Gang showers

An image sent to me by Chris Ambidge:


The sheer fun of showering together! The illustration shows one style of gang shower, with shower heads arranged around a central pillar. In the other main style, the heads are located side by side along one, two, or three sides of a communal shower room, as in this elegant (but unpeopled) installation:


Some further illustrations, with cultural comment, then some discussion of the compound gang shower.

Pillar-style. Here’s a color version of the Bradley item in #1, with ad text, plus some more recent commentary from the company:


From the Washfountain, the Bradley Corporation Blog

What can you really say about this? It was the 60’s, things were different then.

You’ve probably seen this picture before… We definitely wouldn’t run this ad now, but back then I bet nobody thought it was strange at all. The same picture and tagline actually got used in a few different places, so it must have been fairly successful. You can see another example below.

We’ve been selling group shower fixtures since the 30’s,  and the fact is it always makes sense to install fixtures that use space and water economically in larger facilities. The thing that changes is our sense of modesty. Maybe try out one of our showers that include privacy stalls?

(Gang showers are traditionally a male thing; women’s communal shower rooms have usually had privacy stalls or at least curtains between the shower heads.)

Here’s Zac Efron using a pillar-style shower (but alone), in a couple of shots that didn’t make it into High School Musical 3:


In-line-style. Very much the dominant style, in school gyms, health clubs, and the like. Here’s a version with two guys showering:


and one with a whole gang:


plus one from photographer Luke Smalley (“Untitled (Group Shower)” of 2008, with two guys but a very different tone from #4:


(#6 presents many of the interpretive problems I mentioned in this posting: what are we to make of it?)

More group bathing in “Recruiting men”.

Cultural context. Guys being naked together (especially in showers or locker rooms) sets up a potential context for men to cruise men — a potential that’s sometimes realized in life and is massively realized in gay visual materials. It’s easy to see #4 as a cruise, or at least a scoping-out, of the guy on the left by the guy on the right, And #5 is a cropped version of an explicitly (and celebratorily) homoerotic painting by artist Rick Chris (the full painting, plus four others of naked hunks in communal settings, can be viewed on AZBlogX, in “Gang paintings”).

The number of gay porn flicks set in shower rooms and/or locker rooms is enormous.

(More discussion in “The triad: jockstrap, locker room, shower room” on AZBlogX and, with a shower room fantasy of French rugby players, in “Keeping clean” on this blog.)

The compound gang shower. This is a reasonably straightforward N + N compound, with a FOR interpretation of the relationship between the two referents (‘shower (place) for a gang (of men)’, with gang understood merely as referring to a group, with no criminal associations.

There are few really parallel compounds with first N gang: gang bang and gang shag (and the innovations gang suck and gang piss, discussed in other postings on this blog) are probably the closest, but they have the BY interpretation rather than the FOR interpretation, they refer to events rather than locales or objects, and their head nouns are not usually used on their own to refer to events (note the marginal character of I took part in a bang and similar things).

One Response to “Gang showers”

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