camp Gymnasium at Burning Man 2016

Burning Man festival this year saw the second installation of our theme camp Gymnasium, which refers to the Ancient Greek institution for athletics, philosophy and socializing. You can read more about the concept of our camp on its webpage, but here is our report with some imagery that should help you imagine what it was like (or evoke some good memories, if you participated in our events).

naturist philosophy camp Gymnasium 0000 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Even though our theme camp was first conceived with an idea to revive the ideals of the Ancient Olympics, this year besides the athletics we put more effort into another aspect of the concept of ‘gymnasium’ in its original meaning – philosophical discussions (with wine). For one session, each participant received a quote of a Greek philosopher and lead discussion on its subject, which let us cover all kinds of topics. We also had a session when we talked about our personal attitudes towards nudity as well as our views on the possible role for naturism in the [default] society. The common theme was the feeling of liberation and bonding with others that brings the simple act of social nudity – and the photos here seem to confirm that.

An entirely new idea for this year was the gymnastics wheel (aka German wheel). Several month before the festival, I stumbled upon a photo with German wheel gymnasts from 1920’s and immediately got an impression that it would be a big hit at Burning Man. As you can see below, it provided a perfect link between the theme of our camp and the theme of Burning Man this year  – ‘Da Vinci’s Workshop’.

naturist gymnastics wheel Vitruvian Man camp Gymnasium 0000 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

We of course refer to the drawing of the Vitruvian Man by Da Vinci, and expectedly the Man himself took the iconic shape this year.

Vitruvian Man

We were so happy to see that our idea was immediately understood by other burners – as soon as we rolled the wheel onto the playa, we had people queuing to take a picture,

naturist gymnastics wheel camp Gymnasium 0002 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and it seemed like it was self-explanatory that one was supposed to get naked for a photo à la Vitruvian Man 🙂

naturist gymnastics wheel camp Gymnasium 0001 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

This was a big success in terms of bringing all kinds of people to try a new fun activity in the buff and in public,

naturist gymnastics wheel camp Gymnasium 0004 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and they were creative with poses.

naturist gymnastics wheel camp Gymnasium 0005 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

But we didn’t forget the primary function of the gymnastics wheel,

naturist gymnastics wheel camp Gymnasium 0003 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and  the flat playa surface was perfect to roll it.

We had to be careful to avoid possible injuries, as even one rotation proved to be a lot more difficult than we had anticipated. The gymnastics wheel turned out to be a great magnet for people back at the camp too – dozens of passers by stopped to try it every day; only a few managed though, even with helpers.

naturist gymnastics wheel camp Gymnasium 0075 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

In their defense, I have to note that in the first days we only knew one, difficult way of holding yourself in the wheel during rotation: pushing up with your arms with all power while maintaining them as straight as possible. That was until someone came by and said that there had been a workshop on gymnastics wheel at Hellfire Society camp. (On what subject isn’t there a workshop at Burning Man?) So we went there, and the camp lead gladly arranged another workshop specially for us. It turned out that while our technique wasn’t impossible, the typical and much better way to hold yourself during rotation on the wheel was by hooking your feet.

naturist-gymnastics-wheel-camp-gymnasium-burning-man-black-rock-city-nv-usa-s

After we learned that, the success rate among all the newbies to gymnastics wheel skyrocketed, and we were on the roll 🙂

naturist run camp Gymnasium 0000 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Our first athletic event in the week was the running race.

naturist run camp Gymnasium 0002 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

This year we only had a short race on our street,

naturist run camp Gymnasium 0001 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

but it was a nice way to get attention from our neighbors and passers by.

naturist run camp Gymnasium 0004 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

It was all for fun, but it was a competition nevertheless.

naturist run camp Gymnasium 0005 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

It was no surprise that David won the race, as he was among the top runners at Bouncing Buns trail race two years ago.

naturist run camp Gymnasium 0003 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Our Gymnasium also offered daily fitness exercises, with Matt leading push-up sessions every morning.

naturist camp Gymnasium 0000 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

This year we had a certified yoga/acro-yoga instructor among our campmates,

naturist acro-yoga camp Gymnasium 0002 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

so we had a few sessions at the camp

naturist acro-yoga camp Gymnasium 0003 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and also played a bit on the playa.

naturist acro-yoga camp Gymnasium 0000 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

We probably should have spent a little more time posing with those amazing and massive art pieces,

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5702/30885939485_b68b54a42d_z_d.jpg

but unfortunately some of them were burned much earlier in the week than we had anticipated (e.g. the pyramids on Friday morning).

naturist camp Gymnasium 0001 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Some installations were quite interactive and served as great frames for photos, literally.

naturist camp Gymnasium 0002 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Other installations referred to familiar views of the “default world”, like NYC skyline at the Kostume Kult, making the whole experience only more surreal…

naturist camp Gymnasium 0006 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

(I wish we could sip our morning coffee in Manhattan just like that!)

Unfortunately I enjoyed my nights out in an immediate manner, and recorded neither my own naked dancing on the ashes of the burned Man and at the White Ocean nor the performance by a couple of naked fire-spinners at the Mayan Warrior art car, which was probably my favorite mutant vehicle in terms of the music (and certainly in terms of the lights). But here is a short clip from that night I found online, where you can see those two naked fire-spinners, but resting in the crowd at the time – perhaps a video with their performance will appear at some point too, but I’m just happy to have witnessed it.

As you can see, our camp was primarily focused on providing interactive events rather than art and installations,

naturist camp Gymnasium 0005 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

but we arranged some decorations to highlight our reference to Ancient Greece.

naturist camp Gymnasium 0003 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

This year we added a statue depicting Hercules wrestling Diomedes for his 8th labor. By the way, I haven’t been able to find an explanation behind that ‘penile grip’ – so if there are specialists in history of art among the readers here, please enlighten us in the comments 😎

naturist camp Gymnasium 0007 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Speaking of wrestling, finally getting to our camp’s most famous feature – naked oil wrestling – with more than 600,000 views of our last year’s wrestling video on Vimeo and a mention in the Independent, we can truly say famous!

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0000 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

As you’d expect, our wrestling matches are preceded by oiling up (with a pure Greek olive oil),

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0006 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

which feels great in the arid environment of Black Rock City.

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0008 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Our entertainers led the show,

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0010 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and we had a good turnout of spectators and participants for all three matches that we hosted.

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0043 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Just like last year, we used sumo wrestling rules, as the simplest to adopt at a festival setting.

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0023 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

The wrestlers had to stay within the boundaries of the blue mats,

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0039 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and only their feet were allowed to touch the ground.

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0037 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

There was a great deal of pushing

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0028 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and lifting,

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0030 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

or even carrying the opponent outside the rink.

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0020 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Though pushing was certainly the favorite technique,

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0024 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and sometimes our puzzle mats did not withstand all that force.

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0018 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

But some matches looked a lot more elegant,

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0040 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

almost like a dance.

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0026 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

And surely it helped to possess a good grip (which the oil made more difficult)

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0003 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and/or ability to escape one (which the oil made easier).

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0016 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

We had some well matched participants,

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0015 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

so their matches were intense

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0017 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

and unpredictable.

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0013 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USAnaturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0014 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Sometimes we’d need a few judges to decide who stepped outside or touched the ground first, but often enough the victory was clear.

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0025 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

When the most active participants had wrestled each other a few times, we selected those with most victories for semifinals and finals.

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0034 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

You could tell the finalists took the competition seriously,

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0027 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

although all they’d get was a laurel wreath and glory, just like in the authentic Olympic Games 😉

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0036 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

After the winner was determined for each of our three competitions,

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0038 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

we awarded them at our ‘temple’.

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0042 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

And the winners awarded us with their glorious smiles 🙂

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0009 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Besides giving the golden laurel wreath,

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0004 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

we added one more touch of the Ancient Greek ceremony by scraping dust, oil and sweat from the winners with a strigil (bought on eBay, supposedly authentic!)

naturist wrestling camp Gymnasium 0001 Burning Man, Black Rock City, NV, USA

And here is a video compilation from the wrestling matches – our only video from Burning Man this year. Enjoy, hopefully it’s a good reward for your long wait for our report!

 

6 thoughts on “camp Gymnasium at Burning Man 2016

  1. This is epic, and we love this so much here at Nude Movement.

    You know, the fact that this wonderful content that the world needs to see and receive enlightenment just by LOOKING, can’t be shared on Facebook, the social network that actually matters to effect change in the world, is why we want to stage a mass protest in front of Facebook’s headquarters in 2017 or 18 like the breastfeeding moms successfully did when they themselves were fed up with not being able to show the fucking human body expressing motherly love.

    Most of your amazing pics can’t even be shared on Instagram, because, oh, Facebook bought Instagram.

    To anyone reading this, join this group to keep abreast of Nude Movement’s Facebook nude protest plans:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1790936417860322/

    – Glen @ NM

    Like

  2. Hey folks!
    This is Elliot, and I’m camp lead at Elliot’s Naked Bicycle Service & Piano Bar. We were in the 4:30 Plaza the last two years.
    Maybe we could collaborate on something? I’m a life-long Naturist, but I’m struggling to convince more of our campers to go natural.
    Also, I am planning to take 12 or 13 good photos for a Camp Calendar — a souvenir and perhaps fundraiser. Every photo would include at least one bicycle, and of course the people would be natural. (And I have approval from Media Mecca to do this.)
    Let’s brainstorm!

    Like

  3. I LOVE YOUR POSTS

    On Sun, Nov 27, 2016 at 11:01 PM, Active Naturists wrote:

    > αNaturist posted: “Burning Man festival this year saw the second > installation of our theme camp Gymnasium, which refers to the Ancient Greek > institution for athletics, philosophy and socializing. You can read more > about the concept of our camp on its webpage, but here is ou” >

    Like

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