The lost art of cruising

‘Electro-tricks’ may be quicker and easier, but half the fun of the hook-up was working at it

Hardy Haberman | Flagging Left

I don’t get out much — at least to the bars. First of all I don’t drink anymore, and second, I am not really looking to hook up with anyone since I am in a very nice relationship.

I do, however, occasionally meet friends out for the evening or for a special event.

When I do go out, it is most often to our local leather bar, the Dallas Eagle, and I often indulge in a little people watching. I like to watch the crowd, the way people interact with one another, the ebb and flow of what was once a favorite past time of gay men: cruising.

What surprised me was the lack of that particular gay art going on.

First, let me say this is not a reflection on the Eagle; it’s a fine, first-class leather bar. What I noticed is something I have seen in other cities as well, and it bothers me a bit.

Now for those who might not know, cruising is a delicate dance men used to perform when looking for a partner, playmate or just trick du jour. It usually began with some long, slow looks, occasional subtle signals like a nod, the touch of the brim of a cap, a purposeful second glance or even just a slight change in body language.

If two people read the signals, and actually respond, it might proceed to sending over a drink — or a more direct approach. Often before actually making contact, you would ask a few friends if they knew the man in question, and for the leather scene that would also entail asking if anyone knew more intimate details: Was he a safe player? What was he into?

Of course, we also had the hanky code. It was a more direct and cut to the chase way to let folks know what you were seeking.

I won’t go into the details here, but the basics were: Hanky in the left pocket meant you were a top, and hanky in the right pocket meant you were a bottom.

Still, even with outward signs, there was an art to the whole endeavor. If done correctly, it had an element of seduction in it and all the sexual energy that went with it.

Sadly, I don’t see much of that going on anymore.

What I do see is guys checking their smart phones. Looking a little closer, I see them using Grindr, checking Recon and texting.

That’s when I realized what happened to cruising: It has gone the way of the dodo.

What was once a face-to-face encounter that actually took some time and energy is now a fast, down-and-dirty, “check a few profiles and text enough contacts until you pull a winning number” routine.

The whole cruising experience has become an electronic booty call with no mystery, no romance and no effort.

Oh yes, it is much more efficient. You can select from the variety of “neck-down pictures” and body statistics, like you were choosing a download on Amazon.

Find Mr. Right or at least Mr. Right Enough for Now, text a few lines, set a time and bingo! Insta-trick!

All very high tech and painless. No face-to-face rejections, no appallingly awkward moments. Just on-line chat and, essentially, “booking.”

It would seem to me that applications like Grindr and sites like Recon and CraigsList have replaced the whole cruising experience, and though it might be much more efficient, it really changes to atmosphere in the bars.

The heady sexual tension that used to permeate gay bars has given way to guys and gals on their smart phones texting or cruising — the web. One bar in Florida even has a screen where patrons can text directly to the screen, sort of a visual “shout out” for all to see.

Inevitably, the whole electro-trick phenomenon has spawned something totally unexpected. My partner commented on the subject of this column and suggested there should be an Angie’s List for Grindr.

I was surprised this morning when, while researching this piece, I found something very much like that. may just be a parody, but if not it offers some insight into the whole process. Personally, I find it kind of crass, but then I find the whole “electro-trick-speed-dating-booty-call” app thing crass.

It makes me long for the days of actually having to spend a little time to pursue and attract and seduce someone you were interested in. Try that now and I suspect you’d just get accused of being a stalker.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pink Noise: The Dallas Voice Podcast

In this week’s episode, Rich Lopez and I discuss Lady Gaga’s upcoming show in Dallas, the pop star’s canceled agreement with Target Stores, Texas Bear Round -Up XVI (TBRU) in Dallas next weekend, the impact of social media (from Twitter to Grindr) on LGBT culture, St. Patrick’s Day, and more.

Subscribe to Pink Noise on iTunes and follow the show on Twitter.

—  John Wright

Savage & Choi Cruise Grindr At CPAC

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Gaydar says it crushes the gay app competition — we tried to take a look and were disappointed

Watch out Grindr and Scruff, Gaydar is hot on your heels. unveiled its new app today on iTunes. By the looks of the chart below, it should be just what dudes need to hook up, or at least make friends. Some of the options sound pretty nice. You can select what you’re looking for (to chat, to date, to, you know) and change it on a daily basis. Sometimes a guy just doesn’t want a boyfriend. You know who you are.

Anyway, check out side-by-side comparisons.

—  Rich Lopez

How gay is A&M-Commerce? Gay enough for the student paper to run a piece about Grindr

Did you know that Grindr allows you to find people as close as 5 feet away?! Neither did we, until we read this piece from The East Texan, the student newspaper at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Read it for yourself, but here’s our favorite part:

President for the Association for the Needs of Gay and Lesbian Students Steven Martin said he can see how Grindr will make it easier to find people.

“I prefer to meet people the old-fashioned way, but I think it’s fine for those who don’t,” he said.

People should use the application at their own peril according to Martin, but he does not judge those who use it in any way.

—  John Wright

Tired of all those Grindr twinks? Now you can hunt gay bears on your iPhone with Scruff

We recently published a story on gay apps and rated their services (or lack thereof). Today on Bearotic (yeah, I know), Net Bear posted this nifty piece about the iPhone app Scruff. For those who prefer their men a little, um, scruffier, Scruff suits all your needs. This “gay bear finder” was designed by Johnny Scruff  and Eric Silverberg and is described as “a social application for gay bears, musclebears, cubs, otters, leather men, and their admirers. Scruff enables users to create and view profiles based on geo-location, send messages and private images, and check in to neighborhood venues.” You can also like the app for whatever reason on Facebook.

We asked resident bear Greg to download the free app for a test run. “Oh my God! My whole world has just opened up,” was his first reaction. Its similarities to Grindr make it easy to use and some of the features come in pretty handy — you know, for social networking and all that.

Greg and I could do a general browse regardless of where the hirsutes are, but then we had the option to choose “Near” for bears in closer proximity. Like FourSquare, you can check in but neither our office nor immediate businesses around us were coming up. We’re at Fitzhugh and Travis and the closest to us for check-in were all the businesses in Knox-Henderson. Once you’re logged in, you can send someone a “Woof” (which I never understood because bears actually growl) and also click under the “Would you meet this person” with options of “Not My Type” (ouch), “Maybe” and “Definitely.” We clicked the latter for one guy who clocked in at nine blocks away.

Hi, Justin!

—  Rich Lopez

False alarm: Grindr isn't going anywhere


Several blogs — including Queerty and Joe.My.God. — are reporting that Apple has pulled Grindr from the iTunes Store. According to Wikipedia, Grindr was removed from the app store last night at midnight. It’s unclear whether the removal is related to Apple’s recent purge of “adult” apps, and some are already alleging homophobia. If you already have Grindr on your phone, it’s still reportedly working — you just can’t download it. This development comes as Grindr was preparing to celebrate its first anniversary, with parties around the globe between March 23 and 29. One of those parties was set for Station 4 on Friday night.

UPDATE: Looks like this is a false alarm. Queerty is now reporting that the founder of the Grindr app, Joel Simkhai, said it will be available again soon. And sure enough, it’s back in the app store as of 12:48 p.m. Dallas time. Publicity stunt?online mobiseo оптимизация это

—  John Wright

#cc10: Creating Change Tweet of the Day

Screen shot 2010-02-04 at 1.24.59 PMhudey-onlineразработка сайта москва цены

—  John Wright