Let’s start by saying, right off the bat: you will more than likely have a good time at Oasis Aqualounge.
We get it, you might feel a little nervous about a host of things – your body image, how people will interact, safety, etc. – but (barring catastrophe or bad luck) you’ll probably leave with a smile.
In 5 years (this month!) since opening, it’s developed a good reputation, so a number of us from Toronto Sauna hit the road to see what all the fuss was about.
Look: we were all going for different reasons. Some of us were going to experience a hedonistic, sexualized cornucopia of delights; some of us were interested in adding a little sexiness to the daily rigamarole.
And some of us were going for a damn fine sauna, steam, jacuzzi and outdoor pool.
This is the key success of Oasis: odds are, you’re going to find something there that you like.
Located on the same block as Spa Excess, Oasis Aqualounge is tucked away from the bussle of Carlton St. right next to a mostly residential block of houses near Toronto’s main queer strip, Church – Wellesley.
The entrance seems pretty faux-grand with torch lights and a formidable entrance, but once you walk in, things get pretty calm and relaxing pretty fast. You’re not hit with public sex right off the bat, but instead feel like you’re lined up to get in any club. You eventually get to the inner doorperson, fill out some basic “member club” information (it has to be a members club to operate – don’t worry, very safe), pay the entrance fee, get your locker key and in ya go.
The building (a gerrymandered victorian era mansion) and complex have a 280 person capacity, are pretty elaborate and DEAR GOD are they loaded with Toronto history. The whole shebang was built for businessman William Wilkens in 1887 and it was one of the locations of the infamous Toronto Bathhouse raids in the 1980’s. From their Blog:
On Feb 5th, 1981 a massive police raid was carried our at four bathhouses, resulting in the largest mass arrest (286 men arrested) in Canada since the War Measures Act. Beginning at 11pm on Feb 5th, 150 police men simultaneously raided the Oasis Aqua Lounge (Then, the Club Baths, the Romans II Health and Recreation Spa, the Richmond St. Health Emporium and the Barracks.
Arrests in this number weren’t seen again until the G20 Summit.
They have a number of theme nights (some every week, some on annual or seasonal basis) and the placed is packed for the popular “Genesis Fetish Nights”, Valentines and New Years (you can check their online calendar for specific and upcoming dates). A crew of us ended up entering on the weekly themed Saturday “Couples Night”, with the seasonal theme of Octoberfest (not really sure what was going on with that one).
First impression, it feels more like you’re walking into one of those weird basement parties from your late teens…partially because it obviously used to be the basement of the mansion.
You’ll still find a lot of action down here right off the bat. If you’re needing some inebriation, there’s the first of two bars and a small dancefloor/Dj area replete with blacklight, whitewall, a stripper pole and pornography blasting away on a TV screen.
A lot of people were gathered here when we arrived and left, which makes sense…and it’s really helpful for new folks when they arrive. Ideally, if you’ve got some butterflies in your stomach, you want to scope things out for a bit and maybe knock back a few drinks, so it’s a good place to do it.
The crowd downstairs is is varied: some people were post-coital-naked, some were fully clothed and mingling, some were wearing towels, others were enjoying the thrill of making out/grinding in public, and others were getting their dance on.
If you’re ready to rock or wanna dive right in from there, you might be a little confused where to go. Many of the kick ass facilities are on the ground floor, but the change room is one floor up.
When you get up to the second floor, you can immediately hit the locker room and two of several theme rooms. The co-ed locker room is poorly designed but gets the job done and thankfully you get unlimited towels. Normally this is where everyone dons their evening attire, be it your birthday suit, sexy lingerie, towels galore or the shabby rags that you walked in with.
At this stage, you’re probably ready to use the bathroom from nerves or booze and have no idea where that it. If you’re ready to hit the spa, there’s two in the basement level near the jacuzzi. If you’ve got heels or shoes, I’d recommend the three stalls on the third floor through what looks like a fire door.
Notes: if you are worried about anonymity, don’t use visa or debit; you can’t wear heels on the sex couches/futons; remember to bring sandals if thats your jam; you can have sex ANYWHERE in the club (except for the hottub) so expect see sex anywhere in the club.
From here here you can take a stroll the complex. There’s 4 floors total in Oasis Aqualounge and 3 of them are jammed packed with fun stuff. The fourth floor had a “private playroom” and we didn’t really know what that was about so we stayed away.
In addition to the locker room, the second floor has a ballroom-themed room with a mini stage. Like most theme rooms in Oasis, half of it is also dominated by beds/couches where people are usually sitting/having-sex on depending on what’s going on at any given moment. They often do shows, presentations, workshops, events, etc in the theme rooms, so the night we were there, they had had a couples competition with prizes!
Also on this floor you’ll find a dungeon.
As dungeons go, it’s definitely got a lot of different equipment, so it feels more like a multi-purpose playroom – fuck swings, binding crosses, rack tables, nurse beds, church pews, etc.
Like the ballroom, presentations/workshops galore on kink, BDSM, happen here. While we were there a couple were giving a workshop/exhibition on spanking with LOTS of CONTINUOUS audience participation and oddles of onlookers. If you’re looking for some kinky sub/dom action, this is probably your best bet.
More notes: the sexy areas/fuck spaces are all clean. The towel bill must be through the roof, but everyone seemed to be exceptionally good at putting towels down before getting it on and cleaning up after themselves. The staff are on the ball as well.
The third floor is where the bulk of the sexy action happens. Up here you’ve got another bar/stripper-pole combo, with seats next to a massive long couch for having sex while watching pornography. Continuing clockwise you have a ridiculous “back of the van” theme room AKA the Shagg’in Wagon…we wish we were kidding. Comfy, but hilarious and tacky as hell. Continuing further you get the first of three large “couch rooms” were the bulk of the group sex was happening; mostly couples all having sex in the same room on the night we were there. One of the rooms has a curtain you could pull for some limited privacy.
This of course brings us to the main reason why people go to Oasis: the sex.
Most people probably want to know the following: what’s it like? Will people dislike me because I’m fat? Will I have annoying guys or couples right in my grill trying to have sex with me? Will I be tripping over people having sex with gross bodily fluid flying through the air?
The reality: Oasis is pretty chill. No one cares that you’re there.
Don’t get me wrong, people are probably pretty jazzed about having sex in public/in front of you, but the majority of people we saw are there for themselves and totally content to have you do your thing while they do there’s.
There’s a lot of reasons for this and it’s interesting how Oasis has set it up this way, but here’s what’s important: it works.
There are some draw backs – we didn’t see a huge queer component and the perennial “annoyingly loud, white, obnoxious drunk guy” made a predictable appearance; but for the most part, everyone had a good time.
While we were at Oasis, dozens of couples went through and we saw many, many sex acts; a few couples joined each other, some just watched, etc. Many people just went off to their area and had sex. Some folks made a big, loud, sexy show of it; others tried to get a little privacy or came to watch. From talking to a number of folks, there didn’t seem to be a lot of people who ‘met’ at the club; a number of them met before through internet kink/swinger sites or through being partners. We were able to talk to a number of patrons and everyone was very relaxed and sociable without being leery and creepy.
Sight-lines in Oasis are key. A lot of the folks we saw were acting like they were in a porno; part of the thrill I guess. People who watch tend not to crowd others, but will look from the next room or across the hall. This gives the effect of having eyes on you, without feeling like people are at your back (unless that’s what you’re into I guess).
Some of us found the sex to be very straight-orientated/hetero- normative and had drinks. Others had a giggle at the campiness and the awkwardness of watching people have sex. Some of us enjoyed the hell out of the experience of sitting between two couples giving each other blowjobs or the sound of 4 people orgasming within 30 seconds of each other. Some of us danced and made out with people. The point is, it was pretty chill and there was something for everyone…
…especially those of us looking for a sauna.
Putting aside the flim-flam, sex-club business, we’re happy to report that the sauna at Oasis is kick-ass. Located on the first floor, the sauna is the last of a straight line of pretty sweet spa facilities. It’s doesn’t exactly have the best layout, but they’ve done nicely with the space constraints.
The sauna is big, nice and hot, but not so overbearing that you couldn’t have sex in it. Granted it was probably the least-sexy experience for those who wanted to have sex in the sauna to see a few of us sweating like mad, but if you’ve got a good hot bake going, you might as well use it. If could easily cram in 20 people, but I doubt you ever get more than 2 -4 people in there.
Right before the sauna you come to possibly the most poorly designed shower area in existence – though sexy as hell when you have 4 -5 people crammed in there trying to clean up or cool down.
Beyond this was the “out of service” steam room. I won’t lie: the steam room looks like it’s been that way for a looooong time. They lose points.
Continuing past some washrooms, you eventually hit the hot tub. Good layout, no sex (City bylaws), and you can get a pretty decent soak/boil.
Past this is the gem of Oasis Aqualounge: the aqua. A big, heated outdoor pool, is just what the doctor ordered. You can fuck your brains out on the patio during the summer or spend some hot, relaxing time with a drink in the pool outside during the winter. We really enjoyed the pool.
While you’ll likely enjoy yourself at Oasis, there are issues. On price, it’s pretty costly: $80 on weekends for couples or $20 for women and trans/genderqueer folks. True, that’s in line with a place like Sanduney, but it means men are looking at a $60 hit.
That said, how funny/cute/a-sad-statement-on-masculinity is their FAQ on explaining why this is necessary?
The management at Oasis believe strongly in gender equality, sexual freedom, everyone’s right to marry who they choose, etc. so it pains us to have policies that differentiate between men and women, and different kinds of couples, when it comes to pricing and access to the club. But it seems to be an unavoidable reality of hetero-sexually focused sex clubs. If our policies were that men and women were charged the same price, and that single men had free access to all areas of the club at all times, it would destroy the pleasant atmosphere at the club for many women, and ultimately satisfy nobody. Unfortunately, we have seen this occur many times, it seems unavoidable.
They have the equivalent of movie-Tuesdays though: $5 (!) for students on Mondays and $50 on Thurs – Sat for daytime couples. Free for ladies on Tues/Wed.
For queer folks, as mentioned above, they consider themselves to be “hetero-focused”, so expect a lot of straight couples. That said, they seem to have queer-positive policies so I imagine any queer couples (male or female) would be more than able to go have as much fun as possible and be a real crowd pleaser.
The big downer for Oasis and where they lose the most points is with the buildings total lack of wheelchair accessibility. It’s a former mansion and has nothing but stairs, so not exactly their fault. An elevator (or complete teardown) would be needed to make the place accessible. They acknowledged this while being interviewed and online and said that had tried to find an accessible space before opening, which might not be easy for a bathhouse. They understand the issue, at least. They also said they held a “Deliciously Disabled” theme night that went well, though wheelchair users might disagree.
UPDATE! TS got the following email from Oasis’s Director of Marketing:
While it is true that Oasis is not wheel chair accessible, we organized a sex-positive event, similar to events at Oasis, at an off-site location. #DeliciouslyDisabled was not held at Oasis, at the review seems to indicate. In addition, the event was sold out and the demographic included many folks in mobility devices (the max amount, due to the layout of the venue). Everyone who attended seemed to have a great time, varying in their experience, as is the case with Oasis and other sex clubs, in general.
Overall, Oasis Aqualounge is both everything that you’d hope for and probably not what you expect when you think of sex clubs on TV. It feels really normal when you’re inside and is really a no-pressure place. Their website and professional atmosphere help create a feeling of community and positivity – they obviously believe in a philosophical and practical sex-positivity and creating a clean, respectful and safe environment. The space reminds us a lot of the Continental baths in New York.
If you’re not into sex, you can grab a drink, dance a bit, swim naked and quietly giggle at people getting off around you.
If you are, you can watch or do all kinds of fun things in a host of areas. We saw a lot of hot sex and kinky sex acts.
And most importantly, if you’re into a good bake and boil, they have an admirable sauna, jacuzzi and pool.
Now someone just has to fix the damn steam room.
Rating (Out of 5): 4/5
Cost: All over the map, ranging from free to $80 depending on the day and your gender. See their price card here
Coed: all facilities, including the bathrooms are coed and gender neutral
Queer or Straight: Straight-orientated, but anyone is welcome and anything goes
Facilities: sauna, shower area, jacuzzi, heated outdoor pool, large patio, multiple dark/fuck spaces, multiple theme rooms, dungeon, locker room, fully licensed bar, private playroom