Some were artists. Some were students. Some were senior citizens. Some were professional office types. Some were families with kids. A good number had beautiful bodies and a lot didn't. But nearly all of the people gathered for the 10th World Naked Bike Ride -- a global protest against automobile traffic, which celebrated its Mexican event on June 13 -- had one thing in common: They were either nude or wearing fewer clothes than usual for a public bike ride.
Every large city hosts events. But Mexico City, one of the three largest cities in the world and Mexico's capital, is unlike any other place in Latin America, with its array of unique happenings. A great example of this is the World Naked Bike Ride Mexico.
More than 300 participants -- most on bicycles, but some on roller blades or skate boards; and a few jogged -- attended this year's event. Just as interesting as the diversity of participants was the artistic expression that went into being naked. Starting at 9:30am on a sunny Saturday, 50 artists from an art collective called Encuentro de Maquillaje Corporal Fonámbules gathered at the staging site, near the Monumento a la Revolución, to provide body painting to participants. Body art that ranged from phrases ("¿Ahora sí me ves?") to graphic splashes of color to paintings worthy of framing soon covered the bodies of various cyclists as they awaited the beginning of the event.
Participants who rode nude were overwhelmingly male. "That's probably because there is still a problem here with violence against women," said Nolberto, a friend of mine who lives in Mexico City. "A lot of women wouldn't feel safe being nude in public here." Men and women who didn't feel like going nude road topless or in underwear.
Spectators are welcome too; get there early if you'd like to see the body painting, which is a big part of the fun. Even foreign visitors can join the ride by renting a bike (some Mexico City hotels have their own bike loaner services, and there are public bike programs as well). The ride itself took just over two hours, running to the Zócalo (the city square in historic downtown Mexico City) and down Paseo de la Reforma, the city's grandest boulevard.
Of course, to get the full experience you need to see full body photos, complete with the intricate body painting. Those shots obviously can't appear here (nor on my travel blog, LatinFlyer.com, although I am putting together a small World Naked Bike Ride Mexico book with unedited shots), but these edited versions at least give a taste of Mexico City's unmistakable creativity and spirit of the event.