Sunday, March 28, 2010

A RE-APPRAISAL OF THE ALPS ADRIATIC MEETING


 On the occasion of the thirty-second (2004) anniversary of the largest naturist meeting held in Europe, I give my opinion in the hope of shaking up naturists and guests of this international event.

THE ORIGINS

The Alps-Adriatic Meeting originated from members of three naturist clubs in the area on 23rd September 1973: Liburnia-Associazione Naturista Umanitaria of Trieste (I), Drustvo Naturista Koversada of Ljubljana (YU) and Körpersportvereingung Wörthersee of Klagenfurt (A).

On Liburnia's invitation 16 naturists representing their clubs met on Mt. Mangart (2,678m) mountain hut in the Julian Alps. Another meeting followed on 24-25 November at Thermalbad Dolenjske Toplice in Slovenia and since then, with the exception of the 1981 meeting cancelled at short notice, there has been an annual gathering the last week of May or the first of June.
Originally it was called a “three-land meeting” but at the 10th gathering in Koversada on 31st May 1982 it got the its current name “Alpe-Adria” to show clearly that participating clubs were located either on the Adriatic Sea or in the Alps. At Koversada, the first meeting of the modern era, the leaders decided to change the numbering system as of 1982, to adopt nahtlos braun (A) as the official magazine of the meeting and hold future gatherings by turn in different locations.
The signatories to that important document were: Ehrenfriend Haas (1921-2004) of KSW Klagenfurt; Vladimir Lah, president of the DNS; Stane Frlič (1921-83), president of DN Kranj; Ludwig Götz (b. 1925-), chairman of BNV; Dr. Ruzicka of Zagreb; Mladen Konieviċ, president of DNH; Ludwig Dorsch (1925-2002), chairman of ÖNV; Albert Stifter of ÖNV, and Romano Mantani (1921-94) of Liburnia.
As the number of participants grew by leaps and bounds Monsena hosted it for the first time in 1985 when they welcomed the Hungarian Union of Naturists (MNE).
Jadran-turist under Zeljko Tomišiċ's firm hand took the organization in 1989. Tomišiċ's experience of the 21st INF Congress held also in Monsena in 1988 transformed the Alps-Adriatic Meeting into Europe's most important one till his retirement in early 2002.
In 1993, the Czech and Slovak Republics joined; in 1995, Russia, the Ukraine and the East-Central European Documentation Centre on Naturism and Related Subjects (EEDC) as an observer. In 1998, Switzerland was invited to attend, though few naturists have come from that country since then.
From the founding members only KSW Klagenfurt continues to date. Liburnia ceased to come in 1998, and Drusvo Naturista Koversada, the first naturist association of Yugoslavia, has been defunct since mid-70s.
STRUCTURE
The meeting lasts officially three days; it starts on Thursday evening at 19.00 hrs and ends on Sunday morning at 12.00 hrs. German has been the official language since its beginning but translation into Croatian, Slovenian, English and Italian is usually available.
The meetings have had several features: the fish and grill picnic organized on Red Island till 1995, then at the pool restaurant until 2000; the customary INF meeting with Istria's holiday resorts’ directors; the festive dinner with the simultaneous award of trophies at the mountain restaurant and the closing round table meeting of leaders at the pool restaurant on Sunday morning.
Current sports include beach volley, chess, children's games, cross, pétanque, table tennis, tug-of-war and volleyball. Games are always held on Friday and Saturday until 18.00 hrs, with the exception of table tennis that is held at the mountain restaurant on Thursday morning.
The 30th anniversary (2002) of the Alps Adriatic Meeting escaped notice among naturists. Monsena faces rather great financial difficulties, and the funds allocated to the opening ceremony and the entire organization did not allow great things. On the other hand, the general crisis in Europe in connection with the downgrading of the meetings reduced significantly the number of participants to 418, or 460 according to the associations' estimates, the lowest recorded number since 1991.
We shall try to look into the causes of this sudden reversal.
First, a number of pioneers have passed away: Romano Mantani of Italy (1994); Rudolf Detter of Austria (1994); Richard Kapuvári of Hungary (1922-2001); Ludwig Dorsch of Austria (1925-2002), and the honorary president of the INF Karl-Josef Dressen (1927-2003). Others like Gusztáv Hellebronth (b. 1922) of Hungary have prematurely retired. Most founding members in their mid-80s do attend but in no way influence the organizing committee.
Second, the INF since 1986 has been attending officially either by its president and/or vice-presidents, not to forget the INF general secretary Mireille Choin (b. 1959) that has taken the minutes of all round meetings. The late Alan McCombe (1926-92), Karl-Josef Dressen (1927-2003) and the current president Wolfgang Weinreich (b. 1946) have honoured the meetings and made valuable suggestions not always adopted by the organizing committee.
Third, the main issue is that Jadran-turist has formed an organizing committee exclusively of Monsena's employees. No permanent representatives from the four largest associations have sat on the committee: Austria, Germany, Hungary and Slovenia.
Fourth, in my opinion the thorny issue is the fading away of the Alps Adriatic Meeting clear aims as defined by the founders in 1973 and 1982. A meeting by and for naturists has turned into a meeting of “textile” naturists or professional players, who just come for winning the trophies. They play against amateurs, vanquish them and celebrate in a frenzy of enthusiasm during the festive dinner to the disappointment of the majority.
Volleyball, the most popular event, has drawn numerous spectators. Nudity is no longer compulsory and all sports are held textile. Professional and amateur players do not compete in the nude to avoid injuries or sunburns. The same rule applies to the players of table tennis, beach volley, tug-of-war and so on. Just people don't want to be nude.
The organizing committee, according to the new general manager of Monsena, Josip Ruziċ, had issued a circular letter addressed to associations for compulsory nudity in all sports. Most associations –he doesn't specify–refused and threatened with abstention. I have never seen that circular letter since 1995 when I first attended the meeting. I presume it still exists, locked in a drawer, but it has not been communicated to associations so far.
REMARKS
Summarily, the Alps Adriatic meetings have been held by and for naturists. Monsena since its establishment in 1971 has been a naturist holiday centre and not a clothes-optional one. Nudity has been compulsory even on sports grounds. Of course, by accepting non-naturists or “textile” naturists the management automatically turns their resort into a clothes-optional place.
Now I come to the associations, which have been responsible for the final selection of members and admittance of non-naturists. These persons usually carry a valid membership card, so they can enter Monsena. It is their duty to explain to prospective guests that the meeting is intended for naturists.
I watched this year's volleyball competition and I was astonished that the majority of spectators unlike previous years were also “textile.” I left the court dismayed and explained to Judit Halász, president of the Napóra Club, that I felt myself being in a zoo! Men in shorts, women wrapped in pareos or towels and players fully dressed in sports clothes. What a nice spectacle on naturist grounds!
The same scene repeated in beach volley –only one lady played in the nude– in the tug-of-war competition the Croats wore proudly their sponsored T-shirts; the cross race was held in a similar situation.
This “textile” invasion has turned away the old faithful who ask themselves “quo vadis Alpe-Adria?”
In 1998, I proposed to the other leaders during the round table meeting to help me collect historical evidence about the previous meetings and biographical notes of the leaders. My purpose was to create and maintain on EEDC's expenses a web site that would definitely popularize the aims of the meetings. Their response was minimal.
In 1999, together with Judit Halász of the Napóra Club of Budapest, we decided to award annually three trophies in the form of cups to “Extra Veterans” and honour these who had been regular participants for a long time.
The recent passing of Ludwig Dorsch and the vacuum that left in connection with the historical data and other information, it makes necessary the creation of a special committee. For example prior to 1994 there had been no bulletins or papers available to future students of the meetings. Dorsch, a man of vision, used to upload relative data onto his computer.
Finally, we shall not expect everything from the Monsena's organizing committee. Whether Monsena is reserved for naturists or not, the final say belongs to the shareholders of the largest tobacco company in Croatia.
The future of the Alps Adriatic Meetings depends on the participating countries. Do they have the courage to change the structure, update the rules, expel “textile” naturists and return to the naturist camaraderie? A new generation of leaders and organizers should be educated to take over in the years to come.
I have watched closely every event since 1986, but due to the nature of my job I could only attend it in person in 1995. However, I had previously covered meetings of the early 90s in EEDC’s magazine Napóra/Zegar Słoneczny and had contributed articles to naturist publications worldwide and on the EEDC official website www.eedc.gr (1998-2003).
EEDC'S SUGGESTIONS
1. Nudity should be enforced on all sport players, weather permitting.
2. Volleyball competition should be divided to professional and amateur categories as before.

3. The manual of sports rules shall be translated into the main languages (Croatian, Slovenian, German, Italian, English and Hungarian) and copies be given to the leaders of the associations for their information. Corrections and/or amendments to the rules will be necessary from time to time.

4. The Bulletin (Bilten) must include the names of sponsors of each event.

5. The statistics published in the Bulletin must give the accurate number of participants, and, if possible, breakdown by club and not only country. Leaders of clubs are urged to assist the organizing committee by providing correct numbers.

6. Photography should be restricted to one official photographer of each association, with a suitable badge, to avoid unnecessary trouble.

7. The organizing committee has to address the participants in four languages as usual, and treat other nations equally such as the Hungarians. Flags of participating countries should be hoisted outside the pool restaurant irrespective of number of participants.

8. More sports for families to be provided. Families should be encouraged to take part, for they comprise the backbone of the meeting. Singles are also welcome but the meetings have been primarily for families.

9. Creation and maintenance of a special website where information is available all year round in four languages. The domain name will be registered in Croatia.

10. Elimination of questionable happenings such as the 2002 strip-show (!) at the festive dinner.

11. Official remembrance of deceased leaders and honour of long-standing participants by giving them a special diploma or an engraved plaque.
Angelos C. Mimikopoulos
EEDC Director

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