I was invited for a sauna the other day and thought it was just the thing my aching legs needed. Up I rocked in my bikini, flung up the steamy door…and found all the other ladies naked as the day they were born.
I’m not a total sauna novice. I knew this happens. I know the scandis love to get naked in hot places. But I wasn’t prepared to join in. I might get my humps out, but the lady garden was out of the question. The memory of being stripped by some Greek grannies at a grotty little spa in Samothraki remains with me.
You can’t just take half the swimsuit off so I feigned blissful ignorance and kept the togs on. I know, I know. Not kosher. But I’m British!
For future reference and to avoid uncomfortable surprises, here are the basic rules of Estonian saunas:
- Eyes forward: Maintain eye contact, not in a psycho way just don’t look down. When you approach the brink of appearing sane, look at the ceiling, look at the floor, look at the stove. Whatever you do, don’t look at the poon. Or the fun cushions, no matter how misshaped, droopy or curious. Not even when you’re invited. Hell, especially not when you’re invited cos that’s plain weird.
- Get whipped: If someone asks you if you want to be beaten, say yes. It means being lightly whipped with a bunch of appropriate leafy twigs loaded with hot water. The saps are excellent for your skin and it feels good.
- Take a towel: No matter how liberal-minded, no-one wants to sit in any bodily juices you leave behind.
- Gossip: The sauna is where all the important girl-talk is imparted. Listen up, gossip on.
- No competitions: It’s not big or clever to wind up in a sauna-induced coma. Unless you’re a macho Finn or Russian.
- Don’t be shy: Let it all hang out. Shake (no, don’t shake) what your Mama gave ya. If you can’t beat them, you may as well join them.