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Future gay bars for Welly?

An image once used by Club Ivy

Rumour has been swirling that a number of gay business minds have been considering their options for opening a new gay bar/nightclub in Wellington after Club Ivy announced it would move and cease to be a gay bar.

Already interest has apparently been shown from Auckland and Christchurch, as well as from inside Wellington.

Apparently they think that opening a gay hangout for the “younger crowd” is a lucrative business, so they’re positioning themselves to grab that market before anyone else.

Wellington’s newest gay man’s sauna, Emperor’s, have announced, albeit unofficially, that they intend to turn part of their large space into a dedicated gay men’s nightclub. Would that work?

Do we need a new space? Is S&M’s enough of a gay bar presence? What do you think?

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  1. A nightclub attached to a sauna? That could work BRILLIANTLY – even if the concept of a sex-on-premises venue isn’t everyones cup of Vodka Red Bull… A few things to bear in mind:

    A gay sauna would be a hard business to make money in. As you are by definition hetero-exclusive, straight away you’re looking at excluding (an estimated) 90% of the population. Now take that 10% – how many of those would be lesbian? Cut your customer base in half. Now of the remaining number, how many of those will actually go to a sauna regularly? Just some wild guesswork: not a hell of a lot. Various reasons include relationships, nerves, pride, the likelihood of someone else being there, the likelihood of someone else not being there, the chances of running into someone you know, distance, proximity, health, price….all of these are potential factors that mean you could be looking at a business with a drastically smaller ‘niche’ than originally planned for.

    If you’re after spontaneous, anonymous casual sex, but can’t be bothered or enthused enough to make a night out out of the whole ‘picking up’ process, with all the aforementioned factors in mind, why would you choose a sauna? Especially when there are far cheaper, simpler ways of doing so?

    I am talking about the cellphone. The smartphone. The internet. About apps. About nzdating, findsomeone, Grindr, Scruff…. Sex is a hard thing to sell when you’re competing with people giving it away – for less money, more choice, more convenience and more anonymity.

    Now I don’t know anything about this sauna. I don’t know what overheads they have, how busy it is, or anything else they don’t publish on their website. I’m merely throwing out massive and unsubstantiated generalisations, quickly throwing together small pieces of food for thought for someone I’ve never met before.

    However, with all of the above in mind – opening up a nightclub and diversifying into a bar can only be a positive thing. Given the relatively isolated location, the more reason people have to go there, the better.

    Another factor is the (soon to be) lack of a gay nightclub. I’m unsure when Ivy 2.0 will be opening, but if Emperors opens while Ivy isn’t, and pulls it off – especially if it coincides with O Week, nothing attracts bears like the smell of fresh meat – the two could be serious competition for each other. A sauna attached to Emperors would be the perfect point of difference. After all, who can honestly say they’ve turned down sex at Ivy? And of those few, how many of those were acually spending much money and keeping the business going? The combination of the two is simply streamlining the process. Those of us who say sober that we’d never pay to go to a sauna and look for casual sex would probably be singing a different song if, after a night of pills, Mojitos and dancing, there was a private room with free condoms, lube and boys on the way to the bathrooms. A rather crude assumption, but so is everythng else I’ve written.

    Of course, you also run the risk of becoming ‘that’ place, where nobody goes because it’s a filthy den of disgusting, dirty, spontaneous sex. I reckon if you went to pains to paint it a classy joint, empasise the nightclub and not the sauna, and acknowledge that its there but only as a potential convenience for customers at 4am you’d be onto something. Roll out twitter, formspring, facebook, foursquare, and promo’s on Grindr to that effect. Emphasise a good quality nightclub, bar and sauna. Have decent drinks and good service. Don’t overcharge for anything. Don’t overlook anything. Basic business rules. If you could combine a great nightclub with awesome gigs, DJs, a busy bar, slick advertising and a sauna to complement that, you’d have one fucking happy accountant.

    Too many gay/niche bars/businesses rely far too much on doing that one thing that they do that they fail to recognise the need to change or diversify things when or before it’s required. Hopefully Emperors has the business nous to pull this off, and I wish them all the best. I’m personally not the biggest fan of saunas, as is the case for a lot of others, but perhaps a great nightclub is the gateway they need. I am, however, the biggest fan of bars, restaurants, cafes, hotels and hospitality, and anything that increases biodiversity of these makes me happy 🙂

    As long as it’s done in the right way, opening a nightclub attached to a sauna could be a profitable move for the business, something new for the scene and something fun and different for the public. I wish them all the best!

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    • Anonymous says:


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    • Anonymous says:

      “A gay sauna would be a hard business to make money in. As you are by definition hetero-exclusive, straight away you’re looking at excluding (an estimated) 90% of the population.”

      This was a failed piece of writing from the start. The Accountant who wrote this is basing his opinions on fiction. Does the author really believe that straight men never go to saunas? It seems so, and so he is misinformed or ignorant (admittedly, he isn’t “the biggest fan of [gay] saunas”).

      I am aware that Emporers advertise as ‘Wellington’s Best Gay(emphasis) Sauna’, but like gay bars, gay crusing spots and gay events, gays are not the only people who attend.

      I would go as far as saying that 90% of MEN of the population, have bisexual/curious tendencies. Just because society at large doesn’t see it overtly, or labels it gay, does not mean it is ‘hetero’. My point being that there is a large grey area with sexuality, with gay meaning exclusively attracted to the same sex. I personally know hundreds of men who honestly believe they are straight but WILL suck cock. So I don’t believe for one second that Emporers are excluding 90% of the population, infact quite the opposite, Houston.

      “Now I don’t know anything about this sauna. I don’t know what overheads they have, how busy it is, or anything else they don’t publish on their website. I’m merely throwing out massive and unsubstantiated generalisations…”

      Yes, you are, very much so. I’m not bagging your support for Emporers night club, good on you for openly doing so but perhaps you should actually have some knowledge or at least personal experience with a sauna and the clients who use them before writing such a misguided article.

      I did, however, like the points you highlighted with why people might not use the gay saunas regularly and the idea of opening the night club (or having it open) to coincide with O Week.

      I too hope Emporers manages to stay around and wish them all the best.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ m Sure Emperors management knows what they are doing.

    Now asking if Wellington needs a new gay bar? I don’t think that you should be asking that.

    S&M is not really a “gay bar” They are a cocktail bar. Gay guys go there because they know the owners. But they don’t even advertise their place as such!. The place is open to anyone.

    Now if Emperors open their club just for GAY GUYS I am pretty sure it will take off, at least people will know that everyone are looking for the same thing, not necessarily sex, but a place where only MEN hang out.

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    • how very …….. 80’s

      someplace where we can hide our dirty sexuality secret from the world

      full marks to Mal and Scotty – they run a business to a format that is in keeping with 2011 – and which to even the most casual observer is still most obviously a “gay bar”

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  3. Thanks for your response, Mr…Anonymous?

    Firstly, I am not an accountant. Apologies if it seemed that way. I run businesses for a living. A key part of my job is increasing revenue, which I do by advertising, marketing and forecasting revenue based on numbers. We’ll get to that later.

    A few more points I’d like to reiterate…

    My words were never intended to be an ‘article.’ Those words merely formed my opinion-based, totally unauthoritative answer (and I do believe I made a point of pointing that out – sincere apologies if this wasn’t clear) to the question ‘Would a nightclub/sauna work?’ I gave my answer, based on my experiences and the reason for thinking so. Andy was kind and apparently interested enough in what I said to flatter me by posting it as an article after I had posted it as a comment.

    Now, I don’t deny that straight men go to saunas. It would be impertinent and wrong of me to assume or assert that there are ‘straight’ men who cannot find pleasure or comfort anywhere with anyone but women.

    I merely used the estmate that I used (and I did say it was an estmate) to illustrate how tough business would be in a niche market that small. To show how small it is, 50% of the population (women) cannot pay to use it. Most businesses globally are finding times tough and in a niche market this small, I would be a little surprised if Emperors weren’t either. They are no more immune to the global economic downturn than any other business in NZ.

    However, when I said that I don’t know what the financial case is for Emperors, I meant it. This means that I have no idea how busy they are. They could be raking in millions, or threatened with bankruptcy. I have no idea. That does not change my comment or my opinion one bit. The gist of what I said remains the following:

    They are dealing with an incredibly small, niche market. The internet, smartphones and apps all do exactly what this niche business does, but in a more convenient, anonymous, free way – thus affecting revenue. Businesses world wide are having to change their business model and diversify to ensure financial viablity. If they were to open a nightclub, in my opinion, that would be the perfect way of diversifying.

    If all you had to disagree with me on was my opening estimate of 90% of men being heterosexual, and therefore not being the ‘target market’ of a gay sauna, which was a mere paragraph out of the ten that I wrote, I am happy to stand both wrong and corrected. I also thank you for your agreement on the other 9.

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    • You sound like a douche. Get over yourself before i throw a tray of glassware at you.

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      • paparazzi says:

        so speaks one of the scene’s biggest bad debtors and mismanagers of money (usually the money belonging to others)

        hardly one who is qualified to tender opinions on commercial ventures, huh?

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  4. Anonymous says:

    houston = Bruce [surname removed] from chch

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  5. Wrong again, kid.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Since when opening a bar inside on of a sauna is a scandal??????????

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  7. Anonymous says:

    bruce just dosent like the idea of it, it somehow goes against his skewed morals

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  8. Anonymous says:

    it somehow goes against bruces skewed morals

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    • I’ve held my tongue so that I’m not fuelling the pathetic fires of your adolescent rants, but seriously…Kid, I’ve held my tongue long enough.

      When will you realise that you have an obsession with this Bruce guy? When will you wake up and realise that it doesn’t matter how much you hate him, or how much you want other people to hate him, YOU look like the crazy one? Nobody cares how much you hate someone else. Do you get that?


      You need a hobby kid. And another ten years of life experience. Maybe then you’ll realise that “when you smile, the world smiles with you. Kick and you kick alone.”

      Get some help, grow up and stop complaining about such small and petty things. Then when you’re older and more aware of the consequences of publicly saying slanderous things about people under a cowardly, childish non-identity – you can comment here and thank me. Grow up.

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      • That's right says:

        That’s right!

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      • Anonymous says:

        LOL! Houston you certainly don’t come across as “the crazy one”, or having the ability to rant about senseless things. No, not at all. LOL!

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  9. Lol. I don’t like swearing, and rarely do it: but you appear to be a fucking idiot.

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  10. There is more than one nightclub for gays that will be opening withing the wellington region by the end of this year and next however i am not going to release details to the comunity about one of them as of yet. Also as much as opening a gay bar by a sauna is bad taste if it is going to make money then what is the problem? i personally wouldnt do that as to me that is degrading.

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    • Aidan Jarvis says:


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      • Anonymous says:

        why dont wayne clark make a family down in wellington or bruce williamson move up from chch to escape the earthquake and set up a gay dance club in wellington and andy boreham could do all the promotions for either. one of these clubs should open its doors, or why doesnt someone make a new dance gay club that has a new style and plays like 80’s and 90’s remxes all night and then the older queens come out to play and buy all the tywinks there drinks and slip K into the drinks and have a sauna in the bathroom

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