Ragged Clown

It's just a shadow you're seeing that he's chasing…


To dance beneath the diamond sky

The day after we got my diagnosis, Mrs Clown thought I needed cheering up so she sent me an ad for a show with naked dancers at Bristol’s annual Mayfest.

Mr. Clown: You want to go watch people dancing naked?
Mrs. Clown: No! I want us to dance naked! They need volunteers.

So we volunteered and rehearsals started on Monday. 

HABITAT’s UK Premiere

We didn’t really know what to expect when we showed up at that first rehearsal but around thirty people — all ages, all sizes, all genders — sat in anxious silence waiting for our creative genius, Doris Urlich, who was stuck in traffic coming from Heathrow. Someone suggested we do some ice breaker exercises to get to know one another. We lined up by age. The youngest was 22. Oldest was 67. But then Doris arrived and she had a different ice breaker for us. Tell us your name and if you’ve ever been naked in public before.

There was a handful of occasional nudists: life models for art classes, naked bike rides, that kind of thing. The rest of us were doing it for the first time. The Clown Family watched the 1998 World Cup Final at an open house at Lupin Lodge, a nudist camp in the Los Gatos Hills, but we have kept our clothes on ever since. A few confessed to skinny dipping. Lots of nervous laughter. 

Doris said we should dance to warm up and relax. Our DJ, Boris, played some electronic beats and we started to sway. Doris said, if we wanted, we could start removing clothing. Soon there were bare feet. Soon after, there were bare breasts. The beats went on and more clothes came off. I kept my hat on.

Doris had done the show several times before but liked to adapt it to the participants and the environment and a shopping centre was definitely a new environment.

“We are going to be naked in a shopping centre, ja? How exciting is that?”

Doris has the most expressive face and she can speak whole paragraphs without saying a word. At times, she seemed to be making the show up as we went along but Doris’s clear vision for what she wanted our naked bodies to say always shone through. We danced some more. 

We are going to be naked in a shopping centre, ja?

The show that we are building will be a kind of interactive dance theatre where the audience is among us. In an interesting twist of fate, this is what my youngest clown studied at University and wants to do with her life. And, in the kind of twist that makes you wonder if the universe has a sense of humour, she also volunteered to help with Mayfest and got assigned to be an usher for our show. Yes! We will be dancing naked for our daughter. Yes, she is as excited about that as we are! 

Rehearsals are hard work. It’s pretty much five hours of aerobics every day. Yesterday’s was in The Galleries shopping centre and we made it there just in time as we had to rush back from the hospital where we met my neurosurgeon again. 

We’re off to see the neuro

We were expecting the worst from the neuro but he just reconfirmed everything we already knew; though he spoke to me like a grown-up this time. My tumour is incurable. It’s just a matter of time before it gets me. I can do surgery and chemo if I want but the surgery will suck and the chemo will suck and we will just be delaying the inevitable which will suck most of all. We have no timetable either way — might be months, might be years — and no additional information to help us make our choice. But choose we must. We are condemned to be free. 

I’m broke, but I’m happy
I’m poor, but I’m kind
I’m short, but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high, but I’m grounded
I’m sane, but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost, but I’m hopeful, baby

And what it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine, fine, fine
‘Cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five

We start every rehearsal with dancing and naked high fives. Everything is gonna be fine, fine, fine. All I’ve ever wished for is to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free and that’s what I am going to do.

The show is on Saturday and Sunday. They’ve sold 400 tickets so far but I think there are still some available. Search for Mayfest Habitat. See you there?


The show was brilliant. Sold out audiences of 250+ each night. We danced with our audience around us and among us. It is incredibly powerful to dance naked surrounded by ordinary people in ordinary clothes. It feels special.

Our grand finale is a kind of truck made of 40 naked bodies with everyone dancing and writhing and driving as hard as we can around and through the audience. The energy was palpable. Our ovation went on for an eternity. The reviewers loved us.

Best night ever and it is sad, this morning, to come down from our high.

Was it all a dream?

We don’t have a video of our performance but here’s the same show in Vienna.
Doris was wrong. There are happy endings.
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18 responses to To dance beneath the diamond sky

Georgina May 26, 2022

Never in a million years would I ever have thought I’d be dancing in a mall in front of 400 people, let alone naked. I’d do anything for you…to cheer you up, to help you get better, to find a cure. Just say the word, I’m there. To more wonderful moments such as this…hand in hand and off we trot.

Claire ATX May 26, 2022

Mrs. Clown, you are a genius.

Jen G May 26, 2022

Love this!!

Big sis May 26, 2022

“Hats off” to you both. What an amazing thing to do!

Robin M May 26, 2022

Mr. Clown, depending on one’s point of view, the hat is a good thing or a bad thing:

Probably no one would recognize you without your hat. 🙂

Nina May 27, 2022

Well done Clowns….
I think you are very brave, and yes why not celebrate this life in full monty….. 🙂

    Chris Conroy May 28, 2022

    Amazing. Beautiful. Brave. Fulfilling. Free.

    Is that an accidental haiku?
    I love that you’re doing this.

Chris Conroy May 28, 2022

Amazing. Beautiful. Brave. Fulfilling. Free.

Is that an accidental haiku?
I love that you’re doing this.

    Chris Conroy May 29, 2022

    Uhlich leaves us no room for shame or provocation but instead invites us to embrace life in its kaleidoscopic beauty and diversity.

    Love this!

Steve S May 29, 2022

One of a kind person in a one of a kind show. Sad to miss it. I like the news article also.

Eunice da Silva May 30, 2022

We will dance through eternity. We will charge each others energy with a touch of a tigh. Through the power of music we will always be high and we will keeping on going up until reach the sky. The bare skin is our best suit, the true temple of emotion. Fragile but unstoppable, tender but strong. We dance naked together and we are ready to overcome overcome, specially our own boundaries. By accepting this body we are forever and again free; in this world, the next and behind.

Grateful for opening this special layer of your being to us <3

    Ragged Clown May 30, 2022

    Obligado, Eunice! That was beautiful and inspiring. I’ll never forget last night.

Nick W June 1, 2022

More Alanis Morissette. Is that ironic?

    Ragged Clown June 4, 2022

    S’funny. I’ve barely listened to Jagged Little Pill in 25 years but, since talked about ‘Ironic’ at the Broken Dock, Alanis is in my head all the time.

    I introduced my daughter to her yesterday.

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