Madrid swimming pools may hold ‘Bathing Suit-Free Day’

Request by nudist group gets greenlighted by Manuela Carmena administration, but attracts criticism from PP

Optional Bathing Suit Day at Complutense University's pool, in August 2010.
Optional Bathing Suit Day at Complutense University's pool, in August 2010.CARLOS ROSILLO

Madrid’s public swimming pools may hold a Bathing Suit-Free Day, or an Optional Bathing Suit Day, some time this summer.

An email sent by the city’s sports department to the 21 district heads explains that municipal pools, if they see fit, have authorization to organize such an event.

The decision follows a request by the Association for the Development of Naturism (ADN).

Children welcome

Children may also participate in the Bathing Suit-Free Day or Optional Bathing Suit Day, said city sources. “There will be signs at pool entrances” alerting people to the fact, said a spokesperson. As on any other day, minors will only be allowed inside in the company of adults

But the city of Madrid notes that the initiative is not new. A similar day was held last year at the sports complex in Casa de Campo, and on several occasions under former mayor José María Álvarez del Manzano, of the conservative Popular Party (PP), who served between 1991 and 2003.

“Following indications from the director general of Sports (which answers to the culture department), I inform you of a request made by the ADN Association proposing a Bathing Suit-Free Day or an Optional Bathing Suit Day, in case you feel it is worth it to authorize it at any of the pools in your district,” reads the e-mail.

The contents of the email were not revealed by a member of the ruling Ahora Madrid coalition, but rather by Esperanza Aguirre, a veteran conservative figure in Madrid politics and a vocal opponent of the leftist administration run by Manuela Carmena.

Aguirre called the initiative “a fantastic flight of fancy,” and added: “I don’t know if you will have the guts to introduce a Veil-Free Day for Muslim women.”

What we aim to do with this day is to educate, to share our values, which are Western values, even Christian values

Ismael Rodrigo, ADN association

The idea of a day in the nude at municipal pools is “just one more of the crazy ideas that you [Carmena] have gotten us accustomed to,” added Aguirre.

At a press conference, culture commissioner Celia Mayer said the petition by the nudist association is still being processed, and that the most likely pool to hold the event in the first place is the one in the district of Moncloa, west of the city. She did not offer any dates, although the city on Tuesday said it will not be before late August.

Ismael Rodrigo, head of the ADN association, says that Madrid has held the event at the pool of Complutense University (in 2010) and at the Lago pool last year.

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“The day selected for Bathing Suit-Free Day, which is a Spanish invention, is the third Sunday of July, although until now some pools have held it on Naturism Day, on June 5,” he explains. “For this year, we’ve decided to delay it until July 24 to give them time to organize it, but it still needs approval by the district chief.”

“What we aim to do with this day is to educate, to share our values, which are Western values, even Christian values if you get right down to it,” he adds. “Our bodies should not be criminalized, and the best way we see to convey that is to try not to use clothes when they are not necessary, and they are not necessary when bathing – if anything, the wet bathing suit is a bother. It is a habit built on prejudice, and we want to convey a more open way to see the world, right from childhood.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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