s what makes Squirt the quintessential tool for any sexually curious gay or bisexual man.
On Squirt, I’ve found some obscure treasures when traveling which I wouldn’t have found otherwise. It’s how I discovered the Folsom Gulch in San Francisco, The Cock in NYC), the amazing Volkspark Hasenheide in Berlin, and the mystical Platija de l’Home Mort in Sitges. In many ways, these places changed my life.
Each cruising listing includes a description of the place and how to get there. It also mentions the kind of men who go there and the best times to visit and whether nudity is allowed, along with cruising info and tips such as (as one man wrote), “Show ample package and you’ll get a lot more attention. Avoid eye contact if you’re not interested.”
There’s sometimes a section for pet peeves and warnings, which lets cruisers know if police or security monitor the area, along with their frequency. Unlike cruising during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, where this info wasn't readily available or up-to-date, Squirt has improved a lot of second guessing surrounding the art.
The best way to really learn about each spot is by reading the user comments. The more regularly people post to the comments section, the more likely that it’s still an active cruising ground. And if you scroll through enough of the user comments, you can learn more specific first-hand details about a place, which is crucial for large park areas since it’s sometimes hard to tell exactly where men congregate.
Also, some users try to organize times to meet up with others via the comments section, typing things like, “Now,” “Here”, “Where?” or “Anyone tonight after dark?” If you're looking for something better planned, it’s worth a try. Indicate when and where you’ll be and hopefully someone will reply. If nobody does though, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get lucky — it’s still worth checking out.
Squirt acts like other hook-up apps in that you can search for guys based on their proximity to you, and because it’s not officially an app, nude photos are allowed as profile pictures. There are also things like cam chat rooms, which can be hot, especially if you feel like giving a show. There are also message boards and “Cocktales,” which are user-generated dirty stories.
The reality is that with other hook-up apps like Grindr or Scruff, if you’re really horny and trying to get action, you might not always find what you’re looking for. Between the endless chats that lead nowhere and those who flake with no intention to meet, when you really want to get off it, it can be frustrating. It’s good to know that there are still other options — that cruising isn’t dead, after all.
If you just scratch the surface, you start to see that cities like Toronto have far more cruising going on than one might think, and it’s easier to find — now more than ever. Depending on what turns you on, it can be so much sexier than anything else out there.