Throughout the Western world, the practice of living naked appears to be gaining traction among a newer, younger audience
Only the truly courageous attempt “the running man.” Among all the dance moves busted in Julien Claude-Penegry’s “Beautiful Skin” club night in Paris, those that cause maximum jiggle are probably best avoided. That’s because everyone is naked — except for shoes.
“We just wanted to prove that an event like this was possible in a city and not just on some naturist resort, to show that it can feel normal, and even lead the way for other naked events,” says naturist campaigner Claude-Penegry, who, following the opening of Paris’s first naturist park in 2017, is re-launching his club night as a bi-monthly event from September. “The people who come, and they come in their hundreds, typically say they have a completely different experience to anything they’ve done before. They’re free to be themselves entirely.”
This is not an idea lost on many others as well. Naturism — the practice of going without clothes, typically with others similarly unclothed — is on the up. Recent years have seen the flourishing of naked comedy nights, naked dining events and, across 70 cities in 20 countries, naked bike rides, as much a campaign action in favor of naturism as it is the road to saddle soreness. This summer sees the launch of NKD, the first naked music festival, in the U.K., further indicative of how younger people are getting interested and regarding naturism as the natural bedfellow to environmentalism. May, for those who missed it, marked World Naked Gardening Day.
There’s even, some reckon, been a COVID bounce: membership of organizing body British Naturism has reportedly seen membership increased by some 20% over the pandemic period, despite events and travel being curtailed. Why? Because perhaps nothing better encapsulates a sense of personal freedom than getting naked.
“Attitudes are changing,” suggests Laurent Luft, president of the International Naturist Federation, which will host 38 national organizations at its world congress this October in chilly Slovenia (“not everyone will be going naked then,” he notes). “Five years ago anyone who asked me about naturism assumed it was all something kinky,” says Luft. “These days naturists are seen as just another section of society. We’re doing more to raise our profile, not to hide ourselves.”
Nakedness has been regarded as normal before. In some times and places, stripping off was unexceptional: in Ancient Greece, men exercised naked; in late 19th-century Germany, the home of the naturist movement, full exposure to sunlight and air was re-framed as an entirely healthy thing to do — it’s why many of us will spend the coming weeks sitting almost naked (or fully naked) on beaches, after all.
But in general, modern society has opposed the notion of public nudity. Recall how the first naturists, Adam and Eve, hid their shame after the fall. It’s been mis-characterized as not just unconventional but as essentially, questionably sexual; as unclean; as a cause of deviancy; as illicit, as offensive, as a nuisance — albeit one deemed worthy of fines and in some instances imprisonment. Self-described “prisoner of conscience” Stephen Gough has now spent, all told, a decade in Scottish prisons for choosing not to wear clothes. Not even to his court appearances.
Original publication 9 August, 2021
Posted on NatCorn 16th September 2021
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