In my most recent post – Nakation for Dummies – I made a bit of a fuss about finding the right place to experience social nudity for the first time, including a few punchy remarks about geriatric communities and sagging skin. A long-time reader felt compelled to write me a long and thoughtful email suggesting that my comments may have been a bit harsh, particularly when you consider that we are largely indebted to these pioneers of nudism for having any place to go naked at all. Point well taken.
As it happens, while my insurance company has not yet granted me the benefits the label of geriatric would provide, I’m most certainly getting closer to that mark each and every day. And I would go on to say that I’m a bit envious of those who are ten or twenty years older than I, as it seems there was a synergy and passion in those early nudist efforts that is all but lacking today. I remember those first naturist endeavors on the world-wide-web (Who remembers CompuServe?) that first made it possible to not only seek out places for nude recreation, but led me to meet real people as well, each of whom had a tremendous influence on our subsequent naturist endeavors.
There has been a lot written about the aging face of naturism, not only as that pertains to venues and clubs in the United States, but also for those in the large European naturist centers of Spain, Croatia and France. It is easy to neglect a few awkward truths that are frequently lost amidst overly simplistic statements about preserving nudist culture and recruiting the next generation. Having pondered this at great length, I have wondered if others have gone down the same rabbit holes that I have…
- In the digital age, traveling to a protected naturist environment costs money! My reader friend updated me on the status of several nude beaches that were popular back in the days we lived near San Francisco, some of which are no longer clothing optional, others of which have been compromised by the fact that the naked people are out-numbered by the clothed gawkers looking for a cheap thrill. And that’s to say nothing of the evolution of high-tech camera equipment (Drones, for god’s sake!) than can capture clear digital images from a mile away. The security and self-assurance that could be had for free at a local beach in 1970 now requires a reservation at a luxury resort or on a dedicated cruise. That requires discretionary income. Who has that kind of money? The aging naturist, of course.
- Naturism is inter-generational, except when it isn’t. That is most definitely something we took from our summer vacations in the South of France – naturism actually can be an inter-generational affair. In fact, it was particularly heartening to see two or three generations of a family, from one year to the next, as the grandchildren turned into young adults. Seems that’s never been part of the American nudist experience, and we’ve never really noticed that in Croatia or Spain either. In fact, at the huge Croatian resorts of Valalta and Koversada, the camping area is all but segregated with older folks who have dibs on the beachfront camping spots, and younger families who pitch tents up the hill. I suppose it makes sense, really. The French people go to French resorts with their French families, and it becomes a family tradition. I envy them for that. With the naturist population in Croatia coming mostly from Germany, and those in Spain coming mostly from Great Britain, it all becomes a bit more complicated as far as family traditions are concerned.
- There are perils involved in purchasing your own personal naturist hamlet! So you fall in love with a naturist place in France, or Spain, or Palm Springs, or Arizona, and you decide to buy into a condo or into an apartment complex. Maybe it will be an investment property, or even something you can leave to your family as a vacation home… except the local law of the land requires nudity! La Jenny in southwest France opened in 1984 with about 1000 chalets built over the following ten years. But what happens when the offspring don’t take a fancy to the naturist idea? This has become a significant issue at La Jenny when non-naturist family members want to come use the vacation hideaway, but aren’t too keen on the code of conduct which says, “Take your clothes off!”
- It Takes a Village… to make a Village. Especially in the United States, I believe this has become a particularly critical point. Like anything else, it requires a critical mass to provide a wide array of choices for various life-style preferences. Our most vivid experiences to this end have taken place in Florida, in one instance where we visited a “family naturist place” with our children only to learn of the unadvertised strong sexual undercurrent, and another “family naturist place” only to aggravate a less than tactful older man who quite clearly did not want children playing near the pool in his retirement village. But the fact is that when there are a finite number of people who consider nude recreation to be an All-American pastime, then facilities are challenged with being all things to all people. With literally hundreds of naturist centers in a space smaller than Texas, France has a marked advantage here that goes well beyond their laissez-faire attitudes about nudity. French people simply have a lot of choices! Wish that were true everywhere.
As I go about sorting all that out in my own head, it occurs to me that the age thing is perhaps the most perplexing conundrum in the demographics of nakedness. If you’re over sixty, and reading this now, there’s a good chance you have been an advocate for the free beach movement, or have volunteered at your club to fix the roof and paint the snack bar. Or perhaps you were simply there as part of the village to say “Naturism is important. Let us live and let live!” For this, I am grateful.
Here at this lovely little resort in Mallorca, we met the most lovely man who spends a month each winter at Club Orient in St. Maarten, and a month each summer here in the Balearic Islands. Having suffered a bad fall, he’s a bit less ambulatory in his 84th year than he once was, but his mind is sharp and his humor is vibrant – if not a bit stinging at times. He left early this morning, and I think I can speak for others when I say a certain energy went with him to the airport. Turns out that when he was in earshot, he was the life of the party.
Perhaps the takeaway there is that we really can’t measure the naturist population in calendar years as accurately as we might in the appreciation of one’s love of life, despite the condition of the skin that contains it!
[A disturbing side-note: As I was searching for images for this post, I used terms like “senior nudists” or “vintage naturism.” What Google pulled up was some of the most raunchy pornographic images fathomable, most of which were neither seniors nor vintage. While I’ve been around the web enough to find neither the images or the search results particularly surprising or shocking, it’s no wonder people are so confused about naturist/nudism, especially when searching for reliable information on the internet. Bummer!]
Reblogged this on MojoNude and commented:
Dan brings up some good points and widened my perspective of the issue. Technically, I’m one of those “aging naturists” but I was already part of that demographic when I discovered naturism a little over a decade ago. Still, I don’t feel that old.
Now that I’m officially retired, I have plenty of discretionary time on my hands but not much discretionary income. Where I live there are some options in there there are three AANR clubs in reasonable driving distance of my home. I’ve been to all of them and they’re quite nice. I’d like to have other options, places where I can skinny-dip or hike nude with minimal expenses (gas money).
I’m an old fart. Where I grew up organized naturism would not have been an acceptable option. So I went solo where I could.
There were a couple of nudist resorts within 150 miles but my chance of getting into one as a single male was zero.
I came to LA in my young adulthood. At the time there were nude beaches up and down the coast of CA. Cahill policy was still in effect in state parks. Then in the 80s, everything got conservative and most were shut down. Hundreds of miles and hours of driving to get to one where your risk of getting busted was low. Nowhere was completely safe, tho.
And here I am today. Organized resorts are still hundreds of miles and hours of drive and then pay to get in. But the internet allows me to interface with kindred spirits and I find there are quite a few in the same bucket as me. My recent social nudity has been the results of going on Meetup.com, more than anything else.
A resort requires a lot of members to be profitable. There are probably enough naturist types to support a dozen resorts in SoCal but they are scattered across such a large area that there just isn’t enough density to allow for more than what we have.
Resorts honestly make me think of ghettoes. Well appointed, members only, expensive ghettoes. Tiny islands of legal and cultural isolation in a sea of intolerance.
So the future, I think, is going to be non-landed clubs with a strong internet presence as a single point of contact. Somebody will have a house for a pool party or a small get-together. Somebody else has a good idea for a camping/hiking trip. We can organize scattered people over a wide area for s big event like WNBR or take political action to try to recover a beach.
It will be a long slow evolution before nudity is considered just another fashion choice.
Thanks for the comments Fred. My favorite quote is “Resorts honestly make me think of ghettoes…” You have a point there.
We’ve had a naturist friendly deck and hot tub on the back of our house for the nearly 20 years we’ve lived there. We’ve won over a few friends to the textile-free world, but it’s amazing to me how many get squeamish about that, even in the security of a private home. SO many hang-ups and misconceptions we Americans have.
In any event, thanks for reading. And even more so, for taking the time to weigh in.
I liked this blog as I am 84 and still getting my kit off. I have always been a naturist but never joined a club just finding places to enjoy being naked. My friends are mostly not naturist but just think that I am a bit eccentric. My kids have never been very keen but accept my “odd” proclivities. What I think is sad is, despite more acceptance of nudity in film and TV, social nudity doesn’t seem to be any more acceptable or usual than, say, 20 years ago. Take a look at British Naturism magazine and its full of stories about, and pictures of, naked old buffers like me. There is little interesting written about naturism as it’s a bit of a non story. Your blogs are a rare exception and perhaps because you write about issues that affect people like me! Whenever naturism is covered by a TV programme it is always and without exception treated as a sort of seaside postcard joke.
Google “naturism” or worse “nudism” and all sorts of crap appears so is it so surprising that many people think naturism is a bit deviant. Rather than being described as a “naturist” I think I would describe myself as someone who likes to not wear clothes when appropriate. However not very useable so I suppose naturist it has to remain.
Do keep blogging on they are so good.
PS I fear your American hang-ups are very much shared by many of us Brits
Sad to report that the American hang-up are significantly MORE dramatic than in Great Britain. (And not only on the topic of nudity. Oy!)
I enjoy working on this project very much. Thank you for taking the time to follow, and to comment!
More dramatic and getting worse. There is an unholy alliance out there between a certain class of feminists who think ANY nudity is exploitative of women, the far right who think nudity is sin and the law should prohibit sin, and an odd group of people obsessed with various social ills they think nudity precipitates.
I assumed, when my body was young and pretty, that a day would come when it was time to stop taking my clothes off around others; both to spare them the sight, and to spare myself what I’d thought would be the mortifying shame of sagging skin. Nope. If anything, aging has helped me to be more matter-of-fact than ever about my body, and nudism has helped with avoiding the common pitfall of unsuccessfully trying to look younger by sweeping my spots and wrinkles “under the rug” of clothing.
I used to have a lot of nudity on my blog. Nude hikes, special events, things like that. I have recently decided to make everything that isn’t FB safe private.
I’m not shy at all about my own nudity but what bothered me was that the nude stuff overwhelmed everything else I wrote. An intensely personal exploration of some private topic, a backpacking trip, philosophy, nature photography, anime, the little triumphs and losses of day to day life, the topics didn’t matter. What seemed to matter was whether there were genitalia and female nipples. Those got most of my hits
One thing really got me. One week the top search terms were all variants of “naked chicks”. Nudist or naturist didn’t even show up. Almost all hits went to posts with lots of full frontal nudity. I have posts that are heavily nudist in nature but without full frontal and they hardly got a hit in comparison, despite having the same keywords.
Some of my hits were on specific photos within a post but not the post itself. Seems AI has got to the point where the same logic FB uses to censor posts is used by search engines to find photos by what it looks like, no tags or metadata needed.
If all you want is to see naked chicks or exposed dicks or some vicarious sexual exhibitionism, I don’t want you on my blog. People who are only looking for “nekked ass pictures” can go somewhere else. My images will be a lot tamer until I can figure out how to approach this.
Late to the party but…
Yeah, nudism/naturism is expensive. I’m lucky in that I live in a large city so there’re activities & events that don’t require taking time off from work to attend. however, anything beyond a Saturday pool party is a non-starter. The discretionary income simply isn’t there. I don’t see this changing any time soon, unfortunately.