I went to Naked Dating in London.
Got naked, did speed dating.
‘Please stop doing stuff like that,’ said my friend Clare, as she struggled to digest what I’d told her I’d done. Her face hadn’t stopped contorting yet and it was almost like she was pleading for me to just be a normal person.
Friends at work were less perturbed by my actions though. Perhaps because they don’t have to take me home to their parents like Clare sometimes does. I had a small gathering of colleagues eagerly form around me as soon as I walked into work the next day. They prodded and probed; cringing but excited, as I explained my experience loudly in hope that I’d only have to relive it once.
Yes I saw willy weeners. No it wasn’t a dark room. Yes there was one person I found attractive. No he wasn’t available because he was married and was just there to meet like-minded people who like to do things commando.
Finding out everyone’s reasons for being there was my favourite part of the event. But dealing with the smell of bulk naked human was the bit that made me question my gag reflex. Even on the train home I was self-conscious that I was stankin’ like other people’s pheromones. I was terrified they’d seeped into my pores while we’d made small talk starkers. Pheromones are usually a huge part of my attraction to someone. But being in a room full of rogue redolence makes you realise how much clothes must contain the body odours from within. Some guys would comment on the discomfort of the cold breeze flowing in from the open door behind me, but I was unapologetic.
Very un-hard to believe, it’s very hard to get a ticket if you’re male (or over 35). Men’s tickets are sold out for days and women’s tickets can be so hard to move that the first event I was supposed to attend was cancelled. Surprised? Well, you’re probably European.
Having just come from the real world you arrive at the event – held at The Exhibit in Balham – fully clothed. And after asking the bar staff for directions under your breath (as to not attract the attention of the regular patrons) you’re pointed upstairs where you find a room especially hired for the nudey rudey activities commencing at 8pm. There’s enough time allowed for initial mingling to happen before you drop kit like it’s hot. Meaning you have time to look directly in the eyes of the people you’re about to do all the awkwards with.
I bonded and stayed close to a girl I met at the bar, Jenny. Jenny was a school teacher and was considering not even drinking because she was just that nonchalant about shit. A straight-down-the-line kinda girl, who questioned men about the size of their junk during the night, Jenny made for great intel. Later emailing me with “For your info the cock ring guy was wanked off by the girl with devil horns. I was told.”
I’m pretty sure the organiser blew a whistle before the guys were directed to leave the room and change into robes while us gals stayed in the bar and ditched our garb. It felt like a giggly high school locker room. Except for the part where I was on one knee like a pervy journo asking them to pose. Some girls chose to leave their underwear on. Like the girl in the devil horns who also sported some saucy lingerie. I was in it for the sake of journalism, a confidence boost and some free prosecco. So I had my entire rig ready to roll out for the big robe drop.
We took our seats as the guys returned to the room looking particularly vulnerable. Another whistle went off, as did the robes, and the night was on. For twenty of us at least. There was a 10/15 ratio of men vs. women, so there was always a few dudes lingering around the bar at any given time.
I’d been wondering about the type of guys I’d be flashing all my flowers for. And it certainly turned out to be a diverse crowd. There was, of course, the fit, tall, married black man; a psychologist who had zero interest in banging anyone, but did later extend me an invitation for a naked trail run at Painshill Park. Then there was a Chinese chap, Owen, who had just arrived in the UK about three months prior. He was just so smiley and polite. And naked.
There were a few Brits, a couple of Indian guys, a Mexican and a French mindreader. There was also an intense Welsh gentleman who seemed pretty cool, but maybe don’t be so intense when you’re so naked.
Then there was this guy, who kept his robe on and just pulled out bundles of tricks and treats like a kinky Mary Poppins.
I’m not sure which guy had the piercing, because unlike Jenny, I didn’t get all chatty about genitalia. It honestly took me the entire duration of the event to comprehend what was going on around me. People would be asking me boring questions but I was far too distracted by what everyone else was doing.
Like one of the hosts, who was defo over 35, just standing in the middle like a school teacher supervising exams.
The format was just like regular speed dating, with four-minute mingles and a sheet of paper and pen to mark yes, no or ‘friends’. It costs £20 for a ticket, but if you were lucky enough to know about the Time Out offer you could have got unlimited prosecco thrown in too.
For those of you who are like GET ME A TICKET TO THAT EVENT, you’re in luck because it looks like there’s another Naked Dating event coming up in August. Hopefully my 22-year-old colleague will be old enough by then (age limits are 23-35 yrs) because he seemed to love the idea of it. I actually read recently that British Gen Yers have “seemingly grown tired of swiping at a screen” and we are now gearing back towards the more retro ways of meeting people, like blind dates and supper clubs (I don’t know who these people are personally).
So perhaps if we really wanted to go back to basics, the whole idea of finding a mate by natural scent could prove helpful to those looking for love. Smelling someone’s pits vs. swiping over their selfies? I dunno. Maybe there’s something more in first date showers together. Nothing like post-shower sex, right? I just didn’t like the idea that everyone had just come straight from work, via public transport, with sweat and nerves at an all-time high. Everyone probably had sock cotton between their toes too.