While two dozen women took big, synchronized breaths, stretched their arms up and wobbled, one of the sheets covering the street-facing windows occasionally fell. Several of the women scurried over to tape it back up.
This was necessary, after all, since everyone inside, at a dinner earlier this month on the Lower East Side, was naked.
The Füde Dinner Experience is hosted by the artist and model Charlie Ann Max. For $88, and after Ms. Max has approved the applications, guests come together to enjoy, according to the website: “a liberating space that celebrates our most pure selves, through plant-based cooking, art, nudity, & self-love.”
Put another way: It’s a naked vegan dinner party with a bunch of strangers.
Ms. Max started experimenting with naked events in 2020. (She also hosts Füde Breath-work Experiences, breathing with naked strangers; and Füde Clay Experiences, naked sculpting.) The dinners were initially invite-only, but she opened them up to people who had heard about them through Instagram or word of mouth. Every dinner she hosted sold out, she said, and she was soon inundated with inquiries from aspiring nude diners from around the world.
Füde (the umlaut is to help people pronounce it like “food,” not “feud,” and to honor Ms. Max’s German-Jewish heritage) is, perhaps, the au naturel extension of a growing trend.
A new crop of restaurants, groups and Instagram pages has sprung up to offer sociable diners the opportunity to mix and mingle. In New York City alone, there’s Dinner Party, a communal table Brooklyn spot; Dinner With Friends, an Instagram page that organizes dinners “to meet new and old friends!”; and Friend of a Friend Collective, dinner parties for four to eight of its members at a time.
The draw of the naked dinner party is different for different people, Ms. Max said. Some want to feel more connected to their own bodies, while others want to make new, similarly uninhibited friends.
At the dinner earlier in March, guests undressed as soon as they arrived. There was no dressing room, just a clothes rack and hangers off to one side. The main dining hall was warmly lit and draped in sheets of cream and champagne-colored silk. Ms. Max said she makes her events look like Renaissance paintings because “it feels very romantic.”
Each of the attendees (ages ranged from early 20s to late 50s) had approached the challenge of dressing for a naked event differently. Some wore a full party look, while others settled on sweatshirts and jeans. After stripping, guests floated around to different groups, introducing themselves and politely chatting about the weather. Almost all of them showed up alone, which Ms. Max said was typical.
Rosalina Villanueva, 41, said she wanted to reconnect with her body, which changed after she gave birth to her first child last year.
Credit: New York Times