The topic I would love to shine a little light on, regarding Confest, is one can’t be ignored and one that can be pretty confronting or daunting for some. When I speak about the hippy style of living, I should also refer to what is so natural and so earthly, is nudity. There was quite a lot of it, if you compare it to the amount of nudity you would come across when going about your daily routine or just simply being in this busy life. However the majority of the people did wear clothes, but probably 300 people were nude all the time. With so many events, there were also quite a few where being naked was required. This was, at first quite a challenge I must say. But I didn’t shy away. Listen as the story evolves.
From day 1 we were camping with the organizers of the "naked bikeriders". These were 2 guys, Marty and Micheal, who have been organizing bikerides in the nude for years now, and 2 times a year they "strut their stuff" at Confest. So they go around the grounds of Confest and everyone participating in the "bike tour" has to be nude. How much fun!! Besides camping with Marty and Micheal, there was also a friend of theirs, Mariah (for America) and Marty's son, Oscar. We formed one big happy (hippy) family after the first day, which was great. But to stay on the subject I was aiming for: Micheal was a proper nudist. Naked 24 hours a day, for nearly the whole 9 days (except at nights when it got chilly and he had to put on some clothes, much to his disappointment I might add..haha).
My first impressions on arriving at Confest and we setting up camp with 2 naked guys, was probably good for me. That way, I was faced head-on with the extremists of the festival go-ers and so nothing would startle me. Not even when Micheal caught me off-guard, hugged me as I was resisting to tendency to look down.. This hug made me let go of my paranoia, I got over it and pretty fast too! What a great guy!
So, after this introduction, did I decide to go nude? Yes I did! To swim, to have mud baths. This is when you get covered in mud from head to toe and then lie in the sun waiting for the mud to dry, to then jump in the river and wash it all off, in the hope of having cleansed your skin and detoxed yourself of all the toxins from the inside out or to discover - in my case - that natures mud really only dried my already dry and sun-beaten white skin. Hummm. Not to worry. The others times I got my gear off was to shower in full view of everyone -I might add that the showers were worse than the showers I came across in Thailand - they were hoses hanging off random trees in and around the gum trees providing cold water only.. It wasn’t the first time though for me to shower like this. So all was so so well!
To backtrack and tell about the first time I got naked out in the open; It was on a random evening with our fellow-camper, I mentioned earlier on, Mariah. The two of us were in a crazy mood and went off cycling around the grounds of Confest. We started out just innocently going for a ride. But softly we started to sing and chant. Soon this evolved into us howling like wild animals, singing like madwomen and chanting our mantra’s. There was a storm brewing at the same time and it was also around dusk. The atmosphere inspired us to go a little bit more naturally insane. The sky was amazing and the feeling in the air was one of so much relief, after the sun having beaten down on the Confest site for hours on end. We were feeling so liberated, as we continued to chant. All the while the storm got closer and closer and the sky grew darker and darker and the black clouds approached as the sun started to set. We hopped off our bikes, took off our clothes, jumped in the river, swam to the other side and climbed up on to the riverbank. This led us into a field where we danced, and sang and howled. We hopped and skipped and jumped, with bare feet and bare bums.. It was a feeling of freedom, never to have experienced before. This feeling grew even more when our chanting and howling caught on to other crazy folk who sat by the riverside, not judging or being critical of us letting ourselves go so spontaneously. They heard our singing, joined in and our voices got louder and louder as we were trying to compensate for the noise both the wind and the fresh raindrops were making. Mother nature tried to drowned out our howling but we were louder. We weren’t beaten by the forces.. It really was amazing..
The sun had then disappeared and the warm raindrops started to fall and refresh our skin, so we jumped back into the river, swam across and continued spreading our madness across the festival. The howling and chanting continued with our bodies covered up again. Then we created some more mayhem, at the market place: People were sheltered from the rain, but Mariah and I weren't. We were still on such a high, and knew we could spread it and let the other Confesters feel the same sense of freedom we were experiencing at that moment. We stood in the middle of what could be called a "square" and got everyone together, through singing and dancing. We awaited the storm to get more intense and we wanted the rain to fall heavier from the sky. We wished for thunder and lightning. And it happened! With that storm, the excitement grew and grew and people were loving it. We were on such a high, and so was everyone else. Mariah and I had made our point by this stage, our presence had been felt and we had left our mark. So on the high we were still feeling, we hopped back on our bikes and cycled to camp through the storm, feeling absolutely amazing, and satisfyingly exhausted.
This experience was one of the highlights I reckon. And it gave me the confidence to get my clothes off, anywhere at anytime.. Only at Confest of course.. Don’t worry, I haven’t become a nudist suddenly, after having had this experience. It’s just a feeling of being totally comfortable and confident in my own skin. There is no shame.. As we are all the same!!