A flurry of tongue-in-cheek correspondence was exchanged in the pages of the South China Morning Post between 1931 and 1933. The headlines “A Ticklish Affair”, “A Risky Business” and “The Naked Truth” teased out the subject at hand after the Post carried adverts for a proposed Culture of the Nude Association of Hongkong.

Bare with us: Hong Kong’s nudists struggle for acceptance

On February 9, 1932, Herbert E. Lanepart of the Founders’ Group, Hong Kong Nudists, wrote in the letters pages: “We much regret to say that so far not one lady […] has sent in a request for further particulars. […] We would therefore be especially grateful to progressively minded and fearless ladies of any nationality interested in the culture of the nude who came forward.”

On March 11, 1932, the Post reported: “The Hongkong nude culture movement was crys­tal­lised into being last evening when a meeting of supporters, held at Lane Crawford’s restaurant, decided upon the formation of a Hongkong club [...] there was an attendance of over forty persons, including six ladies.”

On May 11, 1932, the Post carried the headline: “Hongkong Nudists Find a Spot: Sylvian Surroundings for Their Activities”. The leased site near Sha Tin was described as having “a large fresh water river frontage”, being “uninhabited and sufficiently secluded from all sides” and providing “excellent opportunities for the laying out of tennis grounds, and for all sports activities, swimming and running, air and sun baths”.

Having been dormant throughout the winter, the Post reported on April 11, 1933 the society would commence “summer exercises” the following week and “already, the Nudism controversy which flared up last year shows signs of re-awakening”.

Asia for nudists: the best places to bare it all on holiday

Indignation had been aroused over the prevention of those not carrying passes from entering the site. Moreover, “it has come to the notice of the South China Morning Post that while a local gentleman and his wife were proceeding down the path to Shatin Valley several weeks ago, they discovered a Nudist in his ‘birthday’ suit. The lady was shocked and a breach of the peace almost occurred.”