Naked Truth

As bare as you dare


What: Bellingham Naked Bike Ride

When: 6 pm Fri., Jun. 7

Where: The ride starts and ends at Make.Shift Art Space, 306 Flora St.

Info: http://www.bellinghamnakedbikeride.com

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Holly Street gets a lot of action.

During my tenure in Bellingham, I’ve seen the one-way thoroughfare filled with a lot more than vehicles making their way through the downtown core.

I’ve witnessed a horde of lurching zombies hanging a right from Railroad Avenue on their way to Maritime Heritage Park on a memorable Halloween night, painters setting up easels along the urban corridor to bring attention to the city’s working artists, scores of humans marching for everything from women’s rights to St. Patrick and—on more than one occasion—seen hundreds of naked bicyclists cruising confidently down the entrance to Old Town.

After repeated sightings of the mass migration of people that sign up to expose themselves during the annual Bellingham World Naked Bike Ride early each June, I can confirm the event is eye-opening in a number of ways.

Sure, there’s a certain spectacle to be expected when as many as 300 naked or partially-clothed participants paint their epidermis, don creative costumes, trick out their two-wheeled conveyances and present themselves to the public. But when the reason why the activists make themselves vulnerable in this way becomes clear, their bravery astounds.

“While quite the experience in its own right, the ride exists to propel important conversations in to the social discourse,” organizers say. “Participants ride to protest our ‘indecent exposure’ to fossil fuels, highlight bicyclists’ vulnerability and redefine cultural narratives about body image.”

That’s a tall order to fill, but when local residents join others from more than 70 cities and 20 countries who will be hosting similar events on or near Fri., June 7 as part of the World Naked Bike Ride, they’ll be up for the challenge.

A related gathering happening both before and after the big event is designed to help clarify their messages. Starting at 4pm, head to Make.Shift Art Space, where a Body Positivity Block Party will commence with the painting of bodies, live music and decisions about how much (or how little) riders want to wear. Go “as bare as you dare,” organizers say.

After the 6pm ride that will lap through downtown Bellingham, interested parties can head back to Make.Shift for the continuation of the Block Party. Music will be provided courtesy of Smooth Kiwi, Bird and Shooter, and Hot Wax, and speeches on topics of bike safety, body positivity, and the need to break away from fossil fuel dependence will bring the Naked Bike Ride full circle.

Since the happening is conveniently timed with the start of the monthly Art Walk in downtown Bellingham, I plan on beginning my art-focused meanderings by strategically being at the corner of Holly and Bay streets to lend my support when the clothes-optional caravan passes by. It’s the least I can do.

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