Remember WOMAD? So do I πŸ™‚

This article is about festival fashion, so no magazine name-dropping here please!

Anyway, as you may know, festival fashion is outrageous maximalism at its best for the most part, with huge variety within and a few notable exceptions without.

Shoes: travel or outdoors, leather, strappy, some strings and ribbons, no heel higher than orthopaedic requirements, loafers and the occasional slipper.

Exception: jandals – why? Difficult to walk in, terrible for the foot, accident prone – I like the ones with ankle support but have never managed to persuade myself that the pain between my toes is going to lead to any more comfort than my other leisure shoes.

Rest of the body – anything goes, really, long and floaty, short and tight, midi and romantic, ripped, fringed or sophisticated. Sumptuous lush fabrics, indulgent patterns and colour combinations that make your eyes water and your heart rejoice. The earth-mother velveteen/viscose/lace concoction walks right beside the high-street understated cotton and linen mix. Ball gowns and tuxedos are not uncommon. Traditional clothes from all over the world are β€œdone” in a myriad variations. Gauzy scarves and conical straw hats are overshadowed by huge mohawks on which lizards in lurid plastic sun themselves and all that is interspersed with the flower circlets the young are wearing above their bejeweled braces.

Exceptions: jumpsuits and those beautiful fisherman pants that tie both in front and at the back. Toilet breaks being the bane of any festival (ah, the queues!), why would I want to undress totally and drag them in whatever is on the floor for this purpose?

Festival fashion has to withstand midday scorching sun, cold nights, sitting on the grass and eating on laps. And, of course, at least two or three types of dancing in close contact with many, many others. And being worn all day (backpacks with layers are common). And allowing us to take a bit of a break from usual clothes.

It’s a tall order to fill πŸ™‚ It seems to me that there are two main characteristics. First is style. Not everyone has it, but festival fashion is a lot more forgiving for body shape than most others. Being allowed to β€œplay” rather than conform also has the advantage of encouraging the very creativity festivals are based on.

The second characteristics of festival fashion is a no-brainer (which makes you wonder why do we not practice it more). It inspires confidence and a more natural way of moving. It makes tiredness rest easier on our bodies. Whether you are a hopping-skipping nana or a serenely gliding yogi, self-conscious youth or brash middle-aged dancer, it makes style even more suitable.

I am talking, of course, of comfort. Festival fashion is the most stylish variety of comfortable apparel ever invented by people. With the possible exception of yoga pants… of which there are not many… it just wasn’t that type of festival…

Do you know what I mean?




I’ve been to WOMAD this weekend just gone and it seems fitting that there should be an article about it. I will explain, but let’s start with the definition: World Of Music, Arts and Dance, at your service.

And the disclaimer: even if I was the one thinking about it, I could not have come up with a better way to entertain myself or with a better expression of the eclectic nature of this particular human being. In short, WOMAD suits me as if it was made to order! Lucky for me, Peter Gabriel is a genius πŸ™‚

I will start with the obvious: it would be very difficult for me to stick with one genre of music. Yes, I love rock, yes, I love classical, yes, I love folk… and I can say yes to pretty much most music, with the possible exception of rap and punk. So WOMAD suits me because it has variety and choices within that variety. Sounds pretty dry, huh? Somehow not enough…. despite every word being absolutely true.

Like most people I listen to the music I love and occasionally delve into something similar to it. But WOMAD means that I can sample a lot more than just the tried and true. It opens up the world, which I assume is not far from the intent. I can listen to Canadian Irish folk then go straight through to Austrian electronica, Brazilian bossa nova, Australian soul, Kiwi rock, Korean drum and this is just one day out of three!

Then it’s the people watching – one of the pleasures of going to WOMAD. You see, the atmosphere at this festival is quite interesting. The experience is more important than individual taste, so instead of competing, people are more likely to settle down and decide they actually like each other. Which, in turns, makes for a relaxed, smiling crowd, mellow during the day (smoking of the green could possibly have something to do with that πŸ˜› ) with an edgier alcohol fueled vibe in the evenings. But its’ family friendly at all times so the little one has come with me since birth πŸ™‚

The food and drink are expensive, as with all festivals, and I have been known to bring peanut butter sandwiches from home in leaner years πŸ™‚

The weather plays an astonishingly small part of the festival despite some real wet or scorching events – if it’s wet then you might see less of the fashion, but that seems to be all.

I don’t know quite to explain why the diversity of people at WOMAD makes me excited and happy rather than apprehensive and on guard. I may know some of them, but we have different taste in music, food, drink and clothes…. we are not of the same age, physical ability, ethnicity. We walk, act, sit and enjoy ourselves differently.

We are not attracted to this festival by any similarity other than our shared humanity – mayhap it’s enough?



My friend sent me this video by Pentatonix to watch. So I did and it will come as no surprise that I liked it πŸ™‚

And as usual it got me thinking – because I can’t really help it! There are so many links in this world that throw webs of fragile threads around us, until it feels as if we have only to pull on one and the entire world would change direction! I shall attempt to explain.

The song my friend sent was PTX’s cover of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen – and there is a reason why many thought it funny that Bob Dylan should have been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature when there IS Leonard Cohen. But poetry taste aside, and because and despite Hallelujah is a mysterious wonder, of course my mind jumped to the actual Leonard Cohen concert I saw a couple of years ago. Standing or kneeling, surrounded by vocalists and instrumentalists that are stars in their own right, the man himself delivered a performance that had the audience crying not because the songs are sentimental but because of an overload of beauty that twisted the heart into joy apparent.

And that has happened to me only once before, when an impressionable 20-something year old saw Tarkovski’s movies and understood that everything has been said by them and there is no other point to cinema. I changed my mind, of course, but even now at the back of my mind the memory of that certainty remains, setting the standard.

But back to the video, a capella singing is a favourite of mine, and especially when there are only a few people in the group so I can actually distinguish the voices and hear what it is they are trying to meld. So I heard this note, a low, resonant one, so I had to check it out which led me to learn of such things as basso profondo and oktavists. Which meant another trip on YouTube for Russian choral music (no organs in an Orthodox church, therefore voices will have to suffice, and my goodness they do!). But hearing those low, low, low notes had me remember throat singing (or overtone) which is such an eerie thing to listen to, on a warm autumn night, closing your eyes so that you can really hear this tiny Inuit woman who decided that WOMAD needed to know that the human throat is a wonderful thing… and if you live in a world where WOMAD exists, than it well behooves you to attend, you know? πŸ™‚

And if I am listening to Hallelujah then I should also pay attention to the biblical hints in it (Thomas the unbeliever, Delilah etc.) and so that will also remind me of my favourite Corinthians quote (dissected somewhere else in this blog) and a choral rendition of it at the end of a movie that Tarkovski would have liked I believe, Kieslowski’s Blue from the Colours trilogy. Which of course brings me to Juliette Binoche who…

I will stop here. I have tried to count the β€œand”s I have used in this article because the links are just that. No buts or ifs, ands. With memory in charge not only of division, but the bringing together of people and times and knowledge.

How else would I live, if such things are possible?