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Nothing new about being told off, as even liberal Berlin, to which I recently moved, is full of baffling rules. For the Germans, this is as normal as a trip to the supermarket. As in Scandinavia, saunas are revered here for their relaxing effects, circulatory benefits and power to make you sweat a pint in 10 minutes. They are also mixed-sex, and no bathing suits are allowed. A nude mixed sauna is a shocking proposition to an Anglo-American like me. It is also an intriguing one.
The pictures online showed a smart, spa-like space of minimalist wood, turquoise tiles and people in luxuriant robes. I assumed this would be a soft introduction to bare-cheeked baking.
I had expected at least the people in reception to be wearing clothes. Instead, standing at the desk is a woman wrapped only in a small white towel.
I can see the bottoms of two men, 3ft away from me, in the apparently, shockingly, mixed changing room. My heart speeds up. I walk out fast. The towel lady gives me a key as a good-looking clothed man is putting on his shoes. I take my key and towel into the changing room, praying for it to be empty.
No such luck. So I undress, blushing furiously, and cower by a locker. But nobody does. A woman comes in and starts pulling on her bra and adjusting her breasts, relaxed as anything. I grab my towel and pad into the shower area, taking my place between two men. It feels outrageous. I dare myself to face outwards, so that my whole front is visible to the room.