By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While Abricó Beach located in Grumari in Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Oeste (West Zone) had been a known site for practicing nudists and naturists since the 1970s, on November 6th Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes sanctioned a law proclaiming the over 250 square meter stretch of shoreline a legal naturist area, making it Rio’s first nude beach.
The naturists in Rio de Janeiro originally chose Abricó Beach for its undeveloped qualities, lush foliage, white sandy beaches and private location. Nestled between the mountains and the shoreline near Avenida da Guanabara, the beach area has, for over twenty years, been a site where a local community practiced naturism, a cultural movement and lifestyle that celebrates social nudity.
In May 2013, Rio city councilwoman Laura Carneiro (PTB) began to promote legislation to legally recognize the area as a naturist beach. She argued that it would make Rio more hospitable for foreign tourists arriving from places where nude beaches and naturism is more accepted and established.
“Don’t forget the fact that the Marvelous City will host major international events, which will bring a great influx of tourists from countries where the practice of naturalism is widespread,” G1 reported Carneiro stating before referencing other areas in the country that sanctioned nudity including: Pinho, in Balneário Camboriú, Santa Catarina; Tambaba, in Conde, Paraíba; and Brava Beach in Cabo Frio.
“Furthermore, the other existing areas located in different states of our country that have already been demarcated for naturism, have gone through positive experiences that encouraged national and international tourism on a large scale and demonstrated positive effects on the economy and tourism.”
Pedro Ribeiro, founder and president of the Associação Naturista de Abricó (Abricó Naturist Association) or ANAbricó, told G1 that during the World Cup games in June and July, the number of visitors to the beach did increase.
“This year, the beach received many tourists who came for the World Cup. There were people from Peru, Ecuador, Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America but, in addition to them, there were Europeans, particularly French, who come because they are accustomed to this practice there.”
Another argument to legally sanction Abricó Beach as a naturist area was that the legal recognition would strengthen protection for the beachgoers who chose to practice nudity in the area.
“We had been long suffering from a lack of security and disrespect,” Claudio Haliuc, a representative of the Naturists of Abricó told O Dia news. “After the television stations wrote novelas [soap operas] about the beach, people came and left everything dirty, with car parts and authorities who tried to extort and embarrass swimmers.”
ANAbricó’s website includes a warning to those curious about visiting the beach saying; “WE DO NOT RECOMMEND VISITING ABRICÓ BEACH WHEN THE ASSOCIATION IS NOT PRESENT. Unfortunately many people do not understand the NATURIST PHILOSOPHY, and they behave badly on the public beach. That doesn’t mean that you will ALWAYS encounter that kind of problem, but it’s very possible.”
Social activist Paula Nogueira, who along with activist, Ana Rios, helped to organize the ‘Toplessaço’ topless demonstration that took place in Ipanama last December, spoke to the AFP about the city’s sanctioning of Abricó Beach as a naturist area, saying; “This is a courageous decision by the mayor and it will help Rio become a cultural and tourist reference point, especially with the city about to celebrate its 450th anniversary and the 2016 Olympic Games.”
Abricó Beach is part of Praia de Grumari (Grumari Beach), a rustic stretch of coastline located in an environmentally protected area surrounded by cliffs and a national park. It is some distance away from the crowded Zona Sul (South Zone) beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, 20km west past the residential neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca.