Berghain

When I was in Florida a couple of weeks ago for Miami Music Week (amongst other things – more on that later!), it felt like the entire world of electronic dance music was there, with pool parties during day and club gigs during night (and sometimes well into early afternoon), not to mention Miami Winter Music Conference and Ultra festival… I could only wish one more addition to the whole shenanigans – nudity (or removal, of clothes, that is!) Despite the perfect weather and context (e.g. pool parties), nudity will doubtfully be allowed at Miami Music Week events, and pretty much anywhere at dance parties, unless these are specialized events. Luckily, there is one club that has managed to combine worldwide fame and a truly underground atmosphere where “anything goes”, including nudity! It’s Berghain in Berlin. It is often dubbed as the techno capital of the world and is famous for parties that start on Friday night and finish on Monday morning.

It was voted the best night club in the world in 2009 by DJ Magazine. Not surprisingly, on a Saturday night you may end up queuing for 2 hours… and in the worst case in vain, as many people aren’t admitted for no obvious reason (rather random, I suspect), which sounds nasty, but the demand is just clearly too high. And you should appreciate the club management, who have preserved the entry fee pretty much the same throughout the years and haven’t turned the club into a posh place for more cash: there’s still “No VIP, no mirrors in the bathroom, no expensive cocktails, just a good sound system and great crowd!”

Berghain flyer May 2014

You can sort of get the vibe from Berghain’s racy flyers. The one above is probably my favorite from all I’ve seen, and by coincidence it features all naked people. It is from May 2014, the first time when I got naked there and almost 4 years after I moved from Berlin. When I used to frequent Berghain while living in Berlin, I always suspected it’d be fine to dance naked there, but I’d never seen anyone do that. I talked about it with a couple friends, but we just never tried. Last year, I was determined to test it. And when I got to Berghain on a late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, the atmosphere was just right. Perfect ratio of crowd/personal space, great music and people who were into music… Off went my clothes, and it felt great. Finally I was 100% at home in Berghain! Most people around didn’t seem to notice, but I got my share of smiles and thumbs up. One guy told me it was more common to see naked people on a Sunday night, when more locals come out as opposed to more touristy Saturday night. He himself was from New York originally but resided in Berlin; we got in touch and agreed to return in the evening of the same day (which was Sunday)… After getting some sleep and doing acro-yoga in Tiergarten, I went to Berghain again, with Tam this time. Despite there was no queue, the bouncer didn’t let him in – as always, absolutely no reason was given (and most likely there was no reason?)… I had a stamp from my previous visit though (once you’re in, you can leave and enter the club throughout the weekend), and as it was my last night in Berlin and wanted to see Berghain on a Sunday night, I still decided to get in. My new ex-New-Yorker friend was already there, and he introduced me to his friend who apparently always danced naked in Berghain. So, this time, I got naked as soon as I found my spot on the dance floor. I kept my clothes nearby, but the nudist Berghainer said I should have left it at the coat check – the staff is absolutely cool with nudity; the bouncer even told him that in case someone made a fuss about nudity, THAT person would be kicked out! That night, I saw 3 more naked guys dancing, so while nudists are a tiny minority in Berghain, we are certainly welcome and safe there. If you like techno and dancing naked, you can’t think of a better place!

PS You might have noticed the absence of photos in this blogpost – that’s because one of the very few rules in Berghain includes prohibition of photography, similar to some naturist venues. Photos or videos wouldn’t make much justice anyways (not to mention that it’s quite dark there), it’s more of a personal experience that makes Berghain special.

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Bare Burro naked 5K run

When I wrote about fun and active naked events this spring across the US, I forgot to include a naked running race in Southern California that certainly meets the criteria: Bare Burro 5K Run at Olive Dell Ranch this Sunday, 19th! Now, that my friend Don has sent me a video he produced to promote the event, I’m racing to share it with you!

Good luck and have fun!

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FreeForm Festival 2015: camp application submitted

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.

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contest announced: ‘reading while sunbathing naked’!

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).

Alexander Skarsgard reading naked in Antarctica

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!

Alexander Skarsgard reading naked in Antarctica

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 ;-)

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fun naturist events this spring in the USA

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.

In a little more than a week, from 9-12 AprilFlorida Young Naturists will hold their 7th Naked Spring Bash. Joe and I visited their event in 2011 and had great time! And I must say, this year’s schedule looks even better, so it’s a shame I can’t return to the Sunshine State soon again. I like their emphasis on dance workshops this time.

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.

Austin Naked Yoga will host Naked Yoga Camp for men on 7-10 May at Lotus Ranch in Wimberley, Texas. My friend Eddy will teach a movement workshop there, say hi if you attend it!

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!

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Gymnasium camp for Burning Man 2015: first ticketed participants!

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!

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Naked Volleyball SuperBowl(s), and on no-photo policy at some naturist events

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!

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Thermen am Europa Center (and Winter Badeschiff) – amazing saunas in Berlin

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.

naturist 0000 Thermen am Europa, Berlin, Germany

 

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

naturist 0000 Winter Badeschiff, Berlin, Germany

– but also to appreciate the warmth of saunas in contrast to the chilly winter weather outside.
naturist 0002 Winter Badeschiff, Berlin, Germany

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!

naturist 0001 Winter Badeschiff, Berlin, Germany

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Active Naturists are going to Burning Man this year! Camp announced

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!

You only have time until THIS Saturday to create a Burner Profile AND register for ticket sale.

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.

Our camp’s theme will be Gymnasium in its original Ancient Greek meaning, so you can go through ‘How it used to be’ sections of this website to get some inspiration for our camp, be it athletic activities 

or simply fun!

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.”

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SchlagerNackt party in Berlin

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 party

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!

SchlagerNackt party

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!!!

SchlagerNackt party

[Guest entry by Michele]

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