You may know Rio de Janeiro as the land where people spend half of their days on the beach and where everything goes in the sex department.
So you might be surprised to learn that until last year Rio didn’t have an official beach where people could undress all their inhibition and expose themselves in the nude on the hot Brazilian tropical sand.
That’s also the reason why Rio has never – until today – hosted the Brazilian Naturism Congress (Congrenat), which is holding its tenth edition during this long holiday weekend (Thursday, November 2, was All Souls Day in Brazil).
By the way, the whole of Brazil, with 7,408 kilometers or 4,603 miles of coast, has only eight official nudism beaches, that is, beaches where people can undress and be sure they won’t be taken to the closest police district.
Well, Rio has finally become Brazil’s capital of nudity for a few days while the participants of the 10th Brazilian Naturism Congress hailing from 12 Brazilian states strut their naked bodies on the Abricó Beach, and other sanctuaries, far from the coveting eyes of Copacabana and Ipanema tourists.
Bad weather didn’t chase away the 400 or so naturists who took part in the Congress opening ceremonies in the Abricó beach, on Thursday, November 2. Today, participants are have a full day of activities, which includes discussions on the challenges nudism faces in Brazil.
Nudism fans will be debating which actions to take to pressure Congress into voting a bill presented by house representative Fernando Gabeira, which gives states and municipalities authorization and encouragement to create areas for the practice of nudism or clothing optional activity as some prefer.
Saturday attendees will be invited to use their imagination and little or no clothes for a memorable Halloween in a ranch on the Recreio dos Bandeirantes area, also on Rio’s westside.
The Gabeira law – the congressmen is from Rio and a self-professed gay – is pending in Congress since 1996. It was already approved in the Lower House and in the Senate commissions, needing only to be voted by the the full Senate.
Another important theme is to make arrangements for the 31st International Naturist Federation (INF-FNI) World Congress, which will be held in Brazil in 2008. The encounter to be hosted in Tambaba’s beach, in the northeastern state of Paraíba will be the first time that the venerable INF will held its congress south of the Equator.
In order to avoid the presence of nosy onlookers the Rio Congress organizers only allows the media to wear clothes in the area where the meeting is going on. To prevent distractions nudism is also being banned during the debates, which are being held at Prainha’s Park, adjacent to Abricó beach.
Another hot theme among the naturists is the invasion of swingers into their ranks. Without seeming prejudiced, they are trying to get rid of people who join naturism just to find sexual partners.
Pedro Ribeiro, president of Abricó’s Naturist Association, told reporters: "The number of these couples has grown considerably. They use our space to look for contacts. This adulterates naturism, but we have to find a way to deal with this matter without being prejudiced."
Brazilian naturists face widespread discrimination, which they say, has to do with the way people see their way of life. As Beate Flunkert, 41, a German woman who practices nudism since 11 and now lives in Brazil, told O Estado de S. Paulo: "Everybody thinks that the naturist space is a promiscuity space."
The Estado also interviewed a 29-year secretary from São Paulo, Simone Oliveira, who ended up going to the congress by herself because her boyfriend, according to her, was afraid to get too excited in the presence of so many naked women.
She explained: "I have no place to practice nudism in São Paulo. So I come to Rio. My boyfriend thinks this is odd. He feels like coming but then he is afraid to get a hard-on. So I come by myself and he stays home consumed with jealousy."
The encounter also features a play and an artistic nude photo exhibition. Before the congress closes on Sunday, the nudism fans will also be able to play soccer (futebol), volley, ping-pong and shuttlecock besides having sessions of theater workshop and body painting, all dressed in the nude.
Information on tickets and schedule are available online at http://www.anabrico.com/p_abertura.htm