One of the very first blog posts I ever wrote was in reaction to having to wear the same biker boots over and over to gigs because they were the most comfortable and supportive for my arthritis, but they were also beginning to bore me rigid, and they’re hard to dance in. I decided then that I would be on a ceaseless mission to find acceptable alternatives to big clumpy boots so that arthritic girls like me might not feel so bored and limited, when our surroundings was making us feel inspired and limitless.
So, at the weekend I was back at Brixton Academy watching Cage the Elephant. They’re a great band to see live — they have so much energy, and it’s impossible not to want to move while watching them. Although there were far fewer stage dives and crowd surfs than I was expecting after seeing them previously, maybe Matt Shultz had hurt himself in a previous gig, but it didn’t really matter because they have such an energetic stage presence anyway. They were great.
Last time I was at Brixton, I had noticed that the floor was significantly more sloped than most venues (meaning you get a great view) but this is a bit of a gift to people with arthritis in their ankles as it means your shoes can be flatter, as the slope of the floor takes some of that ‘flatness-pressure’ off your feet. So, of course I wanted to wear my kick-ass converse-style hi-tops that I bought from Zara in the sale:
Unfortunately, the weather in the UK is below freezing at the moment, and keeping arthritic joints warm is REALLY important. I nearly cried these off in favour of a pair of big ol’ clompy boots, but I figured I wouldn’t really be outside for that long (if Southern Rail didn’t cancel my train) and I wore my lambswool liners and my favourite catherine tough wool socks, and this combination was actually pretty good at keeping the cold out, and my joints were comfortable throughout the gig.
So, that was my feet sorted, but I really struggled with deciding what to wear on the rest of my body. I only have joint problems in my legs, but I really hate the rest of my body being cold too. Looking at the kids that were at the gig, it would seem that a bralette and pair of high-waisted jeans are all that’s needed when it’s –5°C, but being over 30 I have the wisdom of just not giving a **** any more, and I wore a merino vest with my high-waisted jeans.
I swear by these wool vests for walking the dog when it’s really cold. They’re lightweight merino and the business for adding a warm layer without bulk.
Of course, I didn’t go out in just a merino vest, I wore a denim shirt over it, and a cashmere jumper over that (I think I must be the only person to have worn a cashmere jumper to Brixton Academy — I wasn’t feeling decadent, I had already wrecked it by washing it on the wrong cycle, a bit of beer flung on it wasn’t going to make it worse). I felt great: not too cold when I was outside, and not too hot when inside… merino wool has excellent thermoregulation qualities.
Then all that was needed was my leopard coat over the top and I was ready to go. Southern even ran all my trains on time!
So there we are, if you know your music venue, it is possible to tailor your shoes to it and get away with shoes you wouldn’t normally think you could wear. I think the trick is to know your body’s triggers (for me it’s standing on with flat feet and the cold) and then to try to find ways to look after those aspects without having to give up how you want to look. I’ll hopefully test some more shoes out this year (Maxïmo Park are touring, so that definitely has to happen!)