Dine Naked Bristol founder (and BN member) Will explains how the venture came to be, and some of the surprising things he’s been asked by venues.
What happens if you drop hot food? and Do I have to arrive at the venue naked? are two of the most common questions I’ve been asked about naked dining. Another one is Why naked?
For me, the answer comes from the World Naked Bike Ride. For the last few years, I have coordinated the ride in Bristol. It was a hugely rewarding role. Riders told me how they went from being nervous and self-conscious of their bodies beforehand, to having their fears evaporate within the first minutes of the event. And afterwards they reported a greater sense of positivity and pride in their bodies.
I wanted to find another way to share this feeling. Having been to a few naked dinner parties with friends, I wondered if naked dining would have wider appeal.
It’s a simple idea – to book out an entire restaurant, pub, or function room for people to dine whilst naked. The diners would enjoy the same food and drink that would normally be served there, at roughly similar prices. There’d be no photography, and we’d welcome people who are under-represented at many naturist events, such as women, people with disabilities, and BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic), and LGBT+ people. I wrote up these principles as a mini-manifesto. I set up Facebook and Twitter accounts, and tweeted about my plans. Most diners probably don’t use Twitter, but nearly all journalists do: the tweets were mentioned in the local press, and then I hurried to start contacting venues.
Several places ignored my emails, but I had no negative responses. Some responded positively, so I arranged to visit them for a chat. I told them we’d sell tickets in advance; that we’d provide towels for diners to sit on; that we’d make it clear it was a non-sexual event. At one venue I was told that their staff had been talking about the naked dining idea, and they wanted to be naked too!
All three events so far have sold out within a few days. And we’ve had a diverse mix of diners, with more young people and women than at most naturist events I’ve been to. At the last event, a couple came along because it was at their local pub and sounded fun, despite them never having experienced social nudity before. Journalists have taken part and written positively about their experiences. One finished her account by saying, ‘The evening has flown by and I don my clothes with almost as much reluctance as I had taken them off hours prior.’ And indeed, the managers of one venue joined in the nudity while hosting us. It made for a very welcoming atmosphere. It sounds like they really enjoyed it too - they're hoping to come along as customers to the next event! We’ve even had a diner coming to Bristol all the way from Edinburgh for our naked lunch!
These are small events, and I don’t plan to run more than one a month. But it’s great that they’ve got people in Bristol and beyond talking about their attitudes to nudity and bodies. I’m sure Dine Naked could work in other cities. Already, Dine Naked Brighton has started contacting potential venues.