2013-08-01 : A Guide to the Sauna for Shy Americans

A Friendly Guide to Ropecon's After-party Sauna for Shy Americans and Other Shy Persons, with Charts and Illustrations

I just got back from a guest of honor gig at Ropecon in Helsinki. It was great! I'd recommend it to anyone, and I have some things to write about it.

However I'm going to start with this, a guide to the sauna. From the moment you arrive at the convention site, the people you meet are going to tell you that they hope you'll sauna with them. Being a shy American or other shy person, you'll be made anxious and wary! This is okay.

I was anxious and wary, even despite my pagan festival days and my enjoyment of hot tubs. I was so anxious and wary in fact that I didn't sauna during the before-party. I thought I might not sauna during the after-party either, but then I remembered that of course I was going to sauna, or else what, right? I mean, what, I'm going to not sauna? So I did, and it was the best choice.

After I went in the sauna, my gracious and eager hosts asked me to see if I could talk to my fellow shy American guest of honor and get him to sauna too. I knew that he wouldn't, and that's fine, I wasn't about to pressure him. This brings me to chart #1:

I'm not writing this guide to try to talk you into doing something you aren't comfortable with. I'm writing it to try to help you be more comfortable doing something wonderful!

If you have reasons other than shyness for not going in the sauna, like a religious obligation to modesty or something, then obviously you should make your decisions accordingly. But if your reluctance is based on shyness or shame, this guide is for you and I hope it helps.

You'll see early on that as people come out of the sauna, they're very comfortable walking around the party in just their towels. What you don't realize beforehand is that they aren't, like, naturally more comfy than you are. The sauna does that to them! You'll be comfy afterward too:

That decision to yes, sauna, and then when you start to undress, that's the very worst part. By the time you're in the shower before the sauna you're less anxious than when you started. Within 10 seconds of stepping through the sauna door, even the last lingering anxiety you might have will be gone for good forever.

The reason for this is that the sauna teaches us something very important, that we've forgotten. It teaches us that true dignity comes from our shared humanity. Things that we would normally find undignified or even terrifying, like being naked and having to adjust our towel in the middle of a party full of strangers, are based on an artificial and constructed dignity. Our care for this fake dignity simpley can't survive the pure and beautiful truth the sauna reminds us of.

Here's a chart that shows the kinds of things you might be worried about before you sauna, vs the single legitimate worry you should have:

And here's a chart that shows how the sauna changes what you think about, before, during and after:

After you sauna, you can't get dressed again right away. You won't want to! You're all wet. You've been pouring sweat. The night air is so beautiful, and everything is made of bliss. You might want to go jump in the sea (when there's not an algae problem, as there was during my visit). You'll go back in the sauna soon. Dressing again would interfere with everything good.

If you're worried about walking around in just a towel after you sauna, you don't have to worry, everything will be fine and your simple humanity guarantees you a dignity that nothing can take away. But if you're still worried, here's a bonus technique for you. Bring a bathrobe. People will wish they'd thought to bring one too.

Being a shy American, this next bit gives me reluctance to write about. It's the bit about sex.

We shy Americans and perhaps other shy persons, especially we shy feminists, have kind of a prob with nudity. We think that advertising, the patriarchy, and HBO etc have successfully sexualized nudity, fetishized it. We think that the story nudity tells us is fundamentally a sexual one.

But it's not true. What they've really sexualized and fetishized is near-nudity, implied nudity, the anticipation of nudity, non-consensual nudity, glimpsed nudity, coy nudity. It's easy to see this: frank nudity, the universal human nudity with which we are all born and all die, is not the stuff of a vodka billboard or a tits-and-swords HBO drama. Nudity tells different stories in non-sexual circumstances than it tells in sexual ones.

Is the sauna sexy? Kind of! But it's also profoundly sexually disarming. Here's a chart:

Before the sauna, having attractive people walking around in towels is pretty charged, right? It's easy to suppose that in the sauna, where they're all actually naked, even the very most attractive of them, it's super duper charged.

But no. A sauna is like a billion degrees hot! Seriously, when someone throws water on the rocks and that steam hits you, it's close to boiling temperature. Your reptile brain is concerned with surviving in there, not with mating.

Your nakedness to the people in the sauna with you, and theirs to you, tells a different story than the sex story. It tells the story of your and their equal and universal humanity.

This brings me to my last topic. Ropecon's after-party, everyone will be eager to tell you, features two things: the sauna, of course, and a thing called "coed naked seaman wrestling."

Don't be dismayed. Seaman wrestling, even naked and coed, isn't the perilously lewd groping affair you're imagining:

They conduct it on a dirt path above a nettle bed. Practically no contestants get thrown into the nettles, because all you have to do is shift your opponent's feet, not throw them down. A few fall in the dirt and come up muddy.

You don't have to compete. I didn't compete; it's a game of size and skill, and I couldn't possibly win on either.

But it's a great example of the profound and inalienable dignity that your humanity guarantees you, that the sauna reminds us of. Under normal circumstances, coed naked seaman wrestling would be like super undignified. After the sauna, it's fine. It's funny and comfortable.

We're all human here. There's nothing to be ashamed of. It's fine.

1. On 2013-08-01, jbuchert said:

As a Finn, I enjoyed this guide to the sauna and I'm glad you enjoyed your visit as well!

I wanted to latch onto something you wrote.

"But it?s not true. What they?ve really sexualized and fetishized is near-nudity, implied nudity, the anticipation of nudity, non-consensual nudity, glimpsed nudity, coy nudity. It?s easy to see this: frank nudity, the universal human nudity with which we are all born and all die, is not the stuff of a vodka billboard or a tits-and-swords HBO drama. Nudity tells different stories in non-sexual circumstances than it tells in sexual ones."

It's too bad you haven't seen how a lot of Finnish cinema/tv handles nudity and sex scenes. It's all about that "frank nudity" mode of storytelling, for sure.

Yet it really amazes me when you speak about the sexualization and fetishization in entertainment and popular culture. I mean, yes, there is a difference in how HBO (for example) does it where it goes towards gratuitousness... but somehow it doesn't bother me, unless it is very tacky. Even then it isn't the sex or nudity that bothers me, but the poor storytelling.

I'm left wondering if the issue isn't in the gratuitous displays of sex and nudity, but in the attitudes prevailing in the culture that consumes it and chooses to become ashamed of it. That indeed the problem in the situation was born before the gratuitous scene was conceived, so to speak.

On second thought, I'm a tad reluctant to press "submit" now, because that might sound like I'm saying one culture is better than the other and I'm aware how that's a supposed faux pax on the Internet (and in certain parts of Planet Earth), but I'll just let it hang out there regardless.


2. On 2013-08-01, Weeks said:

That's beautiful!

"Is the sauna sexy? Kind of! But it?s also profoundly sexually disarming."

Six plus years ago, Cathy and I, for our tenth anniversary rented a fancy vacation cottage on the north shore of Lake Superior and had a long weekend without kids.  It was delightful.  There was a sauna and neither of us had ever used one.  Even with just the two of us there, even on our tenth anniversary, and even expecting (in our ignorance) that we'd get all hot and bothered in there and then fuck like bunnies; it's just impossible! 

But it was delightful and we've been thinking about building a little sauna in our hillside by the hot tub.


3. On 2013-08-01, Rickard said:

Haha, Brillian!*

* as a Swede with strong relation to the sauna culture.


4. On 2013-08-01, E. Torner said:

This is not at all overthought or overwrought.


5. On 2013-08-02, happeningfish said:

Aw man, I shoulda been there. :) I'm so glad you made it to the sauna, though, because see chart #1.

One thing I relate to, coming from Canada and then moving to Finland, is the kind of narrative nudity presents in a culture. And I'm not saying that the HBO stuff isn't occasionally fun, but I think the problem arises in that North Americans in general are only exposed to the sexualised narrative.

Every time I'm back in Canada I'm struck by how miserable people are as regards to their own bodies. To some extent that's universal, but it's much more pronounced over there. It's quite sad. Also, why do I have a feeling your brain is already writing a game about this.


6. On 2013-08-02, Arttu said:

Another reason why Finns might have been eager for you to sauna is the social climate. We tend to be a pretty reserved lot unless there's alcohol around, but that changes in the sauna. It's an easier environment to talk to strange people, especially Intimidating Foreigners (which Ropecon guests of honour tend to fall under). You definetely have a good point with the human universality thing. One part of that is that anyone can talk to anyone in there, regardless of whether you know that person beforehand, or if you believe that person is smarter or better or whatever than you. In the sauna, everyone is the same.


7. On 2013-08-02, l984 said:

An excellent analysis on the anxieties of a sauna-newbie. I am a big advocate of Sauna and I totally agree on the perception of Americans, Canadians, Australians, Kiwis and the British and their feeling of shame, related to their very own birthday-suit, their own nakedness in general. Also, add embarrassment on behalf of people who have actually climbed this silly, but extremely damaging psychological hurdle.

What kind of a society makes you feel sorry and ashamed of your own body? The kind that compels to spend all your money in trying to close the gap between yourself and the photoshopped, underaged models and the maddening insecurities revolving around this destroyed self confidence.

Think about all the modern industries feeding on that feeling of shame. We're talking trillions of dollars here.

I am half-finnish, half-scottish citizen who's spent most of his life in Finland, but studied in the UK. I applaud the mentality surrounding nakedness in the Nordic countries. Most of the world has lost this way of thinking in the constant bombardment of information and entertainment, and I think there are some important lessons to be learned here, which of course the author has now realised.

Thank you.


8. On 2013-08-02, definitelyhuman said:

I was amused by my own reaction to this: "It?s the bit about sex".

-"What?? Sex? How did ... This was supposed to be about sauna - oh... I see."

Also I'd like to point out that nakedness is not the essence of sauna. Just like it is not the essence of showering. And you do shower in there, and sweat a lot inside. And swim.

If I'd read a long article about how showering naked is quite normal, I'd think that is a weird point to emphasize.

For those who are uncomfortable being naked I'd say we all are. I wouldn't even remove my shirt in public. For that reason the sauna culture is such that you just never comment on anyone's physical properties. Not in sauna, not after.

I'm 33 years old and have been to sauna many times with family, friends and colleagues and absolutely never, ever have I heard anyone comment on anyone's appearances during, or ever after sauna. Doing that would be considered extremely idiotic.


9. On 2013-08-02, definitelyhuman said:

and by the way, as for others, I'd like to refer to chart #1 as for the reason I bother writing such a long comment :)


10. On 2013-08-02, finn said:

Having spent my recent years with role play gamers, other geeks, and Finnish scouts/guides and travellers that are abroad, coed sauna has become the way #1 for me. However, the largest Finnish newspaper (Helsingin Sanomat) conducted a questionnaire about it and wrought an article. According to it half of Finns have never been in a coed sauna, 16 % has done it many times and only 3% do it regularly. Some even claimed they believe coed (public) saunas are a myth. So it seems there are plenty of shyness, shame and maybe even sexual tensions even amongst many Finns, at least when they think about coed sauna (I bet they haven't ever tried it or either been in a very bad company).

Personally I think having shifts in sauna is just plain dumb. At worst it practically prevents communication with half the people in the sauna event and it also creates a schedule for relaxing in sauna. I hope not having coed saunas doesn't mean there are so many untrusty people around that it wouldn't work out in public. :(

Oh, and to be honest, I believe there are always some small tensions even in sauna. However, processing those is easier in sauna, so it sometimes works as a place for personal growth. One of them is the body image of course. Sauna is beautiful thing on many levels, and it should be shared with as many and different people as possible.

Also, if you get the chance, try sauna right next to a lake with clean water. Anything cooling works but after a lakeside sauna everything else feels so much less. _Very_ hot sauna with short intervals and short swimming trips give enormously strong good feel. The feeling is extremely clean and relaxed and no shower can give you that.


11. On 2013-08-02, Jari S. said:

I'm Finnish and I think that sauna is an environmental crime. Shame on you who go there.


12. On 2013-08-02, aseaemba said:

A very nice article indeed, and some very important viewpoints. However, there is one thing, that is easy to forget, and which makes the perspective skewed.

Not all Finns are comfortable with the idea of naked coed sauna.

There was recently an article in Aamulehti (a daily newspaper in Tampere/Pirkanmaa area) about men and women going to sauna together. The article was based on a masters thesis someone had done. I can no longer find the article, nor do I remember the name of the student, who had made the research. Sorry for that.

The research showed, that most finns (about 60%) felt uncomfortable about being in sauna together with the opposite sex, at least other than family members. A large portion even felt uncomfortable about being in the sauna with others of the same sex. They just wanted to go into sauna privately or at most with their spouse.

There were some groups, in which the naked coed sauna was generally approved of and even the standard. These groups were mainly young adults in various universities and other student bodies, where cultural and sexual diversity is generally more encouraged than in the main populace.

Being in such a group, one easily disregards information from outside of said group. I feel that especially academic students or postgraduates, who engage themselves in roleplaying, LARPs or similar hobbies, are most comfortable and relaxed with coed sauna and nudity in general. This, I think, is because participating in drama clubs, improvisation, roleplaying and such brings us more self-confidence and lessens the fear of making fools out of ourselves. Or rather: if (and when) we do make fools of ourselves, so what. Everyone else is a fool, too. In such an environment it's easy to feel comfortable about our own and each other's bodies, clothed or not.

I think roleplaying and interactive drama bring out the best in us, but one should not forget that the "average Finn" might not be like us.


13. On 2013-08-02, Idle said:

This is really the best guide to sauna and Ropecon's afterparty I've ever seen! I'm so happy you enjoyed your stay here, and sadder and sadder that I couldn't make it there..


14. On 2013-08-02, Notitle said:

What is the most important thing in sauna is the fact that when we finns undress to go in, we also undress our titles, social status and so on. Whether you are a president or a hobo, everyone are equal in sauna. There are no titles in there.


15. On 2013-08-02, Vincent said:

Thank you, everyone! These are good remarks.


16. On 2013-08-02, Etsu said:

As a small sidenote, you (everyone who hasn't) should try jumping into piles of snow from a hot sauna in winter. That is what I call refreshing ;)


17. On 2013-08-02, greuh said:

This works also for japanese onsen, german spa, nudist beaches and nudist hiking. I speak from experience.


18. On 2013-08-02, anotherfinn said:

What, did someone just say finns are fine with both sexes going in the sauna at the same time? That only applies to your own family members. Anywhere else it's women first and men afterwards, not mixed. Student life includes lots of crazy stuff people don't do anymore when they grow up a bit, but don't make the mistake of thinking their habits apply to the rest of the people.


19. On 2013-08-02, It's vihta, not vasta said:

I have kids. They come with me to sauna, when we are among friends, in summer cottages or home saunas. Sometimes people use bathing suites, sometimes not. My kids have seen tens of adults naked (and they have seen them). My boy have had sauna many times with gay men. Talk about taboos, but I think, it gives a good picture about the true spirit of sharing sauna with friends. And I think, that mixed sauna will teach my kids a lot of positive things about adulthood, self-acceptance and healthy relationship with own body. My kids started to have sauna when they were few weeks old, I have nursed them in sauna. Some of my uncles are even been born in sauna (common thing in old days, it was hygiene and warm place).

One of the big signs of teenage in Finland is when kids decide they do not want to go to sauna with the parent of the opposite sex. Then families will usually start to have male and female turns and lot of important things have been discussed in sauna between boy&father; and girl&mother;. Kids see what their genes might bring them in adulthood.

And when teenagers grow up, then they will return to same sauna with the parents. Their kids will have a sauna with grandparents and adults see their parents naked again, see them ageing and gets to know, what to expect (father, you should show that knee to a doctor). Once again children may touch his/her parent, when he/she helps the granny to have a sauna and washes her hair and back. Sharing sauna is a glue to family.

In history, we Finns also washed our dead in sauna before burying them. I think we miss something nowadays.

But to be honest:

All Finns ar not comfortable with naked sauna of both sexes, there are big differences between families and differet parts of the country. Just few weeks ago our main newspaper had a large article about the topic. According their gallup, about half of the Finns think mixed sauna as natural thing.

For some reason, science fiction, fantasy and roleplaying fandoms have always been (in my opininion) for mixed saunas, university students have lot of mixed sauna parties and so on.


20. On 2013-08-02, gb steve said:

How does sauna work if you don't really handle getting hot?


direct link

This makes...
AK go "Kautsu"*

*click in for more

21. On 2013-08-02, Vincent said:

It's interesting to know that mixed sauna isn't universal.

GB Steve: I don't know! I can say that my tolerance for the heat was far less than my hosts'. I don't think that I managed to spend more than 10 minutes in there at a stretch.


22. On 2013-08-02, finn said:

Really interesting.. I'm a finn myself and i don't like to take my shirt off public but in a sauna it's a different story. As few people mentioned, the point is to relax, throw away your titles and worries. I wish we had a sauna but no :( Maybe the next flat...


23. On 2013-08-02, Erikiwa said:

Back in the days when I was a district secratary of the Left Youth of Finland I organized propably tens or hundreds of parties and get to gethers where sauna and usually a swimming pool was essential part of the evenings program. We usually divided the turns for sauna so that first there was a coed turn, then women and then man. Coed turn was the most popular and because of that also longest turn.

The introduction of evenings program usually included a small repeating joke where I said something like: "And about sauna: First turn is reserved for those who are ok about going coed. The second turn is reserved for those who are not ok about going coed..." :D It usually took few seconds before everybody realized the joke and began to laugh. :D


24. On 2013-08-02, Kultsi said:

This saying is actually of the Japanese culture, but it also applies to situations where there are nude people around,

"Nudity is often seen, but never looked at."

People in sauna are nude, not nekkid.


25. On 2013-08-02, Hamlet said:

a very good writing. Sauna is something so special. Being a Finn, Sauna is a platitude at least for me. Coed sauna.. Well if everybody are on same level then it?s a wonderful experience of transgender unity.

Seen so many Sauna?s in many countries I can just smile when in abroad. In many countries Saunas have the sauna stove or "Kiuas" without any stones and with signs "dont throw water to electric device".. and when more closely observed the sauna stove is made in finland (where is cautioned not to use the stove without stones).
In sauna stove should have stones and yes water SHOULD be thrown to stones, that makes the real sauna experiance.

(sry for bad english. try to comprehend)


26. On 2013-08-02, Meg said:

This thread makes me want to go in a sauna right now.*sigh*


direct link

This makes...
JS go "Meee tooooo"

27. On 2013-08-02, Duller said:

"We?re all human here. There?s nothing to be ashamed of. It?s fine."

Doesn't this create the uncomfortable implication that if someone doesn't go to the sauna, she/he isn't capable of overcoming that silly shame and is a worse person than everyone else who went to the sauna?

I agree that most of the awkwardness melts away once you're in the sauna. Anyone who doesn't go in, is commonly ostracized however.

A significant reason for why people go to the sauna, especially at events like Ropecon, is social pressure - the fear of being left out.

Many simpler things, such as hugging, can achieve the same feeling of connection as a sauna without leaving anyone out due to medical conditions, and without pressuring anyone into feeling awkward and vulnerable.


28. On 2013-08-02, Vincent said:

Duller: Maybe so!

This piece is intended only to help people who are shy to overcome their shyness and take the plunge. It doesn't address any of your concerns.


29. On 2013-08-02, jjohannes said:

As others have suggested, coed sauna isn't that common in Finland anymore. In the 19th century (and early 20th century), in rural areas, it was common that the entire household would bathe together, family members and maids and farm hands and all. Sometimes even multiple households would take turns hosting sauna evening and everyone would attend, although then sometimes women and girls did go first with younger boys and then the older married men would bathe together. Some women, however, would be invited in to wash their backs. Coed saunas were inseparable from rural lifestyle.

The Finland hasn't been immune to the Western culture and its body complexes. Some people no longer see the reason to bathe together (although not to bathe together would require one). In fact, in Germany & Austria, probably because of their FKK lifestyle, coed nudity in public saunas & spas is more widely accepted. In those countries, such behaviour is associated with going to spa and is totally inseparable from that experience. For the finns, it is mainly an "inevitable" part of the university student's life.


30. On 2013-08-02, An another Finn said:

Coed sauna with relatives is nothing unusual, with utter strangers it might be, but not in every situation. When I was 16 I was an organizer (read: a n assistant cook) at a scout camp and the camp had a mixed sauna for organizers every evening. Men and women, young and old, and most of them strangers to each other, would go to sauna together in groups of about 10-30 people. There was nothing strange about that at the time.

Also, like someone mentioned above, in the countryside in ye olden days sauna had a sort of a spiritual meaning, it was the place they would wash you in after you were born and also before you were buried. A sort of place between life and death, as it were. There was also a folk song, composed shortly after WW2 by Tapio Rautavaara, a popular musician here, with the title: "True medals are only visible in sauna."


31. On 2013-08-02, Jenni said:

This was such a delightful read! As a Finn, and an annual Ropecon goer, I've been raised my whole life into this coed sauna-culture of ours. My own father was actually born in a sauna, so I really love the place! When I was a little girl, the children were allowed to go to sauna with both the females and males of our large family - later on when I grew older, it became common that I went only with the ladies. However, nowadays with my friends I love coed saunas - for those very reasons you yourself found when visiting a sauna in Ropecon! It's relaxing, it is a place where we all are human - it is a place to talk about everything and not to talk at all.

I've been living a few years abroad and none of my shy English-friends understood my passion for sauna or how can it be non-sexual experience. I could've not written a description better myself, thus I hope many and more of my friends will get to read this!

Thank you so much for writing this!


32. On 2013-08-02, Jaakko said:

You are not naked in a sauna. You are properly dressed in no clothes.


33. On 2013-08-02, Puuhkaja said:

One point which will illustrate things nicely.

If "full frontal nudity" is shown in a film in the US, it will apparently automtically get an R rating. In Finland nudity in itself isn't even a part of the classification system.


34. On 2013-08-02, nerdwerds said:

You've made me want to visit Helsinki.


35. On 2013-08-02, GB Steve said:

I'm not sure you've sold me on sauna, but I really enjoyed this piece.


36. On 2013-08-02, human said:

The Finnish sauna has been always place to born, cleansing and giving birth (nowadays bit less but still happens). It's far from any sexuality.

There is plenty of people who are not comfortable with coed saunas and that's why we have so called (fe)male turns. The thing with sauna is that everyone _needs_ to enjoy their stay there. It's always ok to step down (on a lower step) or walk out when you feel so (unless you're in the control of the scoop, then you need to take the round you have initiated). That's why we also have these turns, to allow anyone to enjoy.

As you very well pointed out, most people are just afraid of it. Meaning sauna in general or the coed part of it. Most of the people will turn that down after the first time outside of the family tradition. Yes, there is still lots of coed sauna traditions amongst students, scouts, friends, etc.

I still remember times being teenager with hormones at the full blast and you're in sauna with the person you have been drooling all over and there is no issue, tension or anything else around it ( and the drooling continues next day) sauna just does not count.

As a reminder. Sauna is sacred. Thou shalt never ever have sex in sauna, fart in sauna, pee in sauna, etc. It just does not belong in there. It's a place to cleanse yourself physically and mentally, and enjoy.


37. On 2013-08-02, irve said:

There isn't much to add. Your analysis and the comments by Finns tell most of what is to be said.

How we in Estonia (South of Finland, over the sea) discussed it. We recognized the idea of non sexuality not in the terms of being human—it's rather the thing that getting sexually exited is kind of obvious for a male—it's something you'd be extremely hopelessly embarassed about. You just don't go there - it is easy in sauna as you noted above. What you get is glimpses; you do look, but in some kind of weird informational non-staring way which is more curious brief moment of your inner creep than anything else.

There's also a somewhat related story I heard: a girl I know told it and I think that it might illustrate that part a bit. She was sitting in a sauna with some coworkers, getting the endorphins, sweating when some guy walked in. She kind of noticed that the... member he had was rather large and she had this flash of worry about any girls he might meet on his way and was puzzled how on earth he manages this and the guy passed and she kept on thinking about what she had seen. She never got the face as it wasn't important or perhaps even proper.


38. On 2013-08-02, np said:

Since Tapio Rautavaara was mentioned...



39. On 2013-08-02, Ben Lehman said:

this article makes me miss Finland.


40. On 2013-08-03, Gordon said:

This article makes me remember wonderful things about sweat lodges, makes me want to forget/ignore bad things about them, and makes me regret that medically I'm probably not supposed to do that anymore (though I guess I should ask my doctor).

Which, by the way - if you've got anything medically going on (heart or lungs, esp.), ask your doctor before you sauna/etc.


41. On 2013-08-03, Mike Pohjola said:

A great text full of interesting observations!

Your vision of the sauna as a place of equality and shared humanity reminds me what I just read about fasting and specifically Ramadan. That no matter if you're a poor beggar or a rich sheikh, you will share a month of going hungry, and that makes you realize that despite all the inequality of your ordinary life, you're all human.


42. On 2013-08-03, yetanotherfinn said:

Never heard of anyone doing naked seaman wrestling after sauna.


43. On 2013-08-04, Ile (Finnish, early 30s) said:

A great article, thanks! The only strange thing I found was the naked seaman wrestling :D I've never seen or heard about after-sauna wrestling or other sports (except swimming, rolling in snow etc.) and I was born and raised in Finland. So I believe that's not a standard thing to do.

Mixed saunas heavily depend on the habits of the people you go to sauna with. There are no laws, regulations or common procedures shared with all Finns. I, for example have two totally different friend circles: in the first we always have a male and a female shift, and occassionally there might be a couple that arrives late or just wants to go to sauna only together. No-one ever comments on that, it just happens as even new people notice quite quickly that in this group we don't go to a mixed sauna.

In another circle of friends we always go to a mixed sauna. People come and go, and if someone (a new face for example) doesn't feel comfortable, he or she can easily go to sauna after others have came out. The interesting thing here is that we have never had any discussions about this. It just happens, for a reason unknown to me, that the groups are different in this. In the latter group (mixed sauna) girls and guys are maybe closer to each other as friends, not just as "a friend's girlfriend", so maybe that's the reason. But I don't know if there's something else too. My point is, it doesn't matter: when you come to Finland, go to sauna. If you don't want to go to a mixed one, no-one's gonna blame you. Not all of us want either. If you want to wait until the last Finn has come out and go then, it's okay, but I suggest to try it with others as the best conversations always happen in sauna.


44. On 2013-08-05, Greenish said:

The after-sauna wrestling bit is a Ropecon tradition, I imagine. It was probably added to the repertoire after a GoH was insufficiently intimidated by mere sauna.

Here's a reconstruction of what probably might have happened ?

Ropecon Organizer: "So, afterwards we're going to have sauna."
Guest of Honor: "Oh, cool, I love sauna."
RO: "?did I mention that it's mixed sex sauna?"
GoH: "Sure, no problem!"
RO (suspiciously): "You know everyone's going to be in the buff?"
GoH: "Naturally."
RO (despairing): "Oh, well, after the sauna, we're going to have? um?" (continues victoriously) "NAKED COED SEAMAN WRESTLING! Ha!"
GoH: "Uh?"


45. On 2013-08-07, texrat said:

As a frequent visitor to Finland and confirmed Finnophile, I really enjoyed this.  Really struck home.  I have yet to enjoy sauna, and hope to get the opportunity at some point.  Yes, I will be shy... unless vodka is involved.  Kippis!


46. On 2013-08-07, Jerry said:


risk of dying or other health issue because of Sauna is very small, even when you have a heart condition. The effect to the heart is the same as walking more or less. The risk comes when blood pressure suddenly changes if you jump into cold water for example, right after Sauna.
So if you can function normally in everyday life you can also go to Sauna, just be careful with the ice hole swimming right after.

Thank you for the writer for an excellent article, made me want to go to sauna and reminded me of countless of occasions I did had Sauna with friends or family.


47. On 2013-08-08, Gordon said:

Jerry - thanks!  I know it takes pretty unusual/extreme circimstances for there to be a real problem, but an example of that (where people died) was in the news a few years back, so I figure "ask your doctor" was a good idea - like "ask your lawyer."


48. On 2013-08-11, yetanotherfinn said:

30-40 people die in sauna annually. Most of them over men over 50, with a severe disease (like heart disease or diabetes), and drunk. See (in Finnish only).

And one died in the sauna world championship games (since canceled). He had taken painkillers, and just refused to quit.


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