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Pajama year, pajama party

By PAULO ALCAZAREN, The Philippine STAR Published Jan 05, 2021 4:00 pm

We are all glad that 2020 has come to a close. The year was terrible for the whole of humanity. With the exception of a few isolated island settlements, the terrible COVID virus reached every nook and cranny of the globe.

We have all had to cope with various degrees of social distancing and quarantine, depending on age, health and location. Thankfully, digital technology has enabled us to keep in touch, to continue to get an education, and keep on working from home.

This has led us to a life in front of our laptops, tablets or phones, where our face to the world is literally just our face and upper body. This has made almost all of us abandon wardrobes and OOTDs. All we needed these last 10 months were presentable upper garments. No one cared if we wore pajamas below. Pajamas, shorts, dusters, and other house clothes were our default. We’ve also abandoned footwear for flip-flops or sandals.

 Pitoy Moreno and Conchitina Sevilla welcome Cherry Pie VIllonco, Dini Monotoc and Pearlie Arcache.

Personally I prefer shorts, although this colder season has seen me searching for the few pairs of pajama trousers I own. I could only find two serviceable ones, so I looked online for more. Most suppliers were out of stock or the sets were too expensive for my taste, as they were mostly complete sets, including the tops, which I did not really need.

 The sultry Maritoni Ayesa, in an all-white palazzo pajama outfit, does the Watusi with a guest from Clark Field.

This got me thinking about pajama parties, to celebrate our default outfits. Maybe it was because I started organizing my digital files of old magazine articles and other ephemera, and found scans of an early 1960s pictorial of a high-society pajama party.

The piece featured Manila’s finest bedecked in what passed for pajamas, or pajama-styled fashion. Entitled “Pyjamarama, a Kaleidoscope, a Fantasy, a Nightmare?” the article may have been due to the popularity of pajama parties, as featured on American TV and in movies. I remember watching a popular film, Pajama Party, starring Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello (the former Mickey Mouse Club star). It was part of a franchise series of beach movies targeted at teens and young adults.

 Tina Palanca shimmies to a Beatles tune.

The magazine feature was really a pictorial with little text, save for captions describing who attended and what they wore. An excerpt from the feature writer Donnie Ramirez’s copy goes, “Class with dash. Dazzling like the Mediterranean on a moonlit night. Daring and bold like a Modigliani nude. Chic like the near-perfect Eiffel Tower silhouetted by the Bohemian Paris sunset. Palazzo Pyjama? What is it? (A spectacular (affair) made of glorious fabrics, sometime glittering, sometime sportif, and certainly gay.” They wrote differently in the ’60s.

 Pajama Party was a popular Hollywood film starring Annette Funicello.

The affair was organized by Pitoy Moreno and set at an unspecified mansion in North Forbes. The affair was styled for the occasion by Gilbert Perez. The writer goes on to describe the shindig as “…replete with color, pomp, and gaiety, flavored by canapés and champagne, a dream made real by Manila’s 40-karat young cosmopolitan clique, the ‘in’ crowd, laughing, talking, and jerking (a dance craze popular then).”

The main celebrities included, among others, Conchitina Sevilla (who apparently was the celebrant), Cherry Pie Villonco, Rica Gonzalez-Garcia, Dini Monotoc, Maritoni Ayesa, Chingbee Kalaw, Pearlie Arcache, and Vicky Perez-Zubiri. Music was courtesy of two “combos,” The Intruders and the Celtics. They were probably playing covers of Beatles and Monkees pop tunes.

 Cherrie Pie Villonco, Rina Gonzalez-Garcia and Vicky Fernandez-Zubiri all in versions of bell-bottoms

Obviously, I would not get an invitation to this type of pajama party. I was then maybe eight years old and my pajama parties were sleepovers at cousins’ or friends’ homes. In my teens when I was in college, these sleepovers were necessitated by curfew during the martial law era. We did not wear pajamas, but bellbottoms, tie-dyed shirts and denim jackets, getting wasted on cheap gin and San Miguel beer.

 Boy Angeles and the Intruders provided music for the night.

But this was all a half-century ago. Although if we go back further we discover the etymology of the word “pajama” (or “pyjama”) comes from Hindi, meaning “leg garment.” It apparently was used to describe “loose-fitting pants worn in parts of Asia, usually made of silk or cotton.”

The English brought them to the west from India in the 18th century and from there it spread around the world. We have now gone back to wearing pajamas, or comfy home wear, 24/7 because of our shared situation.

  Maritoni Ayesa's stunning outfit from the back

With vaccines coming this year, hopefully before summer, we may need to bring the rest of our wardrobe back from deep sleep in our closets. Although for me, having lost a bit of weight in the last 10 months from a new regimen of exercise, I need to restock a whole new wardrobe. We will also need to make sure that our shoes have not deteriorated in storage. I also have not seen or used my wallet in months… or watches, for that matter.

Tina Palanca waits for a dance in a "peek-a-boo" ensemble, while Baby Fernando's ostrich-feathered outfit caught many party-goers' attention.

I do miss getting dressed and definitely look forward to going out again. I am sure you do, too. There’s lots we missed in 2020, but it’s not the dressing up we all miss most. It is the meeting of family and friends over meals and in parties. I do hope we all get back to this aspect of our old normal soon.