June 21, 2015

Celebrating the Solstice with Naked Bike Riders

NakedBikeRide

“We have to go to the Summer Solstice Parade,” my friend EcoWoman said as soon as I arrived at her house. I’d just flown across the country. She lives in a city on the west coast that’s famous for coffeehouses, the Space Needle, and the bluest skies that Bobby Sherman has ever seen.

I didn’t know what to expect from the parade. The only parade I’ve really ever attended is the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Snowstorm City, held during March which is still winter where I live. I associate parades with marching bands in full uniforms, bagpipe players in kilts, Irish dancers shivering in their kneesocks, and big floats where people wear long underwear under their costumes. 

This parade began with hundreds of people on bicycles, most of them completely naked. They’d painted their bodies — with stripes, with patterns, with bright colors, with dark colors. Some wore accessories, like tutus or capes or butterfly wings. Their bodies were painted to match superheroes and characters from kids’ books. There were mermaids and elves. I got the impression that they’d all come from a big party where artists had gone wild using all these bodies as blank palettes. The result was spectacular.

Ecowoman and I sat on the curb, with crowds of people behind us, the sun shining down on the body paint of the naked bike riders as they coasted past. We saw bikers painted red and wearing Santa hats. We saw naked Batman and naked Robin. We saw Waldo and Elmo and the Cat in the Hat, plus all five of the Power Rangers. We saw nipples painted into flowers and penises that had clearly been dunked into a paint bucket. The artists had left no body part bare: many of the bikers were covered from ankle to scalp in blue or green or fluorescent pink.

Thing1Thing2

The bikers all seemed to be having a great time — whooping and calling out to friends and reaching out to slap palms with people sitting at the curb. A few of the men had a sock or puppet head strategically placed, just to be silly. Many of the bikers made us smile, but I was also struck just how beautiful some of them were — especially the women whose bodies had become silhouettes in swirling shades of green, purple, or blue. They weren’t all on bikes. Some went by on rollerblades or danced along with hula hoops, moving to the music that was blaring from a band down the street.

I turned to EcoWoman, who was laughing and saying, “I knew you’d love this.” “Next year, we need to be in the parade,” I said. I was already planning what colours I’d choose for the body paint. She nodded. “I’ve got a bicycle.”

HulaHoop

14 comments:

Heidi said...

Oh, these are great photos!! There's a similar Naked Bike Ride in Portland, Oregon every year.

DJan said...

We have a Naked Bike Ride in Bellingham, too. It was a couple weeks ago and I saw the pictures but I didn't go down to watch. If you're in it next year, I want pictures! :-)

Jeanie said...

Terrific photos! I'm afraid if I rode in that one, it would scare people!

Cat Lover said...

Wow what great photos. What brave people!

Gail said...

I'm thinking how uncomfortable the bike seat would be.

Birdie said...

I love this. Maybe one day I will get the guts to participate!

jo(e) said...

Gail: Ha! Some of them did have extra padding on their seats -- and I also saw seats wrapped in plastic bags. Then again, many seemed to ride standing up, just coasting along.

That would actually be my hesitation for participating -- I'm not at all experienced with urban bike riding. I would have to go really slow.

Ratty said...

It looks like they were all having lots of fun. This reminds me of reading about when the music group Queen made a music video with naked bicycle riders. They rented the bikes, but when it was time to return them the place refused to take back the seats.

Mwa said...

Sounds like a wonderful party.

jo(e) said...

Ratty: Oh, I remember the Queen song, but I've never heard that story. Ha.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Love the body paint it is practically an art show:)

delagar said...

I am just imagining this happening here in NW Arkansas.

The hysteria! The vapors! The fainting in coils!

Maybe I should propose it at the next faculty meetings just for the preview.

Phil said...

Hey, my band performed in that parade! Fully clothed, thank you. My wife plays clarinet, I play trumpet. We're the band, but probably the most conservative group in that parade.

And the "bluest skies" line is Perry Como, in a song published in conjunction with the 1962 world's fair (I wasn't here, didn't move here until 1974)

Glad you enjoyed it!

jo(e) said...

Phil: Oh, I didn't even write about the rest of the parade --which was very quirky. I liked all the environmental and social activist themes, and the way there weren't any signs so you had to just figure out what the metaphors were. I forgot that you lived in that part of the world! I tend to think of bloggers as living inside my computer.