2018 – from the naked eye…

As so often happens during the cold winter months, I’ve fallen away from my blog. Winter is a particularly crazy time for me at work, and there simply isn’t much time to write, let alone give much thought to/about meandering naked.

But the weather is starting to turn here in the eastern United States, and it seems hopeful that despite blizzard like conditions all the way into April, there is some hope that it will soon be warm enough to work on the all over tan on the back deck soon. So in quiet anticipation, I thought it might be interesting to take a quick inventory of the developments in the naturist cyber-sphere that I’ve noticed over the past year.

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I was sorry to see Felicity and Jordan give up the fight for YNA (Young Naturists of America) after working so diligently in advocating for normalizing social nudity. If you don’t know Felicity, she is a 20-something that grew up in a naturist family frequenting a club in New Jersey, and she and her partner Jordan were incredibly progressive in their efforts to move nude recreation into the mainstream of their peer group. I have yet to meet them, but it seems the task simply became too onerous, and I suspect they simply encountered “too much weird,” as so often can be the case when working for a cause considered deviant by many, intentionally exploitative by some. In any case, it’s a bummer. You can still find some of the best content from their old website on Felicity’s blog, though she has ramped up her banter about feminist causes in this new incarnation. I get it, especially in this political climate, but it does diffuse the energy a good bit as related to the naturist cause. One would like to think that people who embrace naturism have already gotten past things like gender bias and discrimination, though as I said in an earlier post, (The Demographics of Nakedness) about the only thing naturists have in common is being naked. So there it is.

She’s also started a series of interviews with everyday people from all walks of life who frequent Gunnison Beach near NYC. Interesting project. Interesting read. The Real Nude Beach: A Body-Positive Photography Project on Gunnison Beach.

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I’ve become an avid fan of Nick and Lins from Belgium and their most excellent Naked Wanderings website and Instagram accounts. Was hoping I might actually meet them this spring as they are currently exploring naturist places in North America. They’ve amassed a huge following, and it appears they are somehow able to make a living writing about social nudity. In any event, they are wonderful ambassadors for the cause, and their website is becoming one of the best resources for naturism that gives a glimmer of hope to the under-fifty crowd for figuring this whole thing out.

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Clothes Free International seems to be making a comeback. Back in the early 2000s they were a significant force in the young naturist movement, particularly on the west coast, developing a series of video shorts called Nudes in the News that highlighted news stories about social nudity, along with a nice variety of trip and beach reports. For a long time, the CFI message boards were about the best thing going for finding other naturists and discovering places to become one, but alas, the incessant banter about pubic hair and erections were about the only threads that could sustain themselves into oblivion. I, personally, became disenfranchised when one of the moderators erroneously deemed one of my previous blogs to promote swinging as he had misread one of my trip reports. Despite repeated attempts, I was never quite able to sort that out, and ended up jumping ship from their forum. But in any event, they seem to have a new crew with new energy and renewed optimism for the cause. And with ever-improving technology, their production values are quite excellent. A good resource, for sure.

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It’s been someplace between amusing and astonishing to watch the Topfree in Ocean City debate burn up the airwaves, a perfect recipe for media frenzy. Seems a few determined women are eager to enjoy the rights of their male counterparts, but the mayor of this beachfront resort town is certain this will destroy the family values of what most would consider to be a ticky-tacky boardwalk wonderland. Have no delusions, Maryland is anything but progressive on matters like social nudity, with strict referendums passed a few years ago that banned discreet nudity on some of the most remote beaches of Assateague Island, where about the only beings you’re likely to offend are the wild horses who run there. I always wonder if scuffles like this one are more helpful or hurtful to the cause, especially in this day and age when narrow-mindedness is increasingly in vogue. I also wonder how hard one would have to look to find a topless woman on this expansive beach in the Mid-Atlantic? My guess is that you have a better chance of winning the Powerball than seeing a naked breast in Maryland.

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In a somewhat related story, a young woman from Australia took on the establishment, or more specifically, the highly restrictive rules regarding the posting of nude photos on Instagram. Nude_YogaGirl had her account suspended, but instead of simply deleting her page, she fought back with a media blitz in the Australian press – and it worked! Her account has been reinstated, and as of this post, she is enjoying over 786,000 followers! A quick perusal of her photos suggests she had to agree to cover nipples and the pubic region, but it’s still a big step for nudity on social media, which has apparently garnered the support of nearly a million people who are not too offended to follow her account.

So here we are in 2018. Evermore paranoid about the exploitation of children to the point where their faces are pixelated in everyday newspaper articles, and absolutely freaking out about nippleage on Instagram and on the beach. All the while, stories about the President’s sordid doings with porn stars and Russian prostitutes surface daily on every channel of the media, which must be putting most parents in a way more awkward position for answering questions about morality and behavior that stretch far beyond simply acknowledging the existence of human anatomical parts.

It’s difficult to identify the naked truth when both words… naked, and truth, have become so controversial.

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OMG! You’ve Seen me Naked!

I just clicked through on a quirky piece on a Second Life blog with a series of naturist photos and a compelling case about the normalcy of nudity – or at least, how that should be the case.

I’m not a Second Life guy, so I have only a vague understanding of that culture, but I find it particularly intriguing when people who “live” in an entire world of alternate identities speak to the inherent truth and honestly of social nudity. (Even a bit more peculiar when people take on the identity of a nude avatar, which to me, has always seemed a bit too close to animated pornography – but that’s another topic for another day.)

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A few months ago, my blog crossed the threshold of a 500,000 hits. At the time, I considered writing some goofy post to the effect of, “A Half-Million Views of My Naked Ass,” but other than simply stating that some sort of strange “rite of passage” had occurred, I finally decided what’s the point?

Just to complete the loop, I also got a comment in response to one of my recent blog posts requesting – rather politely I will admit – that I offer “more male frontal nudity please.” I thought that to be particularly intriguing (and a bit irritating to be truthful) as there are a bazillion places on the internet these days where one can find full frontal nudity in all states of arousal or not. To be more specific, I have over 4000 followers through the various channels of my blog, and the realization that some of my readers are simply holding out for the opportunity to view my genitalia is flattering at best, but pretty creepy in reality.

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And so it goes in a day and age where we can go to the cinema and see sex and violence in copious quantities, but full frontal nudity puts a film in a different class, creating a parallel universe in the naturist community that sends a clear message that female breasts and male genitalia are not for the weak of heart! (If someone would like to explain to me to mystery of female genitalia as obscured by pubic hair, have at it!) The bizarre part of the entire equation to me is the fact that devoid of imagination, nudity has little or no allure. None! Most of us feel more self conscious (e.g. less alluring) when we lack a protective layer of cotton or nylon, and even fewer of us feel we have the bodily characteristics to qualify as internet worthy in the category of sexual stimulation.

How did we… as a species (!)… get to this place? My dog runs around naked all the time, and he seems totally oblivious to the entire phenomenon!

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I have often wondered where we would be with the social nudity thing without the overwhelmingly prudish aftermath of the Christian missionary conquest. Don’t get me wrong. I was raised in the Christian church, and I understand they mores they seek to espouse. Find a mate. Procreate. Don’t mess with genetics by making babies with your cousins. But in 2018??? With HBO, Pay-per-view, and Tommy Wiseau? Are you serious?

So after I finish this post, I’ll comb through my Twitter feed and block followers with auspicious names that are searching for God knows what, and I’ll look over the various blog posts I’ve published to date with one eye toward promoting body-positive advocacy and the other toward the “What on earth are you thinking?” crowd, knowing full well what they’re thinking, and wondering why they’re wasting time on the pages of my blog.

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And so it goes. We live in an age where acceptance and tolerance is fully embraced by everyone, except by those who are neither tolerant nor accepting. I have often wondered about the pioneers who brought nudism to America, so fastidious to the merits of high fences and private mailings. Today, you can have just about anything you want delivered to your mailbox or your computer, but set foot in your backyard donning a flaccid penis or an uncovered breast and you might find yourself in the Municipal Court defending your “right to bare arms.” Crazy.

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Perhaps I have grown tiresome in reiterating this in recent blog posts, but I’ll say it again here…  Social nudity is a liberating and rejuvenating experience to those who are able to get beyond the dogma of it all, which is all pretty bizarre when you consider that very few humans look better wrapped in nylon or Lycra than they do wrapped in skin.

So there we are then. Naked and afraid. Yet I will continue to rally for the naturist cause in the most altruistic way I know how. Hoping that one more person out there might read this blog and say, “Why the hell not?” Life is too short to spend our days wrapped in wet nylon!

[Images in this post are believed, by the blogger, to be in the public domain. If you wish to have an image removed, please contact me and I will respond accordingly.]

ANOTHER BLOG ABOUT NUDISTS. REALLY?

This effort is meant to augment my naturist travel blog, The Meandering Naturist, wherein I write mainly about our travels to naturist and clothing optional places all over the world.

Read the entire post: Another blog about nudists. Really? — The Discerning Nudist

I’m posting here about the fact that I never repost, except for this time, when I’m reposting myself! 🙂

Consider following my new blog: THE DISCERNING NUDIST

“Naked Truths” Raw Perceptions

[Images for this post were acquired from a Google Image Search. Please advise if I have used an image without appropriate permission.]

By the time I went home, I’d seen a hundred soft dicks…

Such is the opening line of a recent piece in RACKED, an online fashion magazine, for which the author was sent on special assignment to experience a week at a typical naturist gathering, intended to provide fodder for an article about how clothing defines who we are. Does it though?

Not surprisingly, Naked Truths: Who Are We Without Our Clothes by young freelance writer Jamie Lauren Keiles could easily be the sequel to David Sedaris’s final essay from his 1998 book, Naked. In each case, the writing style is someplace between unabashed and irreverent. And in each case, the author grapples with the awkward dichotomy of something (nakedness, that is) that should be natural and empowering, while drawing attention to the bizarre customs that have shifted the emphasis of the ideal from rejuvenating to weird!

After dinner, I walked to the lake, down an isolated trail in a thicket of trees. The sun was not scheduled to set for two more hours. The light came green and filtered through the leaves as I stopped midway to pull off my shirt, then continued down the trail, fully nude except my shoes. A breeze off the lake took stock of every fine mammalian hair on my body. Walking naked in the woods makes you feel like a real goddamn Homo sapiens. My posture looked stupid, like it had been formed in a time before women were dainty. My brain was a mass of electrical signals; I wanted to kill an animal, or maybe be killed by one.

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Not the author pointed out in the photo. Don’t know who that is!

Ms. Keiles takes us through her week-long stay at the TNS Eastern Naturist Gathering one step at a time; at times with a sense of admiration for the genuine nature of the people she meets, at other times, sardonic and cutting in her realization of so much irony.

The following morning was cold and rainy. Most people at breakfast were wearing at least one article of clothing — a silk kimono or a terry-cloth bathrobe or a souvenir sweatshirt from a regional nude beach. One couple stepped out in matching tie-dye Snuggies. Only two well-insulated men remained nude, one very hairy and one very fat. The scene felt like the relief effort following a tragic YMCA locker room fire.

Or later, when she reflects on the ritual square dancing lessons…

Square dancing is an elaborate coupled dance with lots of touching and changing of partners. My partner was a shy man in black tube socks and a Casio watch. I did not feel eager to have him hold my naked body, but soon he proved a dependable dancer. Our first song was a wife-swapping routine called “Push Ol’ Pa, Push Ol’ Ma.” It opened with a jaunty fiddle and a move called “grand left and right” that involved shaking hands with different partners around a circle. As the ladies traveled clockwise and the men counterclockwise, I took extreme care to connect with each outstretched hand. I shook the hand of a 7-foot-tall man with black hair. I shook the hand of a gay man in pearls. When the song was over, everyone agreed that I was a really good square dancer. It is easy to learn quickly when the risk of failure is grabbing a stranger’s penis.

First of all, square dancing lessons? Can you think of anyplace else you might go for a week-long retreat wherein one of the main events might be square dancing lessons? (Author’s note: My parents were life-long square dancers, albeit, most definitely not naturists. Square dancing is an important part of the American tradition, and I suspect, still a wonderful pastime for many people in our midst. But really? This is a headliner event at a naturist gathering?)

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Pudding toss at a naturist event. Awkward.

The reason Keiles’s article resonated with me so deeply – as well as that of David Sedaris before – is this thing that has clearly become an obsession of mine to somehow normalize perceptions related to social nudity amidst even a few “on-the-fencers” here in the United States of America. I am sometimes criticized regarding the content of my blog, as so much of my reportage suggests that you have to travel to Europe to experience naturism in any altruistic sort of way. The longer I’m at this though, and the more I read pieces by unsuspecting journalists like Jamie Lauren Keiles, the more I succumb to the fact that, this may indeed be true.

There is some irony, I suppose, that I’ve been a member of TNS (The Naturist Society) since about 1990. Keiles talks a bit about this organization in her essay, noting that it was born out of the nude beach groupies of Northern California (my homeland), in what I always perceived to be a push back against some of the politics and weirdness of the AANR. (American Association for Nude Recreation) It may be that I’m a bit bent out of shape that TNS has never been willing to accept an article submission under a pseudonym, despite repeated requests and explanations that since I am a published author in academia, it might not the best idea to entangle my naturist writings with those about education and pedagogy.

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A genuine perception of naturists. Sigh.

I digress, but not really! The TNS policy on pseudonyms – and square-dancing for that matter – reflects a distorted reality as to just how the average American perceives the naturist idea.

Another excerpt, this time about the grand finale talent show at the end of the week,

Curtain down, curtain up: A woman played a beat on a gong and a drum as her pendulous breasts hit the twos and fours. A man with a 12-gauge ring through his dick read an original poem about his sisters.

Really? Like that of Sedaris, this essay in a fashion magazine will reach more people in a week’s time than all the positive PR about American naturism could possibly find in a year! But let me be clear. The author is merely reporting – with flair, to be sure – what she saw and how she experienced it as a 20-something female on assignment. To that end, I found her impressions from the stretching workshop (pseudo-yoga) to be really intriguing as well…

I looked around the group and watched the other people stretch. An eightysomething man and wife reached for their toes on towels in the corner. The room was a showcase of strange and gnarled postures. Spines curved over in improbable ways. Everyone else had at least a few liver spots. In your 20s, there’s a cognitive fail-safe that makes it impossible to imagine your body becoming an old person’s body. Our access to the symptoms of aging seems to be meted out according to market potential. (I know about wrinkles, only because I know I should buy a cream to prevent them.)

And there it is! Perhaps the thing we have most admired about naturist travel in Europe is the way Europeans perceive themselves, naked or otherwise. Not only do we see that in the European naturist resorts, but in every small village as well, where one finds an abundance of 90-something humans making their way through the streets to the village market, on foot (!), acknowledging that aging is part of the life cycle, and at least “I have all day to get to the market.”

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Supposedly real naturists dining together, but alas, nobody is sitting on a towel.

In the meantime, the naturist scene in American seems to be as polarized as the country itself. (Little political jab there!) In fact, we have something of an imperfect trifecta!

  • The constituencies of TNS and AANR that continue to host events reminiscent of a 1950s “covered-dish dinner,” (Click through to the definition. It’s worth it!) despite the fact that as Keiles noted, the attendance of a contingency of under-60s hasn’t “proved true in any statistically significant way.”
  • The places where nudity does equal sex! Though Keiles’s piece was published three days ago, I found the two comments on the publication website informative in a sad sort of way. The first comment was from some guy who was advocating for his right to sport an erection when naked in public. The second post was committed to shutting the first guy down. Go to the wrong naturist place in Florida, and you’ve signed up for lingerie dances and hocus pocus in the pool. All very confusing, and most definitely not helping the social nudity cause.
  • And finally, the no-nudity, unless it sells skin products culture. I could write volumes on the puritanical implications of an age in when sexuality sells so many movies, beauty products, and even swimwear lines at the expense of simple immodesty that says, “I’m OK with who I am, with or without clothing.”

Remember, Keiles writes for a fashion magazine, which is why she set out to do this piece in the first place. She says right in the title of the essay that this was intended to explain, “what we accomplish when we choose to wear clothes.” Given all the rhetoric to we are all the same people when we’re naked, Keiles makes a fairly compelling case that that’s not really true at all. We are the people that we are – naked or not.

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Naked Meandering Takes Time…

The last two years have been pretty intense, with a couple big projects that have required a lot of travel, and as a friend put it this morning, many instances where I could say “I worked two days yesterday!” That’s tricky for a blogger, given that the very nature of blogging is organized around a chronological sense of time and space. Challenging when neither is available.

I write this post from Skinny Dippers Naturist Retreat on Mallorca, which has the unusual feature of encouraging a sense of community as many (most?) of the guests gather around the dinner table each evening; where, of course, the lead-out topic of conversation is almost always, “Where have you been, and what did you think?” If that conversation takes hold, perhaps I will disclose that I am a naturist blogger, and the most enthusiastic among them will run off to grab his or her iPad to put – shall we say – a face to the name.

“So, you’ve written about this place in Hawaii? Or Greece? Or Brazil?”

“Well…” I say sheepishly, “I intended to get that done, but you know how those things go.”

But as of this writing, we are looking ahead to three more weeks of nakation, and there are few things sweeter in life than sitting naked on the veranda with a glass of wine and sharing your musings about past travel experiences. So whether you are a loyal fan of my blog, or you just stumbled in from the frustration of a web search where the term “nudist” pulled up all the images you weren’t looking for, here’s what lies ahead on the blogging agenda for the Meandering Naturist.

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On the edge of the big island, Hawaii

I wrote a couple posts about our visit two summers ago to Hawaii, but never quite got around to writing about the sweet little resort called Hangin’ Loose where we lived for a week in a yurt during monsoon season – or at least, so it seemed.

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The serenity of Playa Sonrisa, Mexico

And it seems that I’ve never shared much about our two visits to Playa Sonrisa, a quiet little resort so far down the Yucatan peninsula that you can (and we recommend that you do) take a daytrip by boat to Belize.

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Celso. The guy from Brazil with a naturist dream

And for that matter, I was surprised to find out that I’ve left virtually no trace of our visit to naturist Brazil whatsoever, despite the drama of the story of Colina do Sol, where we met the guitar playin’ naturist Celso to learn of the perils of the naturism business in 21st-century South America. So many stories to tell about that!

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Oriental Village, Thailand
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Near Lemon Tree Resort, Thailand

When asked if I’ve blogged about our visits to two naturist resorts in Thailand, (Oriental Village and Lemon Tree Resort) I had to search my own archives to realize that, “Nope! Those trips are pretty much missing from our travelogue.” Which is a shame, as I’m particularly eager to promote naturism in this part of the world most suitable for naturism 365 days a year. Thailand is most definitely that place!

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Walking to Tahiti Beach on Corsica

I knocked out a few posts about some of our travels last summer, but never really mused much about free-hiking on Corsica or our stay at the naturist resort Bagheera, let alone the subsequent visit to Vritomartis and a stunningly naked day on the tiny island of Gavdos – the most southerly point in Europe.

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At the end of the world, on Gavdos, Greece

I did, however, do a pretty good job in keeping up with the blog during our time last winter (summer, there!) in Australia. At least, that is, until we got to the last two stops near Brisbane at BB at Byron Bay and a local legend known as BoBrene. But that often happens at the end of a long trip, when you start gearing up for reality at home, and the diary business goes out the window.

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The view from the top! A naturist villa near Byron Bay, Australia

And finally, it seems I only gave a cursory glance to our long weekend at Paya Bay in Honduras, which I’ve taken to calling my new Caribbean Branch Office. Another case where we’re eager to simply get the word out about this little gem that has been flying below the radar of much of the international naturist community.

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My branch office at Paya Bay, Honduras

So that’s quite a lot of catching up to do, and as I reflect, quite a lot of miles we’ve accrued in getting naked on six continents over the past two years. Seems that our pacing may slow down over the course of the next year or two as life reinvents itself, but as any blogger will tell you, the best part of the process is living the trip over through the mind’s eye. If a confirmed or would-be naturist finds the motivation in these pictures and words to book his or her own nakation, all the better for the cause, quietly hoping for the day when clothing-optional vacations are as normal as a trip to Disney World. For this meandering naturist, they are most certainly a lot more fun.

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The idyllic little naturist beach on the Island of Rab, Croatia

Individual trip reports to follow in a quasi-chronological order. In the meantime, I always enjoy conversing with other naturists, so if you can’t find it in the search bar of my blog, don’t hesitate to ask Naturist Dan.

Happy naked wanderings to you!

 

In Praise of Aging Nudists

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.

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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.

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  • 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!”

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  • 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.

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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. Have 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.

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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!

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[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!]

 

Nakation for Dummies

So I have made repeated mention in recent posts of my daughter and 20-something friends – mutual friends, I might add – who have become increasingly naturist-curious; a true bonanza for a long time naturist blogger who throws a small party every time he gets a new follower on his blog. This, in an age where nudism is frequently dismissed by Millennials as something my slightly deranged, post-modern hippie parents threaten to tell us about…

“Anyway, your father and I just booked on a nudist cruise to Aruba.”

“NOOOO!!!!! MOM, don’t tell me THAT stuff! Just STOP”

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Day-dreaming in Croatia

It’s strange to me, really. I was a late bloomer, who wasn’t even old enough to bloom during the Summer of Love. By the time I came of age, we were in the Reagan era, California was cracking down on nude beaches, free love was under fire from the emerging religious right, and the AIDS crisis was just about to erupt on the horizon. But the bizarre part of it all to me is the dichotomy of the strange relationship 20-somethings have with immodesty. I know quite a lot of people in this age bracket, most of whom are not especially religious, don’t think twice about a one-night stand (Do we still call this casual sex?), are as likely as not to make out with a new acquaintance at a party, frequently wear seductive clothing in casual settings, but would never consider going to a nude beach or resort. What’s up with that?

What’s up with that, says this humble blogger, is that we’ve made the whole thing seem damn weird and unmanageable! Try visiting a nudist resort in the United States and it costs a fortune (Like $50 for a day visit), and only that after you submit a full FBI check to prove you’re not a sex offender or puritanical ax murderer! Go to the wrong place in Europe, and you inadvertently end up at a naked geriatric center pondering your mortality in disbelief that skin could possibly have that kind of elasticity. Turn the other direction in France, and you might find yourself in Cap d’Agde, the most infamous of naked places in the world, where your inhibitions and misconceptions about naturism will turn into a nightmarish collage of men in studded collars and lesbian sex on the beach. (I know, Cap d’Agde fans – the place can be great for naturism, but send an unsuspecting newbie there? Yikes!)

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Family nakation at La Jenny

And thus, a few thoughts for the newbie naturist who finds the idea of no tan lines and swimming without wet nylon a least at bit alluring.

  • Leave the country! Assuming you’re reading this in the US of A, (or even in Great Britain,) you need to go someplace where people aren’t freaked out by nudity. The family naturist resorts on the southwest coast of France (La Jenny, Montalivet) are by far the most normal in terms of demographics, but they are difficult to get to, and the weather can be iffy. Croatia would be a good alternative, but the time and place means everything. If you go before school holidays, you’re back to the geriatric thing. Do your research before you go.
  • Go to a spa in Germany or Holland. Check out the website for information about FKK or Texteil Frei days, which for many of them is everyday. Elysium near Rotterdam or Therme Erding near Munich are particularly impressive, and draw huge numbers of young couples and singles who don’t consider themselves nudists, but don’t think twice about getting naked with others. It just feels normal.
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The view over Origan naturist camping in France

  • Search the blogosphere for things written by naturists. A lot of it is rubbish, and you’ll know right away this is not going to be helpful. But now and again, you’ll find a blogger who gets it, knows where to go, and when to go there. Send them a message and see if they answer. I’ve found many of our favorite places that way, on the basis of personal recommendations, greatly reducing the chances that you’ll waste your time and money, while irreversibly damaging your psyche!
  • Read Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews before you go – not just a few, but drill down. Many people adore Gunnison Beach in New Jersey, as it’s one of the only substantial and recognized nude beaches in the entire country, but if you read enough reviews, you’ll also learn about some of the oddities of the place as well. In fact, American nude beaches have big issues with gawkers, which is pretty much a sure-fire way to get your girlfriend to say, “Never again.”
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Therme Erding near Munich

  • Decide if you’re an “all in” or “ease in” person. “All in” means you’ll be more comfortable if everyone around you is naked, and you just need to follow suit. “Ease in” means you’re seeking a mixed crowd where nudity is permitted by not required, but also means you put it out there while others around you may not. You can usually figure that out from the aforementioned trip review sites, but it’s an important distinction.
  • Go high-end, or go low-end, but beware of the middle. Though a bit counter-intuitive, you either want to stay at a nice naturist hotel like Vritomartis in Greece or Heliotel in France, or find a place with lots of tent camping –  not miles of trailer camping – but tent camping. Why? The places in the middle tend to attract the folks who parked their travel trailer on a plot in 1967 and haven’t budged since. Lovely people, they may be, but if you’re looking for a youthful vibe, seek out the tent campers. Check out Camp Full Monte in Montenegro, or Belezy in France. Valalta in Croatia seems to have struck a nice balance, but not so much before schools let out in early July.
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Naturist camping on Corisca

  • Beware of naturist/nudist message boards if you want to feel normal about the whole thing. Like the blogosphere, there are some very cool people out there who have a lot of helpful information, but receiving a nude pic from a lonely guy in Atlanta is probably not the introduction to social nudity you’re looking for.
  • Seek out resources geared to people in your demographic. Perhaps the best one out there right now is The Young Naturists Association (YNA) run by Felicity and Jordan out of New York. They have done more to promote a positive image for social nudity than anything I’ve seen on the web for quite a long time. I have yet to attend one of their events (I’m told I’m welcome, despite the fact that I’m not quite a young naturist anymore) but from everything I’ve seen, they’ve got it right, including a blog that is thoughtful, intelligent, and informative. My guess is the people they have attracted to the cause have similar traits.
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Naked feeding time in South Africa

Dunno! Perhaps there’s no rocket science to be found in this post, accept to say that a bad first foray into naturism is more often than not the last foray into naturism. We started young – just months after we were married (remember, our kids are in their 20s now!) so we’ve been at this for a while. To a large degree, our naturist travels have defined our relationship; when our naked travels have taken us to places we would never thought to have visited, where we have met people we would have never had reason to talk to.

Start young. Before you have children. Before life bogs you down. Have more questions? Ask Naturist Dan! We naturists love to advocate for our cause.