Thursday, June 23, 2011

Boogie at London's Polynesian Playground!

On Sunday night I made a rare venture to South London and got my dance on - with a generous side helping of tiki - at Hula Boogie.

Taking place on the third Sunday of each month at South London Pacific bar in Kennington, Hula Boogie is the perfect finale to the weekend. Dj's Miss Aloha and Reverend Boogie play a mix of 1940s and 1950s music, so you can jive and swing whilst you sip on a fruity cocktail (complete with pineapple chunk and umbrella, no less).

As well as early evening hula and jive classes (7.30-8ish), the night often has guest dj's, live bands, vendors and burlesque, so every month is different.

This month Pat da Kat was djing alongside Miss A and the Rev, and between them they played a great mix of tunes, which kept me happy on the dance floor. The yummy chocolate Jive bars (suspiciously twix-like) that they usually hand out and the happy hour coconutty concoctions I was slurping on were also a welcome addition to my evening....

There was a really good vibe this Sunday, and the perfect amount of people to make for a super fun atmosphere, with enough space to dance comfortably. I had a tonne of brilliant boogies, during which, one of the shoulder straps on my dress (which had been hanging more and more precariously by a thread throughout the course of the night) pinged off, like I was in a Carry on Camping film. Or more aptly, Carry on Boogieing.

This bar is super kitschtastic and piles on the Polynesian props, which I totally get a kick out of - after all, what's the point of subtlety when the bar's theme is tiki?

I really enjoyed myself, and my usual reluctance to go out daaaahn saaarf due to the looming trek home afterwards, proved unfounded. I think my mind was tainted by the journey home the last time I went to HB in December, when the roads were icy and the buses took ages to arrive, whilst Aaron and I froze our little tootsies off, huddled together at the bus stop. Not so this time! The two night buses I needed came straight away, and I was home in an hour, which isn't too bad, especially when it's not wet or cold out. So Aaron: wanna come back to London so I can show you how easy it can be to get back to my place from Hula Boogie......?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Saturday Sort 'n' Swing!

Since my return to London earlier this month, I have made it my mission to finally sort through all the stuff that I have amassed over the years.

It's unbelievable how easy it is to let your possessions build up, until you become overwhelmed with the amount of junk cluttering up your life, and you have to eventually take the time to sift through it all - which, let me tell you, is no small job.

Aside from all the clothes, shoes and jewellery which I need to sort through (and I'm talking about a collection which dates back to my teenage years) I seem to have bags, boxes, cupboards and drawers full of old tights, old undies, old toiletries & make-up, letters, club flyers, payslips, random paperwork, photos, handbags, boxes with random wires from old electronic equipment, cassette tapes, nick-nacks....and the list goes on!

Apart from the fact that this stuff takes up a lot of space (both in the house and the garage), it becomes stressful knowing that eventually you are going to have to sort through it. Now, aside from wanting to unburden myself from all the junk which makes my wardrobes untidy and hard to find things, I also know that when I get married I will be moving to the USA eventually, and so need to sort through all of this old stuff now, rather than leave it to escalate further.

So to begin with, I tackled one of my wardrobes which, contrary to normal use, was not just full of clothes. I shredded and recycled sooooooo much paper (note to self: a) immediately shred letters from banks etc, that are not important, b) stop taking home flyers, especially seeing as events are all up on facebook these days anyway). I have a good couple of bags full of clothes to give to charity and a couple of bags full of clothes to put on ebay (and that is not including the clothing that went straight in the bin).

Finally, after days of sorting and clearing, I managed to finish my task of tidying one wardrobe on Saturday. It was such a relief, but at the same time it is just the beginning! Still, it gave me a great sense of achievement, which meant I could go off to Saturday Night Swing for a night of dancing, knowing that I had accomplished a lot during the day....

I arrived early-ish (around 8.45pm) and there were only a few people on the upstairs floor, which was great, as there was loads of space to dance (this did not last too long though, as shortly after the place was packed)! I didn't even end up checking out the other two rooms, as I love the music upstairs, which is a mix of rhythm n blues, jump jive, boogie woogie and swing. The music was cracking and I danced virtually non-stop - I must also add that I enjoyed every single dance, with not one bad one all night!

It was great to catch up with my UK dance friends after being in Americaland for the past couple of months, and Saturday Night Swing, which takes place on the second Saturday of each month at City Firefly near St Paul's, is one of my favourite dance nights in London.

DJ Pat da Kat even played the awesome Jack Dupree song 'Shakin' Mother For You', which never fails to make me giggle as it sounds like he is singing something else...ahem! Look it up, have a listen, and see what you think...

Super fun night out, the only thing missing was my sweetheart!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Whirlwind Weekend!

In my previous post I mentioned that the last weekend in May was Memorial Day Weekend in the USA. Well, it was also my last weekend in the Bay Area for a while, as my visit had to end eventually, and I am now back in London. At least the summer is starting to kick in here, which is great as I have been craving hot weather after experiencing what is apparently the coldest San Francisco spring in years!

So back to Memorial Weekend....

On the Saturday afternoon, Aaron and I ventured over to Treasure Island to check out a new flea market that has started taking place over there. I had never been to Treasure Island before, so it was fun to explore somewhere new. Ok, so it was less magical than the name would have you believe, and there was not a pirate in sight, but it has great views of the city, and frankly, who wouldn't want to say that they had been somewhere named 'Treasure Island'?

The flea market itself was pretty crappy, but maybe that's because I am used to going to the one in Alameda, which is much bigger and features more vintage finds, rather than a lot of weird, new age hippy-style clothes, jewellery and artwork. There were, however, a couple of stalls that provided some interesting browsing, including a gourmet popcorn company that make interesting flavours, such as seaweed covered, chocolate covered and bacon fat popcorn.

There was a breathtaking piece of artwork right by the flea market too. A huge amazonian woman sculpted out of metal-mesh, which I imagine must have been made by the same artist who created a very similar piece displayed in Hayes Valley.

On Saturday night we went to The Knockout to see Omar Romero. The band didn't take to the stage until nearly midnight and when they finally did start playing, their music was good, but I felt like the atmosphere in the room was kind of flat. Even my fiancé, who normally has ants in his pants, was not inspired to dance. I would like to see them again, but next time with a little more oomph in the place.

The sun came out on Sunday, just in time for the annual luau at Forbidden Island. This year was a very different vibe to last year's event. It was packed solid, and I loved spending the day with friends, but unfortunately, for me, it was a little too busy, and I didn't enjoy having to wait for nearly an hour every time we ordered drinks (and to then be overcharged and have to go through the palaver of leaning over the crowd at the bar to try and sort it out). I suppose this is just one of those things that you have to accept though, when the drinks are fancy and everyone wants to wrap their lips around one of those delicious concoctions....

The food was disappointing, and I felt that charging $10 for a plate featuring a few chunks of roast pork, yams, and salad was excessive. It also ran out really quickly, and due to being so busy they were not serving bar food. I really missed getting my coconut prawn and spicy chicken-bite fix! That said, it's all about the company you keep, and our group did have fun chatting amongst ourselves for a good few hours before we headed to a nearby housewarming party where a kickass bbq was in full effect!

On Monday we headed to the annual Shit Kickin' Memorial Day BBQ at El Rio. I had so much fun at last year's event, that I definitely wanted to go back this year!

Unfortunately by the time we got there the only thing left at the bbq was a few pieces of chicken, but this was ok, as it gave me an excuse to go and get a burrito afterwards....

I'll cut to the chase - the best part of the event for me was Red Meat's performance. It was worth going just to see them, and I had so much fun dancing to nearly all of their songs. They were on top form, played all the tunes I love to hear, and are definitely one of my favourite Bay Area bands!

I found out about this band for the first time when I saw them at the Memorial Day event exactly a year ago, and having seen them a couple of times since then (the last time I saw them was in May at the Wanda Jackson show) it was cool hear them play again at this intimate venue with such a fun, party atmosphere.

Super super fun times, tinged with a bittersweetness, as I knew it was the last time I would be out dancing and having fun with my sweetheart and my Bay Area friends for a while....