Partying Naked at Columbia

Following in the footsteps of their exhibitionist peers at Brown and Yale, Columbia undergraduates are staging parties with one basic ground rule – all guests must part with their clothes upon arrival. The invitation circulating around Morningside Heights bans three additional items: cameras, masks, and “spikey things.” The NY Sun had the story today.

“Join us for a night of champagne, martinis, witchcraft, psychedelia, syncopated rhythms, thin bass lines, and body paint,” reads the invitation, which was obtained by The New York Sun.

While it’s too early to say whether a tradition has been born, the naked party appears to be taking root at Columbia, a school better known for its stringent sexual misconduct policies and grinding course work than for its freeloving co-eds.

Students who have mustered up the courage to go to one, however, are more likely to downplay the sexual nature of the event. It’s more of a social opportunity, they say, to lose one’s inhibitions, to engage in interesting, more personal, conversation, and to feel comfortable in one’s own skin.

A student who attended the party in the spring, Richard Lipkin, said about 80 to 100 naked people – including a fair number of law and business school students – were concentrated in one apartment. Clothes were dumped near the entrance. Women slightly outnumbered men, and people were generally – if not exclusively – good looking, the type who are often more willing to flout culture’s restrictions on nudity.

Mr. Lipkin said he had no recollection of the music that was played.

“It was surprisingly comfortable,” he said. “Most of the people were quite comfortable. Everyone was pretty mature about it. I don’t think anything inappropriate went on. … People were definitely networking, but there wasn’t anything bad going on.”