Surfing Montauk with Debra Rose


The Must-Have This Season: A Djellaba

Debra Rose

Part of the surfing ritual is the ceremonial change into and out of your wetsuit, often in the parking lot or if you are double-jointed, in your car. Anything beyond a spring suit makes this extra challenging when boots, gloves and cold air are involved, as you try to hold your towel around you while pulling off your neoprene limb by limb.

We have accepted this as part of the deal with deciding to go into the water only after we arrive, rather than driving to and from the beach in our gear. As you (try not to) look around and your fellow surfers, there is a sea of creativity around you; holding up towels with teeth, multiple towels over heads, car doors open to conceal the changing, climbing half into cars, trying to duck beneath windows. All of this effort is to be discreet while avoiding cars pulling into and out of the parking lot, beach goers and your buddies doing the same thing all around you. This isn’t like the locker room where some have easy conversations while getting changed. It is a lot more challenging to quickly and efficiently transform into clothing Superman-style without getting your wet suit and clothing too dirty while you drop pieces on the ground for the sake of speed.

Enter the ‘Media Changing Towel’ from Channel Islands, a strong name for what is a essentially a changing dress or more closely, a Moroccan Djellaba (pronounced Jill-Aba).

We came across this Moroccan staple while surfing in Agadir, the Arabian equivalent of the Montauk surf scene.

This traditional, unisex robe is typically light in weight for the desert heat and made in many colors. And in pre-Facebook style, colors indicate relationship status (dark brown for bachelors) – that may be exactly what we need in Montauk among the surfers.

A familiar garment is that worn by Obi-Wan Kenobi, with a hood for sun protection and wind blown sand in ones face. Perfect for cool or warm days, the modern Media Changing Towel makes standing on the side of your car, in the middle of the parking lot, or chatting with friends a discreet tool to have in your surfing arsenal. Now all we need is Channel Islands to produce various colors to indicate surfing level, relationship status and surfing etiquette followers. We will have all we need for getting in and out of our wetsuits in a flash.