Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Importance of a Free Beach

Good news from Belgium. The government there has finally given its full license to the country's only seaside naturist beach - in Bredene near the main coastal town of Ostend - 10 years after it first opened. The main campaigner behind the beach was a politician from the local city council. While thousands of people have been crowding the beach for years, the final official license was still missing, threatening the 350-meter stretch of sand with closure. The slow red tape also meant that professional rescue services could not be present on the beach. While the beach is popular, any expansion right now is off the cards because that would need the approval of the neighboring town of De Haan, where there is no majority in the city council for naturism. The existence of the Bredene Beach is a key to promoting naturism. Belgium has several naturist grounds spread all over its territory, but visits are as far as I know limited to club members. Members of the general public eager to try out naturism will not visit those grounds, and most of them do not know about their existence and location anyway, but everyone knows about Bredene. That proves the importance of free beaches, where 'amateurs' can try out naturism for the first time. Especially in the case of women, naturism begins with topless bathing - which luckily is now legal and general in most of Europe. The second step - from topless to fully naked - is obviously more difficult, and that's where free beaches come in. If you see other men, women and couples with children fully naked and comfortable being so, you put aside your own inhibitions and become willing to try out complete naturism too. The step to real naturism requires a comfortable environment - and that's why we advocate the existence of free beaches in combination with reasonable policing - so that real naturism does not become threatened by extreme behavior that is not compatible with naturism and that can be exploited by opponents to call for a shutdown of the beaches. In the meantime, congratulations to Bredene and its naturist campaigners. By the way, the picture up here does not show Bredene, but another free beach popular with Belgians - Groede, just across the border in the Netherlands.

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