"Her name is Lola, she was a showgirl‚Ä¶" – Wearing Topshop Unique sunnies, Louise Goldin dress, ASOS skirt, United Nude sandals, vintage palm print shirt around waist, Mulberry bag and a very very good pina colada‚Ä¶
I seem to be ticking off all the things that I poo poo-ed as a youngster, eating my words with gusto and shedding away that pessimistic negativity that I just loved pulling out as a defence mechanism. Getting married? Where once I was adamant I'd never say 'I do', I'm unabashedly thinking, 'Hell yeah!'. Buying a house? I thought I'd rent for life and now I'm looking at mortgage websites and wondering whether what scummy estate agent to go with. Feeling good in Californian sun and joining the ever-growing group of Brit expats who love to tell us miserable gits back home that "I just feel so much more positive there!" Well, I'm not ready to desert London just yet but three days under the lovely woozy sun of Huntingdon Beach in Orange Country has done me the world of good (despite the streak of red on my burnished nose) and in the process, has motivated me to try and make it over to the West Coast AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Yes, I was marooned to a specific experience of watching the Nike US Open of Surfing competition (which actually also comprises BMX and skate events) in a teensy tiny strip of beach but within a two mile radius, my eyes were opened to a whole new culture, one that is so alien to me and yet that was precisely what made the experience so RAD. There. The damage is done. That word has entered this blog's vernacular for the first time ever. I'll tell you in another post though, the true meaning of that word which *shock shock horror horror* doesn't involve RAD studded bags or shredded tees.
I'll keep the surf talk to a minimum as I have another post to get to the point of WHY I was there (and yes, it's ok to question that‚Ä¶I didn't even know why I was there until a few days ago‚Ä¶). The event itself is a huge deal asASP (Associated of Surfing Professionals) surfing competitions go. It's not an ASP World Title event where rankings of the top tier of surfers are determined but it's a Prime level event where surfers rack up world ranking points to qualify for World Title events. More to the point, Huntingdon Beach, as Surf City USA (a legit trademark apparently) plays host to this competition with a real energetic verve and as a result, attracts a crowd that was as eventful and fascinating as the actual surfing itself.
"Wooaaaah!" (when in Rome‚Ä¶.) is what I said when I stepped onto the beach on the first day, smacked into a beach of hot bods, sand rising and a real visceral riot of colours. Together with the sun, they both physically and metaphorically punched me in the face. I was a covered up English sausage wading through a hot bevy of So-Cal Bright Young Things and fortunately, they were not camera shy.
I'm ashamed to admit that if you had dropped me in this environment when I was a teenager, I would have been ridden with an equal measure of anxiety and superiority – "Urgh, what are these orange bikini babes trying to prove?" is what I'd be thinking.
Fast forward to the present and I express nothing but genuine marvel. With scanty bits of fabrics, a few accessories and a whole lot of attitude and bravada, this crowd of mostly local, mostly teenaged kids made up of surf fans/freaks, skate kids and habitual beach creatures collectively inspired the side of me that secretly wished I was a 'babe' in the Orange County sense. Though a 'dude' is also tempting too. Here was a beach full of guys in neon, prints and wild colour combos. Who knows whether outside of the beach, the colour levels drop but still, I revelled in an atmosphere where guys and gals both did their best to 'bring it'.
Back to the babes though, it's true that using parts of my anatomy to get people's attention ("Tap this", "Touch this" and "Here are my digits" were some of the messages I read off girls' backsides‚Ä¶) figures a great deal and yet it all seems part and parcel with the culture of constantly hanging outside in the hot arid sun, on show and on display to all. The phrase "If you've got it, flaunt it" seems wholly apt here.
This is basically an elongated sigh of "Ahhh‚Ä¶. the beauty of youth!" but with a few complex nuances that I'll stop myself from exploring lest I start getting overly subversive. Let's cut to the chase shall we and get to the FASH-ON. Well, actually it wasn't FASH-ON in the familiar sense and that's precisely why it was intriguing. A bajillion flashes of neon, bright vivid hues, Navajo motifs, tie dye, dip dyed hair, and mixed print combos that I'd happily don (with more fabric covering the bod of course‚Ä¶) – all of this in a context, that wasn't about kids trying to communicate their love of high fashion (I think I said "Proenza Schouler" to one kid and she said "Proen-what?") but instead, they're expressing their tribal belonging – be it skate, bike, surf or sand – without being too precious about it. Needless to say, you can see flashes of numerous collections in a lot of these pics and who's to say how the cycle works – which influenced which? What's propelling what? I suppose that's not important in comparison to being hugely inspired despite the unlikely environment.
I can't discount the fact that I came with fresh fresh eyes, seeing something that I'd never encountered ever in my life so I could be reading too much into it all. Still, with this So-Cal mass compiled into this colourful cornucopia, at the very least, I'm now on track for a major injection of a few of these hues in the dying weeks of summer.