Social Nudity in the Age of Isolation: Naked on ZOOM!

We did it! We had our first naturist cocktail party on ZOOM last night. Met up – online – with good friends that we typically get together with several times a year for naturist-at-home evenings. We’ve probably all been naked together well over 100 times. But naked together on the internet? Is that the same thing? Isn’t that simply being voyeuristic?

As the World Wide Web has grown up over the years, live nudity on the net has always been tricky to navigate. As far back as the late 90s, when computer-based video conferencing was still in its infancy, I have vivid memories of a single naked guy popping onto my screen, uninvited and announced, literally scaring the hell out of me! I’m not offended by nudity. I’m not offended by guys. But dude… you were not invited into my living room, naked or otherwise.

Then there are groups like TrueNudists that have muddied the waters even more. It was quite a long time ago, but as I recall, my only attempt to join this organization was as a provisional member. To become a “verified member,” you were required to post a picture of yourself (along with your partner if joining as a couple), naked and holding a sign with your name on it. Supposedly, this was intended to tease out the nefarious perverts, while creating a meet-up place for people who are, well… true nudists! I can only go by heresay, but rumor has it that once admitted to this verified kingdom of genuine naturists, you’re more likely to meet a lonely guy or get hit up by an “adventurous couple” than find other people who are simply seeking naturist friends. I just checked their current splash page today, where their poster child is a young woman identified as “Wonderhussy.” Thinking this, along with the button below that says “I want to view nudist photos,” is not so helpful in diverting the pervs and adventurous couples.

*Turns out Wonderhussy is actually Sarah Jane, an accomplished naturist travel blogger, though her screen name complicates things a bit, especially in this context.

But alas, I digress! We didn’t go looking for random strangers on the internet for our naturist soirée. We were connecting through a private channel with specific friends. Luckily, I’ve become quite the ZOOM expert in recent weeks as my day job has transitioned to a fully virtual environment where all daily transactions beyond the three people I live with, is conducted in virtual reality.

But this was the first time on ZOOM for our naturist friends. They were certainly familiar with Facetime and Skype, but as first time ZOOMers, they were still finding their way around the mute button and virtual backgrounds. We actually started our Happy Hour in our hot tub, then later moved inside near the wood-burning stove so that we could link up to the TV where our friends became almost bigger than life in front of a wonky background of crashing waves and wind-blown palm trees. Success!

As is the case in the workplace, it occurs to me that the “sheltering at home” thing is likely to change the way we live our lives long after COVID-19 is contained and eradicated. (Please tell me that day is coming soon!) Despite the fact that the internet can be glitchy, we found our Cyber Happy-Hour to be a lot of fun, and nobody had to assume the role of designated driver. And, in fact, I think it occurred to all of us that perhaps we’ve been missing out on an opportunity to connect with other naturist friends from the far-flung corners of the planet, of which we’ve made quite a few during our visits to naturist resorts in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Suddenly, the possibilities seem limitless. We even imagined a party with a dozen naturist friends where we could have breakout rooms: a breakout room near the bar  and another one in the hot tub! Suddenly feeling bored? Pop yourself out of the breakout room and blame it on an internet glitch!

In the meantime, there are others out there who are hard at work trying to address the addiction to social naturism in a meaningful way before the days grow long and warm and those of us diehards grow increasingly impatient with the afflictions of clothing. Naturist leaders are reinventing some of the more traditional portals of information in an effort to create virtual communities for avid naturists.

British Naturism, for example, has been particularly proactive with their constituency (which I joined today, by the way), offering nude yoga sessions, discussion groups (presumably on a platform similar to ZOOM), and even Easter Tea. What could be more celebratory on Easter Sunday than high tea with your new British Naturist friends? Sounds intriguing, right?

Turns out that Clothes Free Life is offering similar sessions for their members, though I couldn’t discern if that’s simply a chat room, some sort of video platform, or simply an interactive message board of some sort. Turns out that it didn’t matter, since their meeting was scheduled to take place at 3:00 pm today, but the moderator didn’t happen to mention the time zone where the meeting was taking place. California? London? Sydney? Details matter. (Figured out at 5:00 pm today that is was at 3:00 pm EDT. Oh well!)

Leading naturist advocate Gregers has been hard at work creating regular ZOOM meetings for the members of the Naturist Association of Thailand, but I think you have to be a paid member to participate there as well, and for many of us, the nine to twelve-hour time difference may simply be a deal breaker. But regardless of all that, how does that work out in reality? Do you show up naked to the meet-up? Is it a clothed discussion about naturism? Suddenly you have a whole new set of norms consisting of where and when to get naked-none of which provide much of a safeguard against the naked dude that popped into my living room twenty years ago!

In any event, I thought I would offer a few pointers for those of you who have been thinking about hosting or attending a naturist Happy Hour, but haven’t quite summoned up the courage.

  • Starting in the hot tub turned out to be a great idea. That took the guesswork out of the equation as to when to get naked. Of course, that does require that you have a hot tub.
  • If you’re meeting inside, think ahead and make sure the space is warm and comfortable for nudity. Seems like a no-brainer, but again, you have to plan ahead.
  • We used my MacBook, then simply flipped over to Apple TV so the screen and the sound was coming through our 46” monitor. But you have to be creative about where you place the actual computer, as that’s where the camera is, and it’s a bit disconcerting when you feel people are not actually talking to you, but to someone over your shoulder. I suppose that could be ameliorated if you had an external camera mounted to the top of your TV.
  • If you’re using ZOOM, read up a bit on privacy settings to keep from getting ZOOM bombed. (As I understand it, this is similar to that situation I had years ago when the dude patched into what I thought was a private conversation.) We went to the extra trouble of setting a password, easily done, simply adding one more layer of security.
  • Make sure the record function is off. ZOOM has the capacity to record either to your own computer or to the Cloud. Since I use my account primarily for business meetings, I’m not fond of the idea of stumbling into my link of naked happy hour while in a meeting with colleagues next week.
  • While the virtual backgrounds are fun, know that they tend to distort, if not simply absorb the images of the humans in the meeting, depending in part on your real background. The more your backdrop is similar to a green-screen, the more success you’ll have with clear images that don’t result in cropping off your ears and appendages.
  • And finally… Don’t lurk in the shadows. If you have a bright light source behind you (say, a window perhaps) and not much light in front of you, your image will simply be a dark silhouette and your facial features and expressions will be all but indiscernible. We had to move away from the window, then reposition a lamp to cast natural light before our friends felt they could actually tell who we were. You don’t want to look like you’re in the Witness Protection Program.

In the end, is it as  good as actually being there? Well, pretty close, I think (especially the no designated driver part!) But I’m eager to keep experimenting with this format to see if we can get a few more of our naturist friends together. Maybe I’ll even try one of these online focus groups, knowing that if the party feels creepy when I “walk in,” it’s not that difficult to simply blip my way right back out.

And who knows? We’ve spent a lot of time and money over the years making our house and backyard naturist friendly. Hanging out on our back deck with our naturist friends this summer may turn out to be about as good as it gets this year. Better to hope for the best, while planning for the worst. If the worst is a virtual naturist resort on my back porch, that might not be so bad!

NAKED in the NETHERLANDS: Bussloo Spa near Amsterdam

So here’s the thing…

Some things in life are intended to evoke pleasure and relaxation. Vacation for example! Or maybe a day trip to the spa. Or as naturists love to preach, “What’s more amazing than shedding your clothes and all the stress that goes with them by taking a nakation?”

Right with you there, naked friends, but I gotta say… even for a seasoned naturist, baring it all for the first time in a new environment can be anything but relaxing. What if I walk into the wrong changing room? Am I allowed to be naked here… or there? And what do all those red signs in a foreign language say?… Take off your flip flops? Put on your flip flops? Flip flops will get you expelled from the premises?

Amidst random, but persuasive, bouts of total relaxation, this would pretty much summarize my first (but certainly not my last) visit to Thermen Bussloo on the outskirts of Amsterdam. I first learned about the place from our naturist friend Addie (See: Dating for Naturists or Naked in a Rainstorm) who put this on my “you gotta see this place” bucket list after her stay in Amsterdam last summer. Knowing that Addie has a deep affinity for the Therme Erding chain in Germany, I assumed that if she said this place was spectacular, it must be spectacular. And naked! It was both!

I should note, at least for the sake of those unfamiliar with the European spa culture, that there is quite a wide variance in the opinion as what defines a proper and refined spa experience. Some reviewers are appalled by the “mega-spa” places like Therme Erding (You can read my opinions about Erding and a few other places here.) and much prefer the historic edifices where architecture and calmness override amenities and entertainment. To that end, it seems Thermen Bussloo lies somewhere on the middle of the spectrum, as there is no swim-up bar or evening entertainment (that I know of), but the amenities are plentiful and interesting. And is it just me, or are spa-goers in Holland simply more comfortable with naked? But more about that later.

A QUICK GUIDE TO ENCOURAGE A NEWBIE TO GET NAKED AT THERMEN BUSSLOO

First of all, I speak a little German, a bit more French, a few words of Spanish, but absolutely NO Dutch whatsoever! I can’t figure out the vowels or the consonants, whether reading it in a menu or listening to people speak it. Which is generally OK as most everyone from the Netherlands speaks nearly perfect English, including most of the employees at Bussloo Therme. So riddle me this? They only have maps, facility guides, and dining menus printed in Dutch. (There is a German version of the map, which saved the day for me!) All signage is in Dutch. All schedules are in Dutch. Thankfully, the Dutch words for “burger” and “club sandwich” happen to be burger and club sandwich. And of course, I’ve grown accustomed to using that cool app on my iPhone where you hover over text you can’t understand and it translates it into English right there on your phone. That would work here, if you were allowed to use your phone anyplace outside of reception. That makes sense. Lots of naked people around. Put your phones away! From what I could tell, there was 100% compliance with the no device rule, quite unlike some other places we’ve visited, so I would say “don’t even think about it.”

All that said, my friend Addie remarked, “I liked Bussloo since there didn’t seem to be so many implicit rules, especially about where or where you could or could not be naked.” Totally agree on that point, which we have observed at other Dutch spas like Elysium near Rotterdam and Sauna von Egmond in Haarlem. As opposed to Vabali in Düsseldorf or Berlin where there is a (somewhat) clear (but implicit) expectation that once you step out of the water, you’re going to immediately wrap yourself in a towel or bathrobe, this seems not to be the case in Holland. Even in the dead of winter when the weather was near freezing outside, the locals at Bussloo seemed quite happy to wander about the grounds completely naked. Addie tells me that in the summer, the sweet spot is one of the numerous wooden lounge-chairs out in the gardens, where the wait staff will serve food and beverages right to your seat, and as many as not are completely naked. (Clients, not servers, that is.) That makes sense to me.

I might mention that it’s something of a complicated task to blog about Europe’s naked spa culture, as for obvious reasons, I can’t provide my own images from the experience, (And we all know – Images make the blog post!) but everything you can find on line is delightfully crafted to avoid censorship. On that point, I saw exactly ZERO humans wrapping themselves in towels while sweating in the saunas, and as mentioned above, not much concern about covering up while moving about the facility, except in the lounge and the restaurant where there was a clear expectation that you will wear a robe.

A few more tips for your first visit to Bussloo? Here you go…

  • They issued me a bracelet at check-in, along with a towel and bathrobe (upon my request) but didn’t even bother to swipe a credit card or take a deposit. “You pay on your way out!” Like most of these establishments, I was able to use the wristband to unlock my locker and pay for anything I needed during my stay. I wondered what would prevent me from just getting dressed and walking out the door at the end of my stay, until they handed me a very specific coin at check-out that would open the gate to the parking lot so I could get out with my car. Clever! Not sure what they do to keep public transportation people honest, but it must not be a problem.
  • On that topic, I was only in Amsterdam for a day on a long airport layover. When I worked out the navigation on buses and trains, it was going to be more than two hours from the airport to Bussloo in each direction, so I gave up on that and rented a car. Well worth it as I had little margin to deal with a missed connection. If you’re actually staying a few days in Amsterdam, you can purchase a system-wide transportation ticket for about twenty euros that will get you there and back on trains and buses.
  • Once you check in, the changing area is coed (with gender specific toilets). I arrived early, and it was essentially me and a few (partially naked) women. That made me a bit wary as I wasn’t sure if I was in the proper changing room, but it turned out I was in the right place. Later in the day, the changing room was quite crowded with an expected gender mix, all completely oblivious to the various stages of nudity around them.
  • Again… all signage is in Dutch, including those warning signs I mentioned that I think were trying to tell me not to slip on the ice or the slippery floor. It’s one of the few places I’ve ever been, including Japan, where at least the most critical signage was not multi-lingual. Not complaining – just thought you should know.
  • Unlike most German spas, you are NOT allowed to bring in your day-pack or any other small bag with your day’s provisions. In fact, they give you a smallish semi-transparent plastic bag at check-in for the things you want to keep with you. This always make me nervous when I have a rented towel, a rented bathrobe, and a plastic bag that looks exactly like everybody else’s stuff. You simply have to pay close attention as to where you leave your stuff as you wander about the facility or you’ll never find it again. (I once had to purchase a robe that I misplaced/was taken by mistake at a German spa. Not a good end to the evening.) Bring an empty water bottle with you, as there are plenty of places to fill it during the day, but that’s not so helpful if you didn’t actually bring one.
  • On the less pragmatic side, you want to make sure you have allotted enough time to really enjoy the place. The crown attractions seem to be the Hammam pool, the Geyser Sauna, and the salt-water cenote, where you float on your back with ears submerged while Zen music resonates through the water. Absolutely magical! I was also fond of the rest area in the Kelohouse with warmed tiled loungers. Perfect for an early afternoon nap. (Tested and approved!)
  • It’s worth noting that there is a hotel connected to the spa. It looks lovely, but I was only there for a day visit. It’s a solid hour by car from central Amsterdam, so it’s not a place to stay if you’re up for sight-seeing, but it looked like they have a clear flight-path set up that would allow you to enjoy the spa without ever putting on real clothing for the duration of your stay. I’m eager to test that theory out.

Final verdict? Addie was right! If you’re looking for a naked escape that is essentially weather-proof from the variable climate of northern Europe, Thermen Bussloo should be on your short list. In fact, I’ve added it to my port of entry destination list – as I think the best way to start any European vacation is with a day of snoozing, soaking, and sweating at the spa. Berlin and Munich have always been good options given their proximity to Vabali and Therme Erding, respectively. I’m most certainly adding Amsterdam and Bussloo to the list.

Images for this post were found by Google search and are believed to be in the public domain. If you find an image that requires attribution, or should be removed, please advise accordingly and I will do so at once.

Late Summer Nights with Naturist Friends: My Humble Attempt at Writing a How-To Guide

Following a busy summer of European Travel – a few weeks for business, then a few for vacation travel – it was pretty jarring to return home to the oppressively humid days of the northeastern USA where my administrative job awaited me with an insurmountable to-do list. The previous weeks had scarcely required me to bother with clothing at any time of the day as we found refuge at naturist resorts in the South of France and Catalonia. In that region, the summer air is warm and dry, sunny more often than not. At home, adorned in the requisite button-down shirt and dress shoes, each day vacillates between the sweltering heat of late August, countered by the abrasive gale force winds of office air conditioning systems. Regardless, in either situation, clothing seems a nuisance and a hindrance to regulating body temperature – all of which  routinely landed on the family room floor the minute I walked through the door at the end of each day. 

Fortunately, we have cultivated a naturist friendly refuge in our home located a few miles beyond the suburbs of the northeast corridor, and time has worked on our side with the careful addition of fast-growing hedges and shrubs that has resulted in what I affectionately call my “naturist man cave.” While it seems that most man caves are found in windowless basements featuring an overstuffed couch, a widescreen TV, and a fridge full of beer, mine looks quite different. Imagine a screened porch, a deck extending to the hot tub, and even a fire pit for the late summer nights when the chill starts to set in. After years in the making, it’s been a long time since I’ve needed to worry about clothing in my back yard. While our neighbors on each side are rarely inclined to wander into our backyard unannounced, they are all aware that doing so may well result in the sighting of a middle-aged guy sitting buck-naked with a glass of wine, reading his kindle on the porch. It’s happened once or twice, and guess what? Nobody much cared.

But the serendipity of the past year has been the increasing success rate of creating clothing-optional evenings with others who have been amazingly willing to bare all, when the conditions are right. At the urging of one such friend, I offer a few common-sensical thoughts about how you might facilitate a naked gathering in your home. Granted, it has taken us a while to put the necessary amenities in place, but for most of us hell-bent on the virtues of social nudity, it doesn’t hurt to work out a plan for the long game.

  • LANDSCAPING: Creative landscaping can do what fences never will. For us, that involves a robust barrier of forsythia on one side, a brawny forest of Leland Cypress on the other, and a strategic row of privet hedges which are now in excess of twelve feet (four meters) in height. Aesthetically, it creates a park-like environment, but pragmatically, someone has to work pretty hard to see a naked person in the backyard. 
  • THE HOT TUB: Hot tubs are tricky, and earlier ploys to invite people over with the express purpose of getting naked in the spa have been mostly met with blushing resistance and stuttering responses. (Seems that might have worked a bit better back in the swinging 70s. But we’re not interested in swingers, and the stigma of free love seems to have left an indelible legacy embedded in nude recreation.) BUT… Inviting friends to bring along swimsuits and towels on a chilly night, along with a bit of banter about our naturist travels, has resulted in a few surprises where we have actually under-estimated someone’s willingness to drop their towel and jump in. Unlike those who enforce a “strictly no swimsuits” rule, offering to wear one at first is often just exactly the option some people need to realize that clothing optional is actually the rule, thereby providing a choice to get naked. Think you can’t afford a hot tub, by the way? Check out home improvement stores or Craig’s List. Or watch for a moving sale. When people need to get rid of a spa, sometimes they’ll literally give it away.
  • THE SCREENED PORCH & PROPANE HEATER: A winning combination. The screened porch is not really inside (That feels weird to some people), but not really outside (Oh, that’s too exposed!). And the propane heater helps extend the season on both ends of summer. That and an ample supply of beach towels helps the newbie naturist feel more at ease as they’re figuring out the decorum of being naked around others. (If I’m wrapped in a towel, I’m not really dressed, but I’m not really naked. The gateway drug!) 
  • THE WOOD-BURNING STOVE: We made the investment several years ago to install a wood-burning stove in our family room in an effort to actually create a toasty living environment in our otherwise drafty, east-coast, vinyl siding house. I’ve been following a young couple from NYC that has been quite successful in connecting with other naturist-curious humans on social media while sponsoring a series of modest home-based naked gatherings. That all sounds good, but then suddenly not so much when the ambient temperature hovers around “annoyingly chilly.” By contrast, a glass of red wine in front of the wood burning stove is an enticement even when dressed. Couple that with a dash in from the hot tub on a snowy winter evening and you have your own little European spa. This is the stuff converts are made of!
  • Perhaps most importantly, you have to find a way to identify other would be naturist friends, which is always better if you’re already friends in the first place. (See The Demographics of Nakedness) Simply volunteer that you’re a nudist as a one-off at a cocktail party and you’re more likely than not to get an awkwardly blank stare as the conversation comes unraveled right in front of your eyes. But mention your summer trip to Florida, San Diego, or France with a quick aside that you have a thing for seeking out idyllic nude beaches, and you might pique just enough curiosity to entice someone into a chain of follow-up questions. “Really? You do that? Don’t know if I’d ever do that. How did you get into that?” In one such conversation of recent years, that thread led to the discovery that a professional colleague and her husband vacation at a naturist place (CHM Montalivet) just up the coast from our favorite naturist place (La Jenny) in France. Now they have become regular guests for naturist BBQ evenings on our back porch. You simply never know who’s out there, just waiting for a chance for a staycation-nakation.

The good news? While social nudity remains taboo for many, the very concept is becoming more and more common in the mainstream news. (See Things Are Getting Better for Naked People) To be sure, people are still confused about the sexuality piece of the whole equation, but as it happens, that’s precisely why I started this blog. Every time we – the collective naturist community – get another article or blog post out there about non-sexual social nudity, there is one more invaluable resource for the naked-curious out there that might help them figure the whole thing out. And thus… I’m hoping THIS blog will become a participatory exercise…


Have you been successful in introducing your friends to home naturism? COMMENT BELOW. This blog typically gets about 1500 hits a day. Share a good idea and you might even liberate a new naturist from the oppression of their restrictive clothing!

Talk to us, my naked friends!

All images were taken from a Google search and are believed to be in the public domain. If you find an image that belongs to you, and you’d like to have it removed, just let me know.

Reflections on a Naturist Life: La Jenny, France 2019

After an absence of five years, we finally made it back to La Jenny this summer, the place I’ve often cited as the best naturist place in the world. [See previous post here] As it goes with the best of anything, such classifications are highly subjective, and even in this case, we’ve wavered a good bit on that assessment over the years, depending on the weather during our most recent visit. A rainy week at La Jenny doth not a fabulous nakation make.

You can read the long version of our naturist saga here, which highlights our first visit to La Jenny in 1997 as a pivotal event in our naked lives. That first time, we only stayed for four nights, but we were immediately smitten with the place, and with the concept of French family naturism in general. (Check out this recent post by Nick and Lins about family naturism in France. Compelling, at least!) We returned for two weeks in 1999 with our pre-adolescent kids, at which point it became a perennial project to figure out how we could manage the airline tickets for a family of five to get back for subsequent nakations. By this time, we had tried several naturist places in America with our children in tow, but they were quickly moving into the “This is really awkward and dumb” state of mind about going on vacation with parents, let alone taking your clothes off. La Jenny was an immediate game changer, and our summers there still live among our most cherished family memories – nudity notwithstanding.

We would return to La Jenny at least a dozen times over the ensuing years, sometimes with kids, then as they were out on their own, sometimes as a couple. In 2014, we even “coerced” some of our naturist friends from home to join us a weeklong visit, but alas, it was one of those iffy weather weeks which left the lasting impression, “This place would be perfect if the sun shone a bit more.” After that, summers got busy with other things to do and  places to be, and La Jenny fell off our travel itinerary… until this year.

La Jenny, 1999

Though our adult children don’t really consider themselves naturists, they don’t bat an eye at getting naked for a family vacation, especially if it turns out to be an all-inclusive sort of deal where they get room, board, and a free plane ticket. Two of the three took the bait this summer, so we found ourselves – naked – on the porch of our chalet near the La Jenny golf course, playing Uno into the wee hours of the morning again. It felt reminiscent to be back in this charming naturist village, sitting near the pool, watching an entirely new generation of naturist families, providing evidence – in the flesh – that family naturism is a booming business in France. 

As a blogger and avid advocate of family naturism, it has occurred to me on many occasion that our naturist travelogue probably seems someplace between irrelevant and unreachable to many a would-be American naturist. I suspect that many feel just like we did back in 1997, saddled with three small children and barely enough money to buy shoes and lunch makings for the coming school week. “Nakation in France? Never gonna happen.” [There’s a whole separate story that goes here about my friend David who taught me how to earn airline miles with a credit card, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole right now.] And I also remember the “Ah-Ha” moment when we realized that a short week in a Disney park carries roughly the same price tag as three weeks in Europe, if we could figure out how to get everybody from this continent to that one. 

La Jenny, 2003

But as I read so many blog posts, tweets, and reddit musings from frustrated husbands and fathers who simply can’t find a way to sell naturism to their spouses and families, I can’t help but think, “That’s because you simply can’t find a place in close proximity to where you live to replicate the everyday normal naturist experience in France… or Croatia…or Spain.” Family naturism will never feel normal when you’re in an environment where it simply isn’t… NORMAL!” Where the people you see at the pool and the beach and at the restaurant that evening are the same people you would encounter at Disneyland, or Six Flags, or even at the local grocery store or restaurant. 

La Jenny, 2005

I’ve ranted a good bit in these pages over the years about the “nudist colony” feel of naturist places in the US. Indeed, there are a few places in North America that have broken that boundary, but making a quick weekend jaunt to Toronto or Palm Springs may even be more cost prohibitive than going to Europe. And then there are the family naturism casualties in the US, like Caliente in Florida, which finally gave up on their business plan for family naturism when they realized that catering to those seeking a sexual adventure became a necessity for keeping the cash flow in the positive. Or Desert Sun (formerly Desert Shadows) in Palm Springs, which first opened as a family naturist destination, where many units sold under the banner of “my grandkids can come visit me here,” only later to have children banned from the premises altogether as the potential of aiding and abetting a child predator outweighed the prospects of attracting clients who would pay for a family nakation. We Americans like to think we’re really progressive, but when it comes to intergenerational nudity, we simply can’t seem to figure it out.

La Jenny, 2007

Like Nick and Lins say in their piece, the French have totally figured out the formula for making family nakation acceptable, even to those who would rather vacation with their clothes on. (Imagine that! Telling your friends you went with your family on naked vacation without worrying about getting reported to Child Protective Services!?) France has also learned to embrace mainstream and social media in a way that doesn’t just sexualize or poke fun at social nudity, but portrays it as a viable recreational option for everyday people who simply want to de-stress, snooze by the pool, and walk on the beach, then come home without tan lines. 

La Jenny 2013

So now it’s 2019. As I rode my bike (naked) down to the village for croissants and a baguette from the market (also naked), before spending the rest of the day (naked) with my wife, friends, and adult children, I couldn’t help but get a bit nostalgic about that first visit to naturist France some 20+ years ago. I remember thinking, as we were in our thirties back then, “Why did it take us so long to discover this magical place? And how will I ever go on another vacation, anyplace, where clothing is required by the pool or on the beach? Why is that even a thing?”

So I guess that’s the point. Despite the best efforts of the most ardent proponents of social nudity in the US of A, it seems unlikely we’ll ever catch up with our European friends when it comes to creating a place where family naturism not only seems normal, but is in demand! Are there safe places to get naked with your family in the United States to enjoy social nudity with your family? A few, scattered across the country. Do any of them measure up, even to the mid grade places in France? Well… not from what we’ve seen, and we’ve been looking for a long time.

So if you’ve made it this far in these wandering musings from a meandering naturist, and you’re still living in the confines of naked and alone at home, I simply encourage you to find a cheap plane ticket, do a bit of careful research, then go get naked in France. It doesn’t have to be La Jenny; there are over 300 options in France alone. But if you get it right, you might end up wrecked… and naked… for life! 

So, What’s the Deal with My Obsession with Nudity? It’s a Thing!

I was in the car the other day with a naturist friend, Jennifer, debriefing about the whole naturist thing.

In fact, we were on the way to the airport as she had just spent a few days hanging out with us at La Jenny, (one France’s premier naturist resorts) it seemed like a good time to grill her for a few moments about her proclivity for doffing her clothes whenever given half a chance to do so. She mused quite a lot about naked time as having become “safe zone,” which is particularly notable in this case as up to a few years ago, the idea of getting naked with other humans in a non-sexual environment wasn’t even something that had crossed her mind! Now, I think she would go as far as to identify herself as a fervent naturist.

So, there’s no question that I’m the most fervent naturist in our immediate family, having spent years creating a naturist friendly environment behind our home with the strategic placement of hedges and other landscape features that protects our neighbors from unsolicited glimpses of sunbathing and naked wine-tasting on our back deck. My wife is a most willing co-conspirator when it comes to naked tubbing, and I think she would tell you that given the choice, she’d choose nakation over vacation if such can be accomplished without compromising the touristic elements of our travel itinerary. (One is hard pressed to find a naturist hotel or campground in Morocco, Turkey, or Singapore, the latter of which has such strict anti-nudity laws that you could get you arrested if spotted naked through the sheers of your hotel window!!) Of our three adult children, all are naturist friendly to varying extents, but I don’t think any of them would drive more than ten minutes out of the way to visit a naturist beach instead of the more convenient textile option next door. BUT I WOULD! And SO would Jen. 

I asked her in the car a few days ago, “Why do you think some humans are simply hard-wired as fervent naturists? Something in our DNA? Is it a philosophical disposition? A psychological crosswire that sets us apart from the rest of the human race who can’t bear that thought of going to bed with two layers of unnecessary clothing?”

She reflected for a bit, then alluded to a common friend we’ve discussed in the past who is big into Second Life, that cyber world where people live in an alternate reality that replicates all the elements of daily life, but interfaces through a computer generated world where your actual identity is completely detached from your day to day existence.

“Getting naked is sort of like that for me. A complete departure from my daily routine. Even the ability to get up in the morning and not worry about what I’m going to wear, how I’m going to accessorize, and just how I want the world to perceive me today is a real game changer.” Jennifer thought a bit more, “When I’m naked, I’m just me. Done.”

We mused a bit more on the topic about whether there’s a correlation between one’s penchant for nudity and the qualities of openness and vulnerability that same person exhibits in their everyday (clothed) lives. I am personally fond of that notion, but as I ran a quick inventory of people we’ve encountered at all the naturist places we’ve visited over the past thirty years, I had to challenge the premise on the grounds that I’ve met a lot of rude and jerky people who seemed neither open, nor genuine, let alone vulnerable – just naked.

“Yup,” I say, “I’d like to think that naturists simply see the world and interact differently with other humans, but in reality, well… I’m not sure that checks out. “

But back to the title of the blog post itself, I’ve never really fully figured out my own disposition that somehow results in a direct correlation to the stress levels of the day, and the subsequent desire to get naked at the end of that day. In that regard, I have to agree with Jen! Especially as I’ve developed an identity as a naturist blogger where I interact (mostly in cyber-space) with a whole community of humans that are neither involved or even interested in what I do for a living and whether or not I’m successful at it. And also like Jen, I find a distinct sense of relief in leaving my textile image at the door, and at least in my case, all the insecurities I have felt that day when my shirt doesn’t quite fit right, or the shoes didn’t coordinate with my pants. Strangely, despite age spots, weight gain, and a host of other typical hang-ups that most of us have about our own bodies, there’s something empowering about simply acknowledging, “This is the skin that I have, and I’m sticking with it. So there!”

When you stop to think about it, it’s a complicated phenomenon. We have friends that will get naked in the hot tub with us but would never consider a nakation. And others who seem intrigued by our naturist endeavors, but would never even consider going topless on a European beach, despite the fact that they may be more fit and “attractive,” – by 2019 cultural standards – than we are. For my wife, it’s really much more an issue of pragmatism. Naturist friends come over for dinner and it’s warm and not too buggy on the screened porch, so off come the clothes. But if she’s working around the house when a trip into the garage or onto the front porch might require a light cover-up, “Meh! It’s not worth the hassle. Better to just stay dressed.”

But I suspect that many of my readers are a lot like me… and like Jennifer. 

“Give me twenty-five minutes of time out of mainstream society, and I’m going to my safe place. Where I can leave my clothes, my identity, and at least someof my stress laying on the floor before I have to cover-up and face the harsh realities of the outside world again.”

We live in a world where appearance is a multi-million-dollar industry; in an age where a woman on the eastern Mediterranean could be arrested for exposing too much of her face. Yet at the same time, hundreds of naked Germans are frolicking in the altogether on a beach just a couple hundred miles across the seal. It makes you wonder how simple nudity became such a controversial subject, or even a subject at all?

And in the same breath, it makes me wonder why I’m so obsessed with the right and the desire to be naked, and even more so, why anyone else would care if I am.

But one thing I do know…. It’s a thing.

All images were taken from a Google search and are believed to be in the public domain. If you find an image that belongs to you, and you’d like to have it removed, just let me know.

That Day I Got My Millennial Friends into Naturism!

Remember Addie? She’s our twenty-something friend who’s not only become a fervent naturist, but quite a prolific blogger as well. She’s particularly keen on what might make naturism more alluring to people in her own demographic, as she’s clearly found it to be most liberating and rejuvenating for herself. Having come to naturism just in recent years, I think she offers timely perspective to encourage others to follow in her (naked) footsteps…

[This post was published previously under the title of “The Joys of Sharing Naturism. “]

When we establish human connections within the context of shared experience we create community wherever we go” –Gina Greenlee 

One of my greatest joys in life stems from moments in which I am lucky enough to introduce others to places and experiences that I have found meaningful; I gain great pleasure from watching someone else experience something for the first time that means a lot to me. Certainly, I would qualify naturism as a defining feature of my life through from which I derive a great amount of joy. Therefore, it naturally follows that I very much enjoy experiencing someone else’s moment of astonishment as they realize, “Wow! I’m not wearing clothes in public and it’s awesome!” 

Certainly, I have not had the joy of experiencing this moment many times, as I’m fairly new to naturism, but witnessing someone experience naturism for the first time constitutes something very special for me, and I can’t wait to continue to share my love for naturism with others. 

In this blog post, I offer two vignettes about sharing in someone’s first moments with naturism, along with a list of tips for how a naturist can help someone navigate their first experience with non-sexual nudity.  

Vignette #1: Naked Breakfast: Northeastern US

As a young, single female in the Northeastern United States, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to get naked without establishing an expectation for sex. Therefore, when a situation arises to eat a potato hash with an over-easy egg in the nude with your neighbor, you obviously must take full advantage in the fully monty! 

My neighbor, Joe, and I had known each other for about sixth months when I traversed to Germany. After my return, he asked me about the happenings of the trip over happy hour oysters and wine. I described that relaxing without a swimsuit in the German spas bumped my trip from the “great” category into that of the “unbelievable.” Having never frequented a co-ed spa in the nude, he was initially surprised, but intrigued; he continued to casually follow up in subsequent conversations, asking questions like, “Have you been to naked beaches?” and “Why do you like it so much?” Through his line of questioning, he discovered that I not only have “skinny-dipped,” but I enjoy almost everything more without clothes, including sharing meals. He expressed an interest in trying it out, and eventually one morning, he proposed breakfast- not just a breakfast, but a naturist breakfast. 

            I was already wearing a bathrobe when he arrived at my apartment; I had set out two towels across the kitchen chairs so as to indicate, “this is where we will sit.” While puttering around cooking, my bathrobe came undone-no problem. He followed my lead, getting undressed in the living room, as I continued to cook in the kitchen, affording him a bit of privacy. For several moments, he talked quickly, trying to “cover up” his physical features I had not previously seen before. However, after a few minutes of cooking, all “first time” awkwardness seemed to have washed away, as he laughed about the new sensation of the oven fan blowing air against a body part that was rarely afforded the light of day! Slowly but surely, he became more outspoken for the cause, exclaiming about the serendipity and carefree nature of the moment more than once.

“You know, I’m a fan of over-easy eggs and potato hash in any context, but sharing it in the nude with a friend? It’s a no-brainer; it’s simply the best.” Seriously, what a good morning, filled with ample conversation of body positivity and lots of laughter. 

Vignette #2: Naked Island: South of France

As someone who frequents the south of France, I’ve visited Ile du Levant, an all-naked island, several times; I might even describe it as one of my top 10 favorite places in the world! This time, I took three newbies along for the ride! 

            This July, four friends and I had planned to visit Iles du Porquerolles, a group of three islands off of the southern coast of France. However, I quickly realized that they had an interest in the naturist island, Ile du Levant, when they started asking questions like, “Have you ever been?” and “Can you be naked everywhere?” Each of them wanted to know something different. One asked, “Do you have to be naked?” while another asked, “How beautiful and crowded are the beaches?” The third questioned, “How good is the food?” I answered each to the best of my ability, emphasizing that because it is not a resort, there are truly no Naked Police present on the island; I suspect that this provided an “out” to my friends who had decided to sign on for not just a few hours naked, but a whole day on an all-naked island.

            Upon arriving, I immediately shed my shirt, taking in the glory of the sun on my skin, and setting a precedent for my friends who followed behind. We hiked to a lovely cliff surrounded by crystal clear water, and the water gave each person the courage and the impetus to “dive right in,” both literally and figuratively. As soon as they hit the water, each person seemed to relax. One particularly funny moment consisted of a friend slipping and sliding while exiting the water, her bare butt bobbing up and down in the shallow water amidst her shrieks of desperation and laughter. After that moment, everything seemed to flow naturally; sometimes one person would slip on shorts or a cover-up, but as we passed several people on our walk and at lunch, some in the nude and some in various stages of dress, each person in the group seemed to understand that truly anything goes. 

            Over lunch and on the walk back to the port, I had a particularly poignant conversation with one of the girls, Kelly, who said that never in her life had she felt so comfortable with her body image at a beach/pool setting. We shared an excellent conversation about naturism, dating for naturists, and seeking out vacation spots specifically on account of their potential for naturism. She seemed almost immediately sold on the concept, citing this day as “one of the best in her life.” Though I enjoy naturism because of its typical features of peace and quiet, this comment struck me as incredibly poignant; one of the only things that I enjoy more than naturism itself is sharing naturist experiences with others. Once again, there’s a parallel: I enjoy sharing clothed vacation spots with others, and I love teaching others my hobbies so that they can experience joy through those hobbies also, so why would I not absolutely love sharing naturist experiences with a newbie naturist? SUCH sweet moments in the south of France; I think each of us felt bummed to board the all-clothed boat to return to the mainland. 

How to Prepare to Share Naturist Experiences with Others

Unless your friends have been carefully following a naturist blog (doubtful), it seems wise to broach the subject with care, as they might have loads of questions and may feel self-conscious talking about the subject. Here are a few helpful tips about how you can prepare a newbie for their first naturist experience. 

  1. Discussion. Make sure that you have fully described why you enjoy naturism. Explain what non-sexual nudity means to you. 
  2. Give them Options. Don’t ever force someone into trying naturism. Instead, express your excitement and openness to share various experiences with others naked. Offer a variety of potential situations in which you enjoy naturism so that people can choose one that seems right for them. For some, swimming seems like a natural entry point, as people tend to wear less clothes at the beach/in a pool/hot tub anyways. Naked breakfast could seem like a larger leap to some, because the thought of sitting at a table without clothes or even in underwear seems like a bit of a stretch. Some might prefer a beer to ease them into the experience. Whatever the options, one must admit to the idea that options provide someone with the ability to choose a situation with which they might feel most comfortable. However, keep in mind that talking about naturism could also make someone feel shy. Read the signals and do your best to help. 
  3. Don’t make them guess the Norms. As a newbie naturist, it can be embarrassing to ask questions. However, the more answers that you give without them asking, the less mysterious and/or scary the experience will be. Depending on their nonverbal cues, explain to them about what to expect in various naturist situations that may apply to them: Is it expected that you wear clothes? Could you wear just bathing suit bottoms but not a top? Do you need to sit on a towel (yes!)? Is there a norm for shaving (no)? Can/should you eat at that restaurant naked/topless? Where can they get undressed/where can they leave their clothes?
  4. Take off your clothes first. It’s always better to have the newbie naturist follow “in your footsteps.” Otherwise, they will wonder where to take off their clothes (in public or privately), when to take off their clothes, etc. Better for you to set the precedent and to show that you’re comfortable than to leave them wondering. 
  5. Ensure them that you are not judging. Body image is a thing! Ironically, after being immersed in naturism, many find that they feel less self-conscious. However, prior to experiencing it for the first time, many feel quite nervous about exposing all. While experienced naturists are used to not judging others for their body shape, shaving preferences, size of their butt, etc., newbies may feel extremely nervous. I tend to share the brief vignette that eased my concerns as someone trying naturism for the first time: When I speak with you, where am I looking when you’re wearing clothes? The only correct answer is “my eyes.” Suddenly, everything falls into place; it’s a good point of reference if someone expresses concern. 
  6. Be willing to answer questions. If someone is nervous, they may have many questions. Be ready to answer questions in a non-judgmental way. 
  7. Give someone an out. Again, read your audience. Assure them that it’s okay to wear clothes at the table, or offer to do another activity (with clothes). It’s easy to tell when someone is squeamish or absolutely squealing with delight (and I’ve been in situations with both). If someone is uncomfortable, help to remove them from the situation or change the circumstances to make them more comfortable. 

Do you have any other tips for helping ease newbie naturists into the practice? Do you prefer naturism alone or with others? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

For me, life is better experienced with others; naturally, naturism is better experienced with others. Go share the joy! 

You might want to check out Addie’s previous posts on The Meandering Naturist:

Vignettes of a Blossoming Naturist

Dating for Naturists: Can I fit “Naturism” into my Tinder Profile Description?

Add This to Your Bucket List: Naked in a Rainstorm

Images for this post where taken from a Google search and are believed to be in the Public Domain. If you find an image that belongs to you and should be removed, let us know and we’ll take it down.

The Stigma of Social Nudity in the Age of Casual Sex… Please explain this to me!

This is sort of a slow starter, so I hope you will “bare with me” until I get to the twist!

I was chatting with my millennial friend Addie the other day about outing oneself as a naturist through social media, noting that we both work in education related fields that frequently involves working with minors, and a well-intended misstep could easy escalate into an unintended kerfuffle. In fact, I endured one such incident about a year ago when my naturist platforms became entangled with my professional profile; when Facebook algorithms grabbed my Instagram data and started asking all my professional colleagues to follow Naturist Dan!

I found the glitch and disabled the effected accounts for a few weeks and essentially shrugged it off as, “Well now, there are a few more people who’ve seen my naked ass than existed three days ago.” One never knows the long-term implications of such an episode, but at the same time, I’m finding that one of the benefits of aging is caring less and less about such things, as my professional endeavors are gradually taking a backseat to my ambitions for personal fulfillment. If I had a therapist, I suspect he’d say that I’m making good progress with that.

It’s here in the conversation where a reader will typically chime in to admonish me for not coming out with the Full Monty, proudly posting photos on any social media platform that will allow full-frontal nudity, while fervently proclaiming, “I’m a naturist dammit! If you don’t like it, don’t look at me!” I’ve been the direct recipient of this sermon on repeated occasions, and I get it! We can’t fully normalize social nudity if we are apologetic at best; coy at least about revealing our identity. In my case, even if the platform allows it, (e.g. Twitter) I have yet to post personal photos that reveal genitalia, nor am I willing to let anything out there that could be picked up by facial recognition software. I’m really not eager for someone to go searching for my latest bio pic before an upcoming professional presentation, only to find me butt naked at the swim-up bar at a Mexican naturist resort. (Thank you Google Image search… you’re miraculous!)  In fact, that would be awkward even if I had swim trunks on!

But here’s where the conversation gets interesting!

As the youngest of four, my older siblings were young adults during the Summer of Love. Despite the fact that we lived only an hour away from the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, I don’t think any of them were “cool enough” to really get into that scene, nor did they exploit the era of “any California beach could be a nude beach!” Truthfully, we were a blue-collar, Protestant work ethic, All-American Family, and the social norms of the household were extremely clear. “Thou shalt not bare thy ass in public, and should you choose to have sex before marriage, you are destined to burn in hell!” By the time I came of age, the Moral Majority was on the rise and Family Values were the heartbeat of every political campaign. With the sudden proliferation of AIDS, the once common bathhouses of San Francisco were shuttered as dens of promiscuity, and the Summer of Love gave way to the Cold War on Sexuality. “Put your clothes on, cut your hair, and get on board with Nancy Reagan’s message about abstinence and maybe we can save ourselves from the moral collapse of America.”

I mentioned Addie at the front of this piece. (You can read her guest blog posts here and here.) She is roughly the age of my own children, and embraces a similar ideology of my own children. She is neither promiscuous, nor is she narrowly conservative. And thus, given her moderate live and let live perspective, the knockout punch was her consternation as to what exactly the average rank and file human thinks naturists do when they get naked together?

Of course, any seasoned naturist knows that you have to be careful when choosing your nakation destination, should you inadvertently stumble into a swingers retreat when it wasn’t your desire to make new friends with immediate benefits. But Addie’s immediate counter to that was, “But why the hell should anyone even care about that? How many 25-30 year olds haven’t been to a social gathering in the past ten years where casual sex and hooking up with a new acquaintance was simply part of the third beverage and beyond protocol?!?” Just who chooses to participate, and what benefits they are willing to provide is a matter of personal preference, but am I just being delusional when I observe that anyone outside of today’s super-conservative religious enclaves has long since accepted today’s terms of casual sex, and even the stigma around “open relationships” has increasingly morphed over to, “Yeah…  I guess if it works for them… whatever.”

So, as I scroll through innumerable memes on Twitter with catchy sayings like “Nudity doesn’t equate sex,” or “Newd isn’t Lewd,” it suddenly occurs to me that the social construct of promoting social nudity is even more complicated than I thought!

To that end, I thought I would see if I could create a new set of guidelines to help us all get on the same page. Let’s see…

  • Sex before marriage = Well, of course. Expected.
  • Sex on the first Tinder date = Acceptable.
  • Sex on the second or third Tinder date = Required!
  • Party with alcohol = Expect unauthorized physical contact
  • Party with more alcohol, and good friends = Expect marginally authorized physical contact.
  • Party with LOTS of alcohol = Make sure you choose a house with enough bedrooms!
  • Come out as a naturist to your friends = Expect your friends to ask, “Are you a sexual deviant? WTF??”
  • Get caught naked on the internet snoozing on the beach = Get labeled as a sexual predator and banned by all social media as a menace to society, and maybe even lose your job.

Turns out, I guess, that nudity doesn’t equate to casual sex. For most people in 2019, casual sex is just an everyday thing. But if you dare to take off all your clothes and simply go for a walk in the woods or take a nap in the sun! What the hell were you thinking?

Photos in this post are from vintage naturist magazines located on the web.. If you find one the violates copyright infringement, please notify me and I will remove it immediately.