Nudism Is Alive and Well in Castro Valley
Modern-day nudist Lance Borde explains how things go at the Sequoians.
It’s been quite a while since anyone’s been concerned about the existence of nudist or naturist clubs. They’ve been around since 1891 when the first one was established in India. Since then, they’ve quietly gone about the business of not wearing clothes. What is the modern-day nudist up to? I reached out to one of the few Bay Area nudist clubs, the Sequoians. Lance Borde, vice president and de facto spokesperson, took on the duties of being grilled about the 70-year-old club and the state of nudism in general. A member since 1990, he knows his way around the colony’s Castro Valley compound complete with a swimming pool, hiking trails, the Burnt Buns Bar B Que, and other amenities.
Paul Kilduff: Is it warm enough to be nude all day in Castro Valley?
Lance Borde: Of course not. The open season is from April through the end of October when we have our last open event. Those are the warm months. Of course, California has some very warm days in the off season, too. Full members have that advantage of all-year round. When it’s not warm enough, you can still enjoy the land. You’re not obligated. The ruling documents only say weather permitting and comfort permitting, but basically, during the summer, you’re expected to be nude on the common grounds, and by the pool and the lanai and the rec hall and the cooking areas, which is all in a small area.
PK: What about in the evenings?
LB: It can be. When we have our evening events, which are the indoor events sometimes, we have an indoor and an outdoor stage. The evening event in the hall is perfectly comfortable, and then outdoors, we have fires so you can come and stand by the fire. Gets too chilly on the tush, you go back inside. You put a wrap on or some people wear robes, so there are levels of dress up and dress down to protect yourself against the weather.
PK: Do some people confuse the Sequoians with a swinger’s club?
LB: I think the 1990s and maybe the early 2000s were the most confusing for people, because you had this kind of phenomenon called the internet that was occurring. With the internet, what was happening was this piggybacking, so if you punch in nude recreation, what did you get? You got sex sites. That was confusing people for a while there, so I saw attendance coming down. One of the things that really distinguishes and you know you’reat a family-safe place is if you go to a club that is a charter American Association for Nude Recreation, or AANR club. These are the safe places to go to. Some of the places will lose their charter AANR affiliations because of swinging or inappropriate actions that occur. What I don’t want is piggybacking.
PK: Where people don’t get it?
LB: Well, I think they get it, but what they want to do is they want to come in and disrupt it. There are those of us who have to kick them out. Thankfully, it doesn’t explode; it doesn’t turn into a big issue or whatnot. Someone complains that someone is doing something inappropriate, we’re on top of it. And we have them expelled and pink-carded.
PK: What is the screening process?
LB: Typically, on your first visit, you come in and fill out a registration card, and you’re taken on a tour. The screening process does also involve online sex offender checking, Megan’s Law, and warrant checking so that we’re sure that we’re bringing in the right people and creating a safe environment. I always like to say everyone’s on probation at all times, even me as the vice president and the president.
PK: I’ve heard that once you’re nude and everybody else is nude, it’s almost like you don’t really notice. Is that what the atmosphere should be like?
LB: After a while you don’t notice. When you talk to people, you’re not constantly looking down at their body. You may casually look down, and in the nude environment, yes, you see nudity, but with any amount of reason, you’re carrying on an intelligent conversation with one another.
PK: Singles are also welcome?
LB: Singles are welcome. What I’m seeing is the millennial crowd is really strengthening these days, but we’re seeing a lot of couples, and we want to see couples, because it’s going to help the singles. It’s going to help the female singles that we have that are starting to come out again, because they want to have a comfort level. And for women, what I’m finding is the strongest comfort level is to see the parents with their kids, and to see the couples, and then to be able to just see that there are different types of women of all ages that can find enjoyment within nude recreation in all stages of life.
PK: They don’t feel like they’re going to be judged?
LB: There’s definitely that. Guys are more easy to get naked at the drop of a hat, so you may have your single males out here as well. For women, it’s a little tougher. It certainly was during the ’90s and the early 2000s, and I’m beginning to see that break up in the last two years.
PK: Having too many single guys—could that be a bit of a problem?
LB: I certainly don’t need to market to them. They seem to find the place on their own.
PK: What’s it like for nudist newbies?
LB: You first begin to unclothe and embrace your body and embrace others’ bodies as a mind-awakening thing you have a euphoria. OK? There’s no denial there. That euphoria will last for a year or two or three. And I think once you get past that point, there’s a greater acceptance. I try to explain that to them. But keep going down the proper path of body acceptance and body embrace, and this euphoria will at least see you through to the other side. I’m really excited what I’m hearing from the younger generation. They get it. They realize it’s not sex on the lawn going on down here. It’s just like, hey, you’re just enjoying the day, and you’re enjoying the weather. That hopefully is a good day for you.
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