The Brighton Naked Bike Ride is nearly here again and, this year, I decided I would take part in it myself to see what it’s all about.
I took myself along to the warm-up event at Brighton’s Hanover community centre where the Naked Cabaret took place on April 9. It said ‘clothing optional’ on the flyer so I opted for clothing for the time being.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and was glad a couple of friends agreed to come along. It was seven pounds on the door as I’d not bought a cheaper option advance ticket for £5.50, and the Boy George-esque man on the door made me laugh. Every one was friendly and chatty and a little bit excited. I was looking forward to it – it made a change from an average night down the pub.
At around 9pm, the organiser of Brighton’s Naked Bike Ride, Duncan Blinkhorn, introduced the evening. The cabaret organiser and compere, Count Adriano Fettucini, took to the stage shortly after and the fun began.
Theacts varied from poetry to magic tricks, music and dancing and of course burlesque – which you would expect from such a night. It surprised me how good many of these performances were, especially as they were all volunteers.
The James Bond themed stripping was highly entertaining. I especially liked the naked man playing classical guitar. Not because he was naked [If you say so Amy – Ed. ] but because he was talented and had the guts to sit there strumming away, with his plums dangling beneath his guitar. By the end of his performance, I’d forgotten he was naked.
The wine was flowing and by the interval I was a bit merry, as many of us were. Some of the audience began stripping off. I ducked out for a cigarette and got talking to an interesting chap called Bruno Beloff who takes naked strolls on sunny days along Brighton seafront. He told me how liberating a feeling it is and, that when people smile, it builds your confidence.
After this chat and another gulp of wine, I decided to take the plunge myself and undress. Bizarrely enough, after about 10 seconds, it didn’t feel strange at all. It was slightly unusual but very, very funny.
At the end of the night, naked or not, everyone was on their feet, dancing around – having a lot of fun – and being a bit silly. I hadn’t enjoyed myself this much in ages and the sheer randomness was entertaining.
For anyone who would like to take part in the bike ride, there is a meeting (clothed) on May 3, 7.30pm at The Brighton Tavern. If you can’t make this, you can just turn up (naked) on June 12 at The Level, Union Rd, Brighton, before 12pm.
Aside from all the fun, the Naked Bike Ride raises some issues the organisers want us to think about. For some it’s about our human right to be naked, which I’ll explore at a later date during a ‘naked’ walk.
It’s also about saying NO to cars in a protest against our dependency on oil. We are considered at our most vulnerable when naked and especially when riding a bike naked. As Duncan said: “It’s the opposite extreme of being in a car wrapped up in steel.”
He also said that he doesn’t like to promote the vulnerability aspect of it too much as it’s about physical liberation. He said: “We are statistically less vulnerable if we are many. The more cyclists there are on the road, the less accidents there are.”
I’m not sure this last point refers to me. I haven’t ridden a bike in over 10 years and, having failed my cycling proficiency at school, was never great to begin with.
The thought of coming off naked in front of crowds of people does fill me with terror but I’ll give it a go anyway. Pedal-power to the naked masses!
P.S. Does anyone have a bike I can borrow? I need to get some practice in.