Tomorrow evening, @TheFrankFlyer and I fly to Sitges for a long weekend of Pride celebrations. And, of course, many hours of lying about on the beach…
Sitges has become one of my favourite places in Spain. One, it’s super close to Barcelona, where I’m frequently based for work. So it’s easy to pop down on the train for some beach time. Two, it’s only about 30mins from Barcelona Airport and is very easy to get to by car.
I love the proximity of the beaches to our favourite hotel – the Melia Sitges – and I adore the walk into town we do each evening to go for drinks and some food.
As this weekend is Sitges Pride, it won’t be the sleepy, gentle town it normally is. It’ll be full to the brim and queuing for drinks will be the norm. Our favourite beach, the clothing-optional Platja dels Balmins, will be full to capacity, meaning we’ll need to get down their early to secure sun beds.
Mind you, if last year was anything to go by, many guys didn’t turn up to the beach until quite late in the morning – hangovers in tow. It pays to go easy on the beers if you want to grab a prime beach spot the following morning!
One thing I noticed last year was the age profile on that beach. While it’s a predominantly clothing-optional and gay beach, most of the younger guys (by which I mean below 30) kept their shorts on. Especially the Brits and Americans. All that puritan shame and guilt, I guess!
On the other hand, people from everywhere else in the world – and much more locally – seem comfortable in their own skin. Oh, and the toddlers! Because even though it’s Pride, the town and its beaches will still be full of local Spanish families enjoying the sunshine. It’s probably the most family-oriented Pride celebration I’ve ever been to, which is lovely.
Since my first visit to Sitges, I’ve been asked by friends why I bother going naked on the beach. Not in a challenging way, but out of what I think is genuine interest. I don’t have a single or simple answer, really.
It’s certainly not to make a political point, or to be an exhibitionist. I can say that it’s definitely more comfortable in the sun. One of my favourite feelings is when I’m able to get out of jeans and shoes and spend time wearing nothing but flip-flops (hot sand!), some sunscreen and a pair of shades all day. Also, my vanity means I hate tan lines!
It’s also about the naturist mindset, which for me is about seeing people as they really are and accepting people no matter how they look.
You can’t tell what job someone has or what car they drive as they lie naked next to you on the beach. You can’t tell how much cash is lying in their bank account or what exclusive clubs they’re a member of. All you can see is another human, who’s comfortable getting naked in the sunshine alongside lots of their fellow humans. You might also see how life has treated them or what they’ve done, when you see the odd scar or tattoo. But that’s it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Nudity is powerful in that it’s the ultimate leveller. And I’ve never found a more friendly and welcoming atmosphere than a clothes-free environment. I’m not sure whether it’s the people that are attracted to these contexts who are friendly, or whether spending time there makes you so. Either way, it’s nice.
I shouldn’t mock the guys who keep their shorts on – that used to be me! For the longest time, I had quite acute shame about my body and kept shorts/speedos on whenever I was at a beach or pool. I have a large scar that runs from my hip right across my groin, which I’ve always found so ugly and embarrassing. But after a lot of thought and some ‘who cares?’ type reflection, I finally went bare on the beach in Sitges and you know what? Nobody cared.
So, perhaps the bottom line (pardon the pun), is that going naked in public has done more for my body confidence and my overall self-confidence than anything else I’ve done in the last decade.
That’s the only way I could have survived last week’s World Naked Bike Ride in London!
And if they changed the rules and enforced beach clothing, would I still go? Of course. Because what I love more than anything else is the feeling of sun on my face and sand between my toes. Shorts or no shorts.
I hope they don’t change it, though. It’s nice that out of the dozen or so beaches in the town, there’s one place where naturists can tan and swim as they want to.
If I had to label myself, I’m definitely a contextual naturist: only when I’m on sunny beaches, in spas and saunas, at home in the summer months or when participating in mass naked cycles that take over an entire city!