Byline: by Catherine Murphy
AS poster girls for inner-city Dublin's pyjama-clad women, I expect Lauren Dempsey and Tara Salinger to turn up wearing PJs. But the 16-year-old Ballyfermot friends, whose stories are told in Maya Derrington's documentary, Pyjama Girls, arrive wearing what most of us consider to be normal daytime attire -- Lauren in leather jacket, jeans and boots, Tara in a pink tracksuit.
Perhaps it's appropriate, because Pyjama Girls is about much more than the sub-cultural trend popular among inner city women.
It shows a deeper, more disturbing slice of harsh Dublin life, a reminder that in some parts of the city, a generation was wiped out by drugs and that generation's parents and children are now dealing with the fall-out.
Pyjama Girls recently went on general release in selected cinemas, knocking one feature film off the big screen in Cork and being extended by a week in Dublin's Cineworld. Tara's already been to see it three times.
Anyone who grew up in a rough working class area will be transported back to their teens, perhaps uneasily, when they come face to face with Lauren and Tara on the big screen, their strong characters a mix of humour, warmth, hyperactivity and teenage intimidation.
The pair, best friends since childhood, are singing within seconds of our meeting: Taio Cruz's Dynamite, they tell me. When it's not Cruz, it's Chris Brown or Rihanna, anything rap or R&B with a bit of Coldplay and Kings of Leon thrown in.
They're live wires, cracking jokes, talking for each other, talking about 'fellas', regularly answering calls from friends on their mobile phones. They move quickly from being curious to bored and seem largely unaware of the bigger world outside their own, as 16-year-olds often are. They're that odd mix of woman and child -- and they're no fools.
The requisite PJs are hidden away in bags, put on for photographs and immediately taken off again. Lauren's are rolled up to show off her boots. They still wear them every day, they explain, to go to the shops or hang out with their friends -- but they want to look their best for interviews.
The trend for women wearing pyjamas during the day was first noticed in Dublin's North Strand area around five years ago, then spread to other parts of the city and out to the suburbs.
The trend was so widespread that one restaurant in Finglas put a notice in its front window that read 'No pyjamas allowed'.
Wearing them is seen by many as a defiant, 'couldn't-care-less-about-society' gesture.
Today, the pyjama girls -- and, indeed their older sisters and even their mothers -- are commonplace around the centre of the city, hanging out, collecting children from school and even shopping in Henry Street's multitude of boutiques and stores. In a kaleidoscope of bright colours and large patterns, usually teamed with Ugg boots or up-to-the-minute trainers, the pyjama wearers -- and particularly those who risk a nightie in the summer months -- never fail to stand out.
Tara and Lauren are vague about why they started wearing pyjamas every day. 'It just happened,' says Lauren. 'My older sister was already wearing them, everyone was. You'd throw them on if you just wanted to run around to the shop. Now we love our PJs.
'It's easier to jump out of the shower and into a clean pair of pyjamas. And what if, say, you're hungover and just want to go out to the shop for a roll, what's the point of putting clothes on? 'I don't mean to be rude but it's not as if we're walking around in thongs and bras. Pyjamas are clothes, they've been washed. Actually, I prefer to go out in brand-new PJs, not ones that have been washed. Apart from anything else, they're comfortable but also, we have the confidence to wear them and maybe that's what some people don't like.' In the documentary, their pals refer to pyjamas as 'bad fashion', a notion lost on the majority of Dubliners who view daytime pyjama-wearing as anti-social, lazy, dirty, a reflection of benefits culture and one of the worst aspects of city life. …