I had never been skinny dipping before. I had always imagined my first skinny dip would be some romantic or scandalous affair out at a mountain chalet, stripping off in the dead of night and slipping unseen into some glacial lake (I guess in my imaginings I was a wealthy and influential woman with access to a chalet), or perhaps a nice dunk in my birthday suit with a few inebriated friends at a lakeside cottage in the dark.
I never imagined I would be skinny dipping for the first time in the glaring light of day with 625 other naked people, but on July 2, that’s exactly what I did: stripping down to my nothings for the 2011 Wreck Beach Skinny Dip. (My TC and a spunky gal pal joined me, meaning I only had to expose my naked self to 623 total strangers.)
The Wreck Beach Skinny Dip is an annual event organized by the Wreck Beach Preservation Society (WBPS). This year, for each skinny dipper in the water, an anonymous donor pledged to donate $2 to the WBPS. As I was leaving the beach, an organizer told me the donor had decided to up their donation to $5 per bather. I was also told that the Notary Public enlisted for the occasion had counted 626 naked bathers this year, meaning we handily beat last year’s record of 489 (and my bum was among ’em!). Considering this and the gorgeous sun we had that day, I would call the WBPS’s bare-naked event a success.
Judging by their website, it seems the mission of the WBPS centres around two main concerns:
- Preserving the natural beauty of Wreck Beach and preventing or lessening hazards to its environment.
- Preserving the right of visitors at Wreck Beach to enjoy the beach au naturel, and taking action and voicing concerns regarding development in nearby areas or changes in legislation which may make this right unlawful.
I was introduced to Wreck Beach only this spring by my TC, and I must say that since my first visit I have been completely in love, forsaking all other Vancouver beaches, forever and ever. Here’s why (in another numbered list!):
- The beach is huge, and beautiful. Bald eagles soar over tree-covered cliffs, and on clear days you can see the mountains of Vancouver Island.
- Wreck Beach is quiet. It’s a long hike down from the road, but it’s worth it. Once on the beach, there are no cars or buildings within sight or earshot. The loudest sound you’ll hear is the lovely group of musicians who seem to favour the Police and the Beatles, playing their guitars (and trumpet!) with the kind of gusto you can only really find in people who are doing what they love, TOTALLY NAKED. When I’m lying in the sun at Wreck, I’ve completely left the city behind, and I’ve never been so relaxed.
- I get to sunbathe topless. That’s right, I said it. Totally topless. IT’S GREAT. The greatest part is that I can be topless or naked and nobody cares. Unlike Vancouver’s other beaches which seem to be covered in hyper-sexualized teenagers in teeny-weeny gold lamee American Apparel bikinis, at Wreck Beach, no one cares what you’ve got or what your body looks like. The beach is clothing-optional, not courtesy-optional, and gawking at others or making comments is discouraged (read WBPS’s Beach Etiquette to find out how you can be nude, not lewd). I feel less exposed naked at Wreck than I do in a swimsuit at English Bay.
2011 has so far been a year of discovery for me; a year of discovering BC and especially of discovering Vancouver, my adopted home. The relaxed, conscientious, and accepting atmosphere at Wreck Beach is a wonderful representation of the spirit of this city and I sincerely hope it will continue to be so.
And now for a poll! I used to think nude beaches were weird, and now I think they’re great! Your thoughts?
P.S. If you’re wondering how the water was on July 2, it was effing freezing. But so refreshing.