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.
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