Dating Before Grindr

A look at dating and hooking up before dating apps

It seems like Grindr, Scruff, Tinder, and all the other hookup apps on the market, have been around for a really long time. So much so, that we lose touch with how dating and hooking up used to be like before them. Although these apps seem to make up our networks as a community, Grindr hasn’t even been around for a full decade. The impact these apps have had in such a short life time is impressive, to say the least. However, every day, so many people remind us of where we came from and what it used to be like for our community. That being said, let’s take it all in and look back a dating and hooking up in a pre-Grindr world.

🎾same… i love me too. 〰 🥒rg: @chico_lachowski

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General purpose

These apps, at their core, were created to find people in your community. It is no secret to any of us gay men that we are in fact a minority… I know shocking. We’re everywhere! Thus, the assumption that the person next to you was also gay was more likely wrong, than right. And from that came the creation of geolocation gay dating apps. Now that we understand the general purpose of these apps, we ask ourselves: how did gay men meet up before smartphones?

Gay bars

Believe it or not, people actually spoke to each other in bars and clubs before. Nowadays, even though you are surrounded by more gay men than you could handle, people tend to flirt on apps initially to break the ice. If the initial virtual meeting goes well, then you meet up. We’ve built up a much higher fear of rejection than our predecessors. Therefore, we do not put ourselves at risk of being denied in person. On the off chance that you live, or lived, in an area where gay bars are a rarity or non existent, cruising might be an option.

Cruising

This is often perceived as sexual deviant in the media. This was especially the case after the late great George Michael was caught cruising for a male partner in a park neat his UK home. Cruising for sex is the action of walking or driving around and looking for an anonymous, casual, sexual encounter. Many places can be considered cruising spots depending on the city you are in. Often times, parks are main go-to spots for cruising.

Handkerchief code

This is also known as the hanky code, the bandana code, and flagging. Basically, this consists of hanging a bandana out of your back pocket to indicate sexual preferences, fetishes, and generally what you were looking for. This originated in the 70s and continued to be popular throughout the 80s and 90s. Back then, being visibly gay wasn’t as accepted nor tolerated in public. Thus, the hanky code became a way for gay men to recognize other gay men and their desires without flaunting it in the face of the hetero mass population. When the flagging trend began, simple distinctions could be made such as being a top or a bottom. However, the meanings have now become much more inclusive of different desires and diverse in terms of sexual preferences. Here is a few of the handkerchiefs and their respective associations:

  • Black – S&M
  • Dark blue – anal sex
  • Light blue – oral sex
  • Brown – scat play
  • Green – escort, prostitution
  • Grey – bondage
  • Red – fisting
  • Yellow – watersports, piss play
  • Orange – anything goes

This list is still only the tip of the iceberg. If you want a full, detailed explanation visit the Gay Hanky Code.

Gay bathhouses

Finally, going to a gay bathhouse was, and still is, an easy way to meet other gay men for the purpose of having sex. Much like clubs, the bathhouse scene has been affected by the rise of apps. As opposed to clubs though, a lot of gay men will chat online and then meet up at a bathhouse. This removes the seduction and cruising aspect of the bathhouse and relegates it to simply being a location for a planned sexual encounter. Before apps, going to a bathhouse was always a mystery as you would not know in advance who you’d bump into. One thing is for sure, all types of sexual desires, preferences, wants, and needs can be fulfilled by patrons of a bathhouse if you aren’t afraid to put yourself out there.

On that note, it is clear to see that the dating and hooking up world has evolved at an extreme rate over the last decade. However, it is important to understand that apps might be a middle man, but real human connections are what fuel true sexual chemistry.

Here’s to hoping you meet the one to sexually fulfill you, online or in person.

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