Sauna Party Tips

With sauna becoming more popular, more and more folks are being invited over to backyard saunas and mobile sauna gatherings all over town. Just yesterday, a couple millennials were spotted at a Minneapolis intersection, hunched over their Uber apps, used towels draped over their shoulders, radiating the unmistakable post sauna glow and bright smiles. What a warm sight! Yes, the sauna cat is finally out of the bag, and before you start packing a travel bag to attend your next sauna party, consider streamlining it.

Nix the Water Bottle

Drink 32 oz of water before you go out the door. Getting in front of hydration is critical for a good sauna session. Drinking a shit load of water before you go to a sauna party ensures that you’ll have enough water in your system. Critical for avoiding dehydration, drinking 32 oz of water before sauna will jump start your sweat action while on the bench. As a bonus, you don’t have to worry about forgetting your water bottle when it’s time to go home.

Wear What You’re Gonna Wear

When dressing to go to a sauna gathering, put on your bathing suit, Troxers, or socially accepted boxer shorts underneath your clothes. This way, when it’s time for sauna, you can “drop trow” and get on the sauna bench as quickly as Ricky Rubio being tapped on the shoulder by the Timberwolves coach. Yes, we know, in Europe we nude up when we sauna. But in North America, when we sauna in public domains, couples are invited over to backyard sauna parties and in a lot of cases we are sitting on the bench with a stranger of opposite gender. No matter how liberal and free range the sauna bather, it’s fucked up to nude up in sauna at public sauna parties and that’s all there is to that.

Leave it all behind. Jewelry, watches, and all that noise.

Come Bearing a Gift For the Host

This is often either overplayed or unplayed. If being invited to a newly built sauna, consider a memorable long lasting gift such as sauna backrests, or Nate’s Firestarters. If the sauna party is a more transactional event, bring an extra beverage to offer or share, as Sauna Joe suggests.

Beverages and Snacks

Not critical. Dealer’s choice. You’re going to sauna, not out to dinner. That said, a little Margie style home cooked treat is an incredibly thoughtful and memorable finish to an awesome sauna gathering.

Footwear

Wear slip on and off shoes. Consider nixing the socks. Spring, Summer, & fall saunas are best served in sandals, like Jesus on the mountain.

Towel

Veteran sauna goers don’t bother with a gym bag, but drape their towel like a priest’s stole. And this makes sense because we are all evangelists, pilgrimaging to sauna and willing to share our own spirituality and inspiration. Open arms towards mind, body, spirit restorative processes shared whilst chilling out in the garden all misty wet with rain.

Marty’s Law of Reverse Cycling

So, you’re at a sauna party and you find yourself sitting next to someone you really don’t want to be with. Hey, it happens. It’s rare – those into sauna are generally grounded, fun, personable – but it can happen. So, what do you do? Reverse Cycle.

What is Reverse Cycling?

As you sit next to the blubbering, babbling, buffoon, act surprised, get up and announce your departure from the hot room. Good reasons to exit include:

  • “I have to hit the bathroom.”
  • “Fiddlesticks, I have to make a quick call.”
  • Or just the vague “I’ll be back.”

Avoid Announcing:

  • “I’m going to go grab a beer” – Buffoon may ask you to bring him one.
  • “I don’t feel well”- Buffoon may show false sympathy and want to exit to sit with you and babble more.

With you safely outside the sauna hot room, you are free to do whatever. Keep an eye or ear out for Buffoon: chances are he’ll not be far behind. Meet Buffoon’s exit with your entrance back into the sauna. You’re now Reverse Cycling.

Buffoon will not last long alone cooling down, so save tossing water on the rocks for Buffoon’s reentry into sauna. You will be cooled and fresh, Buffoon will be hot and bothered. Greet Buffoon’s reentry into sauna with a generous dousing of water on sauna rocks. This should drive Buffoon back out of sauna, freeing you up for a nice, relaxing sauna round. Buffoon may try to re enter, and that’s OK and to be expected. Greet the re entry with more water on the rocks. You will be well into your sauna round by then, and you’re that much closer to your cool down. Buffoon will find himself completely reverse cycled.

Sometimes, you may need to Reverse Cycle by prolonging your cool down. Buffoon may be talking your ear off when all you want to do is chill out. If Buffoon has been out of the sauna longer than you, chances are, Buffoon will want to get back in the sauna well before you. This is good. Encourage another round (“man, it’s cold out here”), letting Buffoon go in the sauna first. You can chill out in peace, Reverse Cycling. After a few tactical moves along these lines, you should have no problem enjoying your sauna.. sans Buffoon.

Attitude

It’s ok to arrive harried and stressed. The past (busy work day, shitty traffic, thorn in your side) is now in that tiny sliver of a rear view mirror. In front of us is our vast windshield. As we undress, we can exhale knowing that the sauna session in front of us is within our total control.

How I Avoid Forgetting Anything At a Sauna Party

Anyone who has their own backyard or cabin sauna knows that guests are prone to leave a myriad of things behind. Sauna owners’ lost and found bins are often overflowing. A recent look through the 612 Sauna Society lost and found bin revealed such common forgotten items as water bottles, used towels (eww), left behind Troxers, bathing suits, or underwear (more eww), sunglasses, t shirts, beer koozie, copy of Proust, In Search of Lost Time, 3rd edition.

After a sauna party, if you find yourself almost back home but suddenly jolted with “damn, i forgot my…,” well don’t despair. Most sauna guests forget something. It’s part of what happens with a good sauna session. Our minds are elsewhere. We are much more right brain focused and relaxed. We would forget our car keys if we weren’t driving home. So, here’s a simple tip so you won’t ever forget anything at a sauna party: don’t bring anything. That’s right, don’t bring anything. That’s what I do. There is nothing more liberating than bringing nothing. Once we start to become more comfortable with nothing, we start to become more free.

  • Water bottle? – drink 32 oz. of water before you go to a sauna party.
  • Towel? – use your T-shirt to dry off, then stick it in your back pocket.
  • Sunglasses – leave them at home or in the car (if driving).
  • Proust – don’t bring the book.
  • Troxers, bathing suit, or underwear? Wear them to sauna. Bring them home after sauna.

9 thoughts on “Sauna Party Tips”

  1. Too true! Sauna is the ideal tool for community building and this is a legitimate tactic because it CAN happen. You’re right, it’s rare, but it happens. Not everyone “gets” the vibe in the sauna. I’m curious to see what happens when everyone knows what reverse cycling is… Then you’ll need a new tactic Glenn!

  2. Howdy Glen
    After having been really really clear on nudity in public we are advised to “Come baring a gift for the host.” What sort of gift are we to bare?

  3. Ha! You got me. Baring gifts for sauna is much like: “I just Finnished building my sauna benches.”

  4. At a co-ed sauna party, acknowledging the taboo of unilateral nudity, what is the etiquette around changing out of your wet shorts afterward? If the only place for changing is the “lobby” of the sauna, does one just get after it as quickly as possible? Exercise towel Olympics to keep covered while making the change? Other?

  5. Great list Glenn!
    When the guest list includes children a good idea is to pack a “sauna bag” for each kid which includes the above but with one additional important item: Pajamas!

    Slip the kiddo’s into some comfy PJ’s after the last round before you load them up in the car. They will be asleep before you leave the driveway.

    Tuck them in when you get home and you and your S.O. can enjoy some 80 proof tea on the couch before bed.

  6. Towel Olympics… lol… As a 30 year sauna veteran, I always avoid changing clothes in bathrooms for the obvious smelly and sticky reasons. I’ve often had good luck changing out of my wet Troxers after sauna sessions away from the sauna “lobby” and behind a tree or between a couple cars. Such cat like behavior has been good training ground for clothes changing in other places, like airports. A quick change may be had ducking behind a vacant gate podium, Superman style. Out of the work monkey suit and into casual travel garb. In this case, one isn’t nuding up, but merely down to the Troxer level, hardly worth even the most prudish American to *gasp*.

  7. Drinking a lot of water ahead of time is important but nixing the water bottle and not having any with you during the sauna rounds is terrible advice. Everyone should have plenty of water nearby and if you’re unsure whether there will be readily available water, you should take a water bottle. Drink early, yes, but also often.

  8. Will,

    I’ve evolved from bottled water or reverse osmosis BS. Minerals are the key. 32 oz. before sauna, then 32 oz. throughout the session. Beer doesn’t count.

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