camp Gymnasium at Burning Man 2015

Here comes our report from Burning Man festival this year, when 18 of us gathered together to create a camp themed around Gymnasium as an Ancient Greek institution for athletics, philosophy and socializing. You can read more about the concept of our camp on its own webpage; we launched this project a few months earlier at FreeForm Festival, and here you can see how it came about at the festival of festivals, Burning Man. (But keep in mind that this is by no means an attempt to write about the festival as a whole, there simply “too much” fun stuff happens to be able to grasp more than just a fraction of it.)

After months of preparation, the last days before the festivals were very exciting but also a bit scary – with this endeavor being our first experience as such a theme camp, something was likely to go wrong! Indeed, our early arrival/construction crew had a flat tire at the start of the trip in San Francisco, and as we collected all the stuff that we planned to carry to Black Rock City, we realized we had to buy an extra trailer. We resolved all the issues smoothly but experienced another setback due to the weather, as on Saturday before the opening of the festival, when we had planned to construct our camp, a severe dust storm took place; we could only enter Black Rock City in the evening and started construction early on Sunday.

naturist gymnasium 0001 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

Well, luckily we didn’t plan on building anything complicated, so we raised most of our shade structures before the rest of our campmates arrived. (Then later on in the afternoon a strong gust almost blew off a part of our shade structure, bending some of the carrying metal parts and tearing apart one of the tarps, but we were able to fix it; although it doesn’t say so in the instructions, it is apparently important to fix the structure with additional ropes and rebar.)

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The final touch was putting up the banner of our camp.

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Our location was great – at 7:30 Portal and A, we were at a busy intersection, but also with  easy access to the Esplanade and an open view all the way to the man.

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And that view proved to be nothing short of amazing on the first night, with the supermoon rising next to the Man statue.

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Another nature’s wonder was a mini-tornado coming to us from the playa –

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it was not any dangerous though, as you can see in the video below.

Well, this video shows a few other things too, but there’s still a lot more to the story (and two more videos) – so keep on reading. A couple more words about the camp:

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We had a simple bike rack available for the visitors (note the horse head masks used for its decoration, I’ll mention them later).

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For decoration, we used an olive tree (artificial – live plants are prohibited at Burning Man), columns adorned with ivy, and a small statue of Poseidon (without a trident, to make him look more like a generic Ancient Greek athlete…) – next time, we plan to team up with a 3D-printing camp to make a bigger statue.

naturist gymnasium 0015 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

The schedule of our activities was put daily on the blackboard.

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Our first event included two running races – a 100-yard sprint

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and a longer, approx. 1.8 km run from our camp to the Man and back.

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The sprint was won by Chris, and the long run by yours truly 🙂

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Admittedly, there weren’t that many participants, but it was still very early in the week, while many camps were still wrapping up their construction. We had other races planned, e.g. piggy-back and barrel-run, as we did at FreeForm, but we had to postpone and eventually cancel those due to dust storms and because the horse head masks which were meant for the final run of that race were stolen borrowed without asking from our bike rack. We also had to cancel our only night event – ‘discus  (LED-lit frisbee) throw in the dark… and in the buff’ – because the nights were bitterly cold in the second half of the week! (Though as you can briefly see in the video above, we still managed to dance naked at some night parties getting warm by the fire from the art cars.)

Our ‘Naked Philosophy’ session was more of a personal introduction among our camp mates, as we did not know each of us in person; and then we discussed our experience in naturism and what it meant for us.

Our most successful event by far was the naked oil wrestling, and here is our second video dedicated to it. Unfortunately some of the video is quite blurry, because oil got on my camera, and most of the footage was not usable at all :-/ Oh well, at least it was a GoPro in a sealed casing, so the camera was totally fine after washing.

Our naked oil wrestling drew a lot of attention, even people in fancy mutant vehicles stopped to watch the match.

naturist wrestling gymnasium 0012 Burning Man 2015, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA

As at FreeForm Festival, we used sumo rules, which are the easiest to follow from all wrestling types, and added some Greekness to it with olive oil (and nudity), as a reference to the authentic Olympics.

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Each match started with ceremonial wide steps, and then opponents tried to push each other

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until one of them stepped outside the ring;

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and the soles of the feet were the only part of the body allowed to touch the ground – so pushing the opponent down could also work.

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But perhaps the most effective approach is simply carrying the opponent outside the ring, preferably keeping him upside down! 😀

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For each pair, the victory was decided in 2 wins out of 3 matches.

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We didn’t structure the whole event as an ultimate competition though – anyone could challenge whoever they wanted, and more than once. But we had two wrestlers that stood out

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and were well matched –

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so their sparring was very intense and captivating.

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But even the fiercest match ended with a hug.

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And both of them received well-deserved golden laurel wreaths!

our winners!
our winners!

(By the way, I lost their contact, so if anyone knows them – please put us in touch!)

After the final match, all wrestlers were welcome to go to an amazing massive group shower ‘perfoamance’ at the camp called ‘Something Freaky Foams This Way’. Next day, we arranged the same competition at their camp – so that people queuing up to get foamed would try their strength in wrestling and entertain the public, and skip the line.  We got in touch with one of the organizers of this camp at FreeForm Festival, and this was the best collaboration we could ask for – getting clean and relaxed felt particularly amazing after days in the dust and then even more so after wrestling. Decent showers are obviously quite sought-after at Burning Man, but this camp brings the whole experience to the next level by making it a massive group (40 people at a time) and entertaining activity (with countdown and music, water and foam sprayed under high pressure).

Here are some more photos from the wrestling matches at our camp and ‘Something Freaky Foams This Way’, if the ones above and the video aren’t enough.

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Besides planned events, we had a few spontaneous activities, e.g. dance practices by Antony and damoN.

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Unfortunately, we don’t have any footage of our fun session of a naked Greek dance with music from ‘Zorba the Greek’. It was lead by our new friend from another camp, and he rightfully suggested we would like the idea of performing this dance naked, which he said was his fantasy from a while ago, when he learned it at a Greek restaurant.

And if you follow this blog, you shouldn’t be surprised seeing some naked capoeira here 🙂

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And with Tam around, acro-yoga was bound to happen sooner or later –

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to our own and guests’ entertainment.

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Then we toured a bit around the playa and did more acro-posing with some of Burning Man’s most interesting art constructions in the background.

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This structure proved to combine very well with acro-yoga,

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as its multiple lines were quite easy to align with the body parts of the posers.

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From afar, it looked as if the giant metal ball was resting on Antony supported by Tam’s legs…

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or arms.

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Then we posed with the Man himself –

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can you spot him here?

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And how could we forget ‘the Woman’?

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(This statue is actually called R-Evolution.)

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And one of the Mars Molecules seemed to be designed perfectly for acro-yoga, not just as a background, but as a base too.

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Here is a composition with three men again.

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And now, three men intertwined into one ‘laughing dragon’ –

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laughing and causing laughter in viewers alike.

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There were a few other camps that offered activities in the buff. Besides washing your body from all the dust, sweat and, in our case, also oil at the ‘perfoamance’ camp, cleaning the nose from accumulating dust seemed like a good idea too… and of course there was a camp for that – Neti’s (naked) Nose Spa – and naked too! I really liked how I felt afterwards, so when I got home I immediately ordered a neti pot. Some events were missed due to dust storms or cold nights (e.g. black light naked twister), others I simply forgot about (e.g. naked skateboarding session).

naked skateboarding at Burning Man 2015

The camp across the street from us, Decadent Oasis, provided the best light show at night, with their technicolor ever-changing palm trees and great music. We were invited to do a striptease for their bachelorette party, though we first had to find some clothes to put on 😀 They also had a slackline,

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and we were treated with a show of really good slackline walker  who was naked and walked it all way through.

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He must be quite good at balancing, as I remember this guy on a unicycle at the Naked Pub Crawl 3 years ago.

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Speaking of which, the Naked Pub Crawl was again among the best events at Burning Man

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and certainly the largest naked one.

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You can see more of it in the first video above,

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but as you can guess from the name, it involves cycling naked around Black Rock City with hundreds of fellow burners and getting drinks at participating camps.

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Duckpond camp offered some extra entertainment with their ‘mechanical bull’ ride,

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but unfortunately my favorite part from the Naked Pub Crawl 3 years ago – the slip’n’slide “duckpond” – was absent, being apparently prohibited by the state health agency… A slight consolation came from a slide at another camp, which was down a giant sheep’s ass 😀

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But we did plenty of naked cycling on our own too,

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exploring the playa and its installations.

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One of the most intriguing and impressive was the Totem of Confessions,

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which featured plenty of nudity in its decoration among other elements.

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Another view of the R-Evolution statue.

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Riding on the bike in the heat of the day felt pretty nice thanks to the light wind (unless it turned into a dust storm!)

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But the best conditions seemed to be around sunset time – the sun wasn’t scorching but it was still very warm before the onset of the cold night, and the air was still – that’s when we liked strolling around in our altogethers. But the photo below shows how you can be well protected against the elements while being naked!

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And for comparison, this is how the same place looked like one day after the end of the festival…

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Sad that everything has to come to an end, but on the other hand Burning Man celebrates immediacy, so realization of the temporary nature of… everything is part of the festival.

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We made sure to leave no trace behind us and were ready to go home for the next adventure. Gymnasium proved to be a great experience for its organizers and visitors alike (hopefully all of them, let me know if not) and will hopefully develop only more in years to come!

And here is our third, bonus video with damoN performing on the playa. This was shot while the festival was still rocking, just outside Black Rock City. In case you thought it was difficult to escape from the crowds at this massive festival, it is actually easy to find a place where you can be alone when you would like to reconnect with your ‘inner self’; and the vast open landscape of the desert will only help with that. But it’s good to know that you’re next to the city full of your friends or yet-to-become friends.

WNBR in Northern Hemisphere is coming!

World Naked Bike Ride will gather thousands of cyclists in many cities of the Northern Hemisphere to promote cycling as a mode of urban transportation, as well as body acceptance. The dress code is “as bare as you dare”, but in my opinion being naked is the best way to get the message across: cyclists use the power of human body for commuting in the city – so, show that body! – and yet we are the ones who are most prone to the truly indecent exposure to the traffic and vehicle pollution. In most cities, including my current hometown NYC, the ride will be held on Saturday the 13th. You can see the list of participating cities here, though it’s not entirely updated – look up if you have a local World Naked Bike Ride near you!

You can see my reports from WNBR in NYC 2013 and 2012, Boston WNBR 2014, as well as from Madrid in 2009Philly Naked Bike Ride was in is the biggest one I’ve participated so far. As long, as NYPD doesn’t disturb us like last year, we should have a fun ride all along – come and join WNBR NYC if you’re around:
Bodies assembly at 4:00pm, ride departs by 5:00 pm sharp. Arrive early for body painting, trainings, teach-ins, and socializing! Volunteers plan on coming early!
Grand Ferry Park; final route will be communicated to riders who show up only. More details on WNBR NYC wiki page!

wnbrNYC2015

oil-Independence Night in Boston (WNBR)

Last Saturday, Boston had its own edition of the World Naked Bike Ride, when more than 200 people took over its streets.

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It’s my 4th city where I’ve done WNBR, but it’s the first one where it takes place at night.

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I won’t stop repeating that WNBR is probably the most cheerful and peaceful demonstration against oil-dependency, promoting human-powered modes of transportation as a healthy alternative. It serves as a fun bike tour too, and I think I’m going to make it a tradition to visit new cities for WNBR.

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I’m not sure that nigh is the best time of the day for WNBR, as we want to have a bigger impact on public, and Boston is not the city that never sleeps. However, we passed through both sleeping and bustling neighborhoods, with overwhelming support from the street crowd, especially on the streets with bars 🙂

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We had a couple of short breaks to catch the breath in parks,

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just to fill up the streets again with new power.

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Altogether we were riding for more than 2 hours through Boston downtown and Cambridge in our altogethers!

Given the nightly atmosphere, it was nice to have some bright lights, which a friend of mine gave me as a present after I got hit by car; they are a bit too crazy to use them on a daily (or rather nightly) basis, but they served just fine for WNBR in NYC and in then Boston, and thanks to them I got on boston.com site – check out the photo gallery with yours truly.

WNBR NYC and Free Form Festival: free, arrested and then freer than ever!

Last Friday, the weather in New York city wasn’t the most cooperative for the World Naked Bike Ride, and yet a couple of dozens of hardiest cyclists showed up at the Grand Ferry Park. We welcomed the thunderstorm by dancing naked in the downpour, and as the rain was calming down, we took off to the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Despite the weather, there were still people on the streets, and we got cheered by pedestrians, other cyclists and car drivers alike! We got some friendly smiles and hand waives even from police. When passers by asked us why we were naked, I replied that skin was waterproof 😉

By the time we got to Washington Square Park, it stopped raining altogether.

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But some of us seemed to miss water already 🙂

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I wish New York accepted nudity, at least in parks, and as these rides show, general public doesn’t seem to be opposed to it, once confronted to a cheerful naked crowd.

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The World Naked Bike Ride aims to promote safe environments for cyclists and public in general, and who would argue that if you can feel safe in your city while being naked, it must be as safe as it gets?

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Then we headed out to the Hudson Greenway and took some more pictures with iconic views.

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As to the banner, I personally don’t think NYC should be car-free altogether, but it would definitely become a better city, if half of the drivers switched to bicycles 🙂

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Unfortunately, our ride after that didn’t go as peaceful and proved that it wasn’t the weather we should have been worried about:

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All of a sudden, we were overtaken  by an undercover police car (disguised as a yellow cab!) and then even more police came and blocked the street. We can only guess why, but they also arrested two of the participants!

WNBR 2014 0009 New York, NY, USA

It was pleasing to get support from bystanders. One of them shouted that he thought he happened to be in Iran. However, this didn’t stop police, and our two arrestees were detained till next evening! Your can read more at the blog of one of the organizers of New York’s WNBR, Ben, as well as an article from Gothamist.

I was very happy about how our ride went last year, and there is no reason why it should have ended so bitter this year. I’m especially puzzled why this happens in seemingly liberal New York. I bet many spectators of our ride on Friday had that “only in New York” moment, but what they probably didn’t realize was that in many cities of the world and US, the World Naked Bike Ride actually attracts many more riders, and what happens only in New York perhaps is that participants of such rides get arrested. Hopefully, it’ll be better next year. And there’re still some more rides this year too, including WNBR Boston next Saturday, June 28 (read this announcement about at Boston Magazine).

 

Last weekend, I went to Free Form Festival at The Schuylkill County Fairgrounds, PA,  and it was a nice and necessary breath of freedom after I witnessed the arrest at WNBR.

Free Form Festival 2014 0000 Pennsylvania, USA

This festival celebrates anything positive and artsy, anything that brings people together and raises the spirit, and social nudity is a part of it.

I started off with a naked lunch, which by coincidence seemed to be all Tuscan style – featuring Tuscan salami, Tuscan bean salad, and Tuscan salami – despite I bought those at different places without thinking about it :p

Free Form Festival 2014 0004 Pennsylvania, USA

Free Form Festival follows the format of Burning Man, just at a smaller scale and with grass instead of dust.

Free Form Festival 2014 0003 Pennsylvania, USA

I didn’t take many photos, as it was more about having fun and interacting with people.

Free Form Festival 2014 0001 Pennsylvania, USA

Even though nudity is not common there, it’s definitely welcome. As you can see at this photo from a contact workshop, where we pretended to be a school of fish, nobody had a problem with following a naked dude.

Free Form Festival 2014 0002 Pennsylvania, USA

At night, everybody gathered for the effigy burn, and a few people, including me, were dancing naked around. One of the fire spinners got naked too, and had a solo performance on the side. Also, a guy whose dance style was more like Tai Chi got naked too and taught me a couple of principal Tai Chi moves. Then he brought me to a creek with cold water behind the amphitheater. And that was my experience of duality – this year’s theme of Free Form Festival – fire and water, heat and cold, light and darkness…

Hopefully, events like the World Naked Bike Ride and Free Form Festival will make world a more open, accepting and freer place, so that you can feel safe even naked!

some upcoming events this month

WNBR NYC 2014

World Naked Bike Ride will gather thousands of cyclists in many cities of the Northern Hemisphere to promote cycling as a mode of urban transportation, as well as body acceptance. The dress code is “as bare as you dare”, but in my opinion being naked is the best way to get the message across: cyclists use the power of human body for commuting in the city – so, show that body! – and yet we are the ones who are most prone to the truly indecent exposure to the traffic and vehicle pollution. In most cities, the ride will be held on Saturday, 14 June, but in New York City, it’s on Friday the 13th. This will be a hell of a fun ride: an awesome way to finish off the work week, to say the least! You can see my reports from WNBR in NYC last year and 2012, as well as from Madrid in 2009; Philly Naked Bike Ride is in August, and with 3500 participants last year is the biggest one I’ve participated. Although I don’t know the reasons why WNBR is held on a different day here in New York than in most the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, I’m glad that it’s on Friday, because it lets me go for the weekend to yet another amazing event.

Free Form Festival brings together the vast East-Coast creative arts community from 12-16 June at at The Schuylkill County Fairgrounds, Pennsylvania. With its aim to “increase diversity in our local artistic landscape”, it will surely be interesting and fun, and by the way, it is an officially clothing-optional event too! Tickets are still on sale and may be purchased by clicking here. Who else is going?

I’m also looking forward to ‘Bouncing Buns7k Trail Race in Pennsylvania for American Cancer Society on the 21st of June. 7km is the longest distance that I’ve seen for a naked or clothing-optional race – it’s good to be challenged, moreover for a good cause. Well, in 2012, I passed the challenge pretty well, coming in third! I ran a bit faster last year, but with fiercer competition, I had only 7th result. This year, I cannot hope to run faster, as I’m still not 100% recovered after my ankle injury, but will I have less fun? Of course not! With 150 or so naturist folks of all shapes and ages, everybody can feel comfortable in their own skin. However, I’m going with a couple of fellows again, and it doesn’t hurt to have some healthy competition, just like with the friends in ‘Team America’ that I got to know last year. The event is organized by Pretzel City Sports and you can register for the race at their website: $25 before June 9, $32 after. Part of your registration fee will support American Cancer Society, and afterwards you get an opportunity to hang out at Sunny Rest naturist resort, where the trail race will take place. It’s a great opportunity to run just the way you like. The event is clothing-optional, and we’ll certainly opt for the style of the [authentic] Olympic runners 😉 Also, if you have any doubts about running naked, have a look at my brief overview that links running and our naturally naked (furless) body from an evolutionary perspective – I hope it’ll make sense to you. Besides participating in the race, we also plan to do some yoga at Sunny Rest, as well as play badminton and volleyball.

Last but not least, as the beach season has commenced, it’s worth mentioning that there is a Groupon sale for the Seastreak ferry from Manhattan to Sandy Hook beach: $25 instead of regular $45. Unfortunately, unlike in previous years, there is no $30 coupon on Seastreak’s website, and you can only get one groupon ticket…

Philly Naked Bike Ride bigger than ever?

Philly Naked Bike Ride is Philadelphia’s own edition of the World Naked Bike Ride; as their website states, “PNBR is about: Riding together to promote fuel conscious consumption, positive body image, and cycling advocacy.” From my first experience of the World Naked Bike Ride in Madrid in 2009, I also learnt that it is the best way to have a bike tour through the city – with hundreds of fun people as a company and central streets being cleared of cars. So I thought it’d appropriate to visit the first historic capital of the United States on such an occasion. In most cities in Northern Hemisphere, World Naked Bike Ride takes place on the second weekend of June, but Philadelphia hosts one in August, so I wouldn’t have to skip the ride in NYC this year in order to go to Philly. Although I was happy with how New York’s naked bike ride went this year, I have to admit it is dwarfed by the ride in Philly with its 3000+ participants.

As my friend from Philadelphia who gave me a lift to the city wanted to volunteer before the ride, we arrived a couple of hours before the official start. There were numerous signs and volunteers on the bike lanes that directed bikers towards the starting point.

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The lawn next to Penn Treaty Park was already filling up with people, and as soon as the first one got naked many others followed the trend; body painters were getting busy too.

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Then more friends from NYC arrived, and after we covered ourselves with enough glitter (with the assumption that there is no such thing as too much glitter),

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we went on to make new friends and share glitter.

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Green, for the political statement.

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Meanwhile, the lawn got really packed and the bikers were lining up in preparation for the ride. This was another opportunity to make new friends, like this fellow in romper suit.

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The organisers and volunteers of PNBR were dismantling the stands and cleaning the park, a good tone for environmental demonstration.

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Some participants had to do last minute fixes…

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So the delay time was not wasted,

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and the energy was high when the ride finally started.

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The work of volunteers continued in regulating the traffic and directing the ride, and they did a great job, all went smooth. This is quite impressive given the mere number of cyclists. We filled up the street as far as you could see in both directions.

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That’s what you call a critical mass! In the tunnel, it was even more evident.

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Below is an arial shot.

PNBR air view

By the way, although the vast majority of participants rode typical bicycles, you could see a wide spectrum of  engine-free modes of transportation.

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Of course, there was a tandem bicycle – perfect for a well coordinated couple, as it provides better power-to-weight ratio.

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And this guy on the tall bike certainly had the best view.

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Those two ladies had a leisurely ride without having to pedal at all, thanks to a friend who didn’t mind being their rickshaw.

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There were some BMX bikers too, but unfortunately there was not much chance for them to show their skills, but I’m sure it was a pretty intense exercise anyways, as most of the time during our 2-hour ride they had to pedal standing.

stepper bike at PNBR 2013

So as this guy on a stepper bike (not sure which is more difficult).

naturist 0119 Philly Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia, PA USA

But why limit yourself with bicycles? Roller skates

naturist 0121 Philly Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia, PA USA

and skateboards were a popular choice too and proved to be good alternative for commuting in Philly.

But I saw a couple of people who went even further: they ran the whole route. One of them, even barefoot. Why not, human body is capable of amazing physical endurance.

I myself was ‘just another’ cyclist on the ride, except that I was busy taking a lot of pictures for this report (most of the photos here are by me, but some are from the PNBR flickr pool).

And there were a lot of notable characters worth mentioning:

naturist 0009 Philly Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia, PA USA

The Mexican wrestler;

golden lady (I know how it feels to be covered in gold 😉 )

and the winged lady;

the romper suit guy again;

the naked chef;

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pink-red guy and his dog;

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the tall bike guy again (he quite literally stood out in the crowd);

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Deadmau5 (or rather his fan, judging by the absence of the tattoos);

naturist 0086 Philly Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia, PA USA

and this fellow with the first aid kit was conveniently easy to spot too (not that anyone ended up needing it, as far as I know)… Oh wait, I think he just missed this dude who seemed to have got himself seriously wounded before the ride even started…

naturist 0010 Philly Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia, PA USA

Don’t worry, he was actually just promoting the ‘Naked and Scared Challenge’ at Shocktoberfest, “Pennsylvania’s Premier Haunted Scream Park.”

By the way, the success of Philly Naked Bike Ride has drawn an even bigger company to promote itself by distributing free drinks to energise the participants. Nothing wrong with that!

naturist 0001 Philly Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia, PA USA

And definitely there was an impact on other citizens of the city.

naturist 0051 Philly Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia, PA USA

Most importantly, car drivers seemed to be happy with the ride, even though we took over the streets for a while.

naturist 0054 Philly Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia, PA USA

Some cheerers had even prepared quite affirming posters for us.

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And even entire families went out of their houses to cheer to us!

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I’m pretty sure those tourists on the bus got some good memories; and perhaps next time, they will take a bike tour instead. Speaking of which – as I mentioned, it was my first visit to Philadelphia,

naturist 0039 Philly Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia, PA USA

so I enjoyed the views of the city on the way,

naturist 0048 Philly Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia, PA USA

especially when we rode between Philadelphia Museum of Art

naturist 0063 Philly Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia, PA USA

and Logan Square and the City Hall;

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riding through some narrower streets was fun too.

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The ride ended at a parking lot near Piazza.

naturist 0125 Philly Naked Bike Ride, Philadelphia, PA USA

Here is the view from above.

Unfortunately, unlike in previous year the after-party was no longer clothing-optional, as the condominiums surrounding Piazza pressured its owner to make participants of the Philly Naked Bike Ride to be no longer naked around there. The party at PYT bar was still fun, but there was a rumour that Piazza owner also has a swimming pool, which would be a great alternative for the after-party next year. That would be great, but regardless of that, Philly Naked Bike Ride has established itself as a massive event with a lot of fun and big impact.

World Naked Bike Ride + New York 2013 = fun and success!

naturist 0009 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

Last Saturday, many cities throughout Northern Hemisphere have seen one of the merriest events imaginable which also represents a peaceful demonstration for environmental consciousness and body acceptance – World Naked Bike Ride. I think it wouldn’t be a true world event if New York weren’t a part of it; finally, New York City is catching up on the naked part too! Unlike last year, this time we were escorted by police, but unlike 2 years ago, they were rather cooperative and did not bother for fully naked participants.

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Needless to say, naked, semi-naked and bizarrely-dressed riders attracted a lot of attention. Our naked bodies meant to emphasise that we are unprotected against the traffic and pollution…

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and if someone didn’t get the message, they also served a great canvas for slogans.

naturist 0011 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USAnaturist 0000 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

‘More ass, less gas’ was probably our most popular chant too.

World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

Another popular chant was ‘Whose streets? – Our Streets’, and it indeed felt that throughout most of the route, which went through Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Downtown Manhattan, the streets were ours.

naturist 0014 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USAnaturist 0013 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

If only more people used bikes, how much cleaner and quieter it would be! Is it not possible to imagine New York City streets like that –

naturist 0016 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

– most people going by bikes and just a few by cars (typically for NYC, cabs). And by the way, nobody seemed to be shocked by nudity – quite on contrary, we were cheered all the time. Even if people were puzzled what it was all about, I’m pretty sure many would check online and get the idea.

naturist 0001 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

As I mentioned, it was quite comforting that police was cooperating and friendly (except for one brief incident). I was actually running late for the ride and, accompanied by a fellow [male] rider in a kind of ballerina skirt, which immediately revealed where we were heading to, we were given directions by policemen several times. During the ride, they only seemed to care that we would follow traffic rules.

naturist 0012 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

But I think we were actually pretty good, law-abiding riders, except that we wouldn’t all fit on the bike lane.

For some reason, police was particularly concerned that we’d ride strictly on the right side of the Hudson River Greenway, so we stretched out quite a lot there.

naturist 0003 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

I think the Hudson River Greenway is one of the best urban projects, and it is definitely my favourite way to go Up-/Downtown Manhattan on the west side, and is probably the most pleasant bike path in the whole city.

naturist 0015 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

That’s where we could gain some speed and ride freely without having to watch out for cars.

naturist 0019 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

Williamsburg Bridge is probably the most bike-friendly of all big bridges, and it was so nice to ride it in the buff, feeling the breeze all over body.

naturist 0006 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

Can’t we get some more of such dedicated bike paths? Even the East River Greenway is not complete. I guess we’ll have to continue our naked bike rides and chanting ‘More ass, less gas’ in the years to come 🙂

naturist 0017 World Naked Bike Ride 2013, New York, USA

PS Thanks to Time’s Up for organising the WNBR in New York City. Here is the video produced by Barbara from 2013 ride:

World Naked Bike Ride, NYC edition 2013, is on Saturday, 8 June!

World Naked Bike Ride is coming to New York City again, on Saturday, the 8th of June, together with many other cities around northern hemisphere. I’ll repeat again, that it is a worldwide demonstration promoting cycling as an urban mode of transportation, as well as body acceptance. Riding naked is symbolic and effective way to draw attention to vulnerability of people against the traffic and pollution, and it also shows that being nude is not lewd. Please refer to my previous post why I think we really need this demonstration to be seen and heard in New York City particularly.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an environmental activist or are not sure about public nudity, consider another great aspect of WNBR – fun! I’ve participated in this event in Madrid and New York, as well as at Burning Man last year, and it’s always great fun!

Refer to the official wiki-page of WNBR-NYC and Facebook page for details.

Can New York make it as big as London? or at least Madrid?

World Naked Bike Ride – London – Big Ben

WNBR – London – Piccadilly Circus

Something is missing here!

Times Square – no WNBR?

[naked] Burning Man

naked 0119 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Finally, I am getting to write about one of the brightest events of the last year and my whole life so far – Burning Man, a festival that I had wanted to attend for years! And it is just on time before the tickets for 2013 go on sale already next Wednesday, for which you need to pre-register by this coming Sunday, 12:00 Pacific Time!

Of course, given this blog’s theme, I’ll focus on the naked aspect of the [Burning] Man, which is just a small portion of what I have experienced there. Nudity is a commonplace in Black Rock City (geographic alias of Burning Man), but only a fraction of people opt for it.  This gives you a realistic feeling of what it could be like if full nudity in public was legalised in Western society and some people would start make use of this freedom.

naturist 0130 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

By the way, it is thanks to this blog that I found a wonderful companion, Andre, to join me at the festival, as I had to sell a ticket originally planned for another friend who had to cancel. We planned all logistics together, and it worked out just fine, and we became good friends. The whole planning thing seemed quite complicated at first, as we had to organise a self-reliable camp out in the desert in Nevada with unpredictable weather AND visit and see as many interesting things as possible during the festival. The official website and mailing list contains all necessary information, but I’m going to give just a few words of advice re logistics (of course, this is just from our personal experience, and may be totally different for you).

1) There are now buses from some of the major cities in the area, but the price doesn’t seem to be competitive with car rental as long as you are more than one person.

2) Even a small tent can be totally fine as long as you have a good shading structure. You are not going to sleep much and spend time ‘indoors’. But it’s essential to have protection from dusty winds (sometimes) and blazing sun around noon (every day).

3) What the official booklet advised re water (up to 4 gallons per day per person) was absolutely over the top for us. I understand that they want you to stay on the safe side, but we took only half of the recommended amount and then had to give out at least a third of water.

4) Don’t bring booze, unless you want a very specific type or your camp theme is some sort of bar. There is plenty of alcohol everywhere, and don’t forget, everything is free at Burning Man once you get there!

5) Vinegar turned out to be really useful to clean skin, especially feet, from alkaline playa dust. I sometimes poured it in my ‘barefoot’ Bikram shoes; skin moisturisers are great too. On the other hand, I didn’t feel it was necessary to have more sun protection than, say, on a sunny beach day, as some sources claimed and urged to bring sunscreens of SPF100 etc. But then again, I was already tanned by the end of the summer, and also I suspect that dust might actually help against the sun. I used SPF15 or 30 on my shoulders and never got burnt.

6) Melons! They actually did well even in that heat for several days and we wished we brought more than 3.

7) Last but not least, it was a great decision to join a pretty big theme camp, Playa Bike Transportation in our case. They gave us a lot of advice and provided the kitchen, solar camp shower, and most importantly the shading structure.

So, construction of the shading structure was the first thing we took care of when we found our camp. This way we also got to know several camp-mates.

naturist 0021 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

It wasn’t too complicated, and I even found a minute to pose as the Vitruvian Man of Leonardo da Vinci 🙂

naturist 0022 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

The only difficult part was hammering rebar into the hard playa ground. But I had no idea that it would be much more difficult to get it out afterwards! (That’s when we used some of our extra water, as it was easier to pull out rebar from wet ground.)

naturist 0023 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Playa Bike Transportation camp turned out to be an excellent choice for me in many respects. Burning Man is built on the idea of everyone contributing something to ‘the community’ – “no spectators, only participants” is the motto. Being a part of a bike camp, it was easy to find a way to help people – by repairing their bicycles.

naturist 0003 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Black Rock City is quite a big town without public transportation and cars (unless they are ‘mutated’), so most people rely on bicycles to go long distances. But with all that dust, bikes break easily (it makes sense to have a playa-dedicated bike if you are a regular, or rent one from a camp like ours). So, our camp was always busy with people lining up for self-service or help from our professional mechanics or amateurs like me.

naturist 0006 Playa Bike Transportation/ Repair, Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

While on duty, we got approached all the time, but the good thing was that it allowed us to get to know a lot of people!

naturist 0007 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

It is worth noting, that Playa Bike Transportation (this year, Playa Bike Repair) is not a nudist camp per se. I knew there were camps that were more related to nudity, but my idea was to try to live as if birthday suit was as ‘normal’ as any other outfit and just do regular stuff in the buff… like repairing bikes. I did not want to stay in any kind of nudist colony, and I think this was the best thing I could do to show that there is nothing wrong with nakedness. Before joining the camp, I discussed the nakedness issue with the leader and he seemed to be convinced, although Andre and I were going to be its first naked members (pun not intended). It worked out just great, nobody seemed to have issues with that and a couple of our campmates got naked too on various occasions.

Besides Playa Bike Transportation, Andre (mostly) and I volunteered at the neighbouring Post Office camp. Yes, Black Rock City may be a short-living settlement but it’s got its own functional Post Office with a proper stamp! I tried my best to be the least friendly possible mocking the stereotype of a USPS worker, but Andre was much better at it and soon became known as an ‘angry postman’.

naturist 0142 Post Office, Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Again, we surprised our customers by our attire, but everyone seemed to love it!

naturist 0077 Post Office, Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Our coworkers were cool about it too.

naturist 0078 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Thus, I think our biggest contribution to the Burning Man festival was spreading the idea that nakedness is just fine and there is nothing shocking about it by doing regular jobs in the buff and interacting with large numbers of people every day. Burning Man is all about expanding your views and comfort zone, and hopefully we’ve triggered this at least in some of our “customers” and campmates.

Besides acquiring new friends, I also knew some old buddies were coming as well. One of them was Miguel, a devoted naturist traveller.

naturist 0000 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

He stayed at colourful Comfort and Joy camp.

naturist 0100 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

When I ventured out to search of Miguel’s camp, I saw El Pulpo Mecanico, one of the hundreds of art cars, or mutant vehicles on the playa.

naturist 0097 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

And I think it remained to be my favourite till the end. It looked fantastic in daylight and at night too, with all its moving tentacles emitting fire.

naturist  0000 Pulpo Mecanico, Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Some mutant vehicles were huge and impressed with their design and mere size.

naturist 0139 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

There were also a lot of spectacular structures and constructions, big and small, that made the landscape absolutely surreal.

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This pirate ship sinking in sand was definitely one of the highlights.

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Some structures were interactive, like these phone booths.

naturist 0001 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

By the way, as you can see on this photo, there was a night when it was warm enough to walk around naked. When we played with my LED-lit frisbee, it was even too hot. But most of the nights were quite chilly, so we had to wear something. Andre and I had a minimalist ‘caveman’ outfit made of fake sheep fur rugs (you can see me on the left of the night el Pulpo Mecanico picture).

The main structure was of course the Man himself, seen from all over the city thanks to its geometrical plan (and provided clear weather, usually in early mornings) – on this photo from 9 o’clock plaza, where our camp was located,

naturist 0131 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

or from Center Camp, here.

naturist 0144 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

At night, it is lit up, as almost everything (and everybody) else.

naturist 0109 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

The Man structure was also a gathering point for some events like Black Rock City’s own issue of the World Naked Bike Ride, aka World Naked Pub Crawl. With bikes being such a crucial part of life during the festival, and its idea to promote self-reliance and sustainability, WNBR seems to fit perfectly into the concept of Burning Man; and with those phallic structures around the Man, which I guess had to do with 2012’s theme, Fertility, the naked aspect of the ride seemed only more appropriate.

naturist 0008 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Before the ride, naked people took over the Man,

naturist 0012 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

filling the whole structure

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and climbing everywhere possible.

naturist 0014 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Nice view from the Man 😉

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Most of the participants were on regular bikes, but it wouldn’t be Burning Man without some amusing riders, who decorated their naked bodies,

naturist 0024 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

fancy tandem bikes, or this guy on a unicycle.

naturist 0010 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Amazeballs! [I know, the term use is somewhat controversial, but it suits here more than anywhere else 😉 ]

Several “pubs” welcomed naked bike riders. The Duck Pond was probably the most fun, as it had a 150-foot-long slip-n-slide.

naturist 0036 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

At least one guy made it almost all the way till the end of it!

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I went a bit sideways and didn’t reach that far.

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Next stop was spontaneous, as some riders simply took over trampolines of another camp.

naturist trampoline 0015 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USAnaturist trampoline 0020 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Needless to say, it was a lot of fun and some were really good at tumbling!

naturist trampoline 0037 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USAnaturist trampoline 0071 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Next bar, Barbie Death Camp, saw a naked pianist performance.

naturist 0011 Barbie Death Camp, Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Party Naked Tiki Bar, is a probably the most known naked hang out place at the playa, and it was a part of the World Naked Pub Crawl too, of course.

naturist Tiki Bar 0196 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Besides those, I would also like to mention Scarbutts Cafe, where we got our late morning coffee

naturist 0140 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

for a couple of good spanks 😀

naturist 0076 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Center Camp is a great hang out spot too, and it wasn’t left without some naked activities either.

This guy was really good at playing with the sock ball.

naturist sock ball 0000 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

And I was really happy that my Burning Man didn’t go without some capoeira games.

naturist capoeira 0100 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

There was a martial arts theme camp, Black Rock Kwoon and Dojo, with classes on different martial arts including capoeira, but there were daily games (rodas) at the Center Camp too.

naturist capoeira 0076 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USAnaturist capoeira 0077 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

And I was even happier when one more naked guy joined the game, as well as a topless girl (not on the photos, though).

For a moment, the Center Camp turned into an Ancient Greek gymnasium 🙂

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Too bad it was the last evening already, but that was a definitive “yes” – Black Rock City rocks!!!

naturist capoeira 0019 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Those were sad and happy two last nights when major structures were burnt, but that is also a part of beauty of Burning Man, highlighting the idea that one must live in the moment.

naturist 0185 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

And it ends, as everything, only to give a new beginning… Already on the way back, my new friends and I were discussing our ideas for the next year! (Though I am still to decide whether I am going in 2013.)

naturist 0195 Burning Man 2012, Black Rock City, NV, USA

Oh wait, I’ve also compiled a video with some of the brightest moments at Burning Man. No video is capable to show what that festival of festivals really is, but hopefully it can give you some idea and inspiration.

World Naked Bike Ride NYC 2012 – [modest] success!

So, two weeks ago it happened after all! I was really worried about how the NYC edition of the World Naked Bike Ride would go, as last year, more-than-necessary police presence scared the participants, so no one even dared to get naked. This year was quite an improvement in this respect, even though only several tens of people of showed up. For whatever reason, there was no intervention whatsoever, and the ride went totally smooth.

It started with some speeches from the organizers with the iconic Manhattan skyline on the background.

I couldn’t believe it, but right after we took off, one guy disrobed totally. Obviously, I couldn’t help doing the same. He turned out to be from Portland, where WNBR attracts thousands and most of participants are naked, so he rightfully pointed out that was actually why it was called ‘naked bike ride’.

Well, yeah, maybe in Portland and most of the Western world, but I had to explain that NYC was somewhat difficult. But there I was, riding naked through the streets of New York.

Soon, the leader joined the naked team,

and even more people followed.

After Williamsburg, we headed to East Village,

Chinatown,

and Lower East Side. We weren’t as many as we’d like to, but we still filled the road for about half of the block. And we definitely attracted a lot of attention from the crowd!

When we stopped at the crossings,

or even while riding, we were asked by pedestrians and drivers alike what it was all about. I tried to explain in two words, but hopefully many did their search online afterwards so that awareness about cycling in the city would spread.

One of the important points was stopping by BP gas station, still symbolic as one of the major pollutants after the spill in Mexican Gulf.

Unfortunately, we didn’t go through main sights of New York City, like most of the naked rides do in other cities, but we did encounter some sightseeing buses, and I bet it the highlight of their tour.

Well, I hope next year we’ll cover more areas of Manhattan – to get more people involved, interested, alerted – but also for the fun of it. Isn’t it just awesome to have a group bike tour through NYC, and on tope of it in the buff?

Before heading out to the after party, we had one last naked stop in the park. I wish we could have a party in the park like it was in Madrid, but I feel that would be too risky in NYC.

PS thanks to the reporter from Village Voice for nice coverage (and yes, he was fully covered). I’ve used some of his photos.