The all blacks

I went through many phases in my youth. There was the time of my life when I had an inexplicable devotion to T’Pau, joining their fanclub and listening to Heart & Soul more times in a row than was ever strictly necessary. There were the three years of sporting the dodgy floppy fringebangs look, which saw me attain a less impressive record with the ladies than, say, Liberace. And, of course, there was – as The Best Man so kindly pointed out at my wedding – my little-known lesbian phase. The less said about that, the better.

One thing I never was, however, was a Goth.

The strange thing is – more than twenty five years on from the time when my friends were listening to The Cure or Sisters Of Mercy while I sat happily listening to Together In Electric Dreams on my tinny tape recorder – New York seems to be one city where Goths never truly vanished. At least, that’s the only explanation I can think of for why everybody in this city insists on wearing black absolutely everywhere they go.

Getting on to the subway every day is like entering a casting room for extras on a comeback video for The Mission. Of the hundred or so people who crowd into every carriage, I’d say about 95% will be wearing predominantly black. With thick black puffer jackets (or down jackets, as The Special One informs me I should call them) coat, to black trousers and black baseball caps, all-black is the standard-issue New York uniform. Anybody wearing anything as colourful as – for instance – beige, suffers endless pointing and staring, before being presented with a large (black) sign simply stating ‘TOURIST’.

I’d thought that maybe I was just out of the habit of paying attention to commuters elsewhere, and that actually everybody wears all-black regardless of which city they’re travelling in. But on a recent trip back to the UK, my tube carriage was packed with reds, pinks, blues and greens amongst the black. Somehow the brighter colours put commuters into a better mood for the day ahead or the trip back home. Maybe it’s just the relief at knowing that nobody’s going to break out with a Siouxie & The Banshees classic at any moment?

I’ve decided to see how far I can push the New York colour boundaries over the next few weeks. I’m still going to wear my dark coat every day – after all, I don’t want to be labelled a freak. But today I tried a brown scarf, and tomorrow I might even introduce a bit of green or red to the proceedings if I’m feeling brave. This time next month I’ll be sporting Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat, you see if I don’t.

5 thoughts on “The all blacks

  1. Tim

    Ha! I’m going to have to add your blog to my regular reading for a while. I did a sort-of reverse move to you – from Ottawa, Canada, to London – but 7 years ago. I don’t blog about the intercontinental differences so much anymore, but yours makes for good reading. I’ve also spent some time in NYC, so I can picture a lot of what you’re talking about.

    Good stuff, keep it up.

  2. Q

    When Hipsters and rugby fans unite they will rule the world and all other apparel colors will be banned. Best not to wear your team scarf on the L train.

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