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.

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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,

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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,

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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.

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

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and only their feet were allowed to touch the ground.

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There was a great deal of pushing

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and lifting,

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or even carrying the opponent outside the rink.

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Though pushing was certainly the favorite technique,

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

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But some matches looked a lot more elegant,

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almost like a dance.

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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).

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We had some well matched participants,

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so their matches were intense

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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.

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

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You could tell the finalists took the competition seriously,

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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,

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we awarded them at our ‘temple’.

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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,

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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!

 

NuDance class promo sale!

We’d like to remind that our NuDance class is live and kicking, and as a special promotion this weekend from Black Friday to Cyber Monday you can buy any class in December for just $5 – all 5 classes of December would cost you only $25! Not a bad deal, is it? Surely you can learn quite a lot in a month, so if you are in NYC and around – come and join the NuDance movement😉

And yes, we are long overdue with our report re Burning Man experience this year, but it’s coming. And here is just another reminder about the nu-dancing video we shot at Burning Man last year with our instructor damoN – still can’t get enough of it!

 

on being a building block of a city made of humans…

I know many of you are eagerly awaiting our report from Burning Man, but I am still working on the photos. However, this reminded me that I’m also overdue with reporting on an ambitious photo/digital art project by Angelo Musco, where I participated as one of the numerous models… but became a focal figure in the final art piece! You can read about this project in the Huffington Post article, or watch the video below to get the idea and the work behind it.

By the way, can you spot me?

Angelo Musco – Sanctuary

I really like Angelo Musco’s works, which create intricate landscapes and shapes made of hundreds of human bodies. I have been following his art for a while, and was happy to finally be able to participate in his work as a model this June.

Looking at his previous works, I was wondering if I’d be even able to spot myself in this immense ‘Sanctuary’…

so I felt very honored when I found out that I got in the spotlight, being a landing spot for the butterfly, which, as mentioned in the video, symbolizes metamorphosis.

I hope that I’ll be able to see the actual printout at an exhibition – whether in New York, or any other city,

as I am sure that will be a much better way to fully appreciate this masterpiece than on a computer screen.

But it’ll be also fun to try to spot myself as a ‘brick’ in a wall or a part of a column of one of those towers…

And just a few words about the photoshoot: Even for a person like me, who is naked whenever possible and has participated in massive events involving social nudity, e.g. Philly Naked Bike Ride and NYC Body-Painting Day, this was a very special experience. The way we, models, had to act and interact with each other was quite unique and intimate – it was a bonding experience for all of us, although we mostly didn’t know each other at all. It was interesting to participate in something together while only guessing what the final product would look like, and feeling like becoming a part of something much, much bigger. And the result is quite amazing indeed!

PS It was also my first time naked in a church. (Yes, the NYC photoshoot took place in a church!)

Olympics at Sandy Hook beach near NYC on the 20th of August

I thought that this month it’d be very appropriate to organize a sports competition, mini-Olympics of a kind – in the nude, of course – to remind about the origins of the Olympic games in Ancient Greece,

and very much in spirit of Active Naturists and our Gymnasium project.

 

We’ll  have a few events throughout the day on Saturday, 20 Aug (raincheck Sunday) at my favorite Gunnison beach on Sandy Hook peninsula (just across the bay from New York City) :

  • long jump around noon;
  • wrestling around 2pm
  • running and swimming races during low tide time – to run on wet sand/swim in shallower water – between 3pm and 5pm; 100m and 500m;
  • discus throw (frisbee) at 6pm;
  • + there are always volleyball games going on at Sandy Hook;
  • and maybe we can even have some gymnastics and capoeira!

Look out for our Gymnasium banner on the right hand side of the beach (looking at the ocean). See you!

naturist gymnasium 0005 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

Gymnasium schedule at Burning Man 2016 + 2 tickets available for new campmates

In less than a month, our theme camp Gymnasium will come again to the much anticipated Burning Man festival. If you read this and plan to be there, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to visit our camp. And if you wanted to go but couldn’t get tickets, we have good news for you – two tickets and a vehicle pass are available through our camp, please e-mail us or leave a comment here! New members are very welcome!

You can read about our theme camp idea on its page, and check out our last year’s experience, including the famous naked oil wrestling:

This year we shall enjoy our new big fun toy – gymnastics wheel (aka German wheel), which should be a lot of fun to roll on the playa. And given this year’s theme for Burning Man – ‘Da Vinci’s Workshop’, we can use it as a photo booth to take photographs a la Vitruvian Man.

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Below is the schedule of our events, but keep in mind that we plan to do even more than we have announced – so stop by our camp at 8:15 & Donatello and you’ll find something fun to do and learn… all in the buff!  And what is mind-boggling is that it’s all just a tiny fraction of all the “craziness” that Burning Man is!

  • 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 and all the way to the Man!
    • Monday, 29 Aug, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 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!
    • Tuesday, 30 Aug, 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    • Thursday, 1 Sep, 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    • Friday, 2 Sep, 1 p.m – additional match at another camp at 2:15 & G
    • Saturday, 3 Sep, 3 p.m. – 4:30 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, 31 Aug, 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
    • Friday, 2 Sep, 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Naked Piggy-Back and Wheelbarrow 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, 2 Sep, 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • Greek Dance workshop Let’s dance like it’s… Bacchanalia! Well, not only, but you’ll have fun learning ancient and modern folk dances from Greece. You’ll learn the distinction between the calm and lyrical Apollonian dance and the passionate, “orgasmic” Dionysian dance.
    • Saturday, 3 Sep, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • Nude Yoga + Wine Nude yoga and acro-yoga – for a better flow and connection🙂 We’ll end the session with drinking wine in your favorite poses, as Ancient Greeks sometimes drank wine in acrobatic poses at their symposiums. Then you could stay for our philosophical discussions sessions. Free your body, free your mind!
    • Monday, 29 Aug, 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
    • Thursday, 1 Sep, 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, 4 Sep, 4 p.m. – 5:30 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, 29 Aug, 5:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
    • Thursday, 1 Sep, 5:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
    • Sunday, 4 Sep, 5:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

 

Hope to see many of you there!

tennis in the buff (in breaks between volleyball)

In my previous blogpost, I wrote about naturist volleyball tournaments throughout the US which I visit a couple of times a year, and last weekend it was the SunnyBowl at Sunny Rest Resort. Though it is the smallest one of its kind that I’ve been to, I could see many familiar faces from the naturist volleyball community. There were hardly enough people to make two teams in the novice division, where I’ve been playing so far, but then two of us joined the more advanced B-level teams. Let’s see where we’ll end up at the major naked volleyball Super Bowl in September! And when we were not playing volleyball or chilling by the pool, we played tennis. Well, or at least tried to – it was my first time actually! I love it when I try a new activity, and right away in the buff… as long as I don’t get fined for that, as was the case with acro-yoga! Well, this certainly wouldn’t happen at Sunny Rest, being a naturist resort. Their tennis courts are in great condition with rackets and balls provided for free. Enjoy these photos from our tennis match!

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Sorry for not having any imagery from the volleyball tournament itself, but you can (re)watch the videos in my previous blogpost, though they were shot at another resort. It seems like SunnyBowl is good at providing photo and video materials other than volleyball, as I shot a hypnotizing session of fire-spinning last year. By the way, I’m surprised that there is no big naturist tennis movement, although most naturist resorts are equipped with tennis courts. Maybe Sunny Rest should change that, and add ‘Sunny Open’ to its curriculum!

volleyball in the nude… as never captured before?

Sports in the buff is fun, and volleyball is probably the favorite game among naturists – perhaps because it is also a perfect beach sport? There are numerous naked volleyball tournaments, with more and more appearing every year, and the major ones in North America are listed at nudistvolleyball.com. This weekend we have SunnyBowl at Sunny Rest Resort, where I’ve been many times for the 7k trail race. I’m going with my friends Casey, the winner of the trail race in 2014, and Dan, another contributor to this blog, but I’m also looking forward to seeing my numerous  friends from the naturist volleyball community. And although the uniting theme is volleyball, some participants contribute with other activities, such as DJing or fire-spinning, as I filmed at SunnyBowl last year. What is really nice about naturist volleyball events is that there are players of all levels of experience, from complete novice to professional, so you’ll surely find a team where you can fit well! The biggest naturist tournament in volleyball is held at White Thorn Lodge in Pennsylvania,  and when I visited it for the first time 2 years ago, the level of games simply blew my mind! But I also found it strange that none of that was photographed and filmed. I thought that awesomeness was too good not to be shared with the rest of the world, and dreamt to change that. Here is our first attempt: a friendly match of Tiki-Tomba teammates at the Banana Rum Cup in White Tail resort, Virginia. Hopefully you’ll get to see their finals someday too! Meanwhile enjoy our two videos: a one-minute promo (above), and a five-minute footage that should give you an impression of the full match (below).

A good game starts with a good serve,

naturist volleyball 0008 Banana Rum Cup, White Tail Resort, Virginia, USA

and when the players are nude, you can see how the whole body is engaged right away.

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Here, the volleyball classics meets the Ancient Greek athlete classics.

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It is equally impressive that after such powerful serves, the opposite team is able to respond!

naturist volleyball 0002 Banana Rum Cup, White Tail Resort, Virginia, USA

And in this photo below, you can get a glimpse of how we shot the video.

naturist volleyball 0003 Banana Rum Cup, White Tail Resort, Virginia, USA

This is how it went:

And just a few words about White Tail resort: it’s a large nudist community with permanent residents and a motorhome park, but also with a lot of space for campers coming for an event like Banana Rum Cup. Their party hall is probably the biggest I’ve seen at a naturist resort. There is a big L-shaped outdoor pool, a hot tub, and a pretty big heated pool with glass walls and ceiling – perfect for chilling in bad weather. We actually got pretty unlucky with the weather, as on the day of the finals it was unseasonably cold, but that pool area allowed us hanging out in the buff in comfort even while there was chilling rain outside…

In the other related news, my friend Josh and I installed the second volleyball net at our local Sandy Hook beach. There used to be two nets until the hurricane Sandy destroyed one them, and often enough it was hard to get on the one and only court to play volleyball when the beach would get busy during summer weekends. We played a bit with  a portable net, but it wasn’t very stable; and it’s quite a hassle to put it up and down every time… So, Josh and I independently had been thinking about setting up a more stable net, but when we talked about it, there was no reason to delay any longer, and just a week later we had everything ready.

naturist volleyball 0003 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, USA

As soon as we made the measurements and started digging a hole for the first pole, we got a couple more helpers = new friends.

naturist volleyball 0002 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, USA

And there it was –

naturist volleyball 0001 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, USA

just ready before the nightfall! Having two nets will surely make it easier for Sandy Hook beachgoers to get engaged with volleyball.

naturist volleyball 0004 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, USA

So, whether you are at a nudist resort or beach, keep calm and play naked!

naturist KEEP CALM & PLAY NAKED

our Gymnasium project at festivals and beyond

The preparations for our second time at Burning Man with our theme camp Gymnasium are in full swing. If you’re new to this blog, you can read about the idea behind our project on its webpage, and make sure to check out the blogpost about our amazing first experience last year! Our schedule for 2016 will be available soon, and we already know our new location: 8:15 & D.

We also went as Gymnasium camp to FreeForm Festival a month ago, but unfortunately we had to cancel our famous naked oil wrestling – big success last year – due to terrible weather. A chilly drizzle lasted almost the whole last day of the festival… We still had lots of fun the day and night before though.

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But we’ll go on with this project beyond the festivals, and on this coming Monday, the US Independence Day, we are hosting a wrestling session at our favorite beach in NYC area – Gunnison on Sandy Hook peninsula. We shall have a workshop on different wrestling styles and then a fun match in the afternoon. Look for us on the right side of the beach, with an orange banner that says ΓΥΜΝΆΣΙΟΝ (Gymnasium). The workshop starts at 3pm.

naturist gymnasium 0005 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

Fifteen shades of tan… on Sandy Hook beach

naturist 0002 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

Finally, summer weather has come to New York and it’s time to open beach season here! My favorite beach around is Gunnison on Sandy Hook peninsula in New Jersey. I’ve written about it on multiple occasions already (just make a search on the site for other blogposts), but I have some nice photos to share from last year – in anticipation of yet another great beach time this summer!

The best way to get to Sandy Hook from New York City is by Seastreak ferry.

view 0003 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

I used to post the discount coupons for it, but it seems there’s no need for it anymore. According to the ferry website, starting this year, with fist departure of the day, you always get a $30 return ticket to the beach (regular is $45). A sad news is that there is no late departure from the beach anymore – the last ferry to the city is at 5:45pm, while it used to be 7:45pm – no more sunsets on the ferry? However, there is a shuttle to the late ferry departing from the town nearby. Update: the late ferry is back on the schedule!

The ocean water is probably still too cold to swim properly this weekend, but there are plenty of other activities to do on the beach! Volleyball is very popular at Gunnison beach, as expected from a naturist location.

naturist acro-yoga 0017 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USAnaturist acro-yoga 0016 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

But our favorite pastime last summer was acro-yoga.

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It was great to see how engaging it was, as a few strangers joined,

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while I was practicing acro-yoga with my friends David, Eddy, Antony and others. (Remember our spontaneous handstand class 3 years ago?)

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Acro-yoga creates a great connection between the ‘flyer’ and the ‘base’,

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and it’s even greater when done in the nude.

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It’s quite an amazing experience,

naturist acro-yoga 0002 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

if you  do it in the open air, especially in a place like this beautiful beach

view 0001 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

with Manhattan skyline in the background.

view 0002 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

But we also experimented with a log as the base –

naturist acro-yoga 0007 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

floating in the air yoga?

naturist acro-yoga 0010 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

Probably the most entertaining acro-yoga pose is ‘the laughing dragon’ (you might remember some more pics of it from last year’s Burning Man post).

naturist acro-yoga 0018 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

Well, the more participants the merrier!

naturist acro-yoga 0000 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

So, Sandy Hook is a perfect place for socializing and getting your all-over tan!

naturist 0001 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ, USA

PS Sandy Hook is also good for watching airplanes coming to NYC airports. Who can spot an airplane on one of the photos in this post? Where does it seem to be landing?😉

PPS If you like to bring a lot of stuff with you to the beach, which can be difficult while walking on sand, you should support this campaign for funding of the extension of the matted walkway!

Russian and Turkish baths in NYC

When it is cold and gloomy, one of the best things you can do is to go to a bathhouse – as I did yesterday, while the cold spell is back to the US Northeast. New York City has several options. The biggest one is probably the Spa Castle with Korean saunas in Queens, but if you prefer a more central location, Russian & Turkish Baths in the East Village is a good choice. Some friends of mine don’t like its dated look, but I actually find that low key style appealing; the room of Russian sauna (banya) looks as if it has not been renovated since the opening of the bathhouse in 1892.

Although the bathhouse is called Russian & Turkish Baths, it has also two Finnish saunas (dry and hot), in addition to two hammams (Turkish steam room, relatively mild temperature), and a bigger banya (Russian sauna, very hot but with humid air, sort of a mix between Turkish and Finnish ones). There are also massage rooms with treatments (e.g. mud scrub). But my favorite treatment there is actually performed right in the Russian sauna room. It’s a traditional Russian banya massage (aka platza, a yiddish term). It is a whole body massage that includes soap wash and whipping with oak branches. It may look a little rough, but in fact it feels very relaxing. As they claim, “the oak leaves contain a natural astringent, which will open your pours, remove toxins, and actually take off layers of dead skin”. And it does feel so. Platza is finished with a dip in the cold water pool, which is supposed to train your vascular system. Yesterday, I used the birch broom which I brought from the Ivanovskie Bani in Kiev. I first massaged two Brazilian friends of mine, and then one of them massaged me. But if you don’t have such a broom and don’t know how to do platza, you can ask local masseurs – they are really good!

On a side note, coming to the US after Germany, I have to mention that saunas here are clothing-optional only in single-sex setting. (This is also increasingly common in Ukraine and Russia.) So unfortunately for heterosexual couples or mixed-gender groups, they will have to walk around in shorts soaked in sweat… If you want to hang out naked, Russian & Turkish Baths offer one women-only and two men-only time slots.

BTW, they regularly offer special deals and discounts through Groupon, kgbdeals.com and savelocal.com, so keep your eyes open.