Gymnasium – theme camp for Burning Man 2015

Active Naturists are going to Burning Man this year! We are placed at an easy access location, at  7:30 Portal & Arcade (see Black Rock City map here). You’ll hear about our camp via the blog and this page will be updated accordingly. If you are going to Burning Man or similar local festivals and would like to participate in any way, please e-mail us or leave a comment here! New members are also welcome!

Our schedule:

  • Butt-Cheeky Run Come get your burn started – with the sun’s soft caresses on your butt cheeks! The Ancient Greeks always trained and competed naked – in fact the ’gym’ comes from the word ‘gymnos’, meaning ‘naked’ in Greek. Come experience the amazing freedom of running and jumping and exercising free of clothing! Or at least come and see what a great spectator sport it is 🙂 We’ll do a warm-up at the camp and then run wild in the ‘hood!
    • Monday, 31 Aug 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
  • Naked Philosophy Nudity has the power to surprise and shock, yet why, on reflection, can something as mundane as the naked body inspire simultaneously so much passion and revulsion? To be naked in 21st century western society demands intense self-examination, the questioning and reappraisal of conventional conventions and morality. In this sense, naturism, as the cultural and political movement of nudism is often known, is an inherently philosophical practice. And what better way to do philosophy than naked? We’re sure your college seminars would have been much more fun nude. Come and join us for lively discussions, debates and story-telling. We’ll be discussing naturism, body image, sharing experiences, debating body modification, if and how laws should be changed – really everything related to the human body.
    • Monday, 31 Aug 5:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
    • Sunday, 6 Sep 5:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
  • Discus-ish Throw in the dark… and in the buff Discus (well, LED-lit frisbee) throw competition followed by ultimate frisbee game (or regular frisbee, depending on the mood). Bare your body, but wear lights! The Ancient Greeks always trained and competed naked – in fact the ’gym’ comes from the word ‘gymnos’, meaning ‘naked’ in Greek. Come experience the amazing freedom of running and jumping and exercising free of clothing! Or at least come and see what a great spectator sport it is 🙂 This is our only night event, but don’t worry about cold – movement will keep you warm!
    • Wednesday, 2 Sep 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Naked Oil Wrestling Wrestling is one of the most fun sports you can ever try. It’s also one of humanity’s oldest and was among the major events of the original Olympics. Long before we were kicking balls around we were rolling around in the dirt, putting each other in headlocks! It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete novice who’s never tried it in your life or an experienced fighter, come along and experience this amazing bonding experience in Gymnasium, Black Rock City’s Ancient Greek wrestling school (7:30 Portal). We will start warming up and a workshop on wrestling basics at 10:30. This will be followed by competitions starting at 11:30. Participants will be provided showers at another camp.
    • Thursday, 3 Sep 10:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
    • Friday, 4 Sep 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. – an additional match at another camp, location announced on the playa 😉
  • Naked Piggy-Back and Barrel-Run Race Bare with us for this fun athletic event! Bring your friends, but choose wisely, as you’ll have to bear them on your back, bareback… or vice versa. Great bonding experience guaranteed! The Ancient Greeks always trained and competed naked – in fact the ’gym’ comes from the word ‘gymnos’, meaning ‘naked’ in Greek. Come experience the amazing freedom of running and jumping and exercising free of clothing! Or at least come and see what a great spectator sport it is 🙂 PS In ancient Olympics this would have been an equestrian event, but BMORG wouldn’t let us bring horses…
    • Friday, 4 Sep 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  •  (Touch) Rugby in the Buff Rugby is a rough game, but it’s not only for buff dudes – just no touchy-feely please, even though it’s a touch rugby we’ll play. Join us if you please! Why naked? For a great bonding experience, plus it’s hot on the playa… and your costume would be destroyed in the game otherwise! The Ancient Greeks always trained and competed naked – in fact the ’gym’ comes from the word ‘gymnos’, meaning ‘naked’ in Greek. Come experience the amazing freedom of running and jumping and exercising free of clothing! Or at least come and see what a great spectator sport it is 🙂 Come to the playa around 7:30 Portal and look out for bouncing balls!
    • Saturday, 5 Sep 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

And to give you some background, here are some excerpts from our application (with illustrations of our inspirations as well).

Interactivity is at the core of our camp’s theme: We want to recreate the atmosphere of the Gymnasium in its original, Ancient Greek meaning, as a facility for training and competition in public games, as well a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. The term originates from the word [gymnós] meaning “naked”, because historically in Ancient Greece one exercised naked, and we would like to revive this aspect too, as we think that by doing athletic and fun activities naked, participants will experience bonding aspect of such events stronger. We believe that nudity will make physical activities more fun and at the same time will be important in bringing across our message about body acceptance. Nudity will be encouraged but not compulsory in all activities. We hope that all our participants will only feel more comfortable and confident in their own skin after our events.

Nowadays, physical and intellectual activities are usually seen as belonging to separate domains, but we want to bring back the idea that they mix well together, and our events will include physical exercise, arts and philosophical discussions. We plan to hold events every day.

Gymnasium camp layout plan + name 3.0

The layout of our camp is very simple, as our main focus is organizing interactive events rather than creating mind-boggling constructions. We will have a square shade structure with open space in the middle – our gymnasium’s “palaestra”, where most of activity will happen. The entrance will be adorned with columns, while the internal court of palestra will feature a couple of [artificial] trees typical to Greek landscape such as cypress and  olive. The perimeter of the camp will be used as a track for our races.

yoga wine drinking Ancient Greecewine drinking Ancient Greece

Unfortunately, we’ve ditched our idea with serving food and drinks to our participants so far, as this would require additional applications to state authorities, which might be too much for the first year while not really crucial for our theme.

But we shall certainly have several athletic activities, as we shall revive a few events from the authentic Olympic games with some modifications.

wrestling Ancient Greece

Greek-style wrestling, and as a variation, oil wrestling; we shall provide olive oil to participants; on the one hand, oil will make wrestling more slippery = difficult and fun at the same time, but on the other, we think participants will appreciate its soothing effect on their skin, being in the harsh arid environment.

oiling Ancient Greece

We had do think how go around prohibition of animals at Burning Man for our “equestrian” events

chariot race Ancient Greecehorse riding Ancient Greece

The solution is simple, our participants will play the roles of both riders and horses:

piggy back Ancient Greece

piggy-back and barrel-run races (possibly relay races, depending on the number of participants) will be our equivalent of equestrian events. We would like to hold these two during the Burning Man’s edition of the World Naked Bike Ride aka Naked Pub Crawl. We may offer participants to cover themselves in olive oil for these events as well, as a symbolic act for filling a car tank, to remind that the World Naked Bike Ride is a demonstration for oil-independency and for alternative energy sources and body-powered transportation (not to mention that the slippery aspect will make it more fun as well).

discus thrower Ancient Greece

frisbee throw will be our equivalent of discus competition (this is one of the reasons why we would like our camp to be at the esplanade); we could have one frisbee event during day and another during night with LED-lit frisbee discs.

For athletic training, we would like to provide workshops on wrestling, yoga, acro-yoga, street-style dances (hip-hop, house, break etc.) and capoeira. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art disguised as a dance and usually accompanied by music. In this aspect, it is similar to the way Ancient Greek athletes often trained, accompanied by live musicians.

music and jumps Ancient Greece

As for the artistic aspect of our theme, we plan to hold a poetry slam. In ancient Greece, literary events were an indispensable part of athletic festivals, including the Olympics. Also, champion athletes commissioned great poets to compose their victory odes, so we would like to combine one of our athletic events with a poetry competition and make the losers compose odes to the winners.

Similarly, to make our events even more interactive, we could introduce bets among contestants or their supporters: e.g. “If you win, I’ll give you a foot rub every night for three nights”.

Our camp has two certified and even more amateur masseurs, so we would like to provide massages to the winners and most active participants of our events.

To add another aspect of Ancient Greek culture – mythology and drama – we will reenact some famous duels between mythological figures.

For the philosophical aspect of our theme, we plan to hold discussions on various topics, and at the same time experiment with different forms of discussion: symposia, Socratic dialogues, debates, autobiographical explorations of themes related to the body. Our topics will include:

– body image and body acceptance across cultures and history; their roles in naturism, and what naturism may teach the rest of society about body acceptance;

– body modification (e.g. cosmetic surgery, piercing, tattoos, scarring, the practice of circumcision);

– the place of god(s) and humans in our modern worldview and in Ancient Greece;

– the concept of gymnasium, as training for the body and mind in equal measure; mind/body relationship; mediations of the body and athleticism of the mind.


Let us know what you think, and if you cannot participate directly but have an idea related to our theme, just comment here. 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.”

Active Naturists’ festival blog:

first experience at Burning Man in 2012

– freedom and creativity, just at a smaller scale at Free Form Festival 2014

theme camp for Burning Man 2015 announced!

– first ticketed participants

– FreeForm Festival 2015: camp application approved!

– theme camp application submitted for Burning Man 2015

– first experience as a theme camp at FreeForm Festival 2015

– Gymnasium theme camp will be at a prime location at Burning Man!

– Gymnasium schedule at Burning Man 2015

13 thoughts on “Gymnasium – theme camp for Burning Man 2015

  1. Pingback: Active Naturists

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s