Beats are spaces outdoors, often in parks or certain streets in a town, or some public toilets, where men meet other guys for sex.

Every town has a beat somewhere, and they have a long history. Men have been doing this for sex for centuries and they are still popular today and a lot of guys find them really exciting. A lot of men who don’t think of themselves as gay use beats as a way to meet guys for no-strings sex. In the past these were often the only places in small towns where you could meet other gay guys.

A lot of beats are based around public toilets, and guys hang around them (often called “doing the bogs” in New Zealand) and waiting to see who is around. This comes from the old days when it was pretty hard to meet a guy for sex in any setting, so the urinals in bogs became places where you could see guys’ cocks and look to see who was interested.

Some are based around certain parks, and often men have been using the same part of the park for hook-ups for years and years. Some streets might have a reputation that you can pick up there, though New Zealand cities aren’t really known for their street cruising like other countries are.

Beats can be dangerous. Queer-bashers target them sometimes, or you might just be the victim of random thugs in a park at night. Police also keep an eye on them at times, especially if there are complaints from locals about too many men being too obvious in what they’re doing. Having sex in a public place is not illegal itself, unless someone complains, but if people do complain you can expect to see more police action in the area. In the past cops often used to entrap and arrest men having sex in beats – today they’re more likely to tell you where the nearest sauna or cruise club is, and expect you to go there, but if you’re caught fucking in public you can end up under arrest, so be careful.

Because beats get used by guys who aren’t always involved in the gay world, there’s a good chance you’ll meet guys who don’t know much about safe sex, HIV or other STIs. So be sure to always insist on using condoms & lube and always carry them with you.

Online hook-ups seem to be reducing the popularity of beats – why go out and face the uncertainty of whether there will be anyone you fancy there, or the danger of attack that happens at times in beats, when you can organise it all from the comfort of your own home? But there’s no denying some guys really get off on sex in these sorts of places, so they will probably keep getting used in the future.