Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Navigating the subway in frills

Whenever I'm in Lolita and walking around Manhattan, it's like a different world even though I've lived here for a few years already. It must be the headbow blocking the blood circulation to the brain. When I'm in Lolita I seem to get lost more often and I need a certain technique just to get through the turnstile.

The New York City subway is one of the most complex subway systems in the world. Even New Yorkers get lost . However if you follow some simple rules and understand how to get un-lost, you can be well on your way to wherever you’re going.

Deciphering the map.

If you think of New York City as a grid, then you can also decipher where you’re going. If the numbers are going up you are going uptown, and if they are decreasing then you’re going downtown. (Remember signs that say Streets are shorter than Avenues)

How can this be applied to the subway? A lot of the times subway signs list what the last stop is. If the signs point to Brooklyn the train is heading downtown, and if it’s the Bronx it’s heading uptown. And if you’re going to Queens you are heading east and out of Manhattan.

Local and Express.

Express trains will stop only at main intersections. (i.e. N express will stop at Union Sq and Herald Sq, but skips 23rd and 28th St. ) while local trains tend to stop at every stop. If you are new to New York, take the local train. It takes longer to get to your destination, but you’ll make sure you’ll get to your destination instead of realizing the train just past your stop.

What if you take the wrong train or miss your stop? Go on the opposite train. Strangely, people often don’t realize if you just go across the platform you the trains are heading in the opposite directions.

Tackling the turnstile.

The turnstile is tiny and your poof is not. Make sure you try to minimize the amount of petticoats you're going to wear or wear ones made of chiffon or just plain poly cotton. With less volume you will have less to worry about making a scene when you become stuck because of your poof.

Another thing is to pull out your Metrocard out way before you get to the turnstile. You should be searching for it in your bag as soon as you get into the station but before you reach the turnstile. Make it easier on the person behind you -- instead of standing in the middle of subway entrance knowing your Metrocard is somewhere between your keys and makeup case.

Avoid rush hour.

Lolita and rush hour do not mix. Unless you are working at Tokyo Rebel or work at job where you and your office are comfortable with it, I really don't recommend wearing Lolita to work. And rush hour is the worse when you are trying to cram into a sliver of a space just so you can catch a train to get to work on time.

Imagine that but wearing Lolita.

So avoid the hours between 8-10AM and 3-5PM (if you can).

Stand, don't sit.

While sitting in an empty car with rows of seats is an ideal train car ride, it's not always the case. If you're with a group feel free to claim an empty corner. Lolitas who are together as a group will tend to have your back if you're getting harassed.

And if you are not going very far, stand instead of finding an empty seat. Since Lolita clothing tends to have a lot of volume, you might not be able to tuck all that skirt under your seat. People will sit wherever they like even if it's on top of your skirt. Also it's more charitable to give up your seat for someone who needs it more.

Keep occupied.

If you are on your way to a meet-up by yourself, zone out on your iPod, DS, or book and into your own little world. As long as you feel comfortable in Lolita, people will go about their business and the world will not stop just because you are dressed up in frills. This is really important as people will sense if you know you are dressed out of the ordinary.

However don't zone out too much because you may miss your stop!

New Yorkers are nice people.

Since Lolita meet-ups are usually on the weekends, the trains are usually all local. Still, read the signs, look for a subway map. Or even ask a person who looks like they know where they’re going. New Yorkers have a history of being mean, but if you ask politely how to get somewhere they’ll be more than willing to help. Unless you’re in Times Square and ask where Broadway is (Hint: Times Square is 42nd St and Broadway, but now it's a giant pedestrian area so hard to miss).

A few things you should do before you head out the door:

-Check This MTA’s website and will also tell you if trains are going certain stops or not running.
-If you have an iPod or iPhone, lookup the address and save the map before you leave the house.
-Make sure your Metrocard is charged and you have it out before you try to go through a turnstile. Or at least step aside.
-Check egl or wherever the meet-up was posted. You never know if there has been last-minute location changes or cancellations.

And most importantly...

Look out for other Lolitas. If you spot a headbow, head in that direction. She’s probably is going the same direction you are. And if she’s not sure where to go, you can get lost together.


This advice applies to anyone traveling the subway, but I hope I've covered enough bases so that next time you travel the subway it won't be frustrating or discomforting. It's really important no matter where you are to have a good sense of direction and navigation. And with less fuss navigating, all you'll have to worry about is adjusting your dress or hair in the window so you're picture perfect when you meet your friends.

Are there any other tips you may want other Lolitas to know when traveling on the subway?

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