Mexican Naturist Federation and the Zipolite Nudist Festival 2017
Guest blog by: Héctor Martínez
Haga clic aquí para leer este artículo en español (Spanish version).
In part 1 of this article I mentioned my personal experience that brought me to the creation of our organization NNG in Guadalajara, and I talked about when we invited the president of the Mexican Federation, Juan Marcos Castañeda, to get to know our group. In this article I will share a little of what I learned regarding nudism in Mexico, through many good conversations we had and getting firsthand information.
During Juan Marcos’ visit to Guadalajara I had the opportunity to hear directly about nudism on a national level. Juan shared with me the story of how him and a group of friends, through many years of hard work, founded the first, and currently the only, non-profit naturist organization with governmental and legal recognition in Mexico.
The Mexican Nudist Federation was born on December 16, 2011 with the aim of representing and promoting naturism in Mexico. Before the Federation, nudism in Mexico was an unknown activity practiced underground, out of fear of being socially judged or retaliated against. The group started through a public Yahoo discussion forum called Nudistas de Mexico (NUDMEX) where anyone could comment on this subject. This was all before social media was going mainstream.
The Mexican Federation has been a space of promotion for naturist activities throughout Mexico, where each organizer conducts different events all year round.
Contrary to common belief, naturism isn’t new in Mexico — it’s been around since the early 70’s. One of the first places where naturism — an uncommon phenomenon for a culture so deeply influenced by the Catholic Church and conservatism — started is at Zipolite nude beach, in the state of Oaxaca. In 1969 Gloria Johnson, born in Los Angeles, daughter of a Mexican, arrived for the first time in Zipolite by accident. During an interview she describes the marvelous experience she had skinny-dipping in the sea.
In 2014, the secretary of the Federation, Gerardo Cisneros convinced the representatives of the countries that participated in the 5th Latin American Naturist Encounter (ELAN 5) to hold the 6th edition (2016) in Zipolite, Mexico. It’s important to mention that the ELAN is an event hosted every two years in different Latin American countries.
Currently Zipolite is the only beach where nudism is openly tolerated in Mexico. In 2016 thanks to the biennial Latin American Naturist Encounter (ELAN 6 in Spanish) hosted by the Mexican Federation, it became the first and to date, only, official clothing optional beach in Mexico — declared by local authorities on the first day of the festival.
Zipolite Festival 2017
Before the festival, both Jair Flores, President of the Hotel and Motel Association in Zipolite, and Juan Marcos Castañeda, President of the Mexican Nudist Federation, were concerned due to the change in office of local authorities. The change was the main reason why they weren’t able to negotiate the necessary resources and support to guarantee the 2017 edition of the Festival. Three weeks before the festival things started to sort out and they were able to obtain everything they needed. Jair Flores was the leader responsible for accomplishing all this in record timing.
Despite the multiple difficulties during the arrangements for the festival, and the few resources they had at their disposal, the arranged activities were a success and the participants enjoyed them to the fullest.
Because of this festival, Zipolite was filled with people, something uncommon for this time of year considering it was low season. Throughout the entire beach area (around 1-1/4 miles) you could see people from different states in Mexico or other countries enjoying this enchanting and marvelous beach the natural way. For many, this was the first time they had lived this experience in complete harmony with themselves and in an unparalleled natural setting.
Some of the activities that took place during the festival were temazcales, naked yoga, live music, body painting and the official picture for the Festival.
A nice surprise was the presence of the mayor Victor Cruz Vazquez during the Calenda parade (a local tradition). This showed that there was an interest in positioning nudism as the main source of tourism in this region. We also had the opportunity of meeting with the director of tourism who assumed the commitment of getting the support necessary to make the 2018 festival bigger and better.
The media’s response was very positive. Many different newscasts covered the event including TV, printed, and online news. All the reporters agreed that in a few years Zipolite and nudism will generate as well as benefit from a huge increase in tourism.
Naturism in Mexico is still a practice among many small and underground groups that host different types of events, but we still haven’t accomplished mainstream recognition as a social movement. Here social nudity is a taboo topic, overlooked by the majority. When you bring it up, the first reaction it generates is curiosity. This is a window of opportunity to share what it’s about and in many cases it’s taken quite positively. We have the advantage that there is no general preconception of nudism, as there are in many countries where social nudity is stigmatized.
Social media has made communication so easy. It has given us the advantage of being in contact with new ideas constantly and improved the way we communicate them. This is causing society to become more receptive and open to new lifestyles that differ from their own.
We have the promotion of naturism by the Federation and the recognition of these emerging organizations, such as NNG in Guadalajara, that convey a sense of security to people. It’s reassuring them that naturism is a legitimate practice and doesn’t hide any intentions different from those we promote.
Zipolite is a historical area of opportunity nationwide. It sets the precedent of being able to convince a local government and businesses that nudism is a profitable tourist attraction. In as much as we are able to convince more and more places of this, the more options we will have to enjoy naturism.
Naturism in Mexico is a social movement that has the potential to help correct issues we face as a society, such as: discrimination, gender inequality, sexual harassment, sexual violence, macho culture, lack of sexual education, etc.
We find ourselves in a global social crisis, and that is why this is the perfect momentum to promote alternative ways of human interaction that aim to improve our quality of living, and in naturism we find a viable option.
About the author: At 25 years of age, Héctor Martinez has a BA in Politics and Governmental Studies at the University of Guadalajara; he’s an English teacher; promoter of naturism in Guadalajara, Mexico; and in 2016 founded the first organized naturist group in the city: Naturaleza y Nudismo Guadalajara (NNG) ‘Nature and Nudism Guadalajara.’ Héctor has participated in many interviews for online radio programs, organized public conferences and given lectures on naturism. Héctor and NNG are currently working on a Spanish language naturism podcast called “Desnudólogos”. His ambition is to turn naturism into a social movement that aims to break from the preconceptions and taboos associated with the human body and nudity.