it's all about me · out and about

Dancing naked with the hippies (or not)

Being fifty-something, the notion of aging gracefully is not yet well-defined in my mind. Bit by bit, I’m putting it together.

When I notified my business clients (via facebook of course) that I was taking a short break, heading to the north coast of New South Wales to get in touch with my inner hippy, I used this image for visual punch.

Photo credit: la gross mymy on
Photo credit: la gross mymy on

A couple of my clients thought it was a photo of me. Frightening.

Secretly, I wished it was.

And so it came to pass that Mr P and I found ourselves in the heart of hippyland, at Byron Bay. Beautiful beaches. Lush rainforests. Backpackers, cheesecloth, hemp headbands and finger cymbals. What’s not to love? And we did love it, for a three idyllic days.

Byron Bay Beach photo by Sheryl Allen

On our last day we decided to head out early (very early) for a farewell swim at the famous beach. I (not-so-neatly) tucked my wobbly white bits into my slimming black bathers. My spider-veiny, thunder thighs and tuck-shop-mum upper arms would have to fend for themselves. I donned a floaty (cheesecloth?) cover-up dress for the walk to the water’s edge.

As we neared the beach we heard music and came upon a large group of perhaps 200 dancers, all wearing red (mostly cheesecloth), and moving in fabulous choreographed rhythm to the soundtrack (which was supported by several enthusiastic bongo drummers).

A flash mob maybe? Eventually it dawned on us that it was Valentine’s Day and this was a celebration of free love (in the true spirit of hippy-dom).

About then, I looked down and noticed we were both (coincidentally) wearing red.


We watched for a short while before heading up the beach, finding a quiet spot and stripping down to our bathers.

I looked down and noticed we were now both wearing black.


As we reached the shallows I glanced back along the beach to where the hippies were doing their thing. Only a handful were left dancing on the sand. The rest were now frolicking in the shallows, still choreographed, but no longer in a sea of red … they were naked. I could see others throwing off the shackles of their cheesecloth and running for the water to join in the fun and freedom.

The pressure was on. Others nearer us, couples and solo swimmers, went out in support, peeling off their bathers and nuding up for free-loving water play.

Tempted, I looked down at my spider-veiny thunder thighs and tuck-shop-mum arms.

There was only one thing for it.

I gracefully dived under a wave and made for deeper water.

With my bathers ON. Firmly (if not neatly) tucked.

Mr P followed.

Because sometimes (just sometimes), aging gracefully means keeping your wobbly white bits (and your pink bits) to yourself.

No matter how loud your inner hippy is screaming.

[Images of naked dancing hippies and my pink bits, you ask? Now, that would be totes inappropes.]


generation fabulous


This post was inspired by a blog hop hosted by Generation Fabulous – the voices of midlife where you’ll find dozens of posts responding to the same theme – aging gracefully.

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26 thoughts on “Dancing naked with the hippies (or not)

  1. What a great “day in the life.” A friend 10 years my junior just asked if I wanted to work out at the YMCA. She asked “treadmill or swimming laps.” Are you kidding me? I need a week’s notice before getting myself into a bathing suit after a winter’s haitus from shaving.

    1. So true, Karen. There are certain grooming standards that need to be met before donning a bathing suit (or less). The “course, woody undergrowth of winter” (as I like to call it), requires at LEAST a week’s notice. 🙂

  2. As a former hippie — at least according to my kids — I love this post. In my younger days, I may have joined the naked dancing hippies but no way now! I would keep the wobbly white bits covered just like you — and I honestly believe that represents aging gracefully more than letting it all hang loose for the world to see!

    1. Thanks, Lois! The notion of letting it all hang loose gets scarier with each passing year. I’ve given myself permission to redefine what the hippy aesthetic means to me in this midlife phase. There’s a big gap between grace and prudishness. 🙂

  3. I think I would have shucked it all just for the exhilarating fun of it. That’s why I always skinny dip once a summer on my lake (but only after dark) ha

  4. The hippie picture does look much like you, only the eyes are a little different.

    Have to say, myself, I’da stripped, wobbly bits, stretchmarks, and all, but then I’ve “done” group nudity before, long ago when I was a very fit teen. I fondly remember the feeling of freedom and lightness. It’s not for everyone.

    But at least you were ON the beach, in matching colors, and enjoying the music.

    1. Ah, Beverly, I admire your courage, too. Group nuding-up is not something I’ve had much experience with (other than in the changing rooms at the public pool after an aqua aerobics class). “At least we were ON the beach …” … love it! Thanks. 🙂

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