She’s wearing nothing but suncream — and loving it. Lucy Holden joins the new naturists
n a secluded campsite on the south coast, my friend Rosie and I are watching two septuagenarians run around a tiny tennis court in 30-degree heat. They’re wearing nothing but trainers and we’re wearing nothing but sun cream. On the court, bodies flap and judder. “Who’s Federer and who’s Nadal?” I shout, between sips from the courtside drinks we’ve carried over from our holiday home. Bernard grins. Linda shouts that she’d be a player we’ve never heard of (she’s currently losing the match). “GO ON, LINDA!” my friend Rosie screams.
Miniten, which is essentially a miniature game of tennis, is “the” naturist sport and — as newbies to this lifestyle — Rosie and I have been invited to learn how to play by the pair, who have lived naked at weekends and during holidays for decades. But they aren’t the only veterans who have taken us under their wing. We’ve been at the Apollo Sun Club, a naturist camp near Brighton, for two days and have been invited to so many soirées at the chalets on site that we’ve almost seen off a box of soave we thought would last all week. “Thank God we got two boxes,” Rosie says, as we walk over to Tim and Doris’ — a couple in their sixties — that evening. “Yeah naturists drink a lot,” I agree.
Rosie and I aren’t the only ones interested in daring to bear. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 1,700 new members have joined British Naturism [BN], taking the organisation’s numbers to more than 9,000. “We’ve seen even more new members joining this June than last June,” Andrew Welch, the commercial manager of BN says. “We put it down to eroding taboos — but also to the pandemic. With people wanting to be outside in nature after a lockdown; dressing more casually because they’re not going into offices; the great weather and of course not being able to go abroad to the European sites which are so popular. Taking your clothes off is about many more social conventions than just getting a great tan, it’s about feeling free.”
Launched in lockdown, British Naturism’s programme of online events — including cooking demos, yoga and exercise classes, quizzes, reading clubs and coffee mornings — was a gateway for many naturism-curious. Since then, in-person events such as naked runs and swims have been mobbed with new recruits — who include 27-year-old Laura from Cambridgeshire. She joined BN last month after missing out on tickets to a quickly sold-out naked swim at a Pembrokeshire lido.
“I’m what you’d call, in a politically-correct way, ‘curvaceous’ but being overweight has meant I’ve always felt more comfortable naked than in clothes that never fit me as well as they fit mannequins in shops… I still live with my parents, so unfortunately I don’t get to be nude much at home — try to respect their wishes not to see their grown-up daughter with nothing on — but on holidays I take my clothes off as soon as I get home. Naturism has always interested me, I guess. My parents think it’s pretty cool — my stepmum said ‘each to their own’. My dad said it was probably better than being into drugs.”
For Laura, joining BN was about meeting new, like-minded people and she’s been to two naturist days in the last fortnight. “The first time I went to my local club, the Cambridge Outdoor Club, I was nervous to start with. But then the clothes came off and I felt like I’d smiled for the first time in a long time. I felt relief, happiness, freedom — it’s a strange sensation adapting to no one caring that you’re naked but I found people were more interested in my accent and my tattoos than my body. I find it an amazingly relaxing experience and older naturists I meet say I’m lucky to have found it so young. They feel they’ve missed out on 50 years of fun by finding it later in life.”
Having once lived on a naturist site near Amsterdam for a month (an ex and I needed somewhere to live and it was cheap in January) this naturist holiday is not my first nude rodeo — but Rosie has only ever been to naturist beach. As a total newbie to the scene, Rosie has a lot of questions. “Do you think we’ll be the youngest there? Do you think everyone will comment on our hot bods? I feel a little bush would go a long way in this environment?” she messages before we set off and I answer (from my prior experience): “Definitely yes; definitely not; definitely.”
Source: Evening Standard
Original publication 27 July, 2021
Posted on NatCorn 21st August 2021
Reference to an article does not infer endorsement of any views expressed.