Darting out into the Straight of Georgia like a vainy erection lies famous Wreck Beach: a great place to forget the city for an afternoon, as you conveniently forget to hide your shame. Ah Freedom! I’ve heard so much about you!
A short walk from the UBC bus loop and down 542 wooden steps leads you to a large stretch of sand, hidden from the crowds of Kits and Third Beach. This perfect playground hosts everything from yoga classes, to full-body massages. And if that wasn’t enough, independent vendors with nothing on but a fanny-bag, constantly comb the beach to provide you and your lazy-ass friends with anything you didn’t want to haul down all those steps. It’s simply a great place to crease the binding of a good book, or drop in on a game of beach volleyball.
On this particular day I was squinting through the blinding sand in search of a few friends. A text message left on my phone an hour earlier said to look for red. Later on that night I would be told that in a confused burning event involving a matchstick and a roach left the tip of my friend’s nose with a red dot. As such, he decided that a red bandana and matching t-shirt would make his shame less salient. Welcome of the Beach of the Weird folks!
A blur of red led me to him quite quickly and I was pleased to see that the tide was out, leaving the sand swelled and making it perfect for Olympic-level Frisbee, or World Cup soccer. Shiny eyes and bellies full of Ale kept the games short and the scoreboards arbitrary. After the tournament I was sad to see that my hummus had rotted under the sun, but luckily the backend of Wreck Beach is always lined with makeshift foods stands, serving Japadogs, bison burgers and Peruvian staples. Parallel to the shore, you can also expect to find hippie dresses and scarves, all reasonably priced.
Adding to Wreck’s uniqueness is the fact that it’s one of the few places that the sun drowns out right over the water. You’ll be cussing yourself, wishing your cell phone took better pictures; but don’t worry, soon all is forgotten when you heard the customary applause of your fellow beach bums as the sun turns into an orange rim along the razor horizon.
Being such a regional rarity, Wreck Beach comes with a degree of politics as well. In one corner, weighing in at whatever love handles you can grab at, is the ‘Nude Nazi’. He’s usually hammered and well equipped with a swift tongue if you get too close or too clothed. Signature screams include: “Hey, Jericho is that way buddy!” or my favorite, “This is our beach! Cunt off Textile!” In the other corner, we have the Peering Party-Crasher in the Oakley trunks, and a mouth full of lame pick-up lines. These clowns, with their scattered cigarette buds and beer caps practice little or no beach etiquette. I mean who brings glass bottles to a beach anyways?
I mean let’s face it a lot of the ‘Textiles’ that eagerly hop down those steps are there to check out some naked bodies, and I too, have been inclined to glance at a nipple or two (usually two). The problem here isn’t innocent perversion, but rather a lack of awareness.
Those times that I chose to flap in the wind, I noticed that the number of boarding shorts and bikinis really put a damper on the vibe (the former more than the latter of course). This is something the mainstreamists need to understand. Wreck Beach is a pretty special place and the nudist want to keep it like that.
Mind you I’m not condoning drunken debates, for those tipsy sun-raisins have the wrong approach completely. But what I am stressing is the importance of being sand savvy.
I have been going to Wreck for years now, sometimes in trunks, sometimes not, so I can relate to both sides. The wrinkled nudists can’t stand seeing their beloved beach being infested by clothes and bottle caps; and cold suds under the hot sun makes attitudes exponentially worse. No one likes a tourist, but technically the ‘Textiles’ have just as much right to be there as the nudists do, for Wreck Beach is a clothing option beach.
Getting into an antagonizing debate on your beach day is never fun so here are my words of wisdom for the non-nudist hoping for an Indian summer:
- You’re better off to set up camp around the bottom of the steps or to the right of them, for the best spots (far left) are usually kept nice and naked.
- Don’t take pictures, and if you must, be discreet.
- Take your cigarette butts with you and if you forget to remember and misplaced one or two simply replace them with the orphans lost in the sand.
- Keep your ears open, for at the first sign of the fuzz, a naked Viking toots his horn alarm. No joke! If you happen to be farther than a stone’s throw away from Thor’s yelp please heed the next tip.
- This one goes for nudists and non-nudists alike for in this case the police ironically don’t discriminate. Cops routinely patrol the beach on weekends, pouring beer out and writing $150 tickets for public drinking as you roll your eyes behind your shades. The best way to avoid this tragedy is to leave the cooler at home, buy ice from the UBC store plaza, and like our forefathers dig a hole. Your empty cans are your evidence and are in demand by collectors, so chuck them away from you when you can.
Hands down Wreck Beach is the best city beach, and there’s nothing like running into the silver water at a moment’s notice and floating in the open sea wearing nothing but a tan. I highly recommend it! And if bearing it all is asking too much, then remember my advice and keep an open mind.
Photo credit: Natasha Pirani
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