The seventh-annual Denver GoTopless Day is set for Sunday, August 25. According to longtime co-organizer Mia Jean, the gathering will recapture the original spirit of the event after an ambitious attempt to expand its scope in 2018. "We're going back to the original format," she says, "and we're going back to Civic Center Park, where we had it every time before last year."
Since 2013, Denver GoTopless Day, including its signature parade along the 16th Street Mall, has taken place on the Sunday closest to Women's Equality Day on August 26, the date in 1920 that saw the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. In our oral history of Denver GoTopless Day, its founders stressed that they saw the get-together as both a call for equal rights in every respect as well as an opportunity to celebrate free expression.
They also considered their efforts to be educational, since plenty of folks didn't understand that female toplessness was legal under Denver's municipal codes and this mission continues today. "We're always trying to promote that information," Mia Jean affirms.
"As much as we try to get it out there, we always find people who have no idea. So it's still a top priority, that, and to destigmatize, of course."
The event began small, with only about twenty people taking part in 2013. But it grew steadily, with participation circa 2016 estimated at nearly 1,000, and 2017 exceeding that number by a considerable amount. Given this boost, Mia Jean and Matt Wilson, the other main organizer, decided to add several new elements for 2018, among them a stage, a full musical lineup and additional vendors.
Mia Jean, far left, gives a thumbs-up to paraders at Denver GoTopless Day 2018.
There was also a location switch, to Skyline Park, one forced upon the organizers by unfortunate circumstances. Mia Jean reveals that an event coordinator with whom they had agreed to collaborate didn't file for a permit in time to secure Civic Center Park, necessitating the move.
The environment at Skyline proved very different, she acknowledges: "It wasn't terrible, but a lot of people who come to Civic Center every year like to spread out on the grass, and at Skyline, there's so much concrete. It felt twenty degrees hotter."
The change in locale led to the first decrease in attendance in DGTD's history, albeit by only a modest amount; Mia Jean estimates that there were still around 1,000 attendees last August.
But the dip, combined with feedback from longtimers who weren't thrilled by the fresh components, convinced her and Wilson to go back to the future and securing a permit to return to Civic Center Park was only the beginning.
"Last year, there was a lot of stuff happening on the stage, and a lot of talking, which we usually try to keep to a bare minimum," she recalls. "But we have a lot of people who like to bring guitars and hang out, and they got turned off by the constant interruptions. So we're not going to have a stage this year, and things aren't going to be as structured."
Denver GoTopless Day prides itself on being family-friendly.
The 2019 theme, she goes on, is "open creativity. We'll have yoga instructors, and if you want to do yoga, you can go over there, but if you don't, you don't have to. And of course we're going to have body painters.
Everybody loves that so much. We could have ninety body painters and it wouldn't be enough.
And we're also lining up volunteers, including designated people who are going to pick up afterward, because w