On Skinny Dipping in New York City

A fun and interesting piece about what people have to do to go skinny-dipping in the New York City area:

But skinny-dipping is something different, its acolytes say. A term coined in the late 1940s, it connotes both quickness — a dip — and transgression, a departure from the old painted scenes of bathing in rivers. (The skinny part, linguists have argued, most likely refers to skin, not thinness.)

“It’s about spontaneity and freedom in the moment,” said Lauren Christianson, 23, who along with two partners is working on a guide to skinny-dipping around the city for their Web site, The Skinny Dipping Report. “You can’t go in the East River or the Gowanus Canal. You have to find these secret spots.”

One spot eyed for the list, a hot tub at the New York Loft Hostel in Bushwick, may need to be reconsidered. The hot tub was taken out last year, a receptionist there said, after becoming an occasional clothing-optional hangout. The removal was “very possibly for that reason,” she said.

A minor offense most often classified as either “exposure of a person” (a violation) or public lewdness (a misdemeanor), it is not the sort of crime that makes the blotter in New York, as it might elsewhere. Faced with a boisterous bunch of naked swimmers, many officers just shake their heads. “Move along” is more likely to be heard than “You’re under arrest.”

I guess you can consider the officers assigned to give out summons/tickets for this behavior as a sort of mild hazing?

“Usually a junior guy will get stuck with that assignment,” said Sgt. Grant Arthur of the United States Park Police, which patrols the area. “They’ll just come right up and start talking, get real close, telling the officer how good he looks in uniform. Nothing bad — it’s kind of funny. We put the new guys down there, and it’ll kind of catch them off guard.”

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