Monthly Archives: June 2013
After taking part in the Manchester Naked Bike Ride last year (click here for blog article), I really wanted to take part in the big one – Brighton!
On Sunday 9th June, I joined 600 or so others and circled round the gorgeous city in a protest against oil dependency and car culture. WNBR’s take place around the world are a celebration of the bicycle as well as the power and individuality of the human body.
During the ride and immediately post ride, I have to say the whole experience was on the whole really good. However, upon reflection I have changed my mind about participating in further rides.
The main issue that I have is with the number of intrusive photographers that the ride attracts.
The event met at Preston Park whereby the organisers had created a tented area for participants to get changed/body-painted which offered some privacy. In addition, stewards walked around with placards asking for photographers to get permission before taking photos. Non-participants were told to stand around the perimeter of the participants circle. I acknowledge that the start of the ride is in the middle of a public park so making it fully private is very difficult but getting changed in front of onlookers and photographers was a little daunting.
I am mindful of my ‘day job’ and so have made sure to wear a mask at this and previous rides. As much as I enjoy the rides, there is the sense of fear afterwards that someone is going to recognise me!
I’m not opposed to people taking photos of the event either (capturing the moment, etc) it is the photographers who turn up with their tele-photo lenses taking close up photos of female participants. It was very noticeable that when a female participant arrived and started to undress, the photographers started twitching.
Whilst the thrill of cycling around Brighton fully naked is exhilarating, I really wouldn’t want to be a female participant – particularly if i wanted to do it as the WNBR states – ‘As Bare As You Dare’.
I am also mindful of a blog by a fellow naturist – The Naked Imp in which the author decided against participating in the 2013 Manchester Ride due to the number of close up photos of female participants that appear on porn-related websites. I think that this is a real shame that someone who wants to participate (either as a naturist or to support car-free cultures, or both) has decided against it due to the presence of intrusive photographers. With this in mind, I have decided to disguise all participants in the accompanying images.
After cycling down from Preston Park, we came to the first rest spot – Hove Lawns
Before heading back into Brighton to the second stop – Old Steine
It was here, that I felt the most uncomfortable to be honest. We were stood around for about 30 mins in amongst shoppers and photographers (see images above). I actually put my shorts back on due to feeling exposed. I didn’t see the need to stay at Old Seine for this length of time, especially as I was stood next to an elderly Brightonian who repeatedly asked me “if there were many ladies participating this year”. I changed the subject to being from Manchester and was then asked whether there were any mixed-sex saunas in Manchester, and randomly, what the architecture was like! In addition, the PA was too quiet to listen to any of the speeches.
I was glad then, to leave the 2nd stop and head towards Kemp Town and the naturist beach
Finishing the ride, I spent half an hour of so drinking a few celebratory beers. However, the breeze got up so I decided to leave.
I was also put out by again, the number of photographers who were lined up along the beach taking photos of participants. I know that participants know what they are signing up to, and the importance that the media can play in raising awareness of the cause, however, when there is a bank of photographers stood at the beach taking close-up photos, I think things are going too far.
What did amuse me (after the initial shock) was a guy post-ride sunbathing next to me who was sporting an erection who was asked if he could have his photo taken. The guy replied no which, given the exhibitionist nature with which he was lying, I thought was a bit bizarre!
On the whole, the event was enjoyable and the response from people in the streets, stood outside bars was fantastic. The sheer number of participants also made the event amazing and much better than Manchester. The organisation was great with fantastic stewards and Policing. However, if you are a female reading this, I’d think carefully about taking part given the number of voyeurs it attracts.
The Brighton WNBR Facebook page is requesting feedback for future events. A few that spring to mind for me are:
* Increase size of changing area in Preston Park
* Scrap use of Old Steine as a rest stop – Hove Lawns was fine but think some photographers just walked down from Preston Park for another photo opportunity – maybe Old Steine was too far for them to walk to?
* Review use of PA system and location for speeches
* Liaise with Police to ensure the there is some kind of presence at the end of the ride at the beach. What would happen if a group of photographers started to take photos at the beach on any other day? What makes it ok just because people have participated in the WNBR?