I was visiting friends at a Southern California nudist park recently when we got to talking about the demographics of the people who live there, not to mention the crowds that show up on the weekends. As most of our naturist travel had been in Europe until the pandemic set in, I’d never really given this much thought, except to the extent that we feel more comfortable and at ease at some naturist destinations than we do at others.
Meanwhile, I’ve taken on the enormous project of “standardizing” our naturist travel reports in hopes of creating a lasting resource for the seasoned naturist and social-nudity-curious alike. One of the aforementioned friends mentioned that there was a big event coming up soon, which is likely to bring out all the “Jello-Shot Nudists,” which evolved into a conversation of how unique communities emerge at various naked places, sometimes changing dramatically from one day to the next!
So, what kind of nudist are you? (And by the way, for the moment, I’m using the words, nudist, and naturist, interchangeably.) Or more importantly, what kind of nudists are you looking for? While intentionally a bit tongue-in-cheek, and unabashedly loaded with generalizations, I thought I would give a quick run-down of the folks we’ve met over the course of thirty years of naturist travel, thinking this will also be useful in writing future trip reviews, in an effort to help readers find the right place at the right time.
THE JELLO-SHOT CROWD: I’ll lead out here, since that term inspired this post. The Jello-Shot nudists are largely “Boomers” that have found a new sense of freedom during the empty-nest stage of life. If they don’t actually live on the resort, they’re likely to be there every weekend possible, especially when the weather is warm, and always poised for a good party. Sometimes it’s just beer and tequila shots, but I hear the new trend is exotic cocktails made into Jello-shots, which is particularly handy when your objective is fast and efficient distribution to naked people in a swimming pool. This is a convivial bunch who will probably tell you that all their best friends are the naked people at the club. Depending on the venue, the party may well start on Friday night and keep going pretty much all the way through Sunday afternoon. We’ve found this to be pretty common at most American nudist places.
THE FOODIE-WINE-SNOB NATURIST: My wife and I best fit into this category. We love lingering over a fine meal, and all the better if it lasts a few hours with good friends over a bottle or two of red wine. And even better yet if you can do that naked? Europe has the corner on this market, especially at those French places like La Jenny and Ile du Levant, though we also have several friends who create this same ambiance in their own backyards next to the pool. Go to a place like Palm Springs and it’s probably happening more frequently than you would have ever imagined.
THE LIFE UNTIL DEATH NUDIST: This is that person – usually a guy – who keeps turning up on social media to let you know that if you’re not living 24/7/365 in the nude, “then you’re not a real nudist!” They sometimes get frustrated with “recreational social nudity,” suggesting that we’re not really optimizing the opportunity to normalize nudity, even if they’re married to a reluctant spouse who’s not into social nudity at all. To their credit, however, this group also represents some of the most important activists in the movement, contributing immeasurably to advocacy for legal rights while bringing nudism more into the mainstream.
THE YOGA WELLNESS GURU: While we’ve typically met this person at new age venues, like Harbin Hot Springs in California, it seems more of these folks are showing up at the traditional nudist parks as well, not to mention at those places where nude yoga is becoming increasingly trendy. And with the onset of the pandemic, we’ve seen a significant increase of offerings for nude yoga online. Some seem like direct descendants of the Haight-Ashbury hippies of yore, while others are simply obsessed with living a healthy life, which includes coming to peace with your own body. Heaven knows we could all use a little more wellness!
THE NAKED SUNSETTER FOLKS: For many, the naturist resort turns out to be an excellent retirement choice, as you have a built-in sense of community with regularly scheduled activities, ranging from gardening, to ceramics, to daily pool aerobics. Of course, it makes sense that these communities will be in the warmer places like Florida, Palm Springs, or Arizona, each of which have resorts with luxury condos and sprawling neighborhoods. In fact, it’s not uncommon for guests at some resorts to be outnumbered by retirees, 3:1. Talk about making the most of your golden years!
THE FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS: There’s a lot of confusion, especially in the United States, when it comes to social nudity and sex. While some resorts directly market to Swingers and the polyamorous, resorts that belong to AANR or TNSF, (the official organizations for social nudity in America) are outspoken in the prohibition of any public display of affection. That all becomes further complicated when a nudist community assumes the passive-aggressive stance of turning their collective heads other way. Ironically, we’ve found that many swingers are not actually that keen on the walking around naked part. They would rather be scantily clad, as we all know seductive clothing is what sexualizes the body. Interestingly, a friend pointed out to me recently that when visiting a place with a – shall we say – a sex-positive attitude, they actually appreciated that the “Lifestyle” people were more upfront, and respectful, as consensual agreement is a basic tenet of that Lifestyle. Suffice it to say, especially in the prudish United States, there’s a lot of tension between those “in the Lifestyle,” and those who call themselves “Naturists” or “Nudists.” So much for live and let live!
THE FAMILY NATURIST: While there remain a few diehard naturist families in America, we have seen a significant decline in this population over the past few decades, at least on this side of the Atlantic. Family naturism is still popular in Europe, or more specifically, in France, where huge resorts cater to young families with all the amenities kids are looking for, augmented by daily programs that keep the pre-adolescent crowd occupied for most of their stay. This is what first inspired our own involvement in French naturism as we were looking for a place where our (then) young children would feel at ease. The bigger naturist centers in Europe will have hundreds of kids on-site at the height of the summer holidays, much like you’d experience at Disney World or a campground at your favorite summer retreat or national park. By contrast, in all the naked places we’ve visited in the United States, we’ve yet to see more than a half-dozen children in one place at one time. Interestingly, I don’t think most of those naturist French families are “Naked Lifers,” but simply consider going on nakation as a viable recreational option during the summer – the same way that people who vacation at beach resorts on the Outer Banks don’t feel compelled to walk around home in swimsuits all year. There’s an interesting research project for someone.
THE NUDE VOLLEYBALL LEAGUE: (That’s really a thing, btw!) There are people who travel around the country to various nudist resorts to play competitive nude volleyball, but in this context, I’m really talking more about people who are looking for a place that offers physical activities in a clothing-optional setting, be that volleyball, golf, hiking, or at least enough room for a morning run or bike-ride. It seems the most common complaint we hear from younger would-be naturists in America is, “Why would I want to spend the entire weekend sitting around the pool with people like my parents?” Resorts in Europe even offer organized hikes and boating excursions, and yes – even volleyball and disc-golf tournaments, some tailored specifically to teenagers and young adults. This seems like good marketing to me.
THE CASUAL SKINNY DIPPERS – Not sure if this is the newest or the oldest trend in clothes-free recreation, but it seems to be enjoying a resurgence today, especially abroad with groups like Get Naked Australia. There appears to be a new generation of humans who are less intimidated about nudity, and hardly think twice about throwing off their clothes to jump in the lake or sunbathe on a rocky ledge. They don’t consider themselves nudists, or naturists, or anything else, but… “I took off my clothes, and it feels good!” I think this may be the future of nude recreation.
NAKED AT HOME – Many think the number of home nudists has increased exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic when people realized that you could “show up to work” for days on end – on ZOOM – without ever bothering to put on a pair of pants. Others haven’t gotten up the courage to visit a naked place, but simply love the feeling of lounging around home sans clothing. We’ll never know how many people live naked between the closet and the front door. Is it you?
THE NEWBIE NUDIST (Maybe you?!) – We keep hearing stories: people who tried skinny dipping as kids; or maybe a partner who wants to try a nude beach, or those who just like the feeling of sleeping naked and wonder sometimes if those nude beach people are actually on to something. (We think we are!) We have also heard from loads of people who discovered naturism later in life, regretting that they hadn’t made the leap earlier. Are you that newbie nudist? Or maybe even just social nudity curious? This category is for you.