Unless you grew up in a house without clothes, the chances are that there was a 'first time' that you encountered social nudity. For some that may have been a surprising experience, some might have been a bit shocked, and for some it would have been perfectly natural. Here are some stories that we have collected together of people's first encounters with nudity and how they reacted.
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I've talked about my first encounters with random nudity elsewhere on this site, but someone recently pointed out that I had never talked about the first time I was deliberately nude in public, and for me this was a trip to a nude beach.
Much like Zoe's story earlier in this blog, my first time was soon after I'd started driving. I was looking for somewhere to drive to that was a bit further away than my usual trips to and from work, and as I'd recently heard about Fairlight Cove near Hastings I decided to pay the beach a visit. Actually when I say "heard", it was a bit more involved than that. Back then there was no Google and no real way of searching what little there was on a very young internet, but there was a number of groups or forums accessible through a thing called Usenet, and one of those - rec.nude - was all about nude recreation and activities. Someone had been talking about Fairlight Cove on there, and I'd made a rough note of the location (no Google Maps, remember) in case I was ever in the area. Anyway, however I found out about it, Fairlight cove was my target. So I packed all the things I thought I'd need for a day on a nude beach and jumped in the car.
First problem... finding the place. Okay so I knew where it was on a map, but finding roads that went near it in places where there were footpaths proved to be a challenge. After an hour of driving round Hastings getting confused I eventually found a country park that was somewhere near the right bit of coast and deciding that any coastline was better than no coastline I set off for a walk. And that, as it turned out, was wildly serendipitous as that was the closest public car park to the beach, and a bit of random following of strangers led me through a farm, into a wood, down a hill, and eventually to a small sign saying "nude beach - >" in tiny handwritten letters. I'd found it!
Of course then I immediately started to get nervous. What if I was the only naked person there? What if I got an erection? What if they were a closed group that didn't like strangers? I started to walk down the steps to the beach and at first could see no-one else naked there, but as I came round the corner I realised that it was just the angle I was looking. It was full of naked people, and when I say "full" I really mean it. The beach wasn't large as the tide was in, and every visible inch was covered in nakedness. There was clearly going to be nowhere to hide.
I reached the bottom of the steps and worked my way across the sea of people to a spot that looked free near the back and put down my bag. This was it. No more prevarication. It was time to get naked. Really. Okay, Graham, just do it. I pulled off my shirt, dropped my shorts and underwear, and sat down. I counted to ten. No-one had challenged me and no-one was staring. One chap glanced over in my direction then went back to reading his book, and an older couple gave me a quick look, a half smile, and then lay down in the sun again. I was naked in public and nothing had gone wrong.
I stayed for hours, occasionally wandering down to the water for a swim. A careful swim, I should add, as there were submerged rocks that I'd seen people avoiding and they were sharp enough to cut you quite badly (as I found out on a later visit, but that's another story), and then heading back to my spot. I chatted to two women of about my age at the edge of the water, and the couple who had smiled at me when I arrived turned out to be very friendly and we talked for ages about the beach and the SSSI where it sits. And I only occasionally remembered that I was naked.
I've said many times on this site that I had never had a problem with nudity, even from a very early age. But much of that had been theoretical and a general wondering why some people seemed to be obsessed with hiding skin that was basically exactly the same as everyone else's skin. It's not like it's any great secret what we look like under our clothes, so I never saw the fuss. But as a young man entering a naked environment for the first time, I was glad to be able to say that the theory was borne out by the practice. Nude was normal. Nude was comfortable. And nude was not even slightly strange once I'd taken that first step.
Late in the afternoon it was time to head home, and so I packed up my stuff and clambered back up to the top of the steep path. I spent a bit of time walking round the woodlands up there wondering what anyone would say if I got naked there as well (it's not official, but I found out later that people often did stay nude for most of the walk back to the car, and I used to do it myself quite often - which did lead to the infamous "naked in a field of gorse and nettles" incident, but more about that later), and then headed back to the car.
At the edge of the farm land there was a small tea room and I stopped off for a drink. I'd been there for a couple of minutes when I heard a "Hello!" from the table next to me and I turned to see two of the women I'd been talking to on the beach were there as well. "Oh," I said as I wandered over. "I didn't recognise you with clothes on..."
Okay, so let's take a moment here to reflect on the single most embarrassing thing I did that day. Yes, I actually said "I didn't recognise you with clothes on." Good grief... what was I on!? Fortunately they laughed, and one of them replied with "Well, barely," as she rearranged the dress she was wearing to show there wasn't anything underneath it. And then came the second most embarrassing thing that happened all day and I was very glad I'd sat down with them so the table hid what happened next. Well probably hid. Either way, they never said anything, but it did serve to illustrate a good point. I'd been talking to these very attractive women a several times throughout the day when none of us was wearing more than a writst-watch, and there had been no reaction. Here in a tea room where I could see almost nothing except the hint of a nipple and a suggestion that there was no underwear lower down either, I was turned on almost immediately. I've said it before and I'll say it again... clothes are more sexy than nudity.
We chatted for a while, then they showed me that there was a proper parking area for the beach that was a lot closer than where I'd left my car, and we all went our separate ways. I never saw them again despite going to that beach a lot over the next few years, so if that was you and you're reading this, "Hello!"
Fairlight Glen is much harder to get to these days as cliff erosion has wiped out much of the path but it's still used by some people. I haven't been there in years, but I will always remember it as the place I first deliberately got naked in public, and the place that showed me that nudity was exactly as normal and comfortable as I had expected it to be.
I had never been particularly bothered by nudity whilst growing up, not mine or anyone else's. My parents never made a thing about it one way or the other so I never picked up any of the hangups that so many kids get taught. I think like most of us I must have ended up naked around other people in changing rooms or houses a few times without ever thinking about it, but I don't remember being naked around people of the opposite sex until that first time on the beach.
I can't remember what first put the idea in my mind or what made me decide one day that "today I'm going to strip off in front of strangers", but that was pretty much how it happened. I was in my early twenties and had recently started driving, and then one day I remember thinking "tomorrow I'm going to a nude beach". Maybe I had seen something on the television, or heard someone talking about 'naturist clubs', I really can't remember, but whatever triggered the thought I remember going to bed very determined to see it through.
When I woke up the next morning I had the house to myself. My parents were out for the day so there was no chance of anyone asking what I was going to be doing or where I was going, so there was nothing to distract me from my plan. I have no idea what they would have said if I had told them where I was going, but although I was determined to see it through I was glad that I didn't have to have that conversation right then. So I grabbed some breakfast, stuffed a towel and something to drink in a bag and jumped into the car.
The beach I was heading to was Studland Bay in Dorset, and it was a little under an hour of driving to get there. I spent the time thinking about why I was doing this and whether I would actually go through with it when I got there. Part of it was of course that I wanted to see what the boys looked like with no clothes on (and the girls as well, I'm not fussy), but the main reason was that I wanted to see how I would react when it came to that moment of stripping off in front of people I didn't know, and what it was about public nakedness that people found so attractive.
If you know Studland Bay you will know that during weekends in August it can be quite busy. I had found some directions somewhere as to how to get there and I knew I was looking for a path by a bus stop about halfway between the ferry and the main car park. That whole section of road was parked up for about half a mile in either direction, so by the time I found a space and squeezed my little car off the road I was quite a long way away. I locked up, clipped my keys to my bag, and started walking.
The countryside is lovely and kept me distracted from the way that the only people I could see walking in the same direction as me were men. I was starting to wonder if I was going to be the only girl on the beach when I got there and whether that would make me turn around and come back or even more determined to strip off. Surprisingly it was a close call, so I kept walking and eventually came out through a gap in the dunes onto this huge area of open sand.
Immediately I could see that there were loads of families nearby, with couples and individuals tucked into the edge of the dunes and all over the beach, and well over half of them were naked. I didn't wait. As soon as I was in the middle of it all I stopped, put down my bag, and without hesitating I pulled off my top, then kicked off my shoes and peeled down my jeans and knickers. I was naked. In front of people. And no-one minded.
I stood there for a moment talking it all in. As I write this I'm now wondering what I must have looked like just standing there turning slowly around as I took it all in. Maybe they recognised that first-time moment, or maybe they thought I was a little weird, but either way I stood there for a few minutes just absorbing the experience. It was hot and sunny, and a couple of girls to my left were rubbing sun cream on each others' backs to stop the burning. A family to my right were unpacking a picnic and trying to keep track of the kids as they ran around in circles. Two older men were playing beach bowls, and a group of students - some naked, some partially dressed, and some fully clothed - were laughing and talking. And then I realised that no-one cared what the naked people looked like. I think I had gone expecting all the naked people to look like they had just walked off a photoshoot for Vogue, but I was surrounded by perfectly normal people with perfectly normal - if more than usually visible - bodies. If I'm honest with myself I had been a little worried about that side of it. I was in my early twenties and even I knew that I wasn't exactly ugly back then (I'm in my mid forties now), but there's a difference between "not exactly ugly" and "model hot", and I had subconsciously expected people on the beach to be in the second category. But they were normal. And so was I. And we were naked and no-one cared.
And it was amazing.
I spent the whole day there, and when it was time to go home I really didn't want to get dressed again. It felt wonderful being nude. I had talked to people, bought ice cream from the little hut on the beach, and even gone swimming... all nude. It was awesome. But by six o'clock people were starting to head home and the sun was starting to head downwards. So although I desperately did not want the experience to end I reluctantly took one last walk along the edge of the water before finally turning back towards the path.
I started walking back naked but all too quickly reached the sign that said I had to get dressed. So I ignored it and carried on walking until the path stopped being sandy and was too uncomfortable to walk on without shoes. I was the only one naked by that point, and although no-one walking with me seemed to care I thought that I had probably better put something on.
My top was almost long enough to count as a very short micro-dress (who am I kidding - no it wasn't), so I pulled that on, left the jeans and knickers in the bag, slipped on my shoes, and walked back to the car. There was about another half a mile on the path, then nearly a mile up the road to where I had parked and I walked slowly enjoying every minute. When the ferry unloads that road can be quite busy, but somehow it never bothered me that all I was wearing was a pair of canvas shoes and a flimsy spaghetti top and that everyone driving past could see my bum. And it was the best feeling ever.
I drove all the way home like that, wondering occasionally if anyone saw anything as I stopped at traffic lights, and really not caring if they did. I had become a naked person, and I wanted to keep that going for as long as I could.
That was my first time nude in public. And it is now something I do at every opportunity.
Btw - my parents were still out when I got back, which was probably a good thing as they would no doubt have had something to say about what I had suddenly decided to call an 'outfit'!
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