You will have noticed it whilst discreetly looking over your neighbour’s garden fence – something big, something seriously big sits neatly on their front porch or terrace: a Hollywood Swing.
Better known as ‘front porch swing’ in the Anglo-Saxon context it was actually a German invention as far as the terminology, not the item of garden furniture as such, is concerned.
In the decades of the baby boomer generation starting in the 1970s more and more US-television series as well as films found their way into European homes and cinemas. Very often a two – to three – seater swing featured prominently in those productions. With the advent of colour television things got even brighter so to speak – designs bordered on the outrageous and can best be compared with another famous must-have of those days: the Hawaii Shirt, an equally ludicrously colourful piece of men’s clothing. As a matter of fact, the only place you would not want to be seen in such a garment was – you guessed it, Hawaii.
Leaving inappropriate sarcasm aside and turning to the gist of this month’s contribution over time Hollywood Swings lost their appeal in Germany and other parts of Europe as more and more people moved to the big cities where space including open air spaces attached to ones fixed abode were of course in short supply. Hence, the countryside became the domain of our parents and grandparents opposed to that noisy city centre flat we emerging yuppies declared as being über-cool. Owning a Hollywood Swing all of a sudden became completely undesirable.
Fast forward to the New Millennium and to be more precise, the Turkey of the year 2021. There are many good reasons why over here front porch swings have lost nothing of their allure. To the contrary, they seem to be one of the trendiest outdoors furniture hot picks currently around. How come?
First, the weather. Certainly a major consideration as in countries where the meaning of ‘summer season’ is somewhat hazy; hazy as on a typical mid-summer’s rainy and cloudy day someplace in central Europe. In Kusadasi, along the southern Aegean coast we are blessed to experience fine climes during most parts of the calendar year. Sitting and eating and drinking outdoors is standard, not the exception.
Second, family size. Staying in that sitting outdoors picture for a moment, Turkish families tend to be more extended than counterparts elsewhere. Owning two plastic garden chairs is one thing, offering your friends and family a space on the Hollywood Swing something altogether different, simply much more welcoming. It is not uncommon that family members rotate between less comfortable seating and a place on the swing – front porch diplomacy one feels inclined to write.
Third, space. If you live in a centrally located apartment, chances are you have at least one good-sized balcony at your disposal. Big enough for at least a mid-sized swing plus adjacent coffee table. If you opted for a semi-detached or full house, respectively, you shall either have the comforts of a terrace on the ground floor or even a roof-top sitting area, or a small garden indeed.
Fourth, cash. They do tend to be more expensive than other garden furniture. It all depends whether you plan to keep it under the sun or on a terrace or balcony in the shade, hence the choice of fabric and durability is as important as the seating comforts. Whilst penning this article your friendly columnist found many offers locally and to give an average price tag a cheaper model sets you back just over 2000 Turkish Liras whilst a so-called ‘antiques’ looking model costs 5500 Liras. There may be even cheaper or more expensive varieties on offer so please shop around unless you are already the proud owner of such an essential piece for and of simply feeling good.
Which brings us to the fifth point: yes, the feel-good factor. Not that we ‘Southern Aegeanists’ (apologies for that somewhat bizarre sounding description but then again, do we not all refer to ‘Londoners’ or ‘Glaswegians’ or ‘Istanbullites’ for that matter?) would have any shortage in this regard. But even looking at our swing puts a smile on my face, that very piece of furniture sits idle only waiting to be made good use of. Think having a baby on your lap and gently swinging (of course holding it tight) until he or she falls asleep surrounded by that gentle seaside breeze. Then consider yourself, book in hand, drink by your side, forgetting about the world’s problems of which we encountered far too many during times of a pandemic.
Should you decide to have a go do not ask for a Hollywood Swing but for a ‘Bahce Salincagi’ – please replace the non-Turkish spelling with the correct c, soft g and i’s without the dot as they would not be printed correctly here. There is only one item of fine print you must keep in mind – some furniture stores deliver the swing as ordered but charge extra for assembling it. My family managed ourselves in just over an hour – the choice is yours.
May I wish you a simply wonderful, peaceful, healthy, enjoyable month of August.