Category Archives: england

laundry report

My backpack full of clean laundry, care of Eva’s washing machine and a night break between camps, is now more a mixed bag. I am down to the non-dancing underwear (where the dancing underwear seems to have largely disappeared: I’m sure I’ve lost knickers in the Herrang laundry. Despite Grace’s best efforts) and once again wishing I’d brought some thai fisherman’s pants with me. But who’d have thought loose, cotton nappy-inspired trousers would be the perfect garment for a dance camp in Europe? Note to self for future reference, I guess.
The wedding clothes proved just as irritating as I’d thought: sure, I could have dressed up for the blues nights at Herrang (one can never be over dressed for blues night), but then I’d not have felt as comfortable as I did. Ah well.
I’m going to have to hunt for something clean for flying in. Something I can bear to wear for 24 hours straight

Future Herrang visits: more trousers. More loose, comfy cotton trousers. More thai fisherman pants. Ten tshirts is enough. Bring bike pants to manage inevitable Chafing Issues. Never too many pairs of underwear or socks. Bring only machine-washable, quick-drying clothes. Care not for crinkles. Swimming costume an essential for shy-bies (not that I had the opportunity to see if I was shy). Sheets. Say yes to a sheet. Hat. Sarong – another essential.

How will I manage Melbourne’s winter weather and fashion requirements? Especially now I’m at least a size smaller than I was before I left. Goddamn this super-responsive metabolism. It adores exercise. And dancing truly is the best exercise there is.

it’s 9:21pm

the sun has just about gone down. i’m in today. i had a walk round cricklewood (and surrounding bits) and i’ve decided i love it. otherwise, i stayed in and fell asleep on the couch again. i’ve really tired myself out this week. still feel, even though i’ve been to a lot of places and met a lot of people, that i’ve missed out on london. it’s just too damn big. i do love this city. i have one full day left, then i’m off to herrang. i’m almost ready to finish off this holiday. the family stuff was very tiring. and staying with strangers is also a bit tiring. most excellent, though. i’d rather stay with people than in boring, impersonal hotels. this way you meet lots of people, get the goss on where to go, etc. but i’m still tired. i really can’t be bothered doing herrang, which is a shame, as that’s the point of this trip.
workwise, this trip has been useful. comparing the london and melbourne/australian scenes has really helped me figure out how the melbourne scene works in more complex ways. i can make more informed comments about things like class, demographics, etc. i am wondering if i will be able to hack the just under two weeks of herrang, and then camp savoy. someone asked me last night why i was leaving herrang early for camp savoy, and i really had to think… i do think it’s the best idea. especially from a work perspective. the herrang dancing will be better, i think, but the camp savoy stuff will be interesting.
i’ve met so many lovely dancers since i’ve been here. and i’ve chatted with so many really nice strangers during the day. despite themselves, london is being aggressive-friendlied. soon they will all thank bus drivers as they de-bus. and smile and make eye contact…
this has been a damn good trip. even if i did take a stack on the dance floor night before last. haven’t fallen over in ages. not since dave lamb tipped me on my arse at mayfields one night. but the other night david and i were dancing, and OO-pah! i was on my clack. i thought it was just a matter of overtired girl stacking it in a fast song. but david said it was all his fault: he pushed me then stuck his leg out and down i went. i was a bit surprised and i bruised and grazed my knee, but i didn’t cry. he was embarassed, but i wasn’t. it reminded me that it’s important not to take this dancing thing seriously. luckily i’ve not got the whole serious thing going on these days, but it was still an important reminder. it’s meant to be fun. laugh when you fall down. laugh when you stuff up. say thankyou for dances, introduce yourself, learn people’s names properly and tell people when you enjoy the dance. dance with beginners whenever and as frequently as you can: they enjoy danc
ing more than anyone and get the greatest pleasure from the simplest moves. these are things it’s important to remember.

still in london

i’m still in london, but paying for an excess of dancing. i have danced every night so far: sunday, monday, tuesday, wednesday. and touristed all day. now i am very very tired. the damn cough has pretty much gone, but revisits at times like this when i’m a bit overtired and my lungs are a bit stuffed.
dancing in london has been fun: i’ve met some truly excellent people. the scene is generally older, and most people have real jobs, in large part due to the expense of living in london. only people with real jobs can afford to live here and dance regularly. i suspect that also accounts for the smaller number of higher level dancers. despite that, london dancers, overall, have better technique than melbourne dancers, and there is a wonderful lack of the Yank, from which melbourne’s leads could learn.

my favourite dance nights have been those run by martin (sunday at brooks, tuesday in fulham, and he does a thursday too, which isn’t on this week). he picks wonderful venues, djs nice stuff, and attracts a really friendly, excellent crowd. the other two things i’ve done (100 club and the marble arch thing last night) tend to attract an older crowd, be much much less friendly, and have a higher proportion of jive dancers. last night in a room of over 50 dancers, there was no one who could do a swing out. the follows are, as per usual, on the whole much better dancers than the leads, despite the (again, as per usual for swingers) leads’ oft unwarranted egos. last night there was such a massive gender imbalance i ended up leading far more than i followed. which turned out to be a most excellent move: hoorah for middle aged women. they follow, they dance well, they laugh and really, really enjoy the chance to get up and dance. it’s a total win-win situation.

there is one more dance thing on this friday (tomorrow), but i fly out at 7:30 the next morning, having to get to heathrow by 6:30, so having to leave london by 5am. i don’t think i’ll be going dancing tomorrow night. a shame, as this is a one-off run by some friendly dancers called robert and claire, and is something people here have been looking forward to…
i am absolutely exhausted, and really needing a good night in. early to bed tonight, i think, and possibly a day of very easy pottering around the house.

…. i do feel that i’m missing out on london, though. did the tate mod yesterday: love that thing. and the photographers’ gallery in soho/leicester square, which i remembered from my last visit. love that place too. also wandered around that part of london, just checking stuff out. soho is much tamer than i remember, and has been markedly gentrified. i still like it, though.
crickelwood, where i’m staying now, is really nice: very multicultural (like most of london), with a good dollop of middle eastern, african and caribbean people. i like it a lot. and i’ve managed to make friends with a fair few of the local shopkeepers. i am continuing with my shamefully friendly approach: london is responding positively.

it has been quite warm the last few days. yesterday was incredibly humid, and i got reeeeaaaally sweaty. the tube utterly SUCKS in this warm weather.

have i mentioned how much i love the tube? it’s really an excellent way to get around. and so easy to use. i am queen of the tube, and with my day travel cards, i am unstoppable.
am also perpetrating many bus scams. seems bus drivers either a) don’t really give a shit, or b) are very kind. i have played the dumb australian tourist card at least a dozen times, and have scored many free trips as a consequence. not deliberately, mind you. accidentally. and i’ve tried to pay every time. seems that friendliness thing is paying off.

Toilet paper and showers

Two key cultural differences between England and Australia:

1) a lot of people use this moistened, scented toilet tissue (sort of like Wet Ones, but friendlier) instead of toilet paper (or as well as – I haven’t really figured it out yet); and

2) people seem quite happy to not have or use showers. They bathe. Once a lovely novelty, this is becoming something of an Issue, especially after dancing.

Luggage report:

I do love backpacking, but I wish I could dump at least half my stuff. I am sick of carrying shoes and books, mostly. All I’ve actually brought with me are clothes, shoes (2 pair dance, 1 pair the ones I wore over, 1 stupid pair of wedding shoes, 1 pair useful slip-ons), including my new hiking boots and work stuff. I would like to ditch some of the books I’ve accumulated, but it seems a shame when I bought them so cheaply. Books are cheaper here than in Australia, especially second hand. And I like these books! Hoorah for Iain M. Banks. And Damn him for his verbosity.

I am carrying the heavy, 65 litre back pack, which rocks (esp as it has a little day pack attached), and my old backpack, which is most excellent. The big one was borrowed, and really isn’t up to my exacting standards. I am considering buying a new, good quality one when I get home. I also seem to cart around a shopping bag with either dirty laundry or grocery bits in it. I did buy some awesome teas in Wiltshire, but I left them at Anne’s. There are some good herbal teas here, especially the DR T
whatsit brand. I will hunt them down and import them ASAP.

It has been annoying to have to carry stuff that’s so single purpose: wedding clothes and shoes; day clothes; dance clothes. I wish they could all be one. Hurrump. Maybe next time. But while wide legged trousers are delish to dance in, they’re not so good for walking around a large city in. Not enough pockets, too much fabric.

Laundry report:

Washing machines are good. But tricky. I have managed to run the colour from some cheap socks they gave us on the plane (which are great for protecting my patent leather shoes) on to my pirate shirt, making it blue and black striped, rather than white and black.
Tumble driers are a fixed feature here, but they’re a bit scary when it comes to synthetic clothes. Some of my little dance shirts
well, most of my dance shirts
are synthetic, and while great for being not-gross to touch when I’m really sweaty, they go weirdo in the drier. Damn.
All this dancing is producing far too much laundry. Far too much one-wear-only, grotty, stinky laundry.
Urk.

marlborough jazz festival

i discovered the festival was on last week on about tuesday. so i mosied on into marlborough on friday night at about 6pm. paid £17 for a night of packed in jazz. the whole town was filled with music. all the pubs and cafes and most of the other shops and businesses had bands playing in their grounds, and my pass gave me entry into all of them. it was really great. i met nice people and saw some great bands. saw some shitty ones, too, but there you go.
the bestest band were the hot club of cowtown. western swing, but in an earlier, 30s vein. tres fab. i watched them for 2 hours, utterly spellbound, and could have gone home happy then. absolutely fantastical.
then i mosied over the road and happened to run into some dancers. i didn’t dance: the music didnt’ catch me. but then i wandered over to the town hall, where there was a little big band playing (sticky wickett’s little big band, to be precise). there were dancers there, so i hooked up with them and had a fair bit of a dance.
the band weren’t bad at all. but i was bloody wrecked: too unfit! my stupid cough is still with me (yes, it is my stupid cough now), and i’m so unfit. but i did have fun.

i caught a country cab home at 1am and had a nice lie-in before i caught the coach up to london.

shoe reportshoe report

a topic close to every dancer (and traveller)’s heart.

new hiking shoes: love them. only one rubbed heel the first day i wore them. otherwise, they rock. only problem: not at all, in any way, possible to dance in them. sigh.

dance shoes: think i wrecked the suede at the dance in marlborough on friday. stupid drinkers spilling on the dance floor.

i’d like to ditch at least one pair of shoes. my backpack is overstuffed.