Summer 2013

Magic, Dancing, and Singing in London

It was only a matter of time before David and I openly clashed. Now, before you gasp and read on for the juicy details, no we haven’t fought. But it’s definitely clear we’ve been traveling together for an extended period of time. Little things are starting to come to the surface, like how he takes longer in the bathroom than I do. Or how I’m a bit more disorganized than him. Or how he just breathes really, really loudly.

However, I do feel the pros greatly outweigh the cons. It’s nice to be able to say “Hey, wait with the stuff while I go use the loo.” Or, being able to be in your own photos without asking a ton of strangers to hold IMG_4837your camera. Or, not feeling like you could be jumped at any moment for being a single girl walking alone in a strange city.

And of course, when your travel companion says “Do you want to go to Harry Potter Studios?”, that is when you know you picked the right partner.

It was pretty amazing. Not only was the gift shop every Potterphile’s dream, but it was just amazing being able to see some of the sets recreated and how they were able to accomplish effects (like the floating candles) and props (like most of the delicious food). We were able to take a ride in the Weasley car and ride a broomstick.

Basically, it was a pretty magical Monday.

In terms of our project, we had followed up on a lead, i.e. this teacher/dancer in northwest London, Ryan Francois. I was able to find and contact him via Facebook and he was not only kind enough to grant us an interview, but to actually interview him in his own house!

Ryan was definitely someone who could command a room and had enough charisma and a talent for storytelling that David and I sprinkled some questions, but for the most part listened intently. He talked about meeting the greats (Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, etc.), about developing the scene in London, about the future of Lindy Hop.

His current plans (already in motion) include (but are not limited to) several larger entertainment venues for the Lindy Hop and other styles from the Jazz Age and the following decades. Broadway certainly might be seeing a Nicholas Brothers’ musical very soon. He even showed us scripts! I was certainly star struck.

Thursday, I was left to my own devices, so I roamed the British Museum and the National Gallery (the latter, I got hopelessly lost in). A day not nearly enough for both, but I definitely plan on returning to at least the National Gallery (bright and early to beat the crowds). IMG_0846

And then I met my friend Gigi for a night of Chinese dining (in London China town) and a musical, this time a personal nostalgic favorite: Singin’ in the Rain!

A big fan of the movie since I was a little girl, I grew up watching Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds sing and dance and know every song by heart. There is even a video hopefully hidden away forever of me in my Sunday-best shoes on the porch with my frilly, pink umbrella singing “I’m singing in the rain! Just singing in the rain!” (Those were all the words I knew, being four years old and all.) (I’m kind of amazed I never asked for tap dance lessons and now regret this bitterly.)

It was wonderful and while it was disappointing not to see an exact Gene Kelly duplicate on stage, Gigi and I agreed the spirit was there and mouthed along to all the words of all the songs and laughed gleefully as the first few rows were soaked in the musical’s signature number (twice)! I especially enjoyed the glee expressed by the actors who made the effort to make sure that they sprayed everyone within the first ten rows.

All in all, a pretty good week. Now I am gathering my things to head to Bristol to visit Aunts Jane and Peggy before heading off for a week of fun and frolicking in Oslo, Norway!

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