Dining au Naturel in Dublin

DINING  AU  NATUREL  IN  DUBLIN

Dublin has now joined the list of other major cities such as London, Paris, Sydney, Melbourne and Tokyo to embrace naked dining. Irish Naturists in association with The House of Salads restaurant in Portobello combined forces for this maiden experience.

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When this was first surfaced a year ago with talks of 45,000 people on the waiting list in London, talk did turn more locally and the question was raised: could such an idea work in Ireland?

After attending the INA supported premiere, I can confirm that the answer is a resounding  “Yes !”

For the inaugural event which was restricted to members of Irish Naturist Association, demand far outstripped capacity and the event was sold out 6 weeks in advance. So what was it like I hear you say ?

Considering the name of the restaurant, I was expecting a plateful of rabbit food for starters, followed by two platefuls of rabbit food for mains… Boy, did I get it wrong!!… The food was delicious!

On the fixed menu: starters consisted of Vegetarian Paella, Spanish Omelette and Mixed Salad with extra Virgin Olive Oil infused in pepper.

The mains were three different Arepas (a Venezuelan Corn Bun): one of cheese, one of chicken with the final one being pulled pork together with a Tegueño (cheese stick Venezuelan style).

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Being honest, if I had been offered these as choices on a more extensive European style menu, I would have been ending up choosing the soup for starters and the chicken or beef for mains; sometimes not having a choice is a good thing!! I broadened my culinary taste buds and can confirm that it was nutritious, healthy, tasty and filling.

To finish up for dessert we had Neapolitan Ice Cream and Golfeado (a Venezuelan type sticky bun glazed with non processed sugar and aniseed) Again it was just Yummy!!

You will have gathered from the above review that I am not a big foodie type of person but what I do know is when something tastes divine, when it is presented well, with excellent service in a venue with a wonderful ambiance, people will return time and time again.

To prove that this is the case their next dining experience is on September 21st but you best hurry before all those tickets are gone as well!!

Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention it: all the customers were dining au naturel, surprisingly that was the most uneventful aspect of the entire evening!

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My first time

In 1978 on my first holiday in Greece I paid a short visit to the island of Mykonos. Walking around the harbour I saw a notice: “Bathing costumes must be worn at all times. By order of the Mayor.” Was there some danger of freak waves that the Mayor was so anxious for us? Then I realised that what the Mayor must mean was that bathing costumes were the minimum required. From which it followed that people had been known to wear less. From which it followed that nudists actually existed in the contemporary world and not just in jokes about “nudist colonies”. If I had ventured to one of the beaches away from the town I would no doubt have encountered some, but of course I was ignorant of this.

A couple of years later in Karpathos I met an Irish couple who had been to a beach in Crete where people were apt to sunbathe naked. Every day there was a police raid. And before the strenuous walk down the beach the police of course needed to take a coffee at the beach bar.  So the proprietor could send someone down the beach with the message that the police were on their way. And the police could truthfully report to their superiors: “We inspect this beach every day and there is never anybody naked on it.”

I had never understood the need to cover up and liked the idea of nudity when it was warm enough, and had occasionally sunbathed naked in a place where I could be sure of not being observed. So I was interested, you might say. But I wasn’t sure that I would be able to take off my clothes in front of a crowd of people. Then in 1984 when I visited the island of Naxos I found that one of the trips advertised by boatmen from the town harbour was a trip to “Aghia Anna Nudist Beach”. Now what was this? Of course at this time there was no Internet, and such things were not mentioned in newspapers or guidebooks. And who could I ask without embarrassment? A Nudist Beach sounded a very organised affair. I had visions of some sort of invigilator greeting me when I got off the boat and demanding that I take off my clothes there and then. Would I be able to?

So I didn’t partake of the boatmen’s offered trip. But when I hired a car to see a bit more of the island, it appeared that one could go to Aghia Anna by road. So I drove there, parked the car, and walked on to the beach. There in front of me was a large notice : “Apoghorevete o Ghymnismos: Nudism is Prohibited.” How could this be? The boatmen could not be engaged in that much false advertising. Was I at the wrong place? No, down on the shore I could see the landing-stage which the boats obviously tied up to.

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So, for want of anything better to do I started to walk down the beach. And when I had walked a couple of hundred yards, I realised that everyone around me was naked. So this was all that a Nudist Beach was! Now, if I remained where I was, it seemed to me I would be feeling like a voyeur. It was either retreat or take my own clothes off. So I took them off. It was excruciatingly embarrassing for the first ten minutes. Then I realised that everybody else was in the same boat and nobody was looking at me anyway. And having enjoyed a naked swim I could never look back, and since then when holidaying alone the availability of a naturist beach has been a deciding factor, and more recently I have stayed in naturist accommodation twice.

Back in the 1980s references began to appear In Irish newspapers about Corballis and the south beach of Brittas Bay. Over a few years I made several trips to Corballis and after isolated naked sunbathing I eventually discovered the area where there were others, and then seeing the accumulation of cars at Sallymount discovered that beach too. So I could be a naturist in Ireland as well as abroad.

(From subsequent visits to Greece I realised that those notices are best interpreted as “No nudity in this Immediate area, but you’ll probably find a nudist beach nearby”. And on a later visit to Naxos I found that the back of Aghia Anna beach is now entirely covered by the usual array of hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops, and the naturists have moved round the headland at either end of the beach.)

Scared to Bare

 

Scared to Bare

It should be the most natural thing in the world. We came into this world bare. Clothes are thrust upon us by well-meaning parents and enthusiastic present-bearers, and from then on we are encouraged, actually make that forced to cover up.

Today we live in a society that appears to be at odds with itself. On one side, it is more sexualised than ever. You are one click away from a tsunami of pornography, but we are increasingly squeamish it seems, to let a child swim in the sea with no clothes on, in case the wrong person might catch a glimpse.

My story is probably very familiar. I carry around the feeling that I  would be happier if I could only wear fewer clothes from time to time. I am not an exhibitionist; I don’t get a kick from it. It just feels more natural.

But I felt isolated. Am I weird? Some would say yes, but maybe these people are not my people.

Outing yourself comes fraught with danger and prejudices. Which is why I am writing this now. I found someone through a work network site who told me that I am normal.

She told me that there are others who feel the way I do. And I am now contemplating my first outing. What am I scared about? Well, most of the things that I seem to have been programmed to be afraid of up until now. Will my body looks weird, what if my penis looks small? What if I am caught staring at breasts? Will I offend someone? Will I get in trouble? I know my heart will race, I know that it should feel normal. Isn’t it a shame that it isn’t?

Within the next week or so I am going to break my naturism duck. Pop my nudist cherry. Aside from some solitary walks on secluded beaches, I have never taken the plunge to be around others naked. To chat, walk, be free.

Watch this space.

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My naked triple decker

We all know the feeling of waiting ages for a bus and then all of a sudden three come along at once !! Well that is best way to describe a recent weekend in Cork.

Ten years earlier I had rocked up to the Customs House in Dublin at 2.30am along with 3,000 others for the Spencer Tunick Dublin photo shoot. It was a major leap into the unknown  , nervous energy was abound , tension palpable as the countdown to disrobing drew ever nearer. Like all things that scare you , once you take that leap of faith , you look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Fast forward and now I find myself registering for not just one public nude event but three and all on the same day !!

Saturday June16th 2018 , first up was #1000bodies photo shoot. This was a homage to the Spencer Tunick Cork shoot from 10 years previous. The 9am start was a lot more pleasant that its’ pre-dawn predecessor, the location was kept secret until the last minute. All that the participants knew was that it was walking distance from the City Centre. After a leisurely stroll , we arrived on site , got a debriefing on what to expect …. and then got debriefed !!

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Credit Photo : David Hegarty                                                       Credit Artist : Ciara Langan

The location was a public park out by the University , surrounded on three sides by a six foot hedge. The ever thoughtful organisers decided to ease the concerns of any of the first time models by erecting a makeshift clothesline along the open side. As the wind picked up and people eased into the photo shoot , we laughed aloud at the feeble efforts of the volunteers to protect our modesty. By this stage the hesitant shy and reserved amongst us had transformed into radiant bubbly self confident individuals and it is this which will be their lasting legacy of partaking in such an event !

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Credit Photo : David Hegarty                                                       Credit Artist : Ciara Langan

In total about 10 or 12 different poses were captured , the punters on the open top tourist buses got more than they bargained for !! We had performed the Mexican wave in a giant nude circle and our photographer got so consumed by the occasion that even he undressed on top of the scaffolding to capture us in all our glory ! By then two hours had elapsed and it was a wrap as they say in the biz !

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Credit Photo : David Hegarty                                                       Credit Artist : Ciara Langan

If the #1000bodies was the base of our naked sandwich , then the naked bike ride was most certainly the filling. Cork is unique in World Naked Bike Ride ( WNBR ) community in that the majority of the participants tend to be bodypainted. This was my first bike ride and WOW it did not disappoint.

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This view was shared by seasoned veterans such as a retired couple from the UK who were participating in their fifth WNBR this year – “It was amazing , most colourful we’ve done , and fantastic atmosphere “. Whilst the bike ride was due to start at 3pm , the bodypainting kicked off as soon as the photoshoot was over. The buzz and positivity emanating from the studio was electric , it was a mosh pit of cyclists , artists and volunteers ; all embracing life , love and happiness.

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Credit Artist : Ciara Langan

Throughout the two hour bike ride right in the heart of the city  (it took us twenty minutes to get down the main shopping thoroughfare )  ,we encountered nothing but overwhelming positivity and unbridled joy from the public. The abiding memory of the day , will be the beaming smiles on all those that we encountered.

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Credit Photo : David Hegarty

If we achieved nothing else but to temporarily improve a passers byes’ mental wellbeing or taught someone the lesson that LIFE is for living or that your body is beautiful exactly as it is or that it pays to push yourself out of your comfort zone , then just being a fleeting witness to the bike ride would be deemed a success .

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If you were fortunate enough to participate then you can multiply those benefits to infinity and beyond !

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Credit Photo : David Hegarty

If the Bike Ride was the filling , then finishing it off and meeting the Mayor on the steps of City Hall was the dressing on top. His diary was quite interesting that week as two days earlier his office had greeted Charles & Camilla to the city , quite an eclectic 48 hours !!

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Credit Photo : David Hegarty

We completed our naked sandwich by heading off to the clothing optional after party in a nearby beer garden. We enjoyed the outdoor BBQ , mingled seamlessly with the non-bike riders and the embraced the freedom of the day by drinking au natural well into the evening. For those who can’t comprehend the concept of non sexual social nudity , I only wish that you were present in that pub as there was no voyeuristic or exhibitionistic overtones as all integrated naturally.

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Credit Photo : Stephanie Power

So as I look back on that epic day what were the life lessons learnt  …..

Am I the same person at the end of the day as I was at the start ? The answer is a resounding NO.

Am I more confident and in a happier space at the end of the day ? The answer is a resounding YES.

Did we bring a smile to the faces of thousands of people ? The answer is a resounding YES.

Will I actively encourage others to do the same ? You’ve guessed it , the answer is a resounding YES.

North East Skinny Dip – England 2017

NESD 1I am very late writing this but last year, on the 22/23rd September 2017, I, along with 400+ people did the annual North East Skinny Dip at Druridge Bay, England.  Men and women of all ages and different shapes and sizes stripped off their clothes and ran into the freezing cold North Sea to raise money to the mental health charity, MIND and to celebrate the autumn equinox.

This was my second time taking part in the NESD, as I had done this dip in 2015.  When I did the first dip, it was my first time stripping off and running naked into the sea with hundreds of people that I didn’t know.  At the beginning of the event, I was so nervous about the occasion and if people would look at my body but once I got into the sea, it was fine and I found it exhilarating.  It was an experience that I would never forget and something that I would have to do again in the future and maybe considering doing naturism.

Fast forward 2 years later, I am back in the campsite at Druridge Bay on the Saturday evening wearing my Irish hat and necklace, being greeted by new and familiar faces and arrive to a massive, roaring fire and people playing guitars, singing along, having a drink or two and a dance and enjoying the warm up to the event.   I met numerous people from different parts of the country who arrived for the first time telling me how they heard about the event, why they wanted to do it, etc.  It was very interesting hearing some of the stories that they told and how they’ve overcome adversities in their life and want to have a new experience.  I felt very sympathetic hearing their stories and although they were very nervous as first timers, I was able to share my experience of the event and told them that “once you do it, you will be back here again.”

At 6.15am on Sunday morning, revellers started to gather in packs preparing to make their way to the beach to bare all.  We were welcomed by beating djembes, beach barbeques, photographers and fire dancers.  Whilst the time was ticking, I brought face-paint with me and decided to get the words “Póg mo Thóin Depression” on my back in the Irish colours with the help from a few volunteers.  Many people were asking what it means especially the organiser of the event, Jax Higginson and taking pictures of my back.

póg my..

Not long to go, I noticed a woman with her kit off posing for the cameras, I decided to join in and get my bare Irish bum and my Irish hat into the picture whilst looking into the glorious sunrise.

North East Skinny Dip

It comes to 7am and Jax, the organiser is getting us to do scissors jumps and warm up whilst others are already taking their clothes off.  Next thing…..3…..2…..1…..strip!   WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!   Hundreds of naked people men, women and kids are screaming, laughing and sprinting into the baltic North Sea.  While trying to hurdle the freezing, incoming waves, I started receiving high fives, hugs and kisses from people I had met the night before and when I did the dip two years ago.  I don’t remember how long I was in the water for but I can tell you that I was frozen to the core and could barely speak due to my teeth chattering.

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It was again a fantastic experience and never fails to disappoint.  It doesn’t matter how old, what shape or size you are, anyone can take part.  I’d highly recommend you to do the North East Skinny Dip for the invigorating experience and for a great cause.  Hopefully we get a few Irish people to come over as apparently there is a planned naked Mexican Wave taking place at this years dip.  You can’t miss it. 😉

Irish visitors at the London Naked Bike Ride

London Bike Ride Event 2018 - 5

LONDON NAKED BIKE RIDE

On June the 9th as the Red Arrows passed overhead on route to Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queens birthday, across London I along with many others off all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities where stripping off as we prepared for the London leg of the WNBR.
Initially the message of the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) was a protest against a growing oil dependency while celebrating the power and individuality of the human body. In 2006, there was a shift towards simplifying the message and focusing on cycling advocacy. While the ride does include and appeal to participants from social nudity circles, the ride is not focused on promoting social nudity directly as much as cycling. Google WNBR for more details.
Prepared with the hire bikes we gathered in a beautiful park overlooking Tower Bridge, although we were large in numbers there were many more on-lookers and tourists all clicking their cameras, enjoying the view and excited as they learned why the event takes place.  With fabulous weather the merry band of naked cyclists hit the road to cheers and applause. Our route crossed several bridges with traffic coming to a standstill as we passed.  There are many possible reactions with some people covering their eyes, others cheering and the odd textile cyclist stripping off and joining in, however overall it was all very positive and encouraging. We passed many of the famous landmarks, enjoying conversation and laughter with whoever was cycling or roller-skating beside you.  There was even a number of folks running naked.
London Bike Ride Event 2018 - 4
Having stopped at County Hall (beside the London eye) for a photo opportunity, the coordination team behind the event need to be congratulated as the scale of the event was about to unfold.  Our group slowly made its way to a square north of Oxford Street and it was was very impressive as other groups arrived and the numbers grew to an estimated three and a half to four thousand naked participants! With music bouncing out of many a cyclists carry bag the final leg of the trip brought is through Covent Garden, around Piccadilly Circus and towards Buckingham Palace as we ended our 3 hour London cycle full of natural positive energy and having made many new friends.
London Bike Ride Event 2018 - 3
On Sunday morning I along with many others from the previous day took a train to Brighton to participate in what has become known as London “phase 2” the Brighton WNBR, however for me the Brighton event puts London in the back seat.
London Bike Ride Event 2018 - 2
Arriving to the start location we were welcomed with a live band and parents and children dancing naked enjoying the great weather.  There were ice cream wagons, family picnics, dogs running about and a lovely positive atmosphere. Local volunteers introduced themselves and enquired where I had travelled from and confirmed it was OK to take pictures etc. As the departure time approached I noticed several police arrive on bicycles positioning themselves to escort the group and with a burst of loud applause bikes were mounted and our group of three thousand colorful naked and body painted people hit the road.  Several participants were pushing or pulling children in side cars, friends and family members were supporting those in wheelchairs or blind  and the city of Brighton was out to welcome one and all. Traffic stopped as route brought us through the many historical parts, along the sea front and passed many restaurants and coffee shops all offering support and encouragement.  There was two official stops on route all prepared with live music, refreshments and photo opportunities and then maybe two hours later the group finally made its way to a beach location for a mighty bbq and party.
London Bike Ride Event 2018 - 1
A week later the WNBR took to the roads of Cork, unfortunately I could not attend. However, I returned from the UK on a natural high, full of positive energy, confidence knowing I will return next year – join me?

 

Nudity beyond the mirror – Life and Art face to face naked in Dublin’s In-Spire Gallery

 

 

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The Body / Le Corps

 Inspire Gallery Tuesday, 29th May

In collaboration with a collective of nude photography artists, Irish Naturist Association had organised a private viewing of their art for an evening in late May. The appeal of the event took the organisers by surprise: Over 100 people registered to attend a extraordinary nude visit to the Art Nude Ireland exhibition The Body” on 29th May 2018, which forced the Event Team of Irish Naturist Association to split the audience into two groups, allocating them different time slots.

The images on display were representing the gamut of the genre of art nude photography: a series of 48 pieces with essentially equal representation of the work of the models and photographers of the Irish and French collectives, covering a wide range of contemporary nude themes.

But on this particular occasion, both the art and the view would meet eye to eye in the same setting – in the nude. Photographer Paul Brady undressed as well for this unique event. With his presentation he explained to his naked audience some details concerning the making of his collective and their art. And also the challenge that Ireland has yet to embrace the beauty of nude photography, which is something this exhibition aims to fix.

He explained that while nudity has long been accepted in other art forms, such as painting and sculpture, when presented as a photograph, the nude is too often associated only with sexuality. By showing the highly varied work of its members to a wide audience Art Nude Ireland aims to show that nudity in photography can be portrayed in as many ways as in any other form of creative expression. ANI Members create work individually and also work together as a collective.

The members of Irish Naturist Association had already enjoyed the pleasure of an artistic talk -also in their birthday suits- on “Finding a valued place for the body in our culture” by photographer Doug Ross, co-founder of Art Nude Ireland.

The managers of In-spire Gallery, where the exhibition took place, showed themselves equally delighted for the opportunity of this naked collaboration.

Undoubtedly, venue, artists and audience will soon surprise us with further ventures, we’ll keep you posted!

 

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