I’m my own worst enemy. I decide something won’t be good and then I just don’t do it and end up retreating into my shell. Luckily, there are other people who won’t always leave me alone in my shell. One such was a visitor I had this weekend.
He booked tickets for us to go to a gig on Saturday night. I was dreading it. I don’t do “gigs”. I go to “shows”. I go to “spectaculars”. I go to “An Evening With…” I don’t go to gigs. I don’t want to meet serious men who smell of Guinness and wear leather jackets and get their heterosexual juice all over me. One of my mottos is that I only go to concerts where there are multiple costume changes otherwise what’s the point.
There would be no costume changes at this show. I asked my friend what kind of music it would be. I wanted to prepare myself. I shouldn’t have asked. He told me that the singer we were going to see was “really great, similar to Bob Dylan”.
I’m not saying Bob Dylan is the singer I’d least like to see live. But he’s definitely in my bottom 10. The croaking. The humourlessness. The aversion to beauty and glamour. The guitar. Oh god. I was going to have to watch a man singing and playing a guitar for a whole gig. I’m really not a guitar fan.
I think it all started with my big brother sitting on my chest or locking me in his bedroom so I couldn’t escape while he practised House of The Rising Sun over and over on the guitar and I was forced to listen. Or maybe it’s the way the guitar is so closely associated with the religious community I grew up in and the hymns of my childhood. Or maybe it’s the irredeemable heterosexuality of the guitar. Or maybe it’s the numerous house parties I’ve been to where all conversation has been blighted by some unwashed guy who we all have to listen to playing the guitar. Whatever the case, I’m not a fan of a man with a guitar.
I told myself it would be fine. I’m London Connor now. I say yes now. I don’t say no to life any more. Even if life is a man with a guitar.
And do you know what? The “gig” was great. The singer was really good.
He’d been in an accident with a snow blower and had hurt his fingers and couldn’t play the guitar. For a few songs, he had another guy playing guitar for him, but he turned it into a real variety show to accommodate his injury. There were readings and jokes. He played the piano instead of guitar. He had his little daughter come up and sing a song from a cartoon. Some friends of his (who were also my friend’s friends) and are West End musicians got on stage and he did a few numbers with him. Including a show tune!
It was a great night! There weren’t any costume changes, but nonetheless, it was a super concert.
Afterwards, it was decided we were going for drinks. I was a bit hesitant. I only knew one of the people there properly and I’ve got a lot worse at social events over the last few years. We tried a few pubs, but they were all either full or closed.
The two West End performers in the group rang their club to see if we could get in there if they signed for us. That’s right. Their club. A private members’ club. Not one of the awful ones for executives and bankers and Tories. A private members’ club for West End players! For show folk!
If I’d told Little Connor, who learned all the words to songs from musicals that no one else has heard of like Salad Days or They’re Playing Our Song that one day I’d be in a private club exclusively for those appearing in shows on London’s Glittering West End, he wouldn’t have believed me.
It was plush and swanky and there were twinkly lights and waiters who chilled your glasses and cocktails themed after big shows. Even a Stomp cocktail.
It was quite quiet there when we arrived. But soon after we sat down, the staff cleared a space on the dance floor for some newly arrived customers/members/superstars. They took to the dance floor. Real West End Stars! Dancing right in front of me! Close enough to touch! They were mainly just doing regular night club dancing, but I didn’t care. There were real showfolk and they weren’t afraid to twirl or to grind or to let their hips do the talking.
I sat and chatted to one of our group, a composer, who just happens to be working on a West End show. Imagine! Me!
In one of the most famous scenes in Dirty Dancing, Baby, played by Jennifer Grey, carries a watermelon for one of the holiday camp staff and sees all the staff in their free time doing their dirty filthy dance moves far away from the rich people and is enchanted and terrified and excited and rendered speechless, so that the only thing she knows how to say is “I carried a watermelon”.
That was me. I was Baby. And on Saturday, I carried my own watermelon.
*Fans myself joyously.*