Naked bungy jumping

Now that the Winter Solstice is past, Valentine’s day is rapidly approaching. Got plans yet?

How about naked bungy jumping in tandem with a really close friend? Or even on a first date….

It’s a Valentine’s weekend tradition at the Bungy Zone in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. This year, that’s February 11-12. So make your plans quickly… it’s only five weeks away. In years past, jumpers who go naked also go free (only on this weekend), so it can be a bargain, apart from travel costs.

As the company says,

You can bungee jump “classic style” or join the growing group of naked bungee jumpers that gather annually to “let it all hang out” as they bungee jump in the buff.

Think you’d be scared shitless to try this? Yeah, probably. But having this “ultimate adrenaline rush” appears to be the main point. And maybe the ultimate bonding experience as well. Of course, you could always just make the trip to Nanaimo to watch, and wait to see (and let lots of others see) whether you have the (ahem) balls to go through with it.

That’s what Seattle reporter Kristin Dizon did several years ago:

Free Falling! A stripped-down version of bungee jumping

Who knows what brought these jumpers to Nanaimo, a logging and fishing town of about 70,000 on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Overcoming fear, trying something new, exhibiting one’s body or perhaps some deeper existential search for meaning drew them to the Bungy Zone.

Kristin notes that not all couples who do the naked tandem thing are in a serious relationship:

Alison Behrner and Wade Anderson, both of Campbell River, B.C., are no exception. Fused together, chins nuzzled into shoulders, their arms tightly clasp each other for a tandem jump.

“Are we a couple?” Behrner, 28, ponders when asked. “I don’t know.”

“This is like our first date. We’re just getting to know each other,” Anderson, 25, chimes in.

But then, maybe the guy was just being flippant. Despite her reluctance, Kristin eventually allowed herself to be talked into stripping and jumping. Even so, it was anything but easy, and there was an audience:

Clad in nothing but hiking boots, I think of leaping feet first, but that seems so spineless. A minute ticks by, then another.

I don’t notice the people watching and wondering, will she or won’t she?

Clearly, Kristin (who jumped alone) lived to tell about it, with no injury other than the indignity of being fished out of the water and being released from the cord, where “Legs up in the air, I look like a baby during a diaper change.”

Here’s another report, from another year, by writer Kimberlee Jensen:

Naked tandem bungy jumping

For our first Valentine’s Day together, my partner and I wanted our celebration to truly reflect our relationship, so naked tandem bungy jumping sounded just right.

This is a popular event, so you may have to wait some time in line — about three hours Kimberlee reports. But the experience was romantic enough to make up for that:

As we spun upside-down we shared a thrilling kiss. While embraced he reached around and pinched my bottom. We were bare and it was there, so I hardly blame him. The jump was over within minutes, but we both wanted it to last longer.

Originally published January 7, 2006


More info:

Video: here

Still pictures: here

Prisoners of our society

There’s an article that’s the product of a high school class writing assignment, which is being discussed in various naturist/nudist forums. You may well have read, or at least read about, the article, by Reina Neves. Reina writes very well, but it still says a lot about the fascination of our culture with nudity that a high school essay was published in a local newspaper (Honolulu) and has received widespread attention (well, at least among naturists).

Feelings about nudity complicate our lives

When I read a Seventeen magazine article titled “I’m a nudist” written by “Kim,” an average girl describing her life as a nudist, it got me thinking about how people are raised.

Actually, the article about Kim (unless there’s more than one) wasn’t in Seventeen, but in CosmoGirl, and we wrote about it here.

But that’s a minor point. The more important point is that Reina is spot on to be thinking about “how people are raised” has much to do with their feelings about nudity. Reina goes on to say

Any child who was raised with a different point of view finds that it becomes a part of them. Kim was raised a nudist; therefore she understands it and is comfortable with it. The same goes for kids who are raised by prejudiced parents; they are more likely to be prejudiced themselves or at least tolerant of prejudiced attitudes.

I’m sure there were some people who read Kim’s story and didn’t agree with her lifestyle. They were probably raised conservatively or taught that nudity is taboo. In my family, my mom, sisters and I are pretty comfortable around each other nude, but we would never go nude in public or around my brother or other people. I guess it’s that way because my mom is somewhat liberal. It all depends on how a person is brought up.

As astute as Reina’s observations are, I think she’s missing something. She goes on to say

To me, I thought it was odd, but cool that Kim was so open. I think it’s pretty brave of her to tell her friends and her boyfriend something like that, knowing not everyone will accept and understand her lifestyle. I respect the fact that she doesn’t let society influence her lifestyle. I don’t think I could ever live like she does. I have been too influenced by society to change my mind.

As much as I’d like to be able to get my mindset out of that cycle, I don’t think it is possible for me. I think society twists certain subjects just for no good reason.

Notice the paradox introduced by the last sentence. Reina here recognizes that society has “no good reason” for how it twists certain subjects — presumably including nudity. And yet, in spite of this recognition, she doesn’t think it’s possible for her to change her mindset to one more like that of Kim, the nudist.

Huh? It’s as if she’s saying that once she’s attained the ripe old age of seventeen (which she is), it is no longer possible to adopt a freer mindset, even though she can see the appeal of it and the lack of good reason behind the conventional point of view.

Of course, most naturists can see this is wrong — since most naturists were raised in the same society as Reina, and in a non-naturist family besides. (Although naturism does come more easily for those without such handicaps.) Quite often naturists do not discover their fondness for nudity until they are past thirty or forty, perhaps much past.

The point is, a person’s opinions and proclivities are not cast immutably in concrete before adulthood. Fortunately. In fact, people can change these things at any time, before or after adulthood, even apparently fundamental aspects of one’s personality. Even though change is often not easy, it is possible. And one thing, especially, that makes it difficult is the mistaken belief that change is nearly impossible.

There are two primary influences on a person before adulthood — the person’s family and society as a whole (including one’s peer group and institutions such as school). Reina doesn’t clearly make this distinction, though she perceives that her family experience was perhaps more liberal than average.

However, the really interesting thing is that psychologists are moving away from the idea that parents and family have the largest influence on a growing child. Two other factors — genetics and social influences (peer group, especially) — are being recognized as significantly more important. Some investigators, such as Judith Rich Harris, think that parental influence is almost negligible.

That may be too extreme. Most people, I think, can identify at least some ways in which they were influenced by their parents. And the relative importance of different types of influence surely varies from person to person. But one thing that emerges from research is the clear importance, especially on teenagers, of the peer group.

Teens generally want to look like, talk like, act like, think like, and (especially) dress like their friends. And in matters of dress, provocative or risque clothing may be OK with most teens — but certainly not nudity. Case closed.

So I have to wonder whether Reina’s certainty that she couldn’t be a nudist has a lot more to do with her age than with her “fundamental” personality and her upbringing.

Actually, I think Reina’s a lot closer to being a naturist than she realizes. She is willing to think about nudity objectively, and not condemn it as “gross”, “disgusting”, “offensive”, “immoral”, or something of that sort. (“A long time ago, people could look at nudity as beauty in an aesthetic way. I look at nudity in that way if it is presented in a tasteful, artistic manner,” she says.)

There’s really only one thing between Reina and an acceptance of nudity for herself — fear, due to peer group attitudes.

Too many of us are like inmates of the insane asylum that is our society. Most are too afraid to even gaze out the window and ponder what the bigger world outside is like. A few are not.

Some lines from T. S. Eliot’s poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, occur to me. Prufrock is a meek, timid soul. Near the end of the poem, he says

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think they will sing to me.

My advice: Reina, eat the peach! You’ll love it.

Originally published January 7, 2006