FreeForm Festival really lives up to its name, and after I had so much fun there last year, I was determined to come back, and even more excitingly, together with our theme camp Gymnasium. FreeForm brings together a very diverse crowd, and although you wouldn’t see many naked participants, it is officially a clothing-optional event. Our camp was the only one where nudity was at its core, but there were some occasional fellow nudies here and there, e.g. two naked fire-spinners at the effigy burn (to which I unfortunately forgot to bring my camera). So, we saw it as our opportunity to reach out to many people who don’t have experience in naturism (or simply said, those who are not used to hang out naked) and show them the great fun that comes with nude recreation. This was also a good test for us before launching our project of Gymnasium on a much larger scale at Burning Man later this summer. We got lots of encouragement and ideas for collaboration, and here are just some highlights.
Our first event attracted about a dozen people, but only our camp members were naked. Well, we thought it was still a success, as to bring across the idea of social nudity, people should get comfortable with others being naked, and then maybe it will not be too long until they feel comfortable in their own skin too.
And our event required quite a bit of collaboration, often between ‘skins and shirts’, as it was a race that combined a piggy-back ride
and a barrel run.
It was pure fun,
but to add a bit of competitive spirit and even more fun, we arranged a final race for the first 4 pairs from the initial run;
for the final, the leading person had to wear a horse (or pig, in one case) mask, which partially obscured vision.
Thus, besides making it more fun for the spectators, these masks were supposed to encourage communication between riders and horses.
At the turn from piggy-back ride to barrel-run, riders and horses had to swap, so the participants in each pair experienced both roles, though in different versions.
Just seeing these photos, it looks like barrel run in the mask was a bit more difficult to control,
but everybody made it till the end :-)
My pair won, and is it was the only one where both participants were naked, let me conclude (admittedly, in an anecdotal manner) that communication and collaboration work best between naked people :-)
And the horse sort of became our camp’s mascot (we hung our program with historical references at the entrance to the camp).
Later in the day, we went to the temple area, played wind gongs
and climbed trees (because why not? This won’t be an option at Burning Man :-))
Then it was time for our nude dance workshop aka NuDance, for which we collaborated with our neighbors, ‘Priority 5′ camp – they provided the soundtrack. Thanks again, guys, in case you read this! We were really lucky to have them as our neighbors, as they had some of the best music around (probably among my 2 favorite music camps along with ‘Echo’).
But here is a sad side note about music at FreeForm: apparently, some outdoors after-hours music sessions that were not supposed to take place kept some locals in the neighboring village awake to the extent that they filed a complaint and now FreeForm has to find a new home :-( Hopefully, it won’t be difficult for the organizers.
Then there was another event that triggered some joyful nudity – a crossover from Holi festival, where participants splash each other with brightly-colored powders. I missed it, as I was getting massage at that time, but luckily other campmates brought some extra powders, so we had our own naked celebration of colors.
And our colorful rabbit with a powerful jump deserves an extra credit :-)
We continued with Indian-inspired activities by doing yoga that turned into a symposium (as you may know from our theme camp description, this idea of drinking wine in different poses was also inspired by depictions of symposiums from Ancient Greek vases).
We discussed a bit how to increase attendance of our events next year, and one solution was obvious – we should apply for workshops at the lawn by the main stage to increase visibility and traffic.
But then our last event was very successful indeed. Perhaps because people started packing and bringing down their tents, so our camp became more visible, or simply because many liked the idea, we had a very good attendance at our oil wrestling match. Even the founder of FreeForm Festival stopped by; he liked the idea of our camp, being both very interactive and educational, and advised to get some Greek-themed decorations such as columns (which we’re already planning for Burning Man).
Quite a few people showed for our wrestling match, and then more were joining from passers by. It was a good idea to use oil for participants (and we used a good quality Greek olive oil), as this encouraged them to get naked (and all did except for one who kept his underwear, because his girlfriend was strict about that allegedly :-))
Here are just a few highlights,
We used sumo wrestling rules, which are the simplest of all wrestling styles, i.e. only the soles of the feet are allowed to touch the ground and you have to stay within the ring.
The most common winning strategy was pushing the opponent outside the ring, sometimes quite vigorously,
but even then all matches ended in a peaceful manner
and the whole atmosphere was very friendly.
Another strategy was lifting the opponent and bringing him, or her as in this case, down… Though it didn’t work for me, as my opponent clung to me, and I had to extend my arm to the ground not to fall.
Lifting the opponent and carrying him outside the ring worked well too.
And some more selected moments for you:
I really like these pictures,
as they show interaction between people,
many of whom are complete strangers to each other,
while some are close friends,
but in either case, it is both very physical and social.
At times it looked almost like a fist fight,
and then more like a dance,
but keeping it balanced was the key to maintain the fun,
even when the opponents were of quite different size.
Which by the way wasn’t often a good predictor of who would win:
our match showed that size doesn’t matter, but skillfulness does! ;-)
Admittedly, the matches between more similarly skilled and sized opponents
were the most exciting to watch
and lasted longest.
And I guess you’ve been wondering – yes, we did have an all female match too!
And I’ll just finish here quoting a comment from one of them, which makes me think that our mission was accomplished: “thanks for making me feel so comfortable naked and learning how much I love how it feels!”
PS I actually love these photos so much, and I think they quite grasp the essence of the whole idea of Active Naturists and our theme camp, so here is a gallery with an extended selection for your enjoyment.