Nude recreation refers to recreational activities which some people engage in while nude. Such activities can take place in private spaces (such as on a person's own property, or in a naturist context) or in public.
While nude activities may include sports such as tennis or volleyball, they are usually recreational in not being competitive or organized. The ancient Olympics were nude events, and some traditional cultures continue to have competitive events in the nude. Public nude cycling events are done as environmental protests, as promotion for naturism, and for recreation.
History and terminology
Recreation is any human activity done for pleasure (or "play") during leisure time as opposed to those activities that are necessary for survival. Historically, this means that recreation only existed after human society reached the stage where leisure time existed, perhaps during the late stone age (Upper Paleolithic), as shown by the first appearance of cave paintings and musical instruments. Another invention of this age was clothing, thus all activities where originally done nude.
Modern concepts of recreation begin with ancient civilizations. Sport is any activity recognized as requiring physical skill. Any sport may be recreational for the participants, while viewing sports is a recreation for spectators.
These definitions do not lead to clear distinctions between particular cases; what one person may do purely for pleasure, another may do as work, or for other rewards.
Naturism, or nudism, is a cultural movement practicing, advocating, and defending personal and social nudity, most but not all of which takes place on private property. The term also refers to a lifestyle based on personal, family, or social nudity. Research indicates that contrary to public opinion, naturists are otherwise typical members of society who engage in social activities such as volleyball, swimming, and tennis in the same manner as at other resorts, just without the clothing.
Nude volleyball is a recreational activity that has been offered at many naturist clubs (see § Volleyball below).
World Naked Gardening Day
People across the globe are encouraged on World Naked Gardening Day (WNGD), held in May each year, to tend their gardens in the nude. WNGD was organized by the Body Freedom Collaborative.
In an exception to the non-sexual nature of other nudist resorts, the Ponderosa Sun Club in Roselawn, Indiana hosts Nudes-A-Poppin', an annual weekend festival described by its promoters as a nude beauty pageant and erotic dance contest for women and men. In recent years, many of the contestants are from strip clubs, and the judges or MCs are either porn stars or other celebrities. Ponderosa is otherwise a family-oriented naturist resort. Few regular members of the club attend the festival, (which is also adults only), but concede because it subsidizes their annual fees. Members that do attend state the contrast between naturism, which is about openness and acceptance; and the sex industry which is about voyeurism.
Clothing optional recreation
Some nude or "clothing optional" recreation occurs in public spaces as occasional exceptions to social norms.
Clothing optional beaches in the United States vary in the degree to which they are separated from the non-nude public, and whether nudity is officially permitted by local authorities or merely tolerated although illegal. In the Miami metropolitan area, the clothing optional section of Haulover Park is marked only by signs, and is sanctioned and maintained by Miami-Dade County. The beach features food, beach chair, and umbrella concessions; and showers. In contrast, several California state beachs with clothing optional areas are isolated by steep cliffs and have no facilities outside the parking areas. The long-standing tradition of nudity on these beaches are tolerated. These include Gray Whale Cove State Beach near, Black's Beach in San Diego
In some European countries, such as Denmark, all beaches are clothing optional, while in others like Germany and experimentally in France, there are naturist sunbathing areas in public parks, e.g., in Munich and Berlin. Beaches in some holiday destinations, such as Crete, are also clothing-optional, except some central urban beaches. There are two centrally located clothes-optional beaches in Barcelona. Sweden allows nudity on all beaches.
In a survey by The Daily Telegraph, Germans and Austrians were most likely to have visited a nude beach (28%), followed by Norwegians (18%), Spaniards (17%), Australians (17%), and New Zealanders (16%). Of the nationalities surveyed, the Japanese (2%) were the least likely to have visited a nude beach. This result may indicate the lack of nude beaches in Japan; however, the Japanese are open with regard to family bathing nude at home and at onsen (hot springs).
A clothing-optional bike ride is a cycling event in which nudity is permitted or expected. There are many clothing-optional cycling events around the world. Some rides are political, recreational, artistic or a unique combination. Some are used to promote topfreedom, a social movement to accord women and girls the right to be topless in public where men and boys have that right. Many of the political rides have their roots from Critical Mass and are often described or categorized as a form of political protest, street theatre, party-on-wheels, streaking, public nudity and clothing-optional recreation; thus, they attract a wide range of participants.
The Solstice Cyclists (also known as The Painted [Naked] Cyclists of the Solstice Parade, or The Painted Cyclists) is an artistic, non-political, clothing-optional bike ride celebrating the Summer Solstice. It is the unofficial start of the Summer Solstice Parade & Pageant since 1992, an event produced by the Fremont Arts Council in the Fremont district of Seattle.
World Naked Bike Rides (WNBRs) are annual clothing-optional bike rides in which each city's participants plan, meet and ride en masse on human-powered transport to "deliver a vision of a cleaner, safer, body-positive world" by attracting attention to a healthy alternative for vehicles that depend on fossil fuels; the naked body is used as a symbol for the vulnerability of humans to pollution, and of cyclists to the traffic in cities. WNBRs have taken place all over the world since 2004 involving thousands of people. These take place in mostly western cities, where cyclists ride either partially or totally nude in a light-hearted attempt to draw attention to the danger of depending on fossil fuels.
In spite of the lighthearted atmosphere, the annual World Naked Bike Rides are probably the most visible expression of the effort to promote healthier transport modes, including walking, cycling and public transport, which have been a mainstay of green-alternative politics for decades, while no politician of the conservative or social democrat traditions appeal to people to drive less, buy fewer cars, and get on their bikes instead.
Body art (such as body painting) is a common form of creative expression used to promote body freedom, and is often a part of other clothing optional events. Because the body is technically covered, if completed in private full body painting does not violate laws against public nudity, leaving the police to make case by case decisions based upon other laws.
An arts collective in Bushwick, Brooklyn has celebrated a Bodypainting Day annually since 2014, with 45 models and 25 artists participating in 2019.
When A J Hackett opened the world's first commercial bungee jumping site at Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown, New Zealand, customers who performed the jump in the nude were granted free entry. This offer was later withdrawn because too many jumpers were taking advantage of it, but the site remains clothing-optional. Billy Connolly famously bungee-jumped nude from the bridge during his 2004 World Tour of New Zealand.
Since 2006 there has been an annual naked bungee jump at WildPlay park on Vancouver Island as a fund raiser for the Victoria Branch of BC Schizophrenia Society. The 2019 event drew more than 100 participants.
In June 2013, the Portland Art Museum in Oregon admitted nude participants prior to the nighttime World Naked Bike Ride for a special exhibit called "Cyclepedia" on the art of bicycle design. Hundreds of patrons saw the exhibit in the nude.
The Amrita restaurant in Japan, now closed, had strict rules of entry for its naked party. Other nude restaurants have included The Bunyadi in London, O'naturel in Paris, Innato on the Canary Island of Tenerife, and L'Italo Americano, in Milan, all of which also closed.
There are a number of bars and restaurants directly accessible from the clothing-optional beach at Orient Bay, Saint Martin which allow varying degrees of nudity. Although essentially wiped out by Hurricane Irma, they are slowly being rebuilt.
An invitation-only event with naked Tango Milonga dancing was held in a small town in Germany.
Nude hiking, also known as naked walking or freehiking, is a sub-category of the modern form of social nudity.
Neither nude hiking nor skinny-dipping are expressly prohibited by the US Forest Service, which instead applies laws against disorderly conduct as necessary. Nudity was advocated by Colin Fletcher in his popular 1968 book, the Complete Walker.
Conversely to Gough's experiences, in 2005 and 2006 the European Alps were crossed naked during a one-week hiking tour, and there was little media coverage. No one was arrested or troubled, and there was no police involvement. Most naked hikers report friendly reactions from people they meet.
Some jurisdictions have regulations formally prohibiting nude hiking, and can impose fines or other punishments. A local bylaw to this effect was adopted, for example, by the 2009 General Meeting (Landsgemeinde) of the residents of the Swiss canton Appenzell Innerrhoden. In nearby Appenzell Ausserrhoden, the court of second instance "Obergericht" reinforced an unpaid fine of 100 Swiss francs for naked hiking and added the court's cost of another 3330 Swiss Francs.
Nudity at festivals
Woodstock in 1969 was the first example of widespread, spontaneous nudity at a music festival. The Nambassa festivals held in New Zealand in the 1970s continued this phenomenon. Of the 75,000 patrons who attended the 1979 Nambassa three-day counterculture festival, an estimated 35% chose to remove their clothing, preferring complete or partial nudity. In the 21st century, music festivals such as Coachella have returned to being outdoor concerts whose attendees tend toward costumes rather than nudity, however there may be the occasional nude event. "The Meredith Gift" is a nude running race at the Meredith Music Festival near the town of Meredith in Victoria, Australia.
While including music, Burning Man is a more diverse arts and culture event where "camps" range from non-sexual nudity to overtly sexually themed nudity. Since 2004 there has been a naked bike ride known as the "Naked Pub Crawl". The Folsom Street Fair held in San Francisco is a leather and BDSM-themed fair. Nudist festivals are held to celebrate particular days of the year, and in many such events nude bodypainting is also common, such as Neptune Day Festival held in Koktebel, Crimea to depict mythological events.
Organized by the Federación Nudista de México (Mexican Nudist Federation) since 2016 when Zipolite beach nudity was legalized, Festival Nudista Zipolite occurs annually on the first weekend of February.
Nudity in sport
It was a norm in Ancient Greece for athletes to exercise and compete in the nude. The Greek practice to compete and exercise was strongly inspired by their gods and heroes. For the gods and heroes nudity was a part of their identity and a way to display their physical energy and power which the athletes attempted to honour and emulate. Athletes from Greece and from Greek colonies came together for the Olympic Games and the other Panhellenic Games. They competed naked in almost all disciplines with the exception of chariot races, although there are depictions of naked chariot racers.
The word gymnasium (Latin; from Greek gymnasion, being derived from Greek gymnos, meaning "naked"), originally denoting a place for the intellectual, moral and physical education of young men as future soldiers and (certainly in democracies) citizens (compare ephebos), is another testimony of the nudity in physical exercises. In some countries including Germany the word is still used for secondary schools, traditionally for boys. The more recent form gym is an abbreviation of gymnasium.
Nude sports in tropical cultures
Many indigenous peoples in Africa and South America train and compete in sport competitions naked. Nuba peoples in South Sudan and Xingu tribes in the Amazon basin region in Brazil, for example, wrestle naked, whereas Dinka, Surma and Mursi in South Sudan and Ethiopia, arrange stick fights. Indian monks Digambara practice yoga naked (or sky-clad, as they prefer to call it).
Nudity was banned from the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco in 2009.
A nude rugby match was held in Dunedin, New Zealand, each winter from 2002 to 2014, as pre-match entertainment for the first professional rugby game of the season. In more recent years it has become sporadic as organizers have other demands on their time.
Until the Victorian era, men swam outdoors nude usually when there were no women present, but sometime when they were within view.
When indoor pools were introduced, segregation by sex was the norm, and men and boys swam nude with the explanation that the wool suits were likely to spread infection, and before the introduction of filtration fibers from suits would clog pumps.
There are conflicting accounts of the extent to which prepubescent boys had swim classes nude for much of the early 20th century at public schools in the United States, but the practice was more the norm than is now admitted. It was generally accepted that boys had less concern with modesty, and might swim nude not only in classes but in competitions with a mixed audience. While there are some accounts of girls also being allowed to swim nude, including in mixed classes, this was short-lived once any parent objected. The tradition continued for boys and young men into the 1970s in some high schools and colleges, ending only after the implementation of Title IX barring discrimination in education on the basis of sex, which was addressed by having coed classes.
Now it is not uncommon for private clubs to give patrons opportunities for nude swimming, at times by holding male-only or female-only sessions.
Naturists/Nudists were early adopters of volleyball shortly after its invention in the late 19th century. Records of regular games in clubs can be found as early as the 1920s. Given the outdoor nature of nudism/naturism a beach version of volleyball was naturally adopted. By the 1960s, a volleyball court could be found in almost all nudist/naturist clubs.
Volleyball was perfect for naturism/nudism since most clubs were small and a volleyball court didn't require much space but involved many people. The game was also inclusive in that it supported varying levels of athleticism and did not require much equipment. But most importantly, it was ideal for nude play since there was no need for a team uniform or protective equipment.
A large (over 70 teams) nude volleyball tournament has been held each fall since 1971 at White Thorn Lodge in western Pennsylvania and several smaller tournaments occur each year throughout North America.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Naturism.|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nude sports.|
- International Naturist Sports Week - official website of Naturist beach & camping, Sziksósfürdö
- International Naturist Sports Week - documentation 1989 to 2004 (results of contests, description and galleries), official website
- 35th Alps Adria Meeting 2007
- Nudist Volleyball
- Fremont Solstice Cyclists
- Machu Picchu nude tourism
- The Naturist Society
- World Naked Bike Ride
- World Naked Gardening Day