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.

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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.

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

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

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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,

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so we had a few sessions at the camp

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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…

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(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,

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

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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 😎

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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),

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

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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 😉

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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 🙂

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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!)

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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!

 

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.

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camp Gymnasium at Burning Man 2015

Here comes our report from Burning Man festival this year, when 18 of us gathered together to create a camp themed around Gymnasium as an Ancient Greek institution for athletics, philosophy and socializing. You can read more about the concept of our camp on its own webpage; we launched this project a few months earlier at FreeForm Festival, and here you can see how it came about at the festival of festivals, Burning Man. (But keep in mind that this is by no means an attempt to write about the festival as a whole, there simply “too much” fun stuff happens to be able to grasp more than just a fraction of it.)

After months of preparation, the last days before the festivals were very exciting but also a bit scary – with this endeavor being our first experience as such a theme camp, something was likely to go wrong! Indeed, our early arrival/construction crew had a flat tire at the start of the trip in San Francisco, and as we collected all the stuff that we planned to carry to Black Rock City, we realized we had to buy an extra trailer. We resolved all the issues smoothly but experienced another setback due to the weather, as on Saturday before the opening of the festival, when we had planned to construct our camp, a severe dust storm took place; we could only enter Black Rock City in the evening and started construction early on Sunday.

naturist gymnasium 0001 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

Well, luckily we didn’t plan on building anything complicated, so we raised most of our shade structures before the rest of our campmates arrived. (Then later on in the afternoon a strong gust almost blew off a part of our shade structure, bending some of the carrying metal parts and tearing apart one of the tarps, but we were able to fix it; although it doesn’t say so in the instructions, it is apparently important to fix the structure with additional ropes and rebar.)

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The final touch was putting up the banner of our camp.

naturist gymnasium 0009 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

Our location was great – at 7:30 Portal and A, we were at a busy intersection, but also with  easy access to the Esplanade and an open view all the way to the man.

naturist gymnasium 0002 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

And that view proved to be nothing short of amazing on the first night, with the supermoon rising next to the Man statue.

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Another nature’s wonder was a mini-tornado coming to us from the playa –

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it was not any dangerous though, as you can see in the video below.

Well, this video shows a few other things too, but there’s still a lot more to the story (and two more videos) – so keep on reading. A couple more words about the camp:

naturist gymnasium 0013 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

We had a simple bike rack available for the visitors (note the horse head masks used for its decoration, I’ll mention them later).

naturist gymnasium 0014 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

For decoration, we used an olive tree (artificial – live plants are prohibited at Burning Man), columns adorned with ivy, and a small statue of Poseidon (without a trident, to make him look more like a generic Ancient Greek athlete…) – next time, we plan to team up with a 3D-printing camp to make a bigger statue.

naturist gymnasium 0015 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

The schedule of our activities was put daily on the blackboard.

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Our first event included two running races – a 100-yard sprint

naturist gymnasium 0006 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

and a longer, approx. 1.8 km run from our camp to the Man and back.

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The sprint was won by Chris, and the long run by yours truly 🙂

naturist gymnasium 0007 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

Admittedly, there weren’t that many participants, but it was still very early in the week, while many camps were still wrapping up their construction. We had other races planned, e.g. piggy-back and barrel-run, as we did at FreeForm, but we had to postpone and eventually cancel those due to dust storms and because the horse head masks which were meant for the final run of that race were stolen borrowed without asking from our bike rack. We also had to cancel our only night event – ‘discus  (LED-lit frisbee) throw in the dark… and in the buff’ – because the nights were bitterly cold in the second half of the week! (Though as you can briefly see in the video above, we still managed to dance naked at some night parties getting warm by the fire from the art cars.)

Our ‘Naked Philosophy’ session was more of a personal introduction among our camp mates, as we did not know each of us in person; and then we discussed our experience in naturism and what it meant for us.

Our most successful event by far was the naked oil wrestling, and here is our second video dedicated to it. Unfortunately some of the video is quite blurry, because oil got on my camera, and most of the footage was not usable at all :-/ Oh well, at least it was a GoPro in a sealed casing, so the camera was totally fine after washing.

Our naked oil wrestling drew a lot of attention, even people in fancy mutant vehicles stopped to watch the match.

naturist wrestling gymnasium 0012 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

As at FreeForm Festival, we used sumo rules, which are the easiest to follow from all wrestling types, and added some Greekness to it with olive oil (and nudity), as a reference to the authentic Olympics.

naturist wrestling gymnasium 0014 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

Each match started with ceremonial wide steps, and then opponents tried to push each other

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until one of them stepped outside the ring;

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and the soles of the feet were the only part of the body allowed to touch the ground – so pushing the opponent down could also work.

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But perhaps the most effective approach is simply carrying the opponent outside the ring, preferably keeping him upside down! 😀

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For each pair, the victory was decided in 2 wins out of 3 matches.

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We didn’t structure the whole event as an ultimate competition though – anyone could challenge whoever they wanted, and more than once. But we had two wrestlers that stood out

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and were well matched –

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so their sparring was very intense and captivating.

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But even the fiercest match ended with a hug.

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And both of them received well-deserved golden laurel wreaths!

our winners!
our winners!

(By the way, I lost their contact, so if anyone knows them – please put us in touch!)

After the final match, all wrestlers were welcome to go to an amazing massive group shower ‘perfoamance’ at the camp called ‘Something Freaky Foams This Way’. Next day, we arranged the same competition at their camp – so that people queuing up to get foamed would try their strength in wrestling and entertain the public, and skip the line.  We got in touch with one of the organizers of this camp at FreeForm Festival, and this was the best collaboration we could ask for – getting clean and relaxed felt particularly amazing after days in the dust and then even more so after wrestling. Decent showers are obviously quite sought-after at Burning Man, but this camp brings the whole experience to the next level by making it a massive group (40 people at a time) and entertaining activity (with countdown and music, water and foam sprayed under high pressure).

Here are some more photos from the wrestling matches at our camp and ‘Something Freaky Foams This Way’, if the ones above and the video aren’t enough.

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Besides planned events, we had a few spontaneous activities, e.g. dance practices by Antony and damoN.

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Unfortunately, we don’t have any footage of our fun session of a naked Greek dance with music from ‘Zorba the Greek’. It was lead by our new friend from another camp, and he rightfully suggested we would like the idea of performing this dance naked, which he said was his fantasy from a while ago, when he learned it at a Greek restaurant.

And if you follow this blog, you shouldn’t be surprised seeing some naked capoeira here 🙂

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And with Tam around, acro-yoga was bound to happen sooner or later –

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to our own and guests’ entertainment.

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Then we toured a bit around the playa and did more acro-posing with some of Burning Man’s most interesting art constructions in the background.

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This structure proved to combine very well with acro-yoga,

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as its multiple lines were quite easy to align with the body parts of the posers.

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From afar, it looked as if the giant metal ball was resting on Antony supported by Tam’s legs…

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or arms.

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Then we posed with the Man himself –

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can you spot him here?

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And how could we forget ‘the Woman’?

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(This statue is actually called R-Evolution.)

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And one of the Mars Molecules seemed to be designed perfectly for acro-yoga, not just as a background, but as a base too.

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Here is a composition with three men again.

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And now, three men intertwined into one ‘laughing dragon’ –

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laughing and causing laughter in viewers alike.

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There were a few other camps that offered activities in the buff. Besides washing your body from all the dust, sweat and, in our case, also oil at the ‘perfoamance’ camp, cleaning the nose from accumulating dust seemed like a good idea too… and of course there was a camp for that – Neti’s (naked) Nose Spa – and naked too! I really liked how I felt afterwards, so when I got home I immediately ordered a neti pot. Some events were missed due to dust storms or cold nights (e.g. black light naked twister), others I simply forgot about (e.g. naked skateboarding session).

naked skateboarding at Burning Man 2015

The camp across the street from us, Decadent Oasis, provided the best light show at night, with their technicolor ever-changing palm trees and great music. We were invited to do a striptease for their bachelorette party, though we first had to find some clothes to put on 😀 They also had a slackline,

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and we were treated with a show of really good slackline walker  who was naked and walked it all way through.

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He must be quite good at balancing, as I remember this guy on a unicycle at the Naked Pub Crawl 3 years ago.

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Speaking of which, the Naked Pub Crawl was again among the best events at Burning Man

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and certainly the largest naked one.

naturist naked pub crawl 0002 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

You can see more of it in the first video above,

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but as you can guess from the name, it involves cycling naked around Black Rock City with hundreds of fellow burners and getting drinks at participating camps.

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Duckpond camp offered some extra entertainment with their ‘mechanical bull’ ride,

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but unfortunately my favorite part from the Naked Pub Crawl 3 years ago – the slip’n’slide “duckpond” – was absent, being apparently prohibited by the state health agency… A slight consolation came from a slide at another camp, which was down a giant sheep’s ass 😀

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But we did plenty of naked cycling on our own too,

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exploring the playa and its installations.

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One of the most intriguing and impressive was the Totem of Confessions,

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which featured plenty of nudity in its decoration among other elements.

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Another view of the R-Evolution statue.

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Riding on the bike in the heat of the day felt pretty nice thanks to the light wind (unless it turned into a dust storm!)

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But the best conditions seemed to be around sunset time – the sun wasn’t scorching but it was still very warm before the onset of the cold night, and the air was still – that’s when we liked strolling around in our altogethers. But the photo below shows how you can be well protected against the elements while being naked!

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And for comparison, this is how the same place looked like one day after the end of the festival…

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Sad that everything has to come to an end, but on the other hand Burning Man celebrates immediacy, so realization of the temporary nature of… everything is part of the festival.

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We made sure to leave no trace behind us and were ready to go home for the next adventure. Gymnasium proved to be a great experience for its organizers and visitors alike (hopefully all of them, let me know if not) and will hopefully develop only more in years to come!

And here is our third, bonus video with damoN performing on the playa. This was shot while the festival was still rocking, just outside Black Rock City. In case you thought it was difficult to escape from the crowds at this massive festival, it is actually easy to find a place where you can be alone when you would like to reconnect with your ‘inner self’; and the vast open landscape of the desert will only help with that. But it’s good to know that you’re next to the city full of your friends or yet-to-become friends.

FreeForm Festival – first experience as a theme camp

naturist 0000 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

FreeForm Festival really lives up to its name, and after I had so much fun there last year, I was determined to come back, and even more excitingly, together with our theme camp Gymnasium. FreeForm brings together a very diverse crowd, and although you wouldn’t see many naked participants, it is officially a clothing-optional event. Our camp was the only one where nudity was at its core, but there were some occasional fellow nudies here and there, e.g. two naked fire-spinners at the effigy burn (to which I unfortunately forgot to bring my camera).  So, we saw it as our opportunity to reach out to many people who don’t have experience in naturism (or simply said, those who are not used to hang out naked) and show them the great fun that comes with nude recreation. This was also a good test for us before launching our project of Gymnasium on a much larger scale at Burning Man later this summer. We got lots of encouragement and ideas for collaboration, and here are just some highlights.

Our first event attracted about a dozen people, but only our camp members were naked. Well, we thought it was still a success, as to bring across the idea of social nudity, people should get comfortable with others being naked, and then maybe it will not be too long until they feel comfortable in their own skin too.

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And our event required quite a bit of collaboration, often between ‘skins and shirts’, as it was a race that combined a piggy-back ride

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and a barrel run.

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It was pure fun,

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but to add a bit of competitive spirit and even more fun, we arranged a final race for the first 4 pairs from the initial run;

naturist 0005 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

for the final, the leading person had to wear a horse (or pig, in one case) mask, which partially obscured vision.

naturist 0006 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Thus, besides making it more fun for the spectators, these masks were supposed to encourage communication between riders and horses.

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At the turn from piggy-back ride to barrel-run, riders and horses had to swap, so the participants in each pair experienced both roles, though in different versions.

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Just seeing these photos, it looks like barrel run in the mask was a bit more difficult to control,

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but everybody made it till the end 🙂

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My pair won, and is it was the only one where both participants were naked, let me conclude (admittedly, in an anecdotal manner) that  communication and collaboration work best between naked people 🙂

maskot program 0000 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

And the horse sort of became our camp’s mascot (we hung our program with historical references at the entrance to the camp).

Later in the day, we went to the temple area, played wind gongs

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and climbed trees (because why not? This won’t be an option at Burning Man :-))

naturist 0014 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Then it was time for our nude dance workshop aka NuDance, for which we collaborated with our neighbors, ‘Priority 5’ camp – they provided the soundtrack. Thanks again, guys, in case you read this! We were really lucky to have them as our neighbors, as they had some of the best music around (probably among my 2 favorite music camps along with ‘Echo’).

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But here is a sad side note about music at FreeForm: apparently, some outdoors after-hours music sessions that were not supposed to take place kept some locals in the neighboring village awake to the extent that they filed a complaint and now FreeForm has to find a new home 😦 Hopefully, it won’t be difficult for the organizers.

Then there was another event that triggered some joyful nudity – a crossover from Holi festival, where participants splash each other with brightly-colored powders. I missed it, as I was getting massage at that time, but luckily other campmates brought some extra powders, so we had our own naked celebration of colors.

naturist 0012 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

And our colorful rabbit with a powerful jump deserves an extra credit 🙂

naturist 0013 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

We continued with Indian-inspired activities by doing yoga that turned into a symposium (as you may know from our theme camp description, this idea of drinking wine in different poses was also inspired by depictions of symposiums from Ancient Greek vases).

naturist 0015 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

We discussed a bit how to increase attendance of our events next year, and one solution was obvious – we should apply for workshops at the lawn by the main stage to increase visibility and traffic.

But then our last event was very successful indeed. Perhaps because people started packing and bringing down their tents, so our camp became more visible, or simply because many liked the idea, we had a very good attendance at our oil wrestling match. Even the founder of FreeForm Festival stopped by; he liked the idea of our camp, being both very interactive and educational, and advised to get some Greek-themed decorations such as columns (which we’re already planning for Burning Man).

oiling
oiling

Quite a few people showed for our wrestling match, and then more were joining from passers by. It was a good idea to use oil for participants (and we used a good quality Greek olive oil), as this encouraged them to get naked (and all did except for one who kept his underwear, because his girlfriend was strict about that allegedly :-))

naturist wrestling 0073 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Here are just a few highlights,

naturist wrestling 0075 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

so you get an impression of how our matches went.naturist wrestling 0076 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

We used sumo wrestling rules, which are the simplest of all wrestling styles, i.e. only the soles of the feet are allowed to touch the ground and you have to stay within the ring.

naturist wrestling 0077 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

The most common winning strategy was pushing the opponent outside the ring, sometimes quite vigorously,

naturist wrestling 0079 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

but even then all matches ended in a peaceful manner

naturist wrestling 0080 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

and the whole atmosphere was very friendly.

naturist wrestling 0081 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Another strategy was lifting the opponent and bringing him, or her as in this case, down… Though it didn’t work for me, as my opponent clung to me, and I had to extend my arm to the ground not to fall.

naturist wrestling 0006 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

Lifting the opponent and carrying him outside the ring worked well too.

naturist wrestling 0058 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

And some more selected moments for you:

naturist wrestling 0010 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

I really like these pictures,

naturist wrestling 0013 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

as they show interaction between people,

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many of whom are complete strangers to each other,

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while some are close friends,

naturist wrestling 0026 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

but in either case, it is both very physical and social.

naturist wrestling 0046 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

At times it looked almost like a fist fight,

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and then more like a dance,

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but keeping it balanced was the key to maintain the fun,

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even when the opponents were of quite different size.

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Which by the way wasn’t often a good predictor of who would win:

naturist wrestling 0147 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

our match showed that size doesn’t matter, but skillfulness does! 😉

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Admittedly, the matches between more similarly skilled and sized opponents

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were the most exciting to watch

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and lasted longest.

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And I guess you’ve been wondering – yes, we did have an all female match too!

naturist wrestling 0139 FreeForm Festival, Pennsylvania, USA

And I’ll just finish here quoting a comment from one of them, which makes me think that our mission was accomplished: “thanks for making me feel so comfortable naked and learning how much I love how it feels!”

PS I actually love these photos so much, and I think they quite grasp the essence of the whole idea of Active Naturists and our theme camp, so here is a gallery with an extended selection for your enjoyment.

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Tiergarten: perfect park for urban naturism

I’m finally updating information on Berlin, the most naturist-friendly city in my opinion, and I’ll start with its main park Tiergarten in the very centre of the city. Given the park’s central location, it is easy to get there from pretty much anywhere around, so you could even come there after work or on a lunch break for some relaxed sunbathing on one of a few known FKK meadows (Freikörperkultur translates as Free Body Culture) south of Straße des 17 Juni. In the first half of the day, you can also refresh in one of those “showers” from sprinklers on the lawns throughout the park,

naturist 0000 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

but one of the meadows has a proper shower installed.

The lawns of Tiergarten are perfect for frisbee, ball games, badminton and its new faster counterpart, speedminton. By the way, speedminton was invented in Berlin, so playing it in the centre of the city a la FKK sounds very authentic 😉

Joe and I used to play speedminton in Tiergarten pretty often, as you can see even rain wouldn’t stop us!

If you want to try something more ancient, how about naked oil wrestling? Tam and I certainly had fun reviving the Ancient Greek tradition.

naked wrestling 0002 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

As I had very little experience in wrestling, it was more of a lesson for me from Tam, but the very slippery aspect of oil wrestling was new to him too.

naked wrestling 0005 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

Given that it was olive oil, this exercise must have served as a nice skin rub too.

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Despite the oil, we still managed to grip each other,

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and each of us (but mostly me) got thrown on the grass too a few times.

naked wrestling 0003 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

The latter was more difficult staying lower with knees on the ground in our final match.

naked wrestling 0001 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

On another occasion, we wrestled two against one, but we certainly need more practice.

naked wrestling 0009 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

Another activity that proved to be fun in Tiergarten was acro-yoga.

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We kicked off with some simple threesome poses.

acro-yoga 0000 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

After my incident with getting a fine for doing acro-yoga naked in San Francisco, it felt very liberating to do the same thing in Berlin with even more people and not being worried of getting caught by police! We had fun, and our nakedness only enhanced it.

acro-yoga 0001 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

Below is a good example of how good positioning that comes with experience lets even a much lighter ‘base’ person hold a heavier ‘flyer’.

acro-yoga 0002 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

However, when the flyer is much lighter, even the arms may be enough to support the flyer.

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(Excuse our friend for clothes, but she didn’t feel like undressing at that moment.)

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Some of the poses did not only feel relaxing (for the flyer at least),

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but also provided opportunity to suntan those hard to reach places 😀

acro-yoga 0006 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

Some poses may seem simple but are fun to maintain,

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and the next step is to learn to transition them into a totally different pose.

acro-yoga 0010 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

Such dynamic exercises are much more challenging for the base,

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whereas the flyer should follow his directions and enjoy the ride

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until he ends up in yet another unusual but stable pose.

acro-yoga 0035 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

This pose below serves as an excellent back and hip stretch for the flyer.

acro-yoga 0012 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

Here are some standing acro-yoga poses, starting from simple

acro-yoga 0031 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

to a more difficult balancing exercise.

acro-yoga 0016 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

Standing on shoulders of another person is probably one of those things that seem scary and challenging primarily for ‘mental’ reasons,

naturist 0000 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

as the weight is the same as when you sit on the shoulders and the height isn’t that dangerous if you decide to jump off. I decided to avoid it though, due to my not fully recovered ankle.

acro-yoga-0017-Tiergarten,-Berlin,-Germany

Sean and Tam made it look easy from the first time!

acro-yoga 0024 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

Here is another pose that combines balancing and stretch (and transitioning into it is kind of scary).

acro-yoga 0036 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

Once you’re in the pose, don’t forget to point your toes (if you’re the flyer)!

acro-yoga 0030 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

We ended our session that time with the ultimate balancing exercise – two bodies maintained by one pair of arms!

acro-yoga 0037 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

I hope this blogpost will inspire Berliners and visitors of the German capital to use their main urban park for naturist activities. We can only wish for anything like this in Central Park in New York, Hyde Park in London or pretty much anywhere else in the world!

 

enjoy the spring: naked sport events and a show (NY, Berlin, Texas)

This time, I’m not kidding about naked sport events. I was shocked (in a good way) how many people took my April Fools joke for real – I got quite a few emails requesting the details! Well guys, if you’re ready for mud wrestling with freshly squeezed garlic in the morning at a venue without showers, I know I can rely on you! 😀 Well, we do plan to organize naked sport events and classes, and clearly there’s a demand for that!

Tomorrow is going to be my last Winter Indoor Pool Party party this season (organized by Travasuns in Long Island, NY). Well, I guess we can clearly say the spring has arrived to New York, but it’s still a bit too chilly to enjoy nakedness outdoors. We’ve been to a few of Travasuns’ winter pool events, and it was always fun. It’s a low-key event at a rented gym. They offer saunas, hang-out pool, pizza and even volleyball, which is often unofficially dubbed as naturists’ favorite sport. Given that volleyball is indoors too and surrounded by walls, we rather play it as wallyball

naked wrestling 0001 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

On the weekend of 10-11 May in Berlin, Tam and I plan to have naked acro-yoga and wrestling jam sessions. Please contact us by e-mail or comment here, if you are interested in joining, and we’ll send you details re timing and exact location. This is also pending on the weather. We haven’t decided as to how many sessions we’ll have, but our approach is the more the merrier. We’ll take advantage of Berlin’s healthy attitude towards nudity and do at least one session in its central park – Tiergarten – don’t worry, we won’t be arrested for doing acro-yoga naked there like in San Francisco. Wrestling might work better by one of numerous lakes in Berlin, as we’re likely to get sweaty. Here is a sneak preview from our naked oil wrestling match a couple of years ago (photos courtesy of Joe). Come and join us!

naked wrestling 0000 Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

YNOTU (Young Nudists of Texas United) will host Nude Games on Memorial Weekend, May 24-26, at a campground near Dallas. Unfortunately, none of the people form our group will be able to attend, but it seems like fun. In the program: flag football, tug of war, water and sand volleyball, beer mile, 3-legged races, potato sack races, bean bag throw, Frisbee toss and egg toss, yoga, Latin dance class. Highly recommended!

And we’ll have our round-up end back in New York. My friend Alexander Kargaltsev, who I’ve already introduced here because oh his variously themed photo works that often involve nudity, is now developing a play, Crematorium, that sounds shocking and looks beautiful, and it will have plenty of nudity too.

 Former Ukraine. In the south of Putin’s Crimea, a giant factory with chimneys is built: a Crematorium for gays. Four couples are picked to test a new machine to turn them straight. Torture, interrogation, death and cleansing in the fiery furnace await them.

Here is the preview video.

The shows are set for 29 May – 1 June at Shetler Studios & Theatres, New York. You can buy tickets online.

Hope to see you at these events in New York and Berlin!