- The Never-Told Story -
As I pointed out in the first article of the series, BAREFOOT IN THE CITY, until the 1960s, going barefoot was merely a matter of tradition, something that was done or not according to social or cultural - in anthropological sense – background, without raising a dilemma to one nor the other.
The conflict did raise when ascending in the social scale, when covering the feet became a matter of ETIQUETTE, urbanity and "good manners" (?), or economic status. (Recently, when I got off a bus in the middle of a downpour and sheltered myself under the stairs of a pedestrian bridge, there were already three women there, the oldest about the 50 years who, seeing me barefoot, walked away from me as much as she could: one funny reaction considering that because of her age and rural background, she probably gone barefoot until adolescence, at least.)
With the '80s came a period of latency in which the barefooting as social practice was virtually extinguished, gradually reappearing until now as a culture, that is, something that is cultivated, generating a lore - as in “folk-lore”: popular knowledge – as well as the group of people who saves it and transmits it, thus contributing to cultural diversity characteristic of contemporary urban societies.
This is then the BAREFOOT CULTURE, whose original expression, largely casual, is the countless oral statements which based on their motivations and experience, offer the barefooters to whom, friendly or hostile, ask about their absence of footwear, whether vis-à-vis or through the media, where they appear in notes, reports and even concerted interviews.
As an already more elaborate form, diaries and blogs abound on the Internet, some very extensive, of barefoot trips or adventures, with the SELFEET - (self + feet), pedestrian version of the popular “selfie,” consisting in photographing or videotaping one's feet as an unquestionable (self-bio)graphic testimony of the voluntary adoption of barefooting.
There are also, of course, more formal documents, both outside and inside the Web: articles, essays and even results of research on barefooting, foot care, legal issues - yes! -, and even philosophical and metaphysical discussions - like the one related to earthing, for example-, all of them widely shared among the international barefoot community. (Along with the proper ethnographic documentation of this practice, barefoot culture does not neglect the aesthetic-erotic aspect of bare feet, manifested in images and comments decidedly ... suggestive, despite the Puritans that are never lacking.)
And finally, to promote the hard practice itself, clubs and associations have been organized in which veteran barefooters share with newcomers what they have learned, enjoyed - and sometimes also suffered - with this stimulating option or lifestyle, through meetings, urban and country hikes, races ... and maybe even parkour, for the most daring.
In sum, a whole CULTURE in permanent evolution.
Fernando Acosta Reyes (@ferstarey) is founder of the Investigative Society of the Strange (SIDLE), professional musician and student of social behavior.