The other night, a friend of mine nonchalantly took out a bumbag to wear to a drum ‘n’ bass night in our hometown. Normally, I would regard such an item with nothing less than undisguised horror. To me, bumbags conjure up memories of childhood holidays where young ones are belted into such contrivances and sent off into the unknown of some adventure playground or foreign park. Practicality, or our parents’ sadistic policy towards fashion – I’m hoping it’s the former – takes priority here. So now, when we have our independence of thought and our own unique styles, why would my friend opt to wear a bumbag? Does practicality still have a part to play in our young adult clubbing years?
Clubbing attire can be seen as anything but practical. Let’s be honest: high heels and tight skirts are a nightmare for dancing. A drum ‘n’ bass night, for example, incites almost frantic shape-throwing across the dance floor. Obviously, such extravagant shapes can only be achieved if what we are wearing is free and comfortable. The same goes for shoes: choosing flats or converse over heels is essential for dancehall nights, both in terms of style and practicality. In addition, going out is all about dressing to impress and ‘the more crazy the better’ is often the policy for alternative kinds of venues and music. Clothes swapping or cross-dressing are often safe bets for innovative and trendy nights out where what you wear can reflect your own style, in keeping with the vibe and the music played. Zany colours and combinations of striking patterns and materials will get you noticed, as might unusual items or accessories that reveal something of your own tastes.
So I return to my friend’s bumbag. Crafted out of black leather and embellished with silver studs, it appeared to be designed specifically for going out. Endlessly fascinating, my friend went on to demonstrate how it went with a range of her outfits until she finally settled on wearing it over a classic little black dress. Surprisingly, I have to admit that it worked. Once out, this bag, unlike a handbag or purse, does not get in the way or inhibit you when dancing and means you can forget about your belongings in the knowledge that they will definitely be safe. Moreover, wearing a bumbag demonstrates an inner confidence and disregard for the typical disdain in which they are conventionally held, thus aligning the wearer with the carefree and iconoclastic nature of themes emanating from dancehall and alternative nights out.
So next time, I will not be so quick to scorn. Fashion for going out does not have to be uncomfortable or impractical; rather, it can cater to your needs and desires. In this respect, the bumbag may be the next big thing for hard-core clubbers who are looking to remain fashionable and also have a wild night out. Bumbags are not just a useless fashion statement. They serve a practical role whilst also reflecting the notions of breaking the rules and having a good time that are so central to alternative subcultures and striking fashion trends. And so to my friend, I extend a heartfelt apology.