By Gary Mussell and Rolf Holbach
June 2017 - The second Saturday each June, as many as 400 people in Los Angeles remove their clothes to go “As Bare as You Dare” and ride en masse through the heart of the city on its main streets for a couple of hours.
At first reading that may sound crazy or inappropriate, but the annual event, which began internationally in 2004, has now expanded to over 200 cities in the past decade. The purpose is to protest the lack of bike lanes and safety programs, to ask people to use their automobiles a little less, and to promote body acceptance. Most participants use bicycles, but some are on skateboards or inline skates. And it is great fun! While all ages are represented, many riders are under 30.
The ride began at a different place than last year, and the starting point is always kept secret until 24 hours before the ride to discourage gawkers and freelance photographers.
The Los Angeles ride started about 10 years ago with great difficulty because of the city’s strict anti-nudity and indecent exposure laws. But we worked with the authorities and found a flaw in the ordinance: nudity is prohibited at Los Angeles beaches and parks, but they forgot to include streets. If we ride on public streets and remain in designated bike lanes, the city attorney agreed to not issue citations since our “protest” falls under First Amendment protection.
The ride is co-sponsored by a coalition of AANR-West, SCNA, NitOC, and the Naturist Action Committee (NAC). We had an information table and handed out literature from these sponsors and other giveaway items like lip balm and pens.
For the past several years, we have gathered at a secluded area downtown. There is a body-painting booth for those who want to decorate themselves with color or a painted sign on their backs. There are also signs to attach to each bicycle. We had a food truck and portable toilets, and some people bring guitars or other musical instruments. It resembled a large naked street fair. The event also attracts news media, so we have designated people to speak our talking points to get our body-positive message out. We often get 30 seconds on the local evening news, images pixilated of course.
The LA ride takes about 3 hours to complete and is broken into two parts: a shorter 5-mile course for those who are out of shape and a longer 13-mile route that snakes along the LA River, through Silverlake, and down Sunset Blvd. back to the starting point. For those who get too tired to continue we have two pickup trucks and two follow cars to pick up stragglers.
Along the route most people wave and take pictures with their cell phones. Every year one or two people flash their breasts or drop their pants in solidarity.
For the past three years we have had a police escort, which tells you how far we have come in official and public acceptance. The officers we had were terrific, moving the riders along and preventing any negativity along the route.
The American Association for Nude Recreation - Western Region
The American Association for Nude Recreation
23679 Calabasas Road, Suite 966
Calabasas, CA 91302
Quick Contact Form: