03 Apr Inndulge, Palm Springs: Like Naked, Grownup Summer Camp
Take your pants off and stay a while!
In season two of Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw remarks that the Hampton Jitney is like the “bus to summer camp,” going on to lament that instead of singing songs and making new camp friends, everyone ignores each other and talks on their phones.
If the Hamptons is like straight people summer camp for New Yorkers, then I think it’s fair to consider Palm Springs its gay, naked, tan, California cousin. At least, that’s how it felt for me this last week.
I just got back from a mid-week stretch at the Inndulge, Palm Springs (which the spell check on each of my devices has been furious over the entire time), and I can honestly say that I will probably miss my camp friends there more that I could have ever expected on arrival.
If you’re not familiar, Inndulge is a clothing optional mens resort/hotel in Palm Springs, California, which has changed management a handful of times in its history, but has been something similar to what it is now for at least 20 years. It’s situated in a residential area on an inconspicuous, though well manicured lot, with high walls and guest rooms surrounding a large pool/suntanning/hot tub situation. If one just drove by, one might assume only that they had curiously misspelled the sign out front, and not that there were dozens of naked, sun-baked butts on display within the castle walls.
I’d been mulling over the idea of a male-only resort/vacation for quite a while before a friend finally decided it was time for us to pull the trigger and really go see what it was all about. I did some preliminary word of mouth and travel reviews research, and Inndulge kept coming back as “the classy one,” of the handful of similar options that Palm Springs has to offer. Based on what I heard from everyone I spoke to there this week, and my own experience with the concept and execution, I’d say I certainly agree.
But it would be a lie to say that I wasn’t still nervous about rolling into something like this with no experience. Confession Time: I’m not a very good gay and sometimes it stresses me out. I’ve mentioned it before, but when it comes down to large groups of gay men (especially really young ones) I have a tendency to glaze over and become unable to have conversations about gay stuff (drag queens, shade, etc), and my biggest fear was that this might be a week of that insincere, ultra-affected gay voice, cruel, catty nonsense, and body shaming. And I was worried.
How incredible then, to find myself instead surrounded by intelligent, well spoken, funny, and kind men from (literally!) all over the world. Since there wasn’t a big event happening this week in Palm Springs that might bring a group of people in and out at similar times, people arrived and departed from the resort of their own accord, on their own schedules, and every day brought new guests to replace those that had left.
It was only a matter of hours after checking in on Tuesday that my friend and I found ourselves talking about life and politics and books we’d read with new friends from Canada, Australia, the UK and nearly all corners of the US. There was nearly every body type represented, and a kind of physical comfort and casual camaraderie that comes only from all male company.
There was a spectacular flow in the vibe that seemed to resonate from within the place itself, affecting all of the guests similarly: nudity moved from commonplace and asexual (a way for some to avoid the tan lines I had gone in so desperately coveting) to enticing and arousing and back again almost effortlessly. New friends casually touched and allowed themselves to be touched and it didn’t seem strange to find yourself naked in the hot tub with a friendly arm around your shoulder or a warm hand holding your balls while you chatted. You might be in the pool and talking about what life in Chicago is like while you gently masturbated your conversation partner’s gradually inflating penis. It was everything I could have dreamed.
There was little sexual pressure and even less (from what I could tell) emotional distress about people feeling left out or excluded. You simply came into conversations and groupings and participated, then moved away when you were through. It felt natural and kind to compliment others about the size or shape of their genitals or bodies (for me anyway) and it was easy to imagine that this was a world that could exist if all men could find their way past the confines of “acceptable heterosexual behavior,” and we could stop teaching women and children that the male body is something to be feared and ridiculed.
By the end of the second night, I had already begun to pull up my various calendars and google flights back in our room to determine how quickly I might be able to find myself back at Inndulge, and, sitting here and reflecting on it now (with a full blown erection, no less), I’m beginning to be sad I ever planned to leave in the first place.
If you’ve ever considered taking yourself to a place like this, let me be clear that I couldn’t more fully endorse how Inndulge does what they do. It is nearly unimprovable. The staff and owners are ridiculously dedicated to making sure everything is exceptional for every guest. The facility is beautiful, the rooms are modern and clean, and the people you meet will stay with you (even if you didn’t get 50 email addresses that you have to write to now that you’re home and unpacked) long after your time there is through. I cannot wait to find myself back in Palm Springs with the sun on my foreskin and the chance to make a whole new set of summer camp friends.
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