Friday, April 13, 2007

Contra dancing



Time Out is my new favorite publication. Mostly because they included "English Country Dancing Cecil Sharp House, NW1 7:30pm" under events for yesterday. And it was bunches of fun. Every Thursday they have what is basically a beginners dance session, except that there are totally regulars who come every week and are really good. I got there late, because although The A-Z has all the streets, it doesn't tell you which way the numbers go, so I started out on the wrong end of Regent's Park Road and ended up having to walk down the entire length of it, which really was fine because it is a gorgeous street (although maybe a few to many pastel houses) and a lovely night out.

Right, so I got there late, and I had some trouble figuring out where to go because the place was empty on the main floor, but I found someone to tell me to go down to the basement and there I found two different dances going on. I wasn't sure if I should just go in or not, you know, how formal was it? So I took a chance and went in and sat down next to the one person who wasn't dancing. She turned out to be a highschooler named Katie who was there with her friends and one of her friend's dad (who turned out to be from Cincinnati) and it was her first time too, so we figured out how it worked together, and then I contra danced for the rest of the night. yay!

There was this Chinese woman there named Xiaorui Wu. She is working on a degree in ethnomusicology and was there for part of a project, we traded e-mail addresses. She is the Asian one in the picture. During the tea break I met and chatted with Lara and Laura from Australia (there were a bunch of foreigners, I don' t have an explanation for that except that both Lara and I found out about the event from Time Out, hence my earlier statement. Lara is the tall one, Laura is the shorter one.)

After the tea break we sang happy birthday to the leader of the band and danced some more. There were about 30 people there all told, and a pretty wide range of ages as well. One of the sprightliest ladies had turned 80 two weeks before. She was great fun. There was also, somewhat surprisingly, a good ratio of men to women, which meant that it was much easier to tell if you were in completely the wrong place since the genders were actually accurate.

At the end of the dance Laura and Lara invited me out for dinner, so we wandered around the neighborhood trying to find somewhere the was open for food. (We ended up having a street dancing moment outside of a pub that had a jazz band, but no food) We eventually found this Greek restaurant that I don't remember the name of, but it was very good. We split a bunch of appetizers and generally had a grand old time. Lara is a somewhat classically trained violinist, she played with the band for the second half of the dance, and she is really interested in early music. (She went a little nuts when she found out that I play gamba, it was satisfying.) So we exchanged contact information and hopefully will have a chance to get together again before we both leave. (She is taking a job with a youth hostel in the Lakes district starting on the 21st.) So yeah, I had a great night.

Also, Peter has e-mailed me back. He is actually going to be in London on the 18th, so we have to get our visiting in on Monday. He also says that he has whipped the orchestra in to shape (they are, apparently, "fab" now) and so will be getting me a ticket for Tuesday. I'm excited.

3 comments:

Andy said...

Hooray! Ever since I found out about Cecil Sharp House, I have wondered what it was like. If you ever saw the movie Songcatcher, Cecil Sharp was the professor from England who took all the credit for Olive Dame Campbell's work. Here is the school she founded http://www.folkschool.com/index.php?section=articles&article_cat_id=5&article_id=5.

But I think the movie might have taken some dramatic license (she wasn't really a lesbian who had her house burned down by angry villagers) so maybe they were wrong about Cecil Sharp too. He did lots of good work preserving English folk songs. Here is a very complete history of Cecil Sharp's work with Olive Dame http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/sharp.htm

Too bad you had to go slumming in NW1 when you're a NW3 girl :-) NQOKD ("Not quite our kind, dear")

Anonymous said...

I never tought you'd go there. It's 100 yards from our old place - the top flat at 33 Regents Park Rd (right by the church/ cannal and facing the park). Aneta

Casey in London said...

Andy-
that was a horrible movie. Her eyes moved waaay too much and the acting was atrocious. Which was really too bad, because the music was *so cool* Like that skinny girl who had the crazy-weird, but awesome voice.