This blog contains all the articles that wouldn't fit in anywhere else. You can expect it to be fairly random!
You probably know by now that I teach dance, specifically I teach modern jive and Argentine tango. I also tend to get naked quite a lot (also no surprise), and so obviously something I've been thinking about recently is whether there's a market for combining the two. Naked partner-dance classes or naked dance themed events seem to me like an excellent way to spend an evening, so I started to put together some ideas and contact people about how, when, and where to host such things. But the responses I've been getting have surprised me.
Individuals I have spoken to about this seem to be largely in favour of it. Some dance already and some like the idea of learning to dance. Some have partners that they would like to bring along with them, and some would like to come on their own. In fact the response of generally naked people to the idea of naked dancing has been exactly what I expected, and mirrors the response I get in the clothed world to my traditional classes.
But what really surprised me has been the responses given by naturist and nudist clubs.
Almost universally they dismissed the idea of partner-dancing events as unworkable because "people don't generally arrive as couples", or because "everyone is naked" (uh... really?), or because "no-one wants to get that close to another naked person they don't really know". They gave all sorts of excuses and reasons, but what they all boiled down to is "Dancing with another naked person? That's not something we do."
Okay, so partner-dancing is something that gets you pretty close to the person you are dancing with and there is no doubt that you have to be fairly relaxed about the concept of personal space. But that's true whenever you dance, not just when dancing naked. Depending on the type of dance you are doing you can be anywhere from holding both hands face-to-face or in full-body-contact with your partner, and given that a lot of dancers eschew underwear for aesthetic or comfort reasons there can be very little physically separating you at times. But you both know that this is an illusion of closeness that only lasts for the three and a half minutes of a track, and as soon as it's over you break apart. The dance itself can be sexy, but that's not the same as sexual. It's a game. A suspension of reality. A moment to let go and have a bit of fun.
So why not do it naked? If naked is normal, what's wrong with dance?
Saying that it's a problem because of the nudity is the sort of attitude I'd expect from people who see nudity as sexual and something that should be kept between partners. But from people who spend their whole lives preaching that nudity is just another outfit and that there is nothing sexual about it at all, what's wrong with dancing? Why is dancing any different to anything else that people do naked together? No, this doesn't make sense. This is saying that there are artificial limits on how close you can get when naked, on what you can do before you cross some sort of line. This is saying that nudity is fine so long as you keep your distance.
So what does this mean about the message that the clubs are promoting? Is the whole idea that "nude is normal" just a sham?
Clubs in general have come under fire a lot in recent years, as much for keeping nudity locked up behind closed doors as they do for their existence. The general public see them as funny and anachronistic, and yet they do nothing to change that opinion as they appear to cater only for the older established membership without doing anything to draw in new blood. More and more people are getting naked on holiday and at home now, and yet club membership is largely static. The fenced-in nature of clubs and all their arbitrary (if originally well-meaning) rules promotes the idea that nudity is strange, that it needs to be hidden away in case anyone sees it. But surely this is the exact opposite of the message we are trying to get across.
Clubs need to embrace the new, and if that means trying something that might make the established membership a little uncomfortable then so be it. For all they know, a naked partner-dancing evening might be just what all the potential new members might be waiting for.
Photo: This was taken from a video of naked Argentine tango and we are probably about as close as it's possible to get on a dance floor. But other forms of dancing are available, and some are a simple hand to hand hold with no body contact at all.