Re: That settles it

1

For a second, I thought you were actually posing that question and was excited at the prospect of sartorial awesomeness.

Oh heeey, Zauberflote, cool.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:57 AM
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Once, while attending a black-tie charity event, as the sole Berkeley representative among a crowd of San Francisco A-gays, I arrived in a fashion-forward-yet-timelessly-conservative tux (uh, at least that's what I was shooting for), set off with black patent-leather Birkenstock sandals and a boutonniere custom-made with a big ol' hippie-style daisy.

You could give that a try, if it's opening night, of course.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:57 AM
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I don't think you guys are taking the post in the manner in which it was intended.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:07 AM
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I lack that which is required to scrute w-lfs-n.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:10 AM
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All the information you need to understand this post is contained in the archives of this blog.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:13 AM
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I'm too busy trying to use those archives to try and stalk down Ogged's profile on Nerve.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:14 AM
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If you look long enough, you may find where he mentions that it isn't public.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:20 AM
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Thought I remembered that.

That's fine; playing the "is this Ogged?!?!?!!!" game is even more fun that way.

See, this weekend is a perfect illustration of why Emerson is actually right, Teo: once you're in a relationship, unless you are aseriously hardcore m-fun outgoing butterfly, you'll find yourself relying on your partners for social stuff too much, and there will come a time when they are out of town and you are bored off your ass and looking at pictures of skinny guys of indeterminate ethnicity on Nerve.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:23 AM
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That doesn't sound so bad.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:26 AM
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Like, for example, this guy is totally who Ogged wishes he was, confirm/deny?


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:32 AM
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Deny. Ogged hates the outdoors.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:33 AM
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You might want to have that link redacted, btw.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:35 AM
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Yeah, probably, that was tactless of me.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:37 AM
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Well, if nothing else, a rousing round of "Ogged Or Not Ogged?" has made me feel slightly better about... basically everything.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:10 AM
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Dress in whatever it is that makes you feel your best.

I would choose to misread this as either beast or breast and dress accordingly.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:10 AM
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This is really not what I need at this time of night. I must make a point of avoiding the opera, as I can not handle making such decisions about my outfit.


Posted by: Jimmy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:52 AM
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Peasants. No wonder 'tis said that California's only culture is found in its yoghurt.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:25 AM
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Good morning! I wore a silky shirt and some striped slacks, a studded belt and dress shoes; and I managed to introduce the bachelor party that I was leading to a bachelorette party that was coincidentally nearby. dancing, and festivity ensued. I'm drunk and the sun will rise soon. Bless you all.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:14 AM
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Not everyone at Opéra Bastille has been well-dressed when I have gone.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:41 AM
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I was dressed hella sharp yesterday, but was listening to Kool and the Gang, not Opera.

w-lfs-n I can think of only one appropriate outfit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 6:16 AM
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w-lfs-n I can think of only one appropriate outfit.

It's the dead of summer, though. You'll want something that breathes a little.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 7:55 AM
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Damn you, apo.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 8:07 AM
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Though cutesy, smug and unhelpful, the Opera's description of how people dress is actually correct in my experience. The only other city where I've gone more than once is Bologna, and there dress seemed to depend pretty straightforwardly on age. There's definitely more idiosyncrasy, and more standards to choose from, here.


Posted by: Vance Maverick | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 8:50 AM
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Is there a reason why this variation of clothing is not as pronounced at the orchestra? Opera audiences seem to range from fannypacks to fancy dress, but I really haven't seen as much variation at any major (indoor) orchestra performance. There's a huge price difference between box and balcony wear, but no shorts or jeans.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 9:02 AM
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Opera's more of a spectacle, so there are more non-serious opera fans in attendance at an opera than there are people not terribly interested in classical music at a concert, and opera has more of a reputation among non-fans as being snootily formal, so showing up in shorts feels more entertainingly defiant. I'm guessing, but something like this is, I'd bet, what's going on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 9:07 AM
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If you are in fact seeing Magic Flute, you should go costumed as Papageno. Come to think of it, you should go as Papageno no matter what opera it is. People will finally recognize you for the visionary you are.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 9:19 AM
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Poor w-lfs-n! Everyone is so unhelpful. Pray let me offer some serious advice: a Nehru jacket would be just the thing! Especially with sunglasses (these are a type of spectacles characterized by some degree of semi-opacity in the lenses, and intended for use in the out-of-doors, as a prophylactic against irritation by Phoebus' glaring rays; I have it on good authority, however, that some latter-day flaneurs are wont to wear them indoors in contravention of reasonable standards of decorum).


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 9:27 AM
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Also, since opera is a spectacle, people seem more inclined to put on a spectacle themselves. (Speaking of San Francisco, anyway.)

The most familiar cinematic visit to the San Francisco Opera is in Pretty Woman. Not especially representative -- but it's true that as recently as the '80s, people really did think SF was enough better to be worth the trip.


Posted by: Vance Maverick | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 9:29 AM
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The SF Opera's standards have slipped. Black tie for opening night? I'll bet that means dinner jackets too.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 10:01 AM
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Is there a reason why this variation of clothing is not as pronounced at the orchestra?

In my experience it's fairly varied.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 10:15 AM
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It might depend on the orchestra and the city. In Cleveland, even those in the $2 lottery seats dressed up for Severance Hall. But it was the kind of town where there was a clear divide between going to a ballgame and going to the orchestra.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 10:21 AM
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And minneapolitan, if I'm going to get a jacket favored by a leader of an Asian country, that leader'll be Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 10:25 AM
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Oh, and T minus 5 hours to the Brooklyn meet-up! Email me for details.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 10:30 AM
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While black-tie dress is traditionally reserved for opening nights and special events, we invite you to make an occasion of your night at the opera.

Translation: we can't MAKE you fuckers dress appropriately, but we do wish you'd at least make an effort.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:02 AM
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Thank God B is here. I was worried that no one was going to understand the post.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:22 AM
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I didn't read the relevant other thread. Is B being serious? 'Cause if she is, that's freaking me out.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:26 AM
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Yes, B is serious. This is an issue that has been discussed at great length here before.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:27 AM
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B was away last night. Out at a swanky new bar. Both my partner and I were appropriately dressed.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:30 AM
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Ah, the little known "only the norms I don't like are bad" school of feminism. Or is it that in a just world only the rich get to go to the opera? When I was too poor to afford a tux, but I scored some cheap tickets to the opera, should I have found a more deserving rich person? I'm not real good with this etiquette shit, as you can see...


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:36 AM
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36: I don't see how B's sincerity comes into play here at all. She offered a paraphrase of the opera's dress policy, one that seems inarguably correct. (Where "correct" does not that this is necessarily the objectively correct way to dress for the opera, but means instead that her paraphrase is obviously just a blunter version of exactly what the opera house was saying. Although, it's also true that this is objectively the correct way to dress for the opera.) So if anything is "freaking you out", it's the dress policy of the San Francisco opera, not B.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:39 AM
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One of the major elements of B's argument here is that when actual poor people go to the opera they dress nicely. It's middle class (and up) slackers, people who could afford to dress up but choose not to, who go in jeans.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:40 AM
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Poor people try to look nice, Walt. Though it's true, few of them can afford to show up at the opera in the perfect outfit.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:40 AM
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40: True, but it's also the case that B agrees with the policy.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:40 AM
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43: Well, sure, but you can't tell that from 34. Without knowing anythig else about B's opinions, 34 could easily be read as a sarcastic snarl at the classist snobbery of the opera.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:44 AM
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Not even poor. My parents do okay, but I imagine if you handed my mother a pair of opera tickets she would dress up (rally the friends to borrow clothes & accessories), because she would suspect that if she didn't, no one would think she had the right to be there. Because her casual clothes are mom clothes not studiously hip expensive Diesel jeans. She'd wear knockoff Birkenstocks.

And all the people dressing down by wearing jeans more expensive than her best clothing would not help.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:48 AM
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39: Did you own, and wear, a tie? Or did you choose to signal your disapproval of the snobby bourgeois company you were keeping by deliberately wearing your most proletarian outfit, as if you'd simply wandered in because you didn't have anything better to do and thought you might just pop in and see if the music was up to snuff?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:54 AM
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I have to say, I find the "try to look nice" norm more democratic than the "try to look expensive and casual at the same time" norm.

I saw "Holiday" with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn Friday night. There's a great moment when Cary Grant's professor friends show up at his engagement party. They are dressed, as academics are wont to dress, with the man in black tie and the woman in enormous furs -- but he's not in white tie and her dress doesn't glitter, so they are woefully underdressed.

(To drive the point home, he is also wearing a trench coat and rubbers. But still -- they look good.)


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:54 AM
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I saw Sigur Ros at the LA Opera. Most of the hipsters didn't even try. I felt ashamed for my people.

Also, Sigur Ros's drummer really doesn't do much of anything.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:55 AM
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To take the point a step further -- etiquette by itself is not deeply undemocratic when it's codified and accessible. The forks you can learn if you need to. It's the secret etiquettes that really enforce exclusion, the knowing of when it's really OK to wear your fancy jeans.

I confess, I say "the forks you can learn" without ever having been in the traditionally comic yet pathos-laden scene of class exclusion.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:00 PM
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The forks you can learn if you need to

A chance for me to retell the story of being at a fancy French restaurant with the Ex, when we asked what a particular utensil was for. The waiter confessed he didn't know. Seconds after he went back to the kitchen, another waiter rushed out to tell us that it was for the sauce, and to add, with a shake of his head and gesture toward the other waiter, "He's Belgian."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:05 PM
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I saw "Holiday" with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn Friday night.

Yay! I hope you liked it as much as I do.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:08 PM
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Well, then I refute you all, because I was genuinely poor at the time. Not just "student poor", but actually poor, from a long line of poor people. I did not wear a tie. I wore jeans and a T-shirt. I could have dressed up more, but I did not. I went because I wanted to hear the music, and pretty much I felt at the time that the people who went to see and be seen could go fuck themselves.

I am no longer poor, but the next time I go to the opera I will wear my most proletarian outfit, to make 46 true.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:08 PM
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Ben's original position on the opera, followed by my elegant solution, and B's disagreement.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:08 PM
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Wow, Ben is completely right, and it's not even a question of grammar. Or is it?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:12 PM
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I loved that elegant solution. And I still disagree with ben. Opera's expensive, and it is going to be the preserve of the wealthy and well-educated until it isn't so expensive. As such, for most people, it is going to be a Big Night Out. Dressing down doesn't convey that opera is accessible, it conveys that it's no big deal for you, the person who can afford the tickets.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:12 PM
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I felt at the time that the people who went to see and be seen could go fuck themselves.

You already made 46 true. Those of us who also go to hear the music, and dress up because we enjoy doing so and think that the amount of work and excellence on display merit a sense of occasion, are properly humbled by your moral superiority, the demonstration of which is surely the ne plus ultra of artistic refinement.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:15 PM
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Despite my snark about the SF Opera not requesting white tie, I don't own formal or informal clothes and so at best I wear business attire.

But I've also been to concerts where the performers and audience were dressed casually (e.g., Kronos Quartet) and dressing up too much would have been wrong then.

Also, when I vacation in various cities I try to hear concerts. I don't take suits with me on vacation so I'll wear all-purpose dark wool pants and a nice shirt. The audiences I've seen in EUR and AUS have tended toward the dressy, but there were plenty of folks who weren't. Heck, compared to the music critic seated next to me at the Concertgebouw I was overdressed.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:21 PM
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Not just "student poor", but actually poor

I don't understand the difference.


Posted by: johnston | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:31 PM
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I'm totally with Walt. Jeebus. It turns out Republicans aren't the only ones who have an ideology built toward the end of justifying selfishness.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:38 PM
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55: Opera is not necessarily that expensive.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:38 PM
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Everyone should carefully read the second paragraph of 146 from the thread linked in 53. It contains Truth.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:38 PM
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Really, johnston? There are the 20-something grad students who scrimp for tuition and usually make enough to cover modest rent and beer. They may or may not have recourse to parental assistance, but generally, it's not so bleak because at some point in the future, they may make enough to pay back loans. Actual poor refers to people who are not building up cultural capital while they struggle for literal capital. There is nowhere they can go for assistance, and are at times really actually hungry.

Student poor is nothing to sneeze at, since it usually means no health insurance and a bank account often well in the red, but at least it comes to an end in one way or another.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:42 PM
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And usually, they're single, well-educated, have access to university services like computer labs and gym facilities, and have a lot of quiet class advantages.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:45 PM
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58: The difference is that the temporarily cash-strapped educated classes can usually assume that their poverty is a temporary situation, whereas the actually poor cannot. There's quite a difference between having to thin out the shampoo with water in order to afford to go out once in a while and having to worry that if your car breaks down again you're going to lose the minimum-wage job that might allow you to buy your kids a single new pair of Nikes so that they can "fit in" at school.

Hint: if you think that fitting in at school doesn't matter, you've probably never been really poor.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:47 PM
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60: I know that opera tickets can be had surprisingly cheaply. I was speaking of the effort and expense required to stage the event.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:52 PM
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I was really responding more to Cala than you, and I'm not sure that the price of tickets is actually that meaningful to the argument anyway.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:54 PM
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Translation: we can't MAKE you fuckers dress appropriately, but we do wish you'd at least make an effort.

Actually, I read that the exact opposite way: black tie is reserved for the opening night, so on other nights there's no need to get dressed up, but if that floats your boat go for it.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:54 PM
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Dressed up ≠ black tie (necessarily).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:56 PM
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black tie is reserved for the opening night, so on other nights there's no need to get dressed up, but if that floats your boat go for it

I read it the same way.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 12:58 PM
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You know, we as a society need to develop some kind of optimally appropriate garment for those kinds of people who don't want to have to dick around with this stuff. Like a burqa, but non-gendered and maybe slightly less dehumanizing.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:06 PM
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we invite you to make an occasion of your night at the opera. Dress in whatever it is that makes you feel your best.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:07 PM
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67, 69: Illiterates. "While . . . traditionally, we invite you to make an occasion."

"While" indicates what Mr. w-lfs-n tells me is "a concessive clause"; that is, the clause is going to describe a convention ("traditionally") that the sentence is then going to go on to dismiss or contradict. "We invite you to make an occasion" = "we invite," not "we'll grudgingly allow" people to "make an occasion," of attending. As opposed to treating it as just another event in one's normal jeans-clad day.

Generally, when invited to do something, one does it. If one refuses, that's okay--that's why it's an invitation and not an order--but the expressed hope is that you're going to "make an occasion" of it, i.e., dress up.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:51 PM
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B, your reading is insane.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:54 PM
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As always, Ben bests my argument with thorough and convincing analysis.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:55 PM
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To me, the lack of clear expectations as to dress would be more anxiety-generating -- I'd be afraid that there would be some "understood," unstated standards that I would end up violating. Then there is also the necessary inverse: stated expectations that it is "understood" that no one will take seriously, such that I'd look like an idiot if I followed them.

(This is why I mainly just comment on blogs instead of interacting socially.)


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:58 PM
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And your analysis doesn't even support it. They acknowledge that the tradition is, black tie at opening nights only (hence "reserved"). That said, they don't mind if you dress up on other nights. "We invite you to ... " is the only polite way to express indifference. They couldn't well say "but we don't care what you do", or "but we wish you'd make an effort". The former is, I content, the sense in which they're distancing themselves from what is conceded; they're not saying "yes, that's the tradition, but we'd rather the tradition were all black tie all the time". Pointing out that the answer begins concessively doesn't determine the further interpretation.

One reading is, they don't mind if, like a bumpkin, you wear black-tie attire on a night other than the opening.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:59 PM
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As always, Ben bests my argument with thorough and convincing analysis.

Your comment refutes itself.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 1:59 PM
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I'm going to take a nap. Please, wake me if B develops an argument not based on terminological obfuscation.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:01 PM
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After your nap, Ben, you might want to go out and buy a suit that isn't a dinner jacket. Just in case you're ever invited anywhere.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:05 PM
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This whole debate would be unnecessary if, as I proposed at brunch today, men wore suits all the time, Rat-Pack style. And women wore, um, whatever women wore back then.

Then again, it's fucking hot outside.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:07 PM
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3: upon rereading, during the day, while sober, yes, I believe you're right.

50: Ha! That's a pretty good story. And even though 3 is correct, I don't regret the excuse it gave me to tell my little story either. Maybe I should generally misinterpret things to that end.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:08 PM
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Mmmm. I, a non-operagoer, read it as saying that black-tie is traditional on the first night of the opera, and that people should feel welcome to dress up ('make it an occasion') if they attend on other nights (but that black-tie on other nights would be out of place.)

I think "we invite you to make it an occasion" recognizes that people will dress up, but the following sentence indicates that they're not terribly particular about how anyone interprets 'makes you feel your best', especially after the first paragraph about jeans and Birkenstocks.

The question is whether there's a built-in assumption that most people will read 'we invite you to make it an occasion' as 'please take a hint and at least wear a jacket, guys.' I don't think so, if only because there would be more direct ways to state that.



Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:18 PM
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I suspect the underlying sentiment is along the lines of "we really want people to come to the opera, and we fear that if we suggest that you ought to be dressing up, you won't come. OH GOD PLEASE BUY TICKETS."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:21 PM
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Here you go, Ben. It's even clip on. Couldn't be easier.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:27 PM
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So, B, how do you reconcile the fact that "appropriate" dress is inherently gendering?

(At venues other than the SF Opera anyway; we shouldn't confuse its special status as anything but.)


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:30 PM
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That's a tie, B, not a suit.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:32 PM
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85: 'Appropriate' dress is, but 'special occasion' dress isn't, necessarily -- it can be dressy and festive without being appropriate. I, myself, have attended the opera in a snazzy menswear-styled chalkstripe 40s-ish pantsuit. Unfortunately, my date showed up in a very similar suit, making us look like a vaudeville act. But the principle stands.

(I took B's side the first time we argued about this, but I think I'm going to drop back to not having an opinion.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:32 PM
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I'm going to bet your suit was cut somewhat differently from a men's suit, LB, above and beyond what would be necessary to make it fit on your body as opposed to his(?), and that further it was accompanied by some gender-specific trimmings as well.

That's my basic objection to all this hoity-toity crap: I do femme-drag on occasion because I like eating and not having huge fights with my family when someone dies, but fuck anything beyond that.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:39 PM
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Unfortunately, my date showed up in a very similar suit, making us look like a vaudeville act.

This was unfortunate?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:42 PM
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I don't mind the gendered-ness of special occasion dress, because it's so much more like costuming rather than clothing. Plus you can play around with the menswear-style clothing, which is fun.

Very gendered everyday clothing would be more annoying, except that I prefer skirts to trousers for business wear in summer.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:45 PM
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85: It's one of those conventions I'm okay with.

However, for those who aren't, I have zero problem with women wearing suits. I acknowledge that for men the only currently acceptable option would be something like this, cocktail dresses still being clearly a form of drag for men. (Arguably for women as well.) Let the guys get out there and start wearing skirts on a regular daily basis for about a hundred years if they want to wear cocktail dresses, same as the girls had to do to get the right to wear suits.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:45 PM
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88: Hrm. It depends on what you mean by 'necessary to make it fit' -- depending on what you mean by 'necessary', it wasn't significantly femmier than that. But the point is that whatever gender image you're seeking to, or seeking not to, project, you should still be able to come up with some sort of festive, dress-up clothes. There's no inherent connection between rejecting gender norms and wearing only casual utilitarian clothes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:48 PM
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I tell you what, though, Rocky. I'm sure as shit not going to the bar with you if you're going to butch it up. What would people think?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:50 PM
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What if I butch it up really well, B?


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:52 PM
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I so love you, Rocky.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:55 PM
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Actually, the prospect of getting to do serious Victorian Gentleman drag at SF Opera and not being inappropriate is really kind of exciting!


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:58 PM
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Let's go to the opera, Lunar.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 2:59 PM
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Are you going to dress up as a Victorian Lady?


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:00 PM
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I'll wear a dress.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:01 PM
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Glancing through the other thread, I'm glad to see that B would tolerate the earlier, poor me attending the opera in my earlier, poor me clothes. How noblesse oblige. At the time, how much do you think I would have liked the idea that of going somewhere where everyone who makes more money than me is guaranteed to wear nicer clothes than me? Why not require everyone to show their appreciation for the amount of work and excellence on display by wearing a sign around their neck with their annual salary, while we're at it?

And I agree with the statement in 56. I am morally superior for not caring what clothes people wear to the opera. It's not even a difficult question. I show my appreciation for the artistry on display in the traditional -- one might say even quintessentially bourgeois -- way, paying money. If I had the greatest car mechanic in the world (as I have discovered recently, I don't), should I wear a tux to pick up or drop off my car? Or just if I'm watching them work?

I'm genuinely shocked by your opinion on this one, B. Your opinions are always so thoughtful, that I'm surprised to see you hold a thoughtless one. The function of dressing appropriately in this instance is to show your loyalty to the meaningless standards of a class. The upper class owns opera, so to enjoy opera you must show your willingness to kow-tow to the owners. People will kow-tow, but fewer people will buy tickets for the privilege.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:01 PM
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What, like she'd be seen with you and your clip on tie? Please.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:01 PM
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how much do you think I would have liked the idea that of going somewhere where everyone who makes more money than me is guaranteed to wear nicer clothes than me?

I see. So we should all wear exactly the same thing in order not to hurt your feelings.

A big part of my opinion on this subject is informed by a story told by a girlfriend of mine--whose moral superiority is, in all sincerity, beyond reproach, not that any of you know her. She was living in South America for a few years, where her host family asked, "why do white kids from America all dress so badly when they come down here? We all know that they can afford to dress better than that. It's rude to wear ratty clothes just because the people you're visiting are poor; the implication is that we're not worth dressing up for."

If you yourself, Walt, are so hung up about how much money people make and whether or not they dress better than poor you, and if you're convinced that being able to afford something entitles you to wear whatever the hell you want, then you're a much worse snob than I am.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:08 PM
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Who is playing the role of the host family in the opera example? The cast and orchestra? I go to the opera for the cast and orchestra, not my fellow attendees.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:10 PM
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ben, you could borrow my tiara.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:11 PM
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The point isn't what *you* go for, Mr. w-lfs-n. The point is that there exists a certain social convention, and that flouting social convention just because You Know Better Than Everyone Else is rude.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:12 PM
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105 continued: as is ignoring the fact that you're in company. Even if you're not there *for* the company.
.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:13 PM
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100: There's plenty of classism in degrees of judgement about one's formal wear and the esoterica connected to same, but it's not like working class people never do the formal wear thing on their own, and I'd maintain that they're not necessarily trying to perform upper-class-ness when they're wearing it.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:14 PM
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But in the example you gave before, it was rude because the implication was that her host family wasn't worth dressing up for. Who's the host family? For whom am I implying it's not worth my while to dress up?

The point is that there exists a certain social convention, and that flouting social convention just because You Know Better Than Everyone Else is rude.

B, the defender of working-class deference.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:15 PM
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But in the example you gave before, it was rude because the implication was that her host family wasn't worth dressing up for. Who's the host family?

Expanding on this thought: plausibly part of the reason it was rude is that there's a more than casual relationship between the host family and the hosted parties. It's not as if they just happen to be in the same place; respect ought to be shown.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:16 PM
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B, the defender of working-class deference.

(And, from 101, How noblesse oblige.)

I may be insufferably snobby and condescending, but at least I have better manners than to be flat-out personally rude.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:16 PM
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Opera, like the past, is a foreign country.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:17 PM
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I deny that there's a personal insult in 108.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:18 PM
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109: The point of the story isn't that the obligation extends only to the person being hosted; it was a general remark about the way that leftish Americans think that dressing in ratty clothes signals their lack of class-consciousness, rather than simply being rude. If you're travelling somewhere, then in a sense the people who live there are your hosts, whether or not you're actually staying in their houses.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:19 PM
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109: A friend does some pro-bono legal clinic-like stuff, and noted that the tendency for the lawyers to dress down (stubble, jeans, mr. hip street lawyer) wasn't always received well because it was as though the lawyers were advertising that they were slumming. If they were real clients, they'd wear suits.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:20 PM
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114: Exactly.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:21 PM
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Meaning, of course, that dressing-down-as-rude extends beyond just close family relationships. Whether it does to opera, I'm not sure, because I don't really know the conventions. But someone's dressing-down doesn't necessarily entail she's struck a blow for equality.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:24 PM
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Oh, I see. This is a subspecies of the "members of the Independent Women's Forum are the true feminists" argument. I am the true snob. Good to know.

I'm glad to see that "feelings" are not a relevant part of politics, and that no arguments that some norm should be changed because it "makes women feel bad" will not be forthcoming from you. All arguments about heteronormativity, say, can safely be dismissed, since it's just about feelings.

I don't care what people wear to the opera. I don't want people to dress down just to make me happy. (To be honest, when I was poor, I wouldn't have minded it.) But if you think, based on what your friend from South America told you, that all poor people like being the only people dressed poorly in all social situations, then all I can tell you is that you are mistaken. I would have been a lot happier with a few other people dressing down so that I didn't stand out so much. But really, fuck me, right? It's feelings, and has no political implications whatsoever.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:25 PM
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Right. And I'd say that fellow audience members are who you're being rude to, if anyone. (I'm really not sure about the 'if anyone' -- I don't go to the opera much at all.) But if anyone, then the message being sent is "In my jeans and t-shirt, this is no big deal to me. If you demonstrate that you think going to the opera is a big deal by dressing up for it, you are a pathetic chump, aren't you."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:27 PM
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On the other hand, I'm pretty sure Ben wore a top hat 'n' tails to the Mogwai show, so at least he's flouting across genres.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:27 PM
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Walt, that's just an asinine comment and I'm going to ignore it, and you, on this and related subjects, I think.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:28 PM
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There exists a social convention about how poor people expect their pro-bono lawyers to dress, therefore every social convention to mark an event as one for rich people is automatically appropriate.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:28 PM
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Given my reasoning in the first go-round of this thread, it would be pretty hard to accuse me of wanting to dress down from lack of class consciousness. But I can grant that if (say) you'd dress spendily for big-spending clients and rattily for pro-bono clients, the latter can justifiably think you're treating them poorly (though I don't know that it's rude). Who are the analogs in the opera case? I, the lawyer, have certain relationship to my clients; I, the traveler, to my hosts (but not to whoever happens to be in the street); I, the opera goer, to whom? Especially given that I, personally, do not normally wear non-ratty clothing. It's not as if I've gone out of my way.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:28 PM
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I would have been a lot happier with a few other people dressing down so that I didn't stand out so much.

But I thought you'd said that you hadn't dressed up as much as you could have -- if standing out was a problem, why not dress up? I'm misunderstanding.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:29 PM
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Except to note that the "you, feminist, won't acknowledge that I, leftist male, am correct about X political issue; therefore I feel justified dismissing your feminism" is the most obnoxious species of leftist male argument in the entire world.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:30 PM
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Ben, if you must go to the opera, under no circumstances are you to tuck in your shirt.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:31 PM
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124 sounds like a challenge.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:32 PM
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Right. And I'd say that fellow audience members are who you're being rude to, if anyone.

Perhaps my fellow audience members don't like my hypothetical dress. So what? What are they to me, or I to them? I am something to my clients (or would be if I were a lawyer with clients).

But if anyone, then the message being sent is "In my jeans and t-shirt, this is no big deal to me. If you demonstrate that you think going to the opera is a big deal by dressing up for it, you are a pathetic chump, aren't you."

I'm really not sure that's the message being sent at all. As has already been pointed out, there's already a diversity of formality at these things.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:32 PM
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121: You know, I was pretty explicit in refraining from generalizing to opera and therefore did not draw the conclusion you're attributing to me.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:33 PM
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If you're travelling somewhere, then in a sense the people who live there are your hosts, whether or not you're actually staying in their houses.

Neither of my neighborhoods dress up (SE Portland / Lake Wobegon). When B. shows up wearing her gown, her heels, her feather boa, and he Carmen Miranda hat, she will be taunted.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:34 PM
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124: Yes; and also, conflating two feminists who have substantively different positions just because they're both disagreeing with your Correct Leftist Male political position at roughly the same time on the same thread is serious fucking bullshit.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:34 PM
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Cala, I think Walt is referring to B's appropriation of your comment.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:34 PM
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So what? What are they to me, or I to them?

Fellow humans worthy of consideration?

I'm really not sure that's the message being sent at all. As has already been pointed out, there's already a diversity of formality at these things.

As acknowledged by the 'if anyone'. I'm not sure that rudeness is happening, but if it is, that's the mechanism.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:35 PM
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What, after your ridiculous "I'm the real snob" argument? At least now while I know that you have insightful things to say about feminism, that you have fuck-all useful to say about class. You're not the first.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:35 PM
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The answer to the question about what's the analogous situation vis-a-vis opera (in 122) is the person who objects to other people dressing up only because she can't herself afford to do so.

The proper attitude to have is the one Ben expresses in 127: if other people don't like what you're wearing because it's too poor, or too rich, so what? Refusing to conform to company is far less rude than getting pissed off because the company refuses to conform to you.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:36 PM
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133 to....?

What happened to the commenting conventions?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:36 PM
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Your opinions are always so thoughtful...

B? B has a randomized set of strong opinions.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:37 PM
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I read it the same way.

What is wrong with you children? B is absolutely correct; her reading of the SF Opera's plea is the only reading that makes any sense. w-lfs-n and ogged, you are being, willfully or not, obtuse to nuance that frankly, isn't that nuanced. No wonder you guys can't get dates.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:38 PM
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Neither of my neighborhoods dress up (SE Portland / Lake Wobegon). When B. shows up wearing her gown, her heels, her feather boa, and he Carmen Miranda hat, she will be taunted.

And rightly so. On the other hand, if I show up at the meetup wearing torn jeans and a stained shirt because you lot can't possibly dress as well as I'm accustomed to, then I'm a complete asshole.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:39 PM
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I really don't get the focus on being nice.

The answer to the question about what's the analogous situation vis-a-vis opera (in 122) is the person who objects to other people dressing up only because she can't herself afford to do so.

So, because of that person, I should dress up? what?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:39 PM
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Cala, Ben's right. That comment was aimed at B's gloss on your statement. I should have made that clear.

LB: I didn't have a tie. I did have a button-down shirt, but I didn't wear it because I thought "what was the point?" I figured that even then I'd be the biggest slob there. Plus, college was the first time I was around people who were much richer than me, and after a while I started to resent having to learn so many social rules. It was tiring, and I just wanted to hear some music.

B, I'm not trying to dismiss your feminism. I think that your feminism is 98% right on all issues. The reason I'm shocked is that the feminist arguments have clear analogues here, and I'm stumped as to why you don't see that.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:42 PM
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139.1: The focus on being nice, aka polite, is one of those human conventions that they don't teach in grad school, Ben.

139.2: No. You should dress up because it's the convention rather than demanding that other people shouldn't because it makes you feel bad. Lawyers should dress as lawyers when conducting business because it's the convention, rather than dressing down because they condescendingly think it'll make their clients feel bad if they don't.

If you choose not to obey the convention, then fine. Just don't get all fucking righteous about it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:43 PM
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I think that making opera and the symphony dressup occasions tended to stunt them. I feel the same way about glam rock. The dressup social scene I'm aware of seems to be musically unadventurous, and you're just lucky if they have any taste at all.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:44 PM
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I'm stumped as to why you don't see that.

Because feminism isn't about asking men to condescend to women in order not to make us feel bad.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:46 PM
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B? B has a randomized set of strong opinions.

Case in point: Someone who has chosen the name "Bitch" arguing vehemently for conventionality and niceness. "Bitch" is the person who couldn't bring herself to snub George W. Bush.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:48 PM
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Was the symphony really made a dressup occasion? It seems like a lot of the dress codes relating to it (for orchestra and conductor especially) are simply continuations of a Victorian mode of dress that was less formal (or: a shorter step up from "casual") in its era than it is in the context of today.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:49 PM
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I have never demanded that other people not dress up, so I don't know what you're talking about (let's not conflate participants), and I don't see why I should be concerned about the glass jaws of my potential fellow audience members (to LB; of course they're fellow humans worthy of consideration, but sometimes fellow humans have silly preferences; I would be equally unconcerned if someone got all upset because I drank from the fingerbowl—nevermind that, indeed, that person would genuinely be upset. Part of the reason I'd be unconcerned is that these upset people are privileged anyway. We've been through it before here several times that mocking the privileged (say using "WASP") is less bad than mocking the downtrodden).

Note that what's offensive in the lawyer case is differential treatment. A lawyer who dressed down with all his clients could just say so to those who thought he was disrespecting them by dressing down.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:50 PM
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You're going to be so disappointed when you meet me, John.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:50 PM
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Because feminism isn't about asking men to condescend to women in order not to make us feel bad.

Is it about asking people to dress up in order not to make other people who dress up feel bad?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:51 PM
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148 reiterated: the entire argument that I should dress up, as far as I can tell, is that it would be rude not to and people would feel bad.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:52 PM
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B in 102 is almost exactly what I think of -- traveling in Guatemala, I saw a white dude walking around in the traditional dress of the village we were visiting, except his pants were dirty. Dirtier than hippy dirty. The rest of the story follows pretty much the same.

Leonard Bast comes to mind as relevant here. Will someone else think this through for me?

Confidential to RFTS in 51: Yes, I loved it again! But Bringing Up Baby was more annoying than I remembered it.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:53 PM
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Look, ben, bitch likes her dress-up parties. If she can't have them at the opera, where is she supposed to go?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:53 PM
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146: I was trying to answer your question. I think I've said in the past that I don't give a shit whether you do or don't dress up--whatever that means to you--for the symphony, Ben.

Someone who got upset at you for drinking from the fingerbowl would be being rude. You should not be concerned because someone is upset; nor should you be rude simply because you think those privileged people deserve to be upset (whether or not they actually are). Since if you lack respect for the people you are dining with, then you ought not be dining with them.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:53 PM
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148: No. Nor is it about dragging in other people's irrelevant beliefs in order to try to score cheap points.

149: The argument is that you should dress up because doing so is socially conventional and obeying social conventions when you don't have a good reason not to is considered polite.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:55 PM
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Isn't that the main argument for all modes of conventional dress, ben?

The only objection I have is to pretending that opera is made noticeably down with the gente (n.b., I attribute this position to no one here) by the audience dressing down, so that doing so opens it to the downtrodden, because I think that ignores the ticket prices, the foreign language, the music, the other conventions that aren't. Fancy dress isn't the only thing keeping people away from opera.

Aside from the problem of 'aren't I casual in my $400 jeans', which is a whole nuther kettle of fish.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:58 PM
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I also found Bringing Up Baby somewhat irritating when I watched it recently, though it has its charms. Have you watched It Happened One Night lately? I think it holds up nicely.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 3:59 PM
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Part of the reason I'd be unconcerned is that these upset people are privileged anyway.

Again, I'm not sure that this is broadly true, and Emerson may well be right about the effect on music appreciation. But, talking about my own tastes, I've been to the opera at times when a ticket was expensive for me -- certainly when I was one of the poorer people there. And, as someone who isn't terribly knowledgable about music, I was there largely for the fun of the sense of occasion.

I like dressing up pretty, but I don't like it unless I'm in a situation where it's appropriate, and most other people are dressed up as well. I put on a pretty dress (different occasion than the pinstripe suit), and then felt kind of like an idiot surrounded by other people, richer than I was, in jeans -- as I noted above, I was acting as if going to the opera was a big festive deal, and therefore marking myself as a lowerclass chump. I would have been happier if the richer people, who were more accustomed to going to the opera, had also been dressed up prettily, because then I wouldn't have felt out of place.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:01 PM
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My solution has always been not to go. If I went, I suppose I would grudgingly try to meet some minimum standard. In terms of being annoyed, I'd be more annoyed at the overdressed people than by whatever underdressed people there were.

I don't think that the Guatamalan peasants have anything to do with this question whatsoever. Do they watch the opera on TV and tut-tut about the people wearing Tshirts?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:03 PM
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156:
Yep, those people fucked up your dress-up party. But what if you were an opera lover and felt uncomfortable/disliked dressing up? Someone's going to get screwed in this situation.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:06 PM
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If you are serious, Emerson, I will point out that you can avoid the dressy standards of symphony, opera, and chamber music ensembles if you go to the rehearsals, and that (chamber music ensembles especially) the musicians are often extremely accessible on these occasions, and willing to do all sorts of encores and chat with their appreciative fans. And both they and the older fans (who are much much older, usually), are absolutely 100% thrilled to see any new faces, especially if they count as "young people". Which means anyone under 70, mostly.

This is how I managed to get in most of my classical music appreciation in college, and I think I got more out of it than if I'd only gone to conventional performances.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:07 PM
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The Guatemalan peasant question is a way of introducing justified dislike of a douchebag gringo wearing "traditional garb" into an argument about s[l/n]obbishness. For the record, Latin Americans are really hung up on dress/appearances in general. Backpackers, out of necessity and culture, are completely not. Yet they mostly get along, because nobody is too uptight about it.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:11 PM
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B, you have used arguments that in another context would be classic anti-feminist arguments. a) it's just my "feelings", b) it's not "political", and c) "I'm the real snob." Your whole argument has just astonished me in that regard.

And you made clear that it does bother you how people dress at the opera. That's the whole point. If you were just saying "I like to dress up at the opera", then there would be no argument. You said in the other thread that if you saw someone at the opera not dressed up, you would think they were an asshole. So when I went to the opera and did dress up, if you had been there, you would have thought I was an asshole, when I couldn't have afforded a tux. You don't see the problem in that?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:12 PM
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158: Well, 'dress up party' is contemptuous, and if that's how you feel about it, you're certainly not going to be sympathetic. But expressing a sense of occasion through dress is something that people have done throughout history, and that plenty of people do take pleasure in, but that requires a degree of social cooperation to make it work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:14 PM
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146: I was trying to answer your question.

I'm not sure how what you said constitutes an answer to my question, but, ok.

Chamber music concerts that I've been to recently, you could practically go in rags and no one would care. New music concerts too.

And, as someone who isn't terribly knowledgable about music, I was there largely for the fun of the sense of occasion.

Well, it's really too bad that opera has become overloaded, and I do sort of wonder what proportion of people at an opera actually give two shits about the music.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:16 PM
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Opera: primarily a musical performance, or primarily a social occasion?


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:16 PM
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So when I went to the opera and did dress up, if you had been there, you would have thought I was an asshole, when I couldn't have afforded a tux. You don't see the problem in that?

While I'm sympathetic to how much it sucks not being able to afford nice clothes, 'affluent slob' is a different look from 'broke, but wearing your Sunday best.' Most people, broke or not, who are in a position to be going to the opera at all, are going to have clothes that they'd wear to someone's wedding, or something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:17 PM
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161: It seems to me that *your* argument isn't political, inasmuch as it seems to boil down to "I couldn't afford to dress up and I resent people who can, and I wish people dressed down more so I wouldn't feel out of place."

If you were making a different argument, I would respond differently.

when I went to the opera and did dress up

What? You said you wore a tshirt and jeans, but not a button down shirt because "what was the point"? If I had thought you were being an asshole who probably did own at least a button down shirt and a tie, I would have been at least half right, nu?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:19 PM
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it's really too bad that opera has become overloaded, and I do sort of wonder what proportion of people at an opera actually give two shits about the music.

Silly. Opera has *always* been overloaded. And wondering if people give two shits about the music has always been the case, and always will at any event that is both about art and about occasion.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:22 PM
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164: False dichotomy, I think. Not really a musical performance, but definitely an artisanal spectacle first and foremost. Which is probably where the social occasion aspect comes from.

I actually only really like Mozart operas, because as far as I can tell they're the only ones where the music actually pretty good and would be worth listening to for it's own sake, stripped of the costumes and sets and opera-ness. Also, they're funny and I'm painfully middlebrow.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:22 PM
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163: Sure, if you want to take the position that taking pleasure in opera other than from a knowledgable appreciation of the music is not something to be encouraged, I'm not going to have the ego to argue with you much. But the enjoyment of the spectacle (both on stage and in the audience) has a long history, and was certainly not absent at times when opera was more broadly appreciated than it is now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:24 PM
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Most people, broke or not, who are in a position to be going to the opera at all, are going to have clothes that they'd wear to someone's wedding, or something.

If one were to refuse to dress up for people's weddings, because after all marriage is a sexist institution, would one rightly be considered an asshole?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:25 PM
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169: People who don't already know about Music ought not to go to concerts ever.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:26 PM
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I meant "didn't" dress up. It was a typo. When I go to the opera/ballet/symphony now, I dress nicer (but no tux). But when I was poor, when I knew that I would stand out even if I wore my Sunday best, so what would be the point? If there's some social rule where "no tie" = "asshole", but "tie" = "poor person trying to fit in", certainly that's not something they told us in poor-person-etiquette school.

I don't care how people dress for the opera. I don't care if they dress up or dress down. People wearing tuxes to the opera does not hurt my feelings. You offered a hypothetical rule that people should dress up as much as they afford. I pointed out that would mean you could tell by looking at everyone who was rich and who was poor. Why is this a happy outcome for the poor person at the opera?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:26 PM
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170: indeed. Do any of the people here who are so vehemently against dressing up for the opera attend friends' weddings in jeans?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:27 PM
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When I was poor, people would either give me money to rent a tux, or I wouldn't go.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:28 PM
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Because poverty is not shameful. Being a self-righteous twit is.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:28 PM
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158: Yes, "dress-up party" is (mildly) contemptuous, but that's basically what it is. Don't let my mild contempt prevent you from noticing that I am sympathetic to your position. Just because I think obsessing about appearance is a frivolity in this vale of tears doesn't mean that I don't recognize that some people get a kick out of it.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:30 PM
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172: I pointed out that would mean you could tell by looking at everyone who was rich and who was poor.

Way to affirm the trollish beliefs most right-wingers attribute to liberals about money and class, there.

<ascii forehead guy>


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:32 PM
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A suit and tie that, while not "nice", would be perfectly acceptable attire to an opera or a wedding, can be had for about the price of a tux rental.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:32 PM
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And of course you can tell who's rich and who's poor just as well in casual clothes as in formal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:33 PM
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This topic reminds me of a classic photo. I imagine that B and a friend are on the left and that w-lfs-n is the person on the right.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:36 PM
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Buying a tuxedo is nt that much more expensive than a single rental. They're good to have on hand. All of my friends in college managed to use theirs at least twice a year.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:41 PM
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179: They all crumple the same when you hit them with the pipe, but their wallets give it away.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:43 PM
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I'm just arguing for the sake of arguing. I don't even like non-dress-up occasions much, and the only operas I like are Musorgsky's. I do like symphonic music --my real beef is the predictability of the programming.

Yay CDs.

BTW, B, Frowner, I need more information about the meetup.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:43 PM
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B, check your psuedomail if you please.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:43 PM
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obsessing about appearance is a frivolity

Everything that brings people enjoyment is potentially frivolous. God forbid.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:44 PM
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Do any of the people here who are so vehemently against dressing up for the opera attend friends' weddings in jeans?

hahaha god I love this blog.

The thing is that this is actually a metropolite/hick distinction. In places like Wrexham or Cumbernauld or Minneapolis, the opera is like probably the most exciting and amazing cultural event to happen there since the invention of the wheel. So naturally, the locals ought to comb the ticks out of their fur, polish up the family pair of shoes and in general dress up.

On the other hand, in places like London, Paris or New York, the opera is on like every week, and apart from the opening nights when the only people going are the sponsors and other GreatnGoods, it's something that people go to after work, usually on dates, for which the appropriate dress is varied and manifold.

So the San Francisco Op is basically trying to say that SF is probably more like Milan than like Wrexham, and thus anything goes. I don't know whether they're right or wrong, but the message of that piece is "dress up if you like, dress down if you like, but please, no anguished tutting at other people's clothes whatever they be."

Still not sure what I'm wearing to the Berlin Philharmonic, by the way, although I discovered that those "board shorts" I bought are actually meant for use with a "surfing-board", which is a kind of small boat. I had been wondering what kind of company would have its directors wear canvas shorts to board meetings.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:52 PM
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Jesus, bitch. You people are hard to agree with. My final position: Some people like to dress fancy:don't fuck it up with your inappropriate dress for no good reason.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:53 PM
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Chamber music concerts that I've been to recently, you could practically go in rags and no one would care. New music concerts too.

Yeah. Not enough people in attendance for an appearance to count as seeing and being seen. Jazz shows sometimes jacket, I've noticed.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:56 PM
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I compromise by not going to the opera.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:56 PM
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Minneapolis is one of the worst-dressed cities in the US, praise God, but I have never gone to the opera there.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 4:56 PM
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you should, John, you'd probably raise the tone.

(I regard Minneapolis as the rough equivalent of Wrexham, as Prince is the rough equivalent of The Alarm, if he'd been Welsh).


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:00 PM
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Opera: primarily a musical performance, or primarily a social occasion?

Originally, opera was way low class.

I keep on wanting to get, and then read, Musica and the Middle Class, about (as I understand it) the establishment of the classical rep and many of the attitudes we still have about so-called western art music, its performance, and attendance of those performances.

The fact that opera's overloaded as it is means if you want it to be an occasion, knock yourself out, but if you see other people who don't think it's an occasion, don't be surprised and don't let it get to you. Also, the people who wear $400 jeans and perfectly-mussed coiffures could also be treating it as an occasion, just with different clothes.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:02 PM
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Real classical buffs still don't think too highly of opera. Or at least, they didn't when I studied music 40 years ago.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:04 PM
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Also, the people who wear $400 jeans and perfectly-mussed coiffures could also be treating it as an occasion, just with different clothes

plenty such folk at La Scala, where they are reputed to know a thing or two about opera. The Glyndebourne company I saw doing Verdi's "MacBeth" last month would have been lucky to escape with their lives from Milan IMO.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:06 PM
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My god, you're all crazy. There are actually two questions here.

1. Should you dress according to the conventions of the event you're attending? Answer: yes, you're not cool enough not to. I promise.

2. Is there a dress-up convention at the opera? Answer: it depends on the opera house. dsquared's 186 explains this well.

The end.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:08 PM
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Ogged the All-Destroyer brings some clarity.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:10 PM
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Let the record show that I'm commenting in my Sunday best.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:15 PM
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I would have been at least half right, nu?

"Nu" is not Yiddish for "no". Also, "mish-mash" does not rhyme with "Monster Mash".

That is all.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:26 PM
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172: What?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:30 PM
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I mean:

177: What?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:30 PM
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200!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:31 PM
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200: Think about the ideological significance Harrison Bergeron has to the libertarians/conversatives, despite the fact that the society it posits is basically a giant freaking straw man.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:40 PM
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If you choose not to obey the convention, then fine. Just don't get all fucking righteous about it.

Isn't there a convention about professors/people with intellectual capital and swearing/vulgar language?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:46 PM
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204: Aitch EE Double hockey stix there is.

Confidential to RTFS in 155: Relatively recently. Would totally go in the theater. we need a screwball thread!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:50 PM
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Ogged the All-Destroyer brings some clarity.

Sexist.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:57 PM
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I had been wondering what kind of company would have its directors wear canvas shorts to board meetings.

D2 is such a snob.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 5:58 PM
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195: Alternatively: try not to be a complete dick. If there are conventions, don't flout them just to show that you can, as these conventions are part of other people's experience. If you see someone not following a convention, try not to be a raving bitch and make them feel bad about something that may well be motivated by something other a desire to flout for the purpose of flouting. Exactly how hard is this?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 6:15 PM
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try not to be a raving bitch

Screw that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 6:16 PM
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I keep on wanting to get, and then read, Musica and the Middle Class, about (as I understand it) the establishment of the classical rep and many of the attitudes we still have about so-called western art music, its performance, and attendance of those performances.

This is a good short look at how theater and audience behavior changed in the 19th century.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 6:20 PM
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Oddly relevant.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 6:29 PM
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On New Year's Eve in 1999, I went to a (reasonably) fancy restaurant with my girlfriend. Not possessing any grownup dress clothes (or at least not any that we liked), we donned our very fanciest brightly colored, baggy rave gear, and made a night of it. I await the curdled hatred of your sidelong glances with self-satisfied contentment.

Probably wouldn't do that now. I have few enough occasions for age appropriateness (sartorial or otherwise) that I tend to treasure them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 7:58 PM
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192: Originally, opera was way low class.

Depends what you mean by "originally". It's certainly had its populist phases, but what we usually consider its origins (Peri, Monteverdi) were pretty elitär.


Posted by: Vance Maverick | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 8:57 PM
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I have to go to bed, but D2, LRockette and B are right.
Dress in whatever it is that makes you feel your best.

You would not believe how many people in the audience wear short skirts and no underwear.

Also distracting; white shoes with jiggly feet.

Goodnight.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 10:01 PM
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If there is one thing this blog has taught me, it's that while dsquared is infallible in many areas of judgment, matters of decorum are not among them.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 10:12 PM
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96-99: I highly endorse this scenario.


Posted by: elemund | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 10:53 PM
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215: That's because it'd be an excuse for you to get new clothes. You do not fool me!!!


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 10:56 PM
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I like to wear a suit to the opera. I feel it offers protection from rich people.


Posted by: DaveB | Link to this comment | 08-12-07 11:15 PM
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Do any of the people here who are so vehemently against dressing up for the opera attend friends' weddings in jeans?

I attended my *own* wedding in jeans.*

* admittedly, I regret that now.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:26 AM
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186: You're going to the Berlin Philharmonic, d2? It's probably the dressiest cultural institution in Berlin. Though it is still Berlin, so dark jeans + jacket will take you anywhere.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:45 AM
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If a friend gets married at the opera, I'll dress up. In fact, I'll even go to the opera for an occasion like that.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:18 AM
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On the other hand, if a friend keeps getting married weekly, I might not attend all those ceremonies. I'd hope that my friends who choose to get married would take marriage a bit more seriously than that. Think of all those people who get married only once and make a big occasion of it.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:22 AM
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219: the Berlin Philharmonic is playing at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Proms season.

Actually I have now decided to join the winning side and therefore advocate that all opera houses and concert halls be pulled down and replaced by "Peoples' Palaces", perhaps with a statue of the Unknown Petit-Bourgeois erected outside. We will have compulsory "Special Occasions" every week, at which national dress (a Mao suit, with bow tie; an equivalent Mao opera-dress for ladies) will be worn. Thus and only thus can we ensure that all traces of clothes-based social-occasion snobbery, that dread plague o'er our land, be stamped out. Be careful about this plan if you wear glasses by the way, because step 2 is a bit nasty.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:37 AM
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Oh bummer, you don't get to see them in their cool building.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:47 AM
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The Mao suit joke just occurred to me, but alread pwned.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 6:55 AM
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B, what exactly is the rule your advocating. I agree that there is a social convention with no good reason for flouting, then flouting it just to flout it serves no purpose. But here, the social convention has already collapsed, otherwise you wouldn't be complaining. You want to restore a social convention that is on its way out the door. What's the argument for that?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 7:02 AM
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225: Occasional unmotivated flouting of social conventions is OK. But anyway, don't ask B. for reasons. Would you ask a tiger for reasons? B. is a creature of instinct.

Though it is still Berlin, so dark jeans + jacket will take you anywhere.

My son loved Berlin for that reason among others.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 7:13 AM
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This next year will be my third season to have (nosebleed) season tickets at the Met opera, which brings the price down considerably (to about $17 per), and with it, the sense of occasion. Sometimes it's fun to dress up fancily for the night, but often, when the curtain opens at 7:30 and I've had a long-ass day and no time to go home to change and it's going to be a three and a half-hour Wagner, it's nice not to worry about my clothes so much.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 10:30 AM
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I don't know what the hell this site is, but I think I like it, and am adding it to my RSS feeds.


Posted by: vasudeva | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 6:15 PM
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With a name like that, make yourself right at home.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 6:16 PM
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