Naked End of Summer Bash
With Funky Nuggets, the Soulbirds, the Leylines, Grassy Waters, Jungle Funk, and Mike Mineo.
Sunsport Gardens, Loxahatchee Groves
Friday, August 12, to Sunday, August 14, 2011
If you thought that the love, freedom, and camaraderie of the 1960s breathed its last during the Reagan era, you would have been pleasantly surprised by Florida Young Naturists' Naked End of Summer Bash.
The fest, held at the Sunsport Gardens family naturist resort, in Loxahatchee Groves, was also a refreshing reminder that there are still young people out there who seem to believe in something -- even if that something is as unexpected as public nudity.
That the Gardens are nestled in a boggy, verdant, isolated corner of Palm Beach County lent a pleasant air of otherworldliness to the three-day event, played by Funky Nuggets, Mike Mineo, Grassy Waters, the Soulbirds, Jungle Funk, and the Leylines.
The under-30 campers, of every body type and ethnicity imaginable, wandered the grounds at various levels of nakedness throughout the weekend -- some were completely au naturel, while others sported tie-dyed sarongs. Mosquito and ant bites, inevitable realities of outdoor recreation, were laughed off with good humor and treated by a dip in the Gardens' inviting hot tub.
Nobody -- except for the people who came from the outside, to set up the inflatable water slide -- seemed particularly uncomfortable being publicly naked.
All were quite happy to be pocketless for a few days, in fact, weighed down only by the towels naturists carry to sit on.
Without any place to carry smartphones and wallets, they said they felt free of internet social drama and material constraints.
At the bash, they said, they could actually connect with other people.
"Out there in the world, it's always, like, what do I have to do next?" said Arlette Opazo, who has been to several Florida Young Naturists' previous events. "Time stops existing here. You can walk around and stop to talk to someone."
Tuesday Issa, one of the some 150 attendees, said she likes being naked and in the outdoors but had never been at a naturist event before. Issa, who gladly offered to share her spring mix salad with any passerby, said she likes the camaraderie.
"I just really like festivals. I really like camping, and I really like being naked, so, you know, it works."
Friday night's Grassy Waters set kicked off the mellow, bluesy vibe of the weekend's performers. The funky, folksy, and soulful music lured attendees off of picnic tables and onto the sand volleyball court. There, some twisted Hula-Hoops around their wrists and into the air, while others squaredanced. Nearby, at a picnic table, friends and strangers painted suns and moons and peace signs on one another with acrylic paint. Every so often, a distant, moist kerplunk suggested that somebody had just done a cannonball into the swimming pool.
Some munched Papa John's pizza, while others slipped into Sunsport's poolside café for vegetarian spaghetti and meatballs. Others swigged Coronas and PBRs and Yeunglings, but nobody seemed to get drunk. Far into the night, the grounds were busy with the pitter-patters of bare and aqua-socked feet, as friends and strangers walked to and from tents, always stopping to greet and chat with whomever they met along the road.
Overall, the fest had the air of a traditional summer get-together, the only difference being the lack of clothing. The vibe could probably best be described as what you'd expect at a backyard barbecue if that barbecue took place in MGMT's "Time to Pretend" music video.
Mike Mineo and his bandmates, who played at the FYN spring break party, said that playing at a nude venue can be a little shocking but that the experience is positive overall.
"The audience here is really receptive," said brother and bandmate Johnny Mineo, who, along with Mike, was shirtless. (Only band member Darin Scott stripped beyond his skivvies). At other venues, he said, they don't really sick around to listen. "After one song, they're done listening. They're doing their own thing."
The Soul Birds, a rock 'n' roll band from Orlando that performed naked,
said that performing naked in front of an unclothed crowd can be
easier than traditional venues.
"You don't have stage fright,"
said Kenny Faj, the band's frontman. "That whole 'picture the audience
naked' thing really comes to fruition."