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Between ideas of freedom and fights against prejudice An idyllic spot in a forest near Luxembourg City. The exact location is known only to members, or possibly to dog owners whose four-legged friends like to retreat into the twilight of the trees.  The path leads from the road through the bushes to a greenish gate that can only be opened with the help of a code. Behind it is a small “oasis of peace”, as Armand Ceolin describes it.

For many years the 65-year-old has preferred to spend his leisure time in the four-hectare clearing, because only here he really can be himself. Naturism is the name of the movement that inspires a few hundred families in Luxembourg.

The philosophy behind this rather esoteric-sounding name revolves around living in harmony with nature, oneself, and the people around. Small detail: being naked.

However, anyone who immediately thinks of free love or naked meetings à la “Commune I” will quickly be taught otherwise by Armand Ceolin: Naturism does not mean nudism. A nudist likes to live without any clothing. We do that, too, but always with the focus on our philosophy of being close to nature.” As secretary of “Sports et Loisirs Naturistes Luxembourg a.s.b.l. (SLNL) the retiree draws a clear line between his lifestyle and other forms of being naked. “I like the term FKK, i.e. free body culture, quite a lot, but this term often is being used the wrong way by the erotic industry for swinger clubs. We want to distance ourselves from that very clearly,” explains Ceolin.

Public living up of the sexuality is in no way connected to a naturist way of life – on the contrary: “On the grounds of naturist associations it is strictly forbidden by regulations. Sexual acts are an absolute taboo and lead to immediate exclusion from the community.” In addition, one never would see a naturist walking nude through the “Groussgaass”, true naturists are not exhibitionists at all. Prejudices that SLNL would like to combat. It rather is a leisure movement, which has started at the end of the 19th century and now encourages people all over the world to drop their clothes. Of course, within a regulated framework, because anyone who wants to officially call him/herself a naturist needs a licence from the International Naturist Federation (INF-FNI).

In Luxembourg, two associations are dedicated to the topic: besides of SLNL there is also the “Naturisme De Poufank a.s.b.l.”, which has its grounds near Schoenfels. 154 Families, couples and individual persons are affiliated to the SLNL. The association regularly organises meetings and activities on its premises or meets to relay in the afore mentioned spot in the forest.
“I think that what we all have in common is that feeling of well-being when you take off your clothes and disregard some taboos.”, says Ceolin, looking out through the window of the clubhouse onto the lawn.

Volleyball court, pétanque facility, swimming pool, barbecue area, slide for the little ones – everyone should be able to relax here. To enable peaceful coexistence among the naturists, there is a code of conduct. “Swimsuits, swimming trunks are not allowed here, there are plenty of other public places for that.

Otherwise, the normal use of “common sense” simply applies,” says Ceolin. Especially the fact that among naturist everyone is being accepted, pleases the SLNL secretary very much. It is not about ideals of beauty or the sight of nude body, but about the connection with nature, which is supposed to be intensified by being naked. Clothing is being felt by naturists as a kind of disturbing factor that interrupts this connection. An idea that also finds resonance on an international level.

Events are regularly organised through the International Naturist Federation, which members from Luxembourg also like to participate at. Be it the swim-gala in Paris, family meeting in Spain, beach holidays in Germany or a World Congress in New Zealand – who really lives out the free body feeling will find a community everywhere.

Ceolin would like to see a breath of fresh air for the future of SLNL: “We now have a new committee member, being less than 30 years old. We have high hopes for this person.”

To be able to continue leading the association, we hope that the younger generation will show more interest. “As club we are satisfied, as we reached all what we never dared to dream of. But we also start getting tired”, says the 65-year-old. Because despite of the balanced inner life – thanks to the direct sunlight and the fresh breeze on the bare skin – even Luxembourgish naturists get older at some point and look forward to the next generation taking over the helm on the hidden forest meadow.

How did naturism start? The idea originally came from doctors who were looking for a closer connection to nature again during their treatments. That way, for example, light baths and heliotherapy were created. In our country there was e priest, Abbé Neuens, who opened a naturist centre in Weilerbach. But this was rather medically oriented. Naturism
flourished in Europe, especially in Germany. In 1894 the first association was founded in Essen, which still exists today.

Where can you practice naturism in Luxembourg?
Of course, on our site and on the site of the other club. Then we have a naturist area at the reservoir, and nude bathers are also tolerated in Remerschen. There are also two campsites for naturists: first, the “Fuussekaul” in Heiderscheid with about 100 pitches and, second, “Bleesbréck”, which also has a separated zone with 25 pitches for the naturists.

And what about the youth?
For that we have a nice recent experience. In May we had been invited by the “Villa Vauban” to participate at a nude guided tour for the exhibition “Plakeg? Nudity around the year 1900”. In total we were 38 persons. What had astonished me was the fact that all our young members had registered themselves. We rarely see most of them on our grounds, but there seems to be quite a lot of interest in such activities also among young people.

Text: Laura Tomassini

Image by Allexxander on Freepik