No Trousers Day
No trousers day started in New York (USA) and started off as a prank. For 10 years in London it has been going strong and appears to be growing in popularity. There seems to be no underline agenda to the event, and it seems from my perspective to be more about a challenge. The challenge is to do something socially unacceptable with the support mechanism of like minded people. Inevitably there were many who wanted some attention and 5 minutes of fame in the local press. However it is hard to get this attention unless assisted by good lucks or outrageous behaviour.
I noted some communities showed up with slogans and colours to let people hear their opinions. There were a few moments of public displays of affection that did not occur with the other participants (from what I saw) however overall the event took place with no social or political agenda.
What makes this event interesting is the division of opinion the event causes. People walking around London without their lower garments is a strange sight. Some members of the public were offended , another who find it bemusing and those who simple do not care. What was also interesting was the personalities of the people at the event those whom they interacted with.
Now before you make a judgement, on a night out it is common for some people to wear skimpy clothes. Professions such as boxers, female volley ball players, sprinters, swimmers, workmen and body builders are commonly "un-modest". Furthermore in some sports women are forbidden to dress modestly (even if they feel uncomfortable), as the organiser want there to be a good turn out. A very clear contrast if American football, where to show off the female breast athletes have large parts of there gear stripped down to show there sports bra at the expense of their protection. While there male counterparts are fully geared up and covered for the same game. I am writing this article not to criticise or praise, but just to tell my story of what I saw.
As a person from a conservative community, this is not the type of event that would be heard of let alone attended (spectator or bystander). When pondering covering this event, I had to ask myself some questions as to whether I should be there documenting the event? Would I offend people by blogging about it? Would people assume I partook in the activities (and did it really matter what people thought)? These questions did not leave me even after covering the event.
I also had to decide how I would document the event. What type of images I would take? What would I focus on? How to tell a story with the photos to give them a meaning. What will I do differently to get a unique perspective on the event?
I choose to capture the event in a way that showed people what was going on. To give a perspective on how the people of London reacted to this unusual event. I will admit I didn't feel comfortable taking certain images. However for me this event was more about the people than what they were doing.
I thought an event like this would be full of 18-25 year old's who wanted to rebel against society. I did not expect to see a primarily more mature attendance. I also did not expect for there to be at least a thousand participants. One person had travelled from Venisuella to take part in the event while others were from one of the London Boroughs.
Within the crowd were journalists, photographers, videographers for press and personal use collecting images along the participants. I suspect there would have been some unmarked police officers, though judging by the surprise of law enforcement, some did not seem to be aware that the event was taking place on the day.
The event started in Trafalgar Square at 2:30 pm. Essentially the organisers gave the rules of engagement then sent the sub groups on their way.
I recall nervousness before the event. I over heard several people recounting stories of how they almost got arrested in previous years. There was a clear understanding that what they were about to do was risky, dare I say wrong. Others were relaxed, not phased by the event. However as I spanned the crowd there were thousands of people in attendance.
I followed a group led by a gentle who had the loudest voice when gathering his flock. I proceeded to remain with this group though at points the group divided, re-meeting occasionally with help of sub group leaders who were in communication.
Our Group went to Piccadilly Circus and went to Canary Wharf. I thought this was interesting as, security wise the team are quite tight. The group then went to Tower Hill then dispersed after making their presence known.
I did note a few exhibitionist, and drew considerably more attention to them selves but this was a small percentage. There was an array of people who fully clothed look decent and civil. People you would never suspect to behave in this socially unacceptable way. I do not believe that seek out to offend, as in general they kept to their group and didn't antagonise members of the public.
The police and security did engage at times. But it remain calm and inquisitive. Possibly as there was an unmanageable number and any confrontation would of been deemed dis-proportionate.
The large majority of the public seemed fine by it and more or less got on with life or had positive engagement. Very few removed themselves from the situation. The participants found safety in numbers and felt uncomfortable if left in a position where there were surrounded by the non-participants.
The bemused under cover security
The interaction with the police officer and a sub organiser
The reactions from members of the public taking overt and cover images or egging the group on
The random singing and weird antics from this diverse community
Whether you agree with the event or not, it seems like it is here to stay. I seek not to give my opinions on the event, but I will let you decide. On one side people prefer to see people properly clothed on the other no one was physically hurt. Though it is unlikely I will cover the naked bike ride or do this event again. I am glad I was curious enough to see what was going on and document it.
And yes my trousers were on and I had about 4 layers of clothing (to answer your question, I hate the cold absolutely no chance of me joining in).