This Wednesday, we submitted our theme-camp application for FreeForm Festival (which, in case you haven’t seen my previous post about it, is North-Eastern version of Burning Man, on a smaller scale and with grass). We’ll be a camp of a dozen people, many of whom will go to Burning Man as well, so it will be our chance to try some ideas regarding our theme – Gymnasium.
Our camp is themed around gymnasium in its original Ancient Greek meaning: a place for physical training, socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. Nowadays, physical and intellectual activities are usually seen to belong to separate domains. We want to bring back the idea that they mix well together, and our activities will include both physical exercise and philosophical discussions.
The word ‘gymnasium’ comes from the Ancient Greek term γυμνός [gymnós] meaning “naked”, and our activities will be held in the nude. We believe that nudity will make physical activities more fun and at the same time will be important to bring across our message about body acceptance. We hope that all our participants will only feel more comfortable and confident in their own skin after our events.
FreeForm Festival will last 5 days this year (4-8 June), but we’ll probably just go for the weekend from Friday evening to Sunday night. Our program, as submitted, will include the following:
– piggy back race (Sat, noon): an alternative to equestrian races in the original Olympics
– street style dance workshop (Sat, 3pm): Urban dance workshop with a new twist – in the buff! Now you can’t cheat your moves ;-)
– yoga followed by some wine-drinking (Sat, 6pm): Ancient Greeks sometimes drank wine in acrobatic poses at their symposiums ;-)) Nude yoga – for a better flow :-) Free your body, free your mind! We’ll end the session with drinking wine in your favorite yoga poses.
… followed by discussion on body image and body acceptance across cultures and history
– capoeira workshop (Sun, noon): Capoeira is a unique martial art with elements of dance and is usually accompanied by music. Come to hear about its history, try some kicks and defense moves, and learn a capoeira song! To comply with our camp’s theme of body acceptance and make sure you do all the moves correctly, this workshop will be done in the nude :-)
– wrestling match (Sun, 3pm): Let’s wrestle like in the original Olympics – nude! Do you have any body image fears? It’s time to fight it too ;-)
The most active participants and winners will be served Greek-style food and given massage!
Contact via e-mail or leave a comment here if you want to join us for FreeForm Festival or just share an idea for our activities.
Active Naturists are teaming up with Passive Naturists and announce a new contest in our favorite [passive] pastime – sunbathing. Our group has of course insisted on making it at least slightly active, so it will be combined with reading. The idea is simple: read while you sunbathe! We shall have two categories: sprinter and endurance.
In the sprinter competition, the winner will be defined by the speed of reading, i.e. whoever finishes reading a book first. Our book choice is ‘The Southern Vampire Mysteries’ novels by Charlaine Harris, on which ‘True Blood’ TV series are based. However, the contestants will have an option to pick other books of their choice (including in their native language) as long as the number of words is exactly the same (contents excluded).
In the endurance competition, the winner will have to read any book(s) continuously for the longest amount of time while sunbathing naked; note that both reading and sunbathing may not be interrupted even for physiological needs!
Given that we expect our contestants to endure well longer than a typical day has sun hours to offer, we shall hold this competition in the Arctic starting on the summer solstice day to ensure that the sun won’t set before we can identify the winner!
Register by leaving a comment here! Please note that you’ll have to take care of your flights and transportation on your own, as well as food and porta-potties – we’ll only provide the books! Prizes comprise of the summer vacation in the Arctic and books!!! You don’t want to miss that ;-)
Sorry for having been quiet the entire month of March, but I was busy getting new material in Florida :-) While it’s not ready to be published yet, I’d like to announce a few events that sound like fun and well in the spirit of αctive naturists.
On the 18th of April, Travasuns will have their monthly Indoor Pool Party in Long Island, NY, which will be my last, and unfortunately only second, this season. I usually go to their events throughout winter, but this yeah I’ve had schedule conflicts. It’s a low-key event at a rented gym with saunas, hang-out pool, pizza and wallyball.
YNOTU(Young Nudists of Texas United) will host their second Nude Games on Memorial Weekend, 22-25 May, at a campground near Dallas. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend again, but the program looks like fun: flag football, tug of war, a few varieties of volleyball among other things. However, it seems to me, they downplayed the athletic component this year. If any of you go there, I’ll be happy to hear your thoughts!
The first update on our theme camp for Burning Man 2015:
We now have 8 confirmed ticketed participants, despite getting tickets was a sort of painful race against time. Somehow it worked out for many of us with a little bit of luck, but almost as many, if not more are still desperate to find tickets. As the official website says, you do “have a number of other opportunities to get tickets, including through the Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP), the OMG Sale in August and the Low Income Ticket Program (which is reserved for those who are in, and can demonstrate, actual financial need).” But probably the best way to find a ticket is to ask around among your burner friends. A few of our campmates will apply for Low Income Program – let’s wish them best of luck!
If you are going this year and are interested in our theme – Gymnasium – please contact via e-mail or leave a comment here! I was happy to get a couple of requests already. I hope you have tickets though, as we don’t have any spare ones so far. And if you have a spare ticket that you’d like to sell to one of our eager campmates, please let us know too!
More details about our camp ideas and development will follow, and we’ll also be able to polish our program at Free Form Festival on the first weekend of June in Pennsylvania. Their 2015 website is not up yet, but you can read my report from last year. Some general info is available on their ticket sale webpage, and by the way tickets go on sale tomorrow! There won’t be as much craze as with Burning Man tickets, but the price goes up by a lot as the sale progresses – no reason to wait, if you know you want to be there. I highly recommend this festival for anyone who wants to explore their creative side!
Naturists playing volleyball is a cliché, but I think it’s a good one! Let me know if I’m wrong, but apparently the largest naturist sport event (after the original Olympics in Ancient Greece were prohibited) is a volleyball tournament which takes place every September in Western Pennsylvania – The Original Naked Volleyball Superbowl. As its venue, White Thorn Lodge, is probably all white in snow right now, before reporting on our experience there, I’d like to announce that a similar event will take place in one month in the Sunshine State of Florida: the 14th Annual Super Bowl South Ten Day Volleyball Tournament. Well, quite a bit of information has been included in the name already, so I’ll just add that it takes place at Lake Como resort in Tampa area from 6th to 15th of March, with finals on the last day. See you there ;-)
Here is a promo video for this event. If you notice, they don’t really show much of the volleyball game itself though, and yet it’s more than the bigger event in Pennsylvania allows: although this blog usually features photos and videos to accompany most texts, absolutely no photos were allowed at the Volleyball Superbowl at White Thorn Lodge. I’d like to hear your opinions about it, but I find it unfortunate. If naturist movement wants to promote body acceptance and normality of nudity, it seems counterproductive to forbid photography and video at such a big event as Volleyball Superbowl, as it may only reaffirm general public’s opinion that nudity is something to be ashamed of or at best suitable only for private/secretive setting. Sport events make the top most watched TV broadcasts – the Summer Olympics, football and rugby World Cups, Tour de France etc. globally, and Super Bowl in USA – so it appears that naturism fails on capitalizing on demand for sport videos to popularize the movement. And it’s a pity even more so, because such videos would promote naturism as an active and healthy lifestyle.
Well, actually there is an article and a video by ESPN about the Naked Volleyball Superbowl, but unfortunately, it doesn’t do justice, in my opinion, because all photos seem to be staged and everything possible was made to conceal genitalia and women’s nipples. (Good move, ESPN, with your Body Issue series, but it’s kind of only a half-move for the aforementioned reasons…)
As a result of such policies, if you search for illustrations of naked volleyball games, as I did for the article on nudity in sports, you’ll be swamped with porn links with hardly any legitimate material in sight! Needless to say, it would send a wrong message to someone who just started getting into naturism and would look for more information and examples of naturist activities. Surprisingly, there are a lot more videos of naked skydiving and rock climbing than of naked volleyball!
Is there any solid reason behind such strict rules at the Naked Volleyball Superbowl and some other similar events? Perhaps the organizers are afraid that many people wouldn’t want to be outed as naturists publicly, and if they allowed photography and TV, fewer visitors would come and some would feel uncomfortable (which, again, is contrary to naturist philosophy of nudity’s normality). But such events as the World Naked Bike Ride attract even larger numbers of participants, and nudity is on display in front of much larger audiences in some of the world cities such as London (as opposed to private nudist clubs)… Perhaps a solution to keep ‘shy’ people happy at the Naked Volleyball Superbowl and the like would be giving out wristbands of different colors to those who are fine with being photographed and those who aren’t, and make the photographers and TV crew sign release papers accordingly…
The only argument against photography that I personally would [maybe] accept from the organizers is if their intention were that participants enjoyed the immediacy of the event. This is how no-photo policy is explained at the ‘Output’ nightclub in New York, for example. While I don’t necessarily feel that I personally lose immediacy every time I take a picture (sometimes even on contrary, I get deeper into the moment taking a picture of it), at least such an argument at naturist events wouldn’t send you to the assumption that nudity is somehow shameful ;-)
Regardless of the photography issue, there were many moments to enjoy at the Naked Volleyball Superbowl. I went with two friends – Tam and Mat :D – and immediately upon arrival we made a few new friends. From people at the reception to our campsite neighbors, everybody wanted to make sure that we had everything necessary for a comfortable stay. It was indeed very helpful, because my other friend Don had to cancel his trip last minute, and he was supposed to bring some camping gear. In the end, everything went smoothly, and we greatly appreciated friendliness of White Thorn Lodge members and so as fellow campers who also came specifically for the event: we were offered to use the grill, a ride to Pittsburgh on the way back, and were invited to dinners and parties. Some camps, such as Quebec’ team and Tiki-Tamba, had decent sound systems and DJs, so at night the atmosphere was very much of a festival.
We went with the idea to play lots of volleyball, but we didn’t realize the event was indeed that serious about the sport. It actually turned into a volleyball marathon of three full days! On Friday, we built our team with our campsite neighbor John, his friend from local community and that friend’s friend’s teenage daughter. So, our team pretty much reflected the open nature of this event! With around a thousand participants (in some years, up 1500!), Naked Volleyball Superbowl truly brings all kinds of people together. Some arrive with fully formed teams, others find teammates on the spot. This diversity is also reflected in volleyball skills, as competition includes men’s and women’s AA, A and B classes, and multiple mixed C/Novice level teams. We started as a novice team but on Saturday were upgraded to C (Novice+). Sunday was the day of the actual competition, by which we were quite exhausted. None of us had much experience with volleyball, but we did pretty well, at least better than we expected, just failing to reach the finals. It was also nice to walk around and watch other matches, which differed quite a lot, depending on the surface (grass, sand, asphalt) and levels. After corn roast in the afternoon, the event culminated with men’s AA finals. I’d never seen volleyball of such high level and was amazed that it looked like a totally different beast from volleyball games that you see at a beach typically. This was inspiring and impressive, and nudity made the whole experience only more exciting. After seeing this game, where the volleyball was certainly not the only kind of balls bouncing around, I could assure that the claim by some naturist skeptics that vigorous activities are not suitable to do naked because certain body parts would “move too much” and “get hurt” is complete bollocks! Well, perhaps such skeptics should consider the Russian version of the proverb that a bad workman always blames his tools, which is ‘плохому танцору и яйца мешают’ and literally means ‘a bad dancer is impeded even by [his own] balls’. :D
I can’t wait for the naked Volleyball Super Bowl South in Florida and then hope to practice volleyball more at Sandy Hook beach this summer to be in better shape for the tournament at White Thorn Lodge again!
We continue with Berlin series (it’s not over yet!), and here is something for winter time, and looking at the calendar – particularly suitable for Valentine’s Day, if you’re up for a hot date… Literally! I’m talking about two of my favourite saunas in Berlin (one of them doesn’t seem to be open this winter, however).
Thermen am Europa Center is located in the centre of Berlin. It’s easy to see why I loved it, with multiple types of saunas including 2 hamams, several pools of different temperatures, and large outdoor terraces with views over some of Berlin’s landmarks like Gedaechtniskirche.
The biggest pool goes partially outdoors and is very warm. Due to the narrow shape of its outdoors part though, don’t expect to do laps when there’s more than a couple of people. But if you go there primarily for relaxation, you will definitely get it! Thermen am Europa Center is open throughout the year, so it can be also a good idea for a chilly summer evening, which is not a rare thing in Berlin either…
Well, the description below, is for historic reference, as of now… hopefully they’ll reopen it next winter!
Another option is was Badeshiff, which from November till the end of March becomes used to turn into an oasis of warmth with saunas and partially open-air swimming pool with transparent walls over the Spree River! This not only allows-ed you to enjoy the views, up to the tallest city landmark – Alex TV-tower
– but also to appreciate the warmth of saunas in contrast to the chilly winter weather outside.
However the water in the pool could be warmer
unless you’d swim intensely :-)
But why not, keep yourself active in winter too, and you’ll enjoy the sauna even more!
Active Naturists are going to Burning Man this year! More details to be released soon – you’ll hear about our camp via this blog. But if, by having read this blog for a while, you already know you’d like to join the camp, please e-mail or leave a comment here!
Only then, you’ll be able to buy tickets, which go on sale in one week! (If you think you may be eligible for low income tickets, check the website for more info on that). Ideally, you should aim at buying tickets asap. 40,000 tickets at $390 each, and they got sold out in 45min last year! You may be able to find tickets later in season, but don’t rely on it.
And let’s just reiterate this quote from Wikipedia:
“The gymnasium in ancient Greece functioned as a training facility for competitors in public games. It was also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. The name comes from the Ancient Greek term γυμνός [gymnós] meaning “naked”.
The word gymnasium is the latinisation of the Greek noun γυμνάσιον (gymnasion), “gymnastic school”, in pl. “bodily exercises” and generally “school” which in turn is derived from the common Greek adjective γυμνός (gymnos) meaning “naked”, by way of the related verb γυμνάζω (gymnazo), whose meaning is “to train naked”, “train in gymnastic exercise”, generally “to train, to exercise”. The verb had this meaning because one undressed for exercise. Historically, the gymnasium was used for exercise, communal bathing, and scholarly and philosophical pursuits. The English noun gymnast, first recorded in 1594, is formed from the Greek γυμναστής (gymnastēs), but in Greek this word means “trainer” not “gymnast”. The palaistra was the part of the gymnasium devoted to wrestling, boxing and ball games.”
Germany is a home to large naturist population that often identify themselves with the so-called ‘free body culture’ – Freie Körper Kultur (FKK), so no wonder its capital hosts a huge naked disco! The Schlagernacktparty is organised every two months in the club “Schwuz” at Rollbergstrasse 26, Berlin 12053. Its concept and original idea occurred to DJ Jupiter with collaboration of DJ Stern of Avalon and Itzy in 2003, and it has grown very fast through the last years and has reached almost 400 guests at each event!
Schlagernackt is a self-explanatory portmanteau name: Schlager is German pop music from the 1970-80s, Nackt means naked and rhymes with Nacht, night. As a non-German, I was very sceptical in the beginning, but as I listened to it, I found it so nice and funny that I loved it ever since… I decided to come regularly to the party and then even joined the team to help with the whole oprganisation.
The music works not only for Germans but for our numerous international guests too (reflecting diversity of Berlin’s dwellers and tourists). Also, our music is never too loud, so it creates a nice atmosphere where you can also talk to other people and make new friends, which is easy, because everybody seems to feel comfortable at our parties!
The dresscode is naturally naked with the exception are socks and shoes for obvious reasons (we are a busy disco after all).
So easy is the procedure: you are first of all warmly welcomed by our team at the entrance (Olaf, Wolfgang and Doris), pay entrance fee of €5 euro, then you find some benches where you can take off all your clothes and put them in a plastic bag, which you then give to the team working at the coatcheck (Michele (me), Berko, Jens, Elke, Christian, Stephane). You get a number tag that you can use to order drinks at the bar, which you pay at the end of the party. Our guests also get free sweets and typical German products.
Every time, we choose a particular theme: Easter, Halloween, Summer, Hawaii and so on. We change the atmosphere and the decorations accordingly, but always very colourful!
So, don’t miss the best party in Europe!-) The next date is the 22nd of February (19:00-02:00), then 26 April and so on every two months. Visit our website for further information. We are waiting for you!!!
Orient Land Trust is an amazing piece of land between San Luis Valley and Cottonwood Peak of Rocky Mountains in Colorado; it encompasses wildlife corridor with numerous hiking trails to explore, pristine spring waters – including geothermal springs for you to relax, an abandoned mine that now hosts the state’s largest bat colony, and rustic cabins and camping area for you to stay. And what makes this place truly natural, relaxing and liberating is that it is very much nude-friendly! When we went there in July, the weather was just perfect for that – it only cools down at night, but then you’d hang out at the hot springs ;-)
We stayed at the Oak House community lodge, but if I come again, I think I’ll go for tenting next to one of those natural hot springs.
This place is perfect if want to connect with nature at ease – it’s everywhere around you, and even such luxury as hot baths are natural there. On my first walk around, I was amazed to see several deer right off the trail that seem to be quite tame. I didn’t have my camera that time, but when I grabbed it, there was a rabbit instead, but it was a bit shier.
I saw quite a few deer on a random trail afterwards, and it looked like they felt pretty much the same as human visitors of OLT – relaxed ;-)
Fawns, however, seemed to be more alert and cautious,
so as squirrels (unlike their Central Park counterparts).
As I continued going up the mountain, I also apparently scared the whole flock of grouse, as they noisily took off the ground and sat on the trees around me.
The views from the trail were beautiful: multicolored hills and mountains,
magnificent San Luis Valley,
and cute tiny settlement of Orient Land Trust itself…
At the top of the nearest peak to OLT, there was a primitive stone construction by a dead tree – not sure about its purpose, but it could protect you from the wind if you decide to camp there.
As I looked down at the forest on the opposite slope, it caught my attention how various the vegetation appeared to be, with patches of different broad-leaf and coniferous trees sticking to each other, and other parts covered by grass or bushes.
Aspen trees with their white barks stood out in the sea of green.
As aspens let a lot of light to reach the ground, a lot of other plants can grow in such a forest.
And if aspens caught my eyes’ attention, my nose was pleased with conifers –
many of them released sap on their young cones, and it provided a pleasant aroma.
Too bad I didn’t see any edible fruits. This one below looked like a gooseberry, but I wasn’t sure.
This plant below had beautiful leaves,
but the main attraction was of course flowers,
which were in abundance all over the mountain but especially on non-forested slopes.
Colors spanned the whole spectrum.
My favorite was probably this one below.
Flowers mean butterflies (and hummingbirds, in this part of the world, but we’ll get to them later).
But not all butterflies were busy pollinating flowers.
Cactus flowers seemed to be more popular among bees though.
I was surprised to see so many cacti species so far up north and at relatively high elevation,
but they were clearly at limit of their ecological tolerance,
as all of them were very short.
I wonder if sticking together helps cacti survive winter.
Well, at least some of them clearly showed their love to the place <3
And as much as I love cacti, I don’t like stepping on their spikes… oh, have I mentioned that hiked not only bare but barefoot too?
The terrain was quite rough even without spikes, but all that pain made relaxation in hot springs only sweeter.
So, finally I’m getting to describe you what Orient Land Trust is probably most known for – geothermal springs in truly natural setting! There are a few pools with different temperature of water, different levels of accessibility and seclusion. The uppermost of the upper three pools has an extra feature: air bubbles seep through its bottom caressing your body on their way to the surface.
The middle of the upper pools is one of the smallest, but its depth is just perfect to lie down and enjoy the flow of warm water over your body.
After that, I was ready for another hike! (I’ll get back to description of other hot springs of OLT in a bit.)
At around 18:00, together with many other visitors and a guide, we headed out to the abandoned Orient Mine turned home to the largest bat colony in Colorado to see the spectacle of thousands bats leaving their cave to prey on insects at dusk.
The views on the way were stunning again.
The excavated red earth stark perfect contrast to the green, whereas the valley literally on the other side of the road was covered by dry grass.
Typically for OLT, we were greeted by a deer chilling by the bush.
I snacked on ‘Bear Naked’ energy bar (I see an ad potential here!)
The trail was very easy, with only one decent uphill hike, after which we had a break at a cliff with magnificent view of the valley.
The sea of dry grass spotted by green trees and bush thickets presented a beautiful picture.
Then, the beams of sunlight coming onto the valley between the mountains and clouds created yet more splendid view.
As the last sun rays of the day touched our skin, we hurried to the Orient Mine cave.
While we waited for the bats to emerge, I was try it to figure my at-the-time-new-to-me camera settings, that would work well for a fast moving small object in dark conditions.
I could certainly catch the colors of sunset,
and an airplane gaseous trace,
but I failed to take any decent photograph of bats.
It was a mesmerizing nature’s spectacle! As we were told by our guide, these bats were mainly males of a tropical species that migrate there for the summer, it was funny to think of the cave as a huge bachelor resort for bats and their huge night feast in the valley.
By that time, it got substantially colder and I was the only one left naked. It was still ok for me, especially after we started walking, but I was looking forward to the hot springs. At night, we only went to the pools that were closer to the campground, and although they were pretty full, it was still easy to find a nice spot for yourself. At the biggest pool, we were treated with yet another amazing nature’s spectacle: incredibly bright starry sky and fireflies ‘dancing’ around us. Unfortunately I didn’t even try to photograph this, but the whole experience was magic.
Next morning, we went to the upper pools again and enjoyed the views from the lowest of the three. By the way, there was mint growing right next to it, so it smelled nice around too.
This geothermal infinity pool is just priceless, and I hope I’ll enjoy it again some day!
Right before our departure, I found hummingbird trapped in the bathroom.
Luckily, I have a lot of experience handling birds,
so I easily caught it while it was bumping into the window and set it free outside.
I must say that I myself felt pretty much free as a bird at Orient Land Trust, I wish there were more places like that!