Four baffled police motorcycle outriders arrived at 1.00pm at the Espace Naturiste in Paris on Sunday 8 September. Paris WNBR organisers then had to inform them that the Paris local government had cancelled the planned ride – just the day before on Saturday 7th. But the local government department officers had not informed this police unit. That meant the police escort to clear the WNBR route through Paris traffic was not needed.
Months of planning by APNEL’s Jacques Frimon, together with Gilles had gone into the ride. APNEL is the French equivalent of the UK’s Naturist Action Group. All the correct procedures were followed and permissions were granted. Then on the Saturday Didier Lallement, Prefect (head) of the Paris Police decided that the ride should not be classified as a protest – as all other WNBR rides are accepted to be internationally – but would instead be classed as an illegal sexual display.
On the Sunday morning hundreds of riders turned up at the Espace Naturiste in Bois de Vincennes. Also there in force were
Posted on behalf of John Paine.
Following a meeting of NAG’s supporters in, and around, London on 28th October and they discussed the potential sites for open space naturism other than Hampstead Heath. Talking about Hampstead Heath, they also discussed the brief media frenzy generated in May and the opinion poll of heath users conducted in June, with encouraging results.
Following the introduction of open space naturism in Paris, NAG London is discussing the possibility of making a visit; a fact-finding mission, bit like the one some of the Management Collective did to Munich, and to enjoy the day, of course.
Finally, they discuss the potential for a Christmas Dinner at The Oxford public house, Kentish Town Road.
More details can be found in the prepared leaflet and if you’d like more information then please email John.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 February 2018 and if you’d like to attend or to be added to the email distribution list then again, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The collective noun for the Sumatran Tiger is a streak, I learned this from ‘Stark Truth About Stripping Off For Charity’; published in The Guardian (16/07/17) shortly after London Zoo held its Tiger Streak in aid of the endangered species, hence the reference. In her Comment is Free piece, Barbara Ellen argued that charity or protest nudity, usually female, is more-or-less automatic these days and perhaps, passé.
Naturists have long held the belief that our nudity is not sexual and, quite frankly, we can tell people this until we are blue in the face, they simply won’t believe us. So it is hardly surprising that Ellen doesn’t believe us either, stating protagonists in charity/protest events: ‘furiously insist that it’s completely asexual…’ yet she thinks it’s more about being the quickest and easiest way to grab attention in a world swamped with news. Very probably, taking just one example; does anyone beyond the actual riders know what WNBR is about? Their audience, seeing them whizz by are more caught up in the spectacle of mass nudity than reading the anti-car, anti-fossil fuel signs daubed on bodies, if there are any.
That does not take away from the value of the ride or the ethics of those who take part, but maybe our explanations about the non-sexual nature of nudism are not good enough to be believable to those not into the lifestyle, like Barbara Ellen and the reason why naturists need good answers when asked: why?
Is Glastonbury Now Tame?
When I was young, too young to attend Glastonbury (not that my parents’ would have let me go anyway) there were stories of festival goers dancing nude to the music on offer. I’m not sure if this was due to the time we are speaking of (the 60s, flower power and all that) or if it just saved on the washing, it being easier to clean bodies than clothes, but back then, it seemed to be a part of the right of passage for anyone in their teenage years. Then it trailed off, with few if any taking their clothes off, until this year. As noted by News Hub New Zealand (26/06/17), Rachel Rousham, protesting on behalf of The White Ribbon Alliance, joined the Avalonian Choir and festival founder, Michael Eavis for a pro-feminist protest on stage. She was naked except for patches of body paint and the words, ‘feminist,’ ‘resist’ and ‘persist’ covering her body. The White Ribbon Alliance, if you don’t know, demand the right for all women to give birth safely, everywhere. Rousham was not the only nude reveller this year, however. A naked man popped up on live TV earning a shoutout from The Foo Fighters frontman, David Grohl.
Talking of the WNBR, York held that city’s 12th ride this year and during an interview with Minster FM’s David Dunning, John Cossham admitted that the nudity was to draw media attention that fancy dress would not, apart from the usual protest against the car and reliance on fossil fuels, it symbolised the vulnerability of cyclists to highlight the deaths on British roads, and held a die-in in St Helen’s Square for added poignancy. A clip of the die-in was also published by Road CC (27/06/17), of when a woman of… let’s say mature years, enjoying tea in Betty’s Tearooms knocked on the window to get a better look at the naked riders!
Bears in the Air
Technology has affected naturism in some unexpected ways. We’ve already seen how the combination of the Internet, mobile technology and photography has seen the end pictures being taken. We have something new to worry about, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or drones armed with a camera or Go-Pro. An article on The Next Web tells of a group of ‘pervy’ men to sent up their drone in Majorca to spy on seven female naturists. Could this ruin naturism totally? Only if you let it. Fear of pictures turning up on the many unsavoury porn sites on the Internet led to many clubs (allegedly) banning mobile phones from the premises or it becoming against beach etiquette to take any pictures. While the fear is real, so many pictures are uploaded to the internet the likelihood that yours will be picked out is, quite frankly, minute. It is the same for drones. While it is certainly intrusive and undoubtedly annoying, naturists should not be afraid if a drone flies overhead for similar reasons. The media – them again – give a false impression just how frequent this will happen, and when the UK introduces registration for any Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) over 25 grammes, it will be even less. If, however, naturists insist on worrying about UAV then maybe we need to worry about police helicopters too?
What next for INF?
NAG has already published an account of the chaotic meeting of the General Assembly in Vienna, for the International Naturist Federation (INF) to elect a president. An ‘executive summary’ is that after a meeting of the Legal Council, which included past President Sieglinde Ivo, the only candidate left for re-election was Sieglinde Ivo. Even with one candidate to vote for, the way the chairman for the meeting organised it, no one could vote against Ivo’s re-election, delegates could only vote for her or abstain. Doubt has also been thrown up that the Legal Council was/is correctly
Known for her acerbic wit on The Weakest Link, last October Anne Robinson looked at Britain’s Secrets, including interviewing a naturist couple – Mike and Wendy – from Bedford.
As reported by the Daily Express (20/10/2016), the encounter left Robinson wondering if the great British public wouldn’t benefit from seeing more people nude in public. If they did, posited the journalist then perhaps our younger generations wouldn’t seek ‘perfection’ as depicted by manipulated photographs in magazines.
This came after Mike, Wendy and Robinson went to a park, and the article described how ‘passers by looked on in shock and horror’. Eventually the police were called. On arrival the officer threatens Mike and Wendy with arrest. It just goes to show that NAG needs to continue its efforts to get front line police officers trained in CPS’ guidance about naturism and public nudity.
One interesting aside, the newspaper asked its readers if they would try naturism in a self-selected poll. Of the 539 votes cast at the time of reading 77 per cent said they had already tried it, and only four per cent said they never would. The poll is not representative of the newspaper’s readership, let alone the UK population. Still extra questions did came to mind for the 415 readers of the article that said they had already tried naturism, like are they still naturists or did they try it once, years ago and never since? See what I mean about asking the right questions?
With over 200 visitors to Somerset last summer, Nudefest is to return to Thorney Lakes in 2017.
Details are still a little bare (groan) says Somerset Live (19/10/2016, but last year’s entertainment included nude visits to a local motor museum and cider brandy producer. Nudefest 2017 is scheduled for between 3 and 10 July 2017.
Book early seems to be advice, or be disappointed.
2017 – the year naturism takes off?
In his blog, Bare Thoughts, Harmen J Pordon wondered if 2017 will the year that naturism ‘takes off’. The evidence he uses to come to that conclusion is lots of tiny things, like: the pop-up restaurant Bunyadi in London, with its 40,000 waiting list, the greater frequency of social nudity on TV and programmes like Naked & Afraid, and the growing number of visitors to spas and saunas.
Pordon might well be right of course, but the evidence he cites is not hard evidence. It is just a feeling developed from a myriad of sources, not necessarily connected and we humans can be so fickle. What is in vogue one year can be passé the next, and suddenly the moment is gone. It is not guesswork – or gut feelings – that naturism needs, it is hard evidence derived from research trying to dig deeper than the observable events that give rise to feelings such as this. Yes, Bunyadi had a substantial waiting list, but did they all come from London or from a wider area? Just recently I mentioned in this column an article where the creator of Bunyadi said that a proportion of his guests were French. Did they make the trip to London especially? Pordon says the visitor numbers to spas and saunas are on the up, where did he get this from and for what country? What might be true for, Holland say, might be false for the UK or France.
Having said all that, Bare Thoughts is still a good read and should not be ignored just because of the faults in one post that I’ve highlighted here. I have no illusion that someone cannot pull apart one of my blogs just as effectively.
Nude Eating in Spain
It’s a bit like London buses, you wait ages for one then three or four come together.
Following in the wake of Bunyadi in London, and news that a similar restaurant had been opened in Tokyo, and another in Paris soon, we now learn from the Daily Express (28/10/2016), that another naked restaurant is to be opened this month, this time in Tenerife.
Entrepreneur Tony de Leonardis says that his new restaurant was inspired by Bunyadi in London, and is not so much about nudism, but looks beyond that concept, according to the article.
The San Isidro restaurant will offer meals cooked with organic food and local wines, and cost between €70 and €80, with reservations already being made in late October.
Prompted by an earlier article about the advantages of introducing young children to the natural world, Norman Bateman wrote to the editor of the Morpeth Herald (23/10/2016) imploring parents to become naturists. The article he cited said that children, who learnt to love nature at an early age, usually loved the outdoor life.
According to Bateman, letting children play in the safe environment of a naturist club has benefits beyond them taking to the flora and fauna around them. Bateman explained that he and his wife watched their grandchildren grow up to be fully rounded adults and more mature than their contemporaries, after enjoying a clothes free childhood.
Have you let children play naturally in a naturist club, either your own or grandchildren, and seen something similar?
WNBR & Naturism
The writer of another blog, this time The Naturist Page informed his readers that he was no longer a co-organiser of the Montreal leg of WNBR. He gave his reason thus: ‘I felt like I was no longer co-organizing a World Naked Bike Ride, but rather a voyeurism event where it was like: “Oh hey, come gather around and snap photos of the genitals!” which was not the idea behind the WNBR at all.’
Now I should admit that I’m a World Naked Bike Ride lightweight, having participated in just one (London) but observed others. In London at least, however, you could not fail to notice the horde of snappers with large telephoto lens attached to their cameras. The one exception was the ride in Southampton where it was hard to spot them. The obvious difference between them is the number of riders, London has roughly 1,000 riders every year, Southampton, that year, had roughly 50-something. It is therefore easier to be anonymous in London.
It does surprise me, however, just how many naturists treat this as an annual event for them. As many of the organising collectives are at pains to point out, the WNBR is a protest, not a naturist event. I think the confusion has arisen because of two things. First, many of the organisers are naturists, in the UK certainly and perhaps around the world. The second reason is that the collectives’ work so hard at organising the ride itself, they seem to have forgotten to tell people what the protest is about. The original ride was calling for less dependency on the motor industry and fossil fuels, with a little bit of body acceptance (positivity) thrown in. Only later did individual riders add their own pet peeves, including calls for greater acceptance of naturism. Also, naturally naturists took to the rides to be nude in a public place without any doubt that it was legal and now it seems the majority of the riders are naturists out to enjoy themselves.
As worthy as the WNBR is, in my opinion it is time that naturism stood on its own two feet. If we want an event to promote naturism generally then we should organise one. But I am also of the opinion that if WNBR is to continue as a protest then it needs to state its aims more clearly. Perhaps pick a single issue, like climate change, and promote it widely?
This post will be of interest to those naturists living in and around London, UK. Fellow reprobate John Paine has listed activities that are scheduled to happen this summer. By all means share with other naturists in London.
The Brighton leg for the WNBR caused a bit more of a stir than usual this year, as it was alleged that a girl – thought to be eight or nine years old – took part, naked.
Chris Holmes, who complained about it to The Argus, said: ‘The fact there was an eight or nine-year old girl on her bike completely naked shocked me beyond words.’ The quote continued: ‘I spoke to the organisers, who seemed to think this was fine.’
While on the other hand, Sarah Bush was quoted as saying the: ‘ones in the wrong aren’t the parents or organisers but anyone picturing [the child] for unhealthy reasons. Let the kids enjoy their innocence while they can.’
Co-organiser for the Brighton WNBR, Duncan Blinkhorn told The Argus that the ride was about being body-positive and that applies to children as much as adults, adding ‘Why can’t children be naked if adults are naked?’
And that’s the point; WNBR is a protest where nudity is used to show the vulnerability of bike riders and to gain publicity. The adult would be saying ‘do as I say, not as I do’, if they were naked but banned the child from doing the same.
As a society, we do seem to have this odd reaction to when it comes to children. We tend to over empathise with the child and by doing so we project our own feelings and fears on to them, for the child’s sake. In an article on a different topic for The Telegraph, Rowan Pelling wrote: ‘A few years ago, when my children were young enough to enjoy the local paddling pool, other parents would frown when I let them run around naked, obsessed as the world is with the notion paedophiles are tracking your offspring’s every move.’
That is so true. We are obsessed with the perceived dangers that lurk in our streets. Whatever happened to the advice ‘Don’t talk to strangers’? Whatever happened to the old maxim ‘A little bit of dirt in your diet does you good’? That should not be taken literally of course, but a child must be allowed to take controlled risks in order to learn from them.
What that child has learned by taking part in the WNBR is what it is like to be naked in a public setting. Next year, she may still choose to participate but not naked. Or she might not participate at all, that will be her choice and an informed one from the earlier experience. We demand all kinds of information about things we are not expert in to make an informed choice. Being a good parent, in my book, means giving children the tools to make better choices in later life.
Incidentally, just as a small digression. The Brighton WNBR is a marshalled event so police officers were in attendance and could have intervened at any point, if they thought the child was in any danger. A Sussex Police spokesperson told The Argus that they had not been approached about the naked child or received any complaints. So, was The Argus guilty of sensationalising an incident that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, or was Chris Holmes just grabbing his 15-minutes of fame? I leave you to decide.
This might come a little late for some, but between 23 May and 18 July different World Naked Bike Rides will be held around the UK. This is a protest primarily against oil dependency, and for the environment, cycling advocacy and, as its as bare as you dare, body acceptance. If you’re planning to participate, great but you could give the organisers a hand at the same time, they always welcome a little extra help. Or perhaps you would like to join a ride but not sure where one is being held? Either way, take a look at the national website for WNBR UK to find your nearest ride and/or organiser’s contact details.
If everything runs to schedule then this will be published on the NAG website just about the same time as the 2nd Clacton WNBR event takes place and an edited version will also be appearing in H&E Naturist.
First, for those who don’t know, a little bit of background information on the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR), courtesy of Wikipedia. (You can read the entire entry if you wish, but I’ll continue with a shortened version.) The first ride was in 2004, in Vancouver, British Columbia and organised by South African-born resident Conrad Schmitt. Schmitt had conceived of the WNBR after organising another naked bike protest in the city for Artists for Peace/Artists against War (AFP/AAW) in 2003. Unaware of each other, AFP/AAW and Manifestación Ciclonudista of Spain were organizing similar events with almost identical messages, and collaboration between the two groups led to the creation of the World Naked Bike Ride. In 2004 it was a protest against oil dependency and a celebration of the power, and individuality of the human body. By 2006, the message had shifted, simplifying it to the advocacy of cycling, and cycling issues. The participants’ nudity represented the vulnerability and dangers faced by cyclists on the roads today. The golden rule regarding WNBR’s dress code has always been “as bare as you dare” with full or partial nudity encouraged, but it has never been mandatory. Even so, this has led to the participation of many naturists, as organisers and riders, but the WNBR has never overtly advocated social nudity.
In its early years in the UK, the WNBR was virtually ignored by British Naturism because they, quite rightly, did not see it as a naturist event and I think (and I’m happy to be corrected) that it was Duncan Heenan and I who were the first participants of the London WNBR while holding office as Treasurer and Vice-Chairman respectively. I should emphasise, that there is not now and never has been a link between British Naturism and the British organisers of the World Naked Bike Ride.
In 2004 there were 24 WNBR events in 10 countries on four continents. By 2010 there were 74 rides in 17 countries. For some, like London, the police forces have stopped escorting the ride, leaving it to the rides to organise their own marshals to guide the protest through the streets. But not all police forces are so enlightened, not even in the United Kingdom.
On 6th June 2014, Tendring District Council (TDC) and Essex Police published a joint press release asking the organisers of the town’s leg of the WNBR to reconsider their decision to proceed with the event despite their earlier ‘strong request’ not to. Councillor Mick Page, leader of Tendring DC said: “The reaction last time [in 2013] from the community has led us to oppose the ride this year on their behalf and that stance is fully backed by the Police, who… had the unenviable job of escorting the riders.
“There was one particular incident which gave both the council and Police very serious concern and we do not want any repeat of that type of behaviour,’ added Cllr Page. The press release failed to explain what that ‘particular incident’ was.
For their part, Clacton’s Policing District Commander, Chief Inspector Cat Barrie said Essex Police had worked very closely with Tendring DC to produce an appropriate response to the planned ride.
Cllr Page is just continuing the line established by his predecessor as leader, Cllr Peter Halliday. In 2013, the naked bike ride had been preceded by a sponsored skinny dip in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care and it was thought a naked fun run was also being planned for later in the year, which actually never happened. Cllr Halliday had taken exception to these events, or the threat of them, believing that it was spoiling Clacton’s image as a family seaside resort (EADT, 26/07/2013).
Anyway, as a result of Tendring District Council’s actions, the Clacton WNBR lead organiser, Robert Brown, told the East Anglian Daily Times (10/06/2014) that they will not be put off by threats and intimidation, and they planned to go ahead with the ride, although it had been brought forward by one week from its original date of 26 July.
Now that we are all on the same page with this story, let us look at the claims and counter-claims made in it.
In its original statement Tendring DC said it and the police officers escorting the riders in 2013 had received a number of complaints, which led them to believe the townspeople did not want the ride to go ahead. An article in the East Anglian Daily Times (10/06/2014) gave that number as more than 20. We are therefore talking about less than 30 (otherwise the journalist would have said if it was more than 30, etc.) and even allowing it to be 29 complaints this amounts to just 0.05 per cent of the Clacton’s population of 64,000 people (according to TDC’s own document: Tendring Life: A Breath of Fresh Air. Clacton Seafront: A New Future 2012-2016). With such a minuscule section of the community making their opinion known the politicians are stretching the truth beyond creditability to say that they are talking on behalf of Clacton’s townspeople. What they are actually trying to show that they stick up for the town and are worthy of the residents’ vote in the next election, by being economical with the truth.
Another of the claims made in the press release published by Tendring DC is that the ride had been billed as “a peaceful environmental protest” but Cllr Page said that as there was no evidence of banners or messages in support of the environment, and it actually appeared to be a promotional event for naturism. The evidence cited is inconclusive, for as any science student knows, you cannot prove a negative. A lack of banners and signs telling onlookers what the riders were protesting about would simply appear as a bunch of cyclists riding around the town centre, naked. This does not then lead to the conclusion that the cyclists were promoting naturism because, again, the evidence does not show that.
As cynical that I am about politician, the lead organiser for WNBR Clacton, Robert Brown, is not above making statements that could not be substantiated either. In an article for East Anglia Daily Times (10/06/2014) Brown claimed that the ride brought: “business to the town.” How does he know? Could he add any figures to this statement? The council disputed the claim in the same article. Making unsubstantiated claims like that of Brown’s only undermines the cause you trying to promote, or in this case, defend.
Rather than bandy half-truths and out-and-out lies with the council via the press, it would have been much better to address the issues raised by TDC and Essex Police, and let their actions do the talking.
Yet, there is an issue here that is purely of naturist interest and it stems from Cllr Page’s assertion that the WBNR last year was to promote naturism rather than in defence of the environment. The document, Tendring Life, referred to above is about the regeneration of the seafronts at Clacton and Holland-on-Sea and put the case that both towns offered potential to re-invent themselves as seaside resorts for the 21st century. Quoting Tendring Life, tourism in the district contributed £276 million to Tendring’s economy and provided employment for 13 per cent of its residents. But unsurprisingly, nowhere in the document does it mention naturism as part of this regeneration plan. According to the Internet forum Essex Naturists, a river beach at St Osyth, about five miles inland from Clacton, is the only official naturist beach in the county. Surely it cannot be beyond our wits to devise a survey to find out if: (a) the people of Clacton know about it; (b) if they cared about the beach being used by naturists or social nudity in general, and; (c) if the users of the beach contributed to the local economy by using Clacton’s hotels, bars and restaurants and with an estimation of how much they were spending? Then we can tell the council exactly how their own town thinks and how we help it thrive.
Do that, and maybe the council will have a different attitude towards naturism and stop them spouting rubbish as they politic. It may even change their mind about the WBNR?
If you are going to either of the two World Naked Bike Rides in London (9th June) or Bristol (10th June) then you have the opportunity to meet other Naturist Action Group supporters beforehand (see attached). We could also do with a little help, by printing and distributing the leaflets to other participants who may also be entranced by the naked lifestyle, just as you are but unsure how to promote and encourage a lifestyle that is body positive.
If you do that for us, you’re a star and it is much appreciated.
It is but a week to go before the WNBR in Portsmouth takes place on Saturday 26th May 2012, giving you a chance to be “as bare as you dare”.
Choose your preferred form of human powered transport, be it an old penny-farthing (aka boneshaker) to roller-blades.
Gather at Rose Garden, Lumps Fort, Southsea Esplanade from 12:30 for a 13:00 set off for 40-minutes of fun cycling around old Portsmouth and the city centre.
This is your chance to voice your concerns about the UKs oil dependency and the vulnerability of cyclists on our roads. The directors for NAG will also be around – with one or two actually participating – so if you can get there we’d be more than pleased to see you and happy to answer any questions.
Follow Portsmouth WNBR on Facebook or the Portsmouth page of the WNBR wiki.
And finally, can also mention Bristol WNBR 2012
It is being organised to take place on Sunday 10 June. It moves off at 1.30pm for a 4 mile circular route around Bristol city centre area. The assembly place is outside THE FULL MOON on North Road, Stokes Croft, BRISTOL BS1 3PR
and it will finish there.
Before the ride, people will be putting on body paint, but that may be done at a different location so that they arrive at the Full Moon already painted. Whether anyone will be organising an after-event I do not know. In 2011 they estimated this WNBR had over 200 riders.
The Bristol WNBR 2012 organising group contact is Caroline on email email@example.com