This article originally appeared on VICE Netherlands
Being naked might be the most natural thing in the world but it's also one of the most awkward. For most humans, to be completely comfortable around other people without any clothes on – pasty, wobbly bits and all – takes an inner strength, a confidence, a devil-may-care attitude that will honestly get you anywhere in this world.
One group of people who have plenty of that kind of confidence are naturists, or nudists. Both terms (even though "nudism" refers more the act of being naked and "naturism" more to the lifestyle) come down to the same thing – hanging out bare-assed with a group of people whose asses are also bare.
Danny, 34, from Amsterdam has been going to naturist beaches and campsites for as long as he's been able to walk, and is therefore very familiar with feeling the sun and a breeze along the darker nooks and crannies of his body. He's also very chill about disrobing around others. I got in touch with him to understand what that's like.
VICE: Why are you a naturist?
Danny: I've been one for as long as I can remember. My parents took me to a naturist campsite for the first time, when I was about three years old. It was their first time as well. They loved it so much that they decided to spend every summer since on naturist campsites in the south of France. I don't really know any different – I'm completely comfortable being naked on the beach, in the sea or at a campsite.
What's so great about walking around naked?
The moment you're naked, there are no restrictions, no rules. It's normal to wear clothes in everyday life, but that's actually a pretty random rule that we've all agreed to follow. And it's not just me – every single person I've brought along to a naturist beach or campsite seemed to really enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes with breaking that rule. There's just this natural, primal pleasure you get from walking around naked, with other people who are naked, too.
When you're surrounded by other naked people, don't you ever just rather look away? Like with elderly people, for example?
No, not at all. I think naked people are beautiful. Especially older people – like, a lady in her eighties on the beach, to me, seems much more natural and beautiful when she's walking around naked than when she's trying to fit in a bikini.
How should I prepare mentally if I plan to go to a naturist beach for the first time?
Because I'm so used to it, I find it hard to tell people what to prepare for. The experience of seeing naked people all day long is something I can't really explain. If it's your first time, I think the best advice I can give is to take it slow. Maybe wear a towel the first time you go out there.
What's the downside to being naked all day? Is there, like, a bigger risk of bugs crawling up your private holes?
No, I think the biggest risk when you're naked in the sun all day is that you'll burn your bum. You have to make sure that you apply enough sunscreen everywhere – particularly down there. Your ass has never seen that much sun, so it'll be very white on the first day and very red the next. You can pick out the newbies from their sunburnt bums. Trust me, it's very painful.
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Does being naked all day make you more DTF than when you're clothed?
Ironically, when everybody is naked, there's not much sexual tension left. I think there's less sexual energy at a naturist campsite than, for example, in a club on a Saturday night. That's not to say that you can't be attracted to someone you meet there, but that happens in clothed life, too. It's a little more difficult for men, because you can't really hide an erection. If you do happen to get one, you cover it up – walking around with a hard-on is rather frowned upon. Of course, it can happen that a man has an erection while he's fallen asleep on the beach. That's unfortunate, but there's not much anyone can do about it.
When you sit down on a chair somewhere on a naturist site, isn't it a bit nasty to realise that hundreds of bare bums and scrotums have rested on the same chair before you?
There's this great unwritten rule in naturism to always put your towel on your chair before you sit down. You bring your own towel, so your stuff never touches the chairs in a naturist restaurant or your friends' camping chairs. It's really important, and people will judge you if you don't.
Sure, lots of them. For example, it's not socially acceptable to take photos or videos on a naturist site. If you do, it's possible that someone you don't know appears in the background, naked. Another one is that you're allowed to wear clothes if you want – if it's cold or raining, it just makes sense to wear some clothing. Except at a naturist beach – you can't wear swimwear there.
Have you ever felt unsafe at a naturist site?
No, it's very safe – it's so safe you can just send your kids out to play and not see them until dinner. Of course, there's a fence around naturist campsites. That helps.
Do you tell people that you're a naturist?
It's not necessarily the first thing I'll tell someone about myself. But if it comes up, I'm open about it. To be honest, it's a really good conversation starter. Most of the guys I tell that I'm a naturist, say: "I would look at chicks all the time." But if that's you'd do on a normal beach, too.
I do know that my little sister used to find it very difficult to be open about how my family spent our holidays. At school, she was worried that when she showered with her classmates after PE, they would notice that she didn't have tan lines and start asking questions. A friend of mine who's also been a naturist all of her life told me she used to worry about the same thing. She was afraid that her classmates would ask her why her bum and boobs were as tanned as the rest of her body.