This discussion is from the Young Naturist America blog – and it ought to be the dream of naturists everywhere – young and old, urban and not-so-urban. Read the whole thing, including comments. Existing nudist/naturist places simply do not have the sort of ambience for casual relaxing and socializing among friends who just “drop in” when convenient. There needs to be plenty of indoor space, since in most parts of the country naturism has to go dormant most of the year when it’s too cold outdoors.
The problem for realizing this dream is economics – there just don’t seem to be enough people who understand naturism these days, so that the only affordable locations for naturist sites are far from the expensive real estate. But if YNA and other local young naturist organizations could just promote a vision like this, eventually it might happen.
Anyhow, here’s the comment I left at the YNA blog:
There actually was a place like that in New York City in the winter of 1931/32. This was very soon after naturism had appeared in the U. S. and was run by a group called The American League for Physical Culture. (Naturism attracted young people back then, and the emphasis on physical culture was imported from German-style naturism.) After trying a couple of locations unsuccessfully, the ALPC managed to rent a gym at 552 7th Ave. The place was rented for 3 nights a week and the main activities were calisthenics and volleyball. Unfortunately, the place was raided by the cops soon after it started, on account of anti-nudity laws of the time that made nudity illegal even in private places.
Presumably something like that would at least be allowed to exist today, but who knows. The problem is business model. I’d think that the way to go would be to start from a large enough existing group of dedicated naturists in the NYC area. Find a place that could be rented on a regular basis. Some sort of existing gym or health club. Anything in NYC is probably going to be very expensive, and that will be a problem in any big city, but especially so in NYC. If possible, something easily accessible but outside Manhattan might be more affordable.
I notice that “socialize with others” was the most popular reason chosen for visiting an urban naturist space. So there should be plenty of room to just sit and relax with others for conversation, small bull sessions, etc. Lots of comfortable seating. Perhaps a coffee shop atmosphere with appropriate snacks and refreshments available.
Someone else mentioned Kiva in Santa Cruz as a good model. Of course, Kiva is a very small place in an old house in a semi-residential neighborhood, with a few outdoor hot tubs and a couple of cozy indoor rooms. Santa Cruz is a small town – but a college town, so that helps. In NYC, you’d probably want to be located conveniently to one of the large universities and publicize to the local students. But unfortunately, students won’t be able to afford something expensive.