Welcome to another #UndressedThread, a regular feature for community discussion and connection.
This week we’ve been exploring the concept of place. Specifically, the places where we feel comfortable and safe enough to go nude, and the environmental elements that are requisite to creating those special spaces. We looked at Nudism as the ‘third place’—a social environment distinct from home and work which has been widely discussed as an essential component for community building and personal well-being. We also examined rural clothing free spaces which have seen a marked decline in numbers, and the marginalized communities who are most affected by the disappearance of these sacred spaces. All of this has us thinking about the the power of place, what special qualities make a sacred space “sacred”. Is it love? Is it ritual? What do you think?
“Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. Almost anything then becomes a continuous and increasing joy. What you have to do, you do with play. I think a good way to conceive of sacred space is as a playground. If what you're doing seems like play, you are in it.”-Joseph Campbell
Join us as we delve into the idea of nude-friendly places as a sacred space where people can experience a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and freedom. Below are a few questions to get the conversation going. 🚀
We'd love to hear about your experiences and thoughts. Share your insights and stories in the comments below, or connect with us in the Substack chat, and let's continue the conversation. 🪐
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A related concept that really fits my experience of nudism is the anarchist writer Hakim Bey's “Temporary Autonomous Zone”*: a social space where ordinary rules can be suspended for a time. The Catholic tradition of Carnival is a TAZ (think Mardi Gras, or in Rio), as is Burning Man.
For me one of the most powerful parts of being nude in a group is that we've all transgressed a societal taboo. This connects us to each other in shared vulnerability and openness. It makes me wonder if some of the appeal of being nude might be lost if there were no taboo against it anymore…
For me, the space is a sense of safety/security in that place, a sanctuary. There’s a traditionally nude area about a half hour from where I live, which mostly fits the bill (though sometimes there are gawkers). And also my hammock, which is 15 feet from the road in front of my house, but also hangs from an overhang of the barn that makes it a private area.
I think the closest I ever got to having a real space like this where I spent a good amount of time was the graduate teaching assistants office in grad school. Technically I guess it was a work space, but it was also very much a community space where you saw your classmates, complained about life/work/school, decorated the walls, bought each other coffee, talked about our research projects or shared resources, and nobody was anyone’s boss or answered to anyone else.
I’ve never had anything like that since, and I wouldn’t claim that my sporadic visits to nudist clubs nowadays come anywhere close to that, though I’d be happy if it were the case.
There was a period where I'd go over to my parents house while they were at church or out of town to sunbathe nude in the secluded yard for a while, and I got in a habit of sneaking off to a back corner of the place where I used to work (a storage facility, also owned by my parents) to spend 15-20 minutes at a time sunbathing nude, but neither of those work anymore. A friend offered his yard, but I haven't taken him up on it yet. The big one for me though is the private farm where my figure drawing group got to meet twice last year. It was so cool to just be nude, drawing, and dancing amongst several friends, a few of whom were also nude. We're going back next weekend and I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that the weather holds up!
I can never pass up on an opportunity to provide my 2 cents:
Do you have a sacred social space? If yes, is it a nude friendly place? — I’m in between sacred social spaces currently. Those I’ve had in the past, most were not nude friendly, but some were. I have one that is “in the running” now. It’s very nude friendly. I’m just not sure I’m ready for the social aspects.
What makes a sacred space “sacred”? — It has some defining characteristic that sets it apart, makes it unique, makes it special, gives it a piece of your heart. You feel a connection, just being there. It changes your demeanor, your thoughts, your spirit.
What memorable moments have you experienced in nudist spaces? — Far too many to droll on about here. I’ll save you the burden of listening. But one of my favorites — being able to walk nude along the beach, no fear, no concerns, feeling the breeze, hearing the waves, feeling the sand, sensing my body move freely, unencumbered.
Have these spaces had a positive effect on your social life? — My spirit, my connection with my spouse, yes. But as far as social connections among my fellow nudies, no. As I’ve said many times, naturist journeys are personal. To each his own. What is right for some, may be too much or too little for others. I haven’t developed personal connections to the point of what I would call friendships in the naturist community. I think I will in the future. But I’m just not there yet.
There are a few spots at local nude beaches which I feel qualify as my 'sacred' spaces. I don't regard them as mine, even when ignoring the fact that they are public spaces. For me such a special place has to be a nudist one, places where I am expected to be clothed may be special in other ways but on a personal level I want to be comfortable and relaxed at a 'sacred' space, this requires being free of the constraints imposed by clothing. These spaces are where I've spent time with really good friends, regularly enjoying social nudity. The place feels special as I get used to the changing light on the surroundings, I can tell that it's near enough 3.30 pm by the shadows etc. I want these places to be familiar, a home from home. Its where we share interesting conversations, wacky ones too, its just us being our natural selves. The nature of the beaches change over time, small changes on a day-to-day level, bigger ones over seasons or after big weather events. What was the sacred space from say 9 years ago is now buried by shingle or a cliff fall, or washed miles away. I'm not sure which is this years sacred space yet, but I plan on checking it out a lot this year and very definitely while nude.
I have a large garden in the country and I recently built a 8 foot privacy fence around my property. I can now walk straight out of the house and mow the lawn, play in the yard and garden all without clothing or worries. I have cultivated this place as a sanctuary of sorts. I can come here and be close to nature, and remember my connection to nature. It is a warm climate so it is more comfortable nude, but it is also comforting to be nude. I feel the sun, the rain, the sweat, the breeze on my body uninterrupted by clothing and it provides a sense of wholeness and connection that is sacred. My work in the garden produces the food that sustains me and when I pass from this world my plan is to be buried nude, without embalming or coffin and return to the earth.