There’s a place called Lake Steam in the North of Denver. It’s a very old bathhouse and reminds me of the old school baths in Britain, circa 1960’s/70’s. The tiles are an ancient shade of white on the walls and on the benches.
There are naked women everywhere. I read some of their tattooes, but can’t say I am particularly inspired. One woman had red and pink Lilly’s all over her torso, another had some tribal work combined with nipple piercings. Ouch! I’m far to much of a chicken for that mullarky, however I do confess to almost getting a tattoo, but only almost.
It was in the first two weeks of landing here, I was influenced by the heat, the altitude and the general freedom of being in a foreign place alone without anybody to answer to. A complete free choice in a completely free country. At this stage I beg the question, “Are we ever free?”
Avoiding a long and protracted philosophical answer, I’ll say for the act of having a tattoo, then yes, we are. But, I didn’t do it, despite the beautiful designs and endless art work possibilities. The reason I didn’t is mine to know, and so instead I admire the body work of others and here in these naked baths is a really good place to do this.
There are all shapes and sizes of ladies here, it’s ladies night by the way, no mixing tonight. I put my name down for a salt scrub massage. The masseusse is a sixty something Hispanic grandma, Mexican descent I think. She’s short and round with large drooping soft breasts. the contours of her face and body could be the subject of a Dali painting. Rolling, ample layers of flesh, that have only known years of pleasing her husband and bearing his babies.
I decide to step into the hot tub while I wait my turn. It is HOT! I usually cook my broccoli at this temperature! There is some debate wit other hot tub attendees and the Mexican Granmamma alters the thermostat, bringing the temperature down to simmer from boil.
I immerse for a few long minutes to cook and step out for a shower in a very fetching shade of bright seafood pink. Hot baths. Cold shower. I never enjoy these extreme temperature changes, a medium warm is always my mediocre and life saving compromise. The fear of a cold shower heart attack still embedded as a false truth in my psyche from childhood.
It’s my turn for the massage. My masseuse is butt naked. I have never been massaged by a butt naked Mexican Grandmamma before, first time for everything as we say back home in old England. Her body and arms are short and skilled, she washes me down, scrubs me, washes me down, scrubs me again, then I turn on my back and she repeats a similar procedure. Her pink breasts and wobbly belly cover my head and face in the process. I am not sure how to react. I want to laugh at the oddness of the situation, but this is real work, for a pittance ten dollars, (this same procedure of salt scrubs can be up to $100 in other establishments). So I keep breathing and I keep calm and remember some wise words from my parents. No situation lasts forever. (Especially a mild suffocation from an elderly ladies breasts).
The scrub is awesome by the way and highly recommended. Place to one side your lifelong prudish outdated British sensibilities and get a salt scrub that keeps you clean for at least ten days. The grand finale involves being covered in salt and being told to, “Go sweat.” I enter the sauna. An old fashioned room. Wooden benches three seats high that have seen many bottoms in there long career. Opposite the sauna benches are the sauna kilns, (I kid you not). These would have been condemned by health and safety years ago in Britain. The heated kilns are on and functional, one is wide open and the only warning you get is, “DO NOT TOUCH THE OVENS.” Let me tell ya, I wouldn’t dare.
I sit and I sweat, as instructed, by an invisible osmotic principle I assume. A low salt environment flows into a high salt environment, purging toxins from my body. Something along these lines. Do check out the science for yourself. I’m cooked and scrubbed and sweated out. These baths may be old fashioned, but maybe this is the best way. Simple heat, sweat and purge.
I don’t know much about Denver, so this ain’t no tourist guide, but I do know if you wanna sweat in the old fashioned way, then Lake Steam is the place. Oh! And gentleman, as far as I am aware, the Mexican Granmamma only does ladies, there’ll be a butt naked male masseuse on men’s nights, just so you know 😉