London is loud and busy and fast. People walk really quickly, avoid eye contact and donâ€™t say thank you to bus drivers. I walk slowly, smile at strangers and say both hello and thank you to everyone. No doubt I will soon be taught A Lesson, and will cease and desist promptly. Letâ€™s hope it doesnâ€™t happen any time soon, huh? Iâ€™m ridiculously cheerful as well: hence the smiling and friendliness.
Iâ€™ve just spent three nights with David in Battersea, sleeping on a futon on the floor of his small flatâ€™s lounge room, packing everything away when I get up in the morning. It was only yesterday that I realised he didnâ€™t own a television. A good sign on my part, I feel. David is a swinger too, and a friend of Heidi, a Londoner who now lives in Melbourne.
I went dancing the last two nights, at Brooks in Hammersmith and then at the 100 Club at 100 (of course) Oxford Street. Brooks was very fun: a smaller, friendlier venue, where the music was all DJed and all swinging jazz. The dancers were friendly, and I scored many excellent dancers with no knock-backs, including some totally excellent ones with a lovely French bloke called Francois. I am reminded of Lotteâ€™s comments that Tooolooos boys are wooonderful dancers.
The 100 Club was less excellent, though I did dance like a nut til way too late. There was a band who didnâ€™t really swing, but who were fun, and some DJed music between the sets. There was a more mixed crowd: jazz nicks and non-dancers as well as lindy hoppers and jivers. Jive is very popular here, and has much in common with rock n roll. I think I offended one (rather strange) bloke when I declared my absolute nuh-donâ€™t-do-it when he said â€˜Do you do jive? Surely you do west coast?â€™ All for the best I think. Iâ€™m not having no truck with that sort of goings-on.
The 100 Club dancers were less friendly than the Brooks, even though some of them were the same. There was a larger contingent of hardcore vintage people, and not the friendly, big drinking vintage types Iâ€™m familiar with. These were hardcore, and way over on the wanky side, with one being of the opinion that Big Pants were an embarrassment to lindy hop and shouldnâ€™t be allowed. The same bloke also believed that white savoy dancers were trying to be something they couldnâ€™t ever be, and that all lindy hop should be danced to 1930s swinging jazz whilst wearing vintage clothing. He did make some exception for reproduction vintage wear, but only on concession.
I wasnâ€™t having any of that rubbish, and despite my 1) hanging merciless shit on his ideas and saying â€˜oh, arenâ€™t you a bitch!â€™; 2) stating that I completely disagreed with him and that I personally would much rather people just danced, no matter what they were wearing; 3) that I, personally couldnâ€™t be arsed wearing vintage all the time, and really rather preferred the Big Pants approach to lindy; 4) and that really, weâ€™d just have to agree to disagree, he still stalked me around the dance floor, demanding dances, holding me far too close and declaring that I was â€˜really not a bad a dancerâ€™ and that he liked dancing with me. All this and he was quite proud of the fact that heâ€™d never done any classes, and that his was an â€˜originalâ€™ and unique style. Pft. I fled, dancing with the fun chick heâ€™d refused dance invitations from on multiple occasions because she was â€˜a crap dancerâ€™. Iâ€™d have liked to have pointed out that he was also a crap dancer, but that I was quite wil
ling to dance with him, just because 1) itâ€™s polite; and 2) dancing is fun. But I felt that it was best to just let it go.
I am half considering dancing again tonight, but I donâ€™t think itâ€™s going to happen. Iâ€™m quite tired, and traveling home across London on public transport so late at night is a bit intimidating. Even for this brave Queen of the Tube.
Now Iâ€™m staying with another lovely friend of Heidiâ€™s, another dancer (lapsed), who lives in Crickelwood, in a very lovely, large house with two children, her partner and a very nice cat whose name I donâ€™t know. I am back on the antihistamines. There is also an au paire called Christiane, who is also nice, and Lithuanian. I am bound to trip over Lithuanians wherever I am, I think. Eva is Hungarian, and speaks Hungarian with her children. I am collecting European dance people: Estonia, Nederlands, Lithuania, Germany, France, etc.
Tomorrow I am determined to make it in to the Tate Modern and the Globe Theater. Last two days Iâ€™ve been rising late, and then wandering around Battersea, or in to Covent Garden to lust over all the nice Things. I am bound for a few art galleries, now. Thereâ€™s an exhibition of some French photographer at a gallery on the south bank, an exhibition of art from â€˜Tolstoyâ€™s eraâ€™ somewhere else and much else for me to chase. This will be an Arty trip to London, I think.
It seems a shame to come to such a fascinating city only to dance. And really, dancing is the same everywhere, I think. Same culture, same traditions and models of behaviour. I am enjoying the exercise, but really, Iâ€™m almost Done. Having said that, there is social dancing on tonight, Wednesday and Friday nights. Friday is a special dance run by a Hollywood couple. Can I manage a dance and then up at 5am? We shall see.
I am staying with Eva til Friday at least. I will consult the travel options and if itâ€™s easier and quicker to get from Davidâ€™s to Heathrow Iâ€™ll stay there Friday night. If not, Iâ€™ll stay with Eva again. Decisions, decisions.
I fly out on Saturday from Heathrow at 7:30am. So I need to be there at 6:30am. That means sorting transport and leaving by 5:30 at least.
I have taken no photos: it is too dark in dance venues, and Iâ€™ve just not thought of it outside. I will try to do better over the next few days.