Sunday 27 March 2016

Lots of London Lenten Thanks (part 2)

Some more thanks, to fight back against the gloom that settles too quickly on my shoulders at the moment, the anxiety that tightens my chest. The "God God God, help" I chant under my breath every morning.

It feels wrong to feel sad in the springtime.

But anyway.

In between all this there's been some moments of London joy. I've been trying to finish this off for over a week, and now it's gotten long and each thing probably could have done with its own post. But hey ho, it's done, it's still Lent, just about!! :-)

Pavrov Stelar @ Alexandra Palace

Why have I not been to "Ally Pally" before?!! What a fab venue, and a great view over London (that I couldn't see this time as it was dark, but will definitely be back!). There are food stalls, so everyone was eating, sitting on the fake grass and listening to some live music before the actual show. Felt like a festival. Pavrov Stelar (Austrian electro swing DJ plus live band) were awesome, especially the saxophone, trumpet and trombone players as well as the stage lighting. Did boogie a little, with my beautiful friend Shona, although wasn't quite the full on dance I hoped, partly because there were SO many people there and very little room! But a fab night, followed by a lazy morning lying in the sunshine coming through the living room window. Lovely.

Two very different poetry nights: Spoken Word London and Lyrically Challenged

I'm continuing my checking out of poetry nights, with the hopes of choosing a couple of regular events so I can actually start getting to know people there. And start performing more again.

Spoken Word London takes place weekly at Vogue Fabrics in Dalston. Vogue Fabrics literally looks like someone's garage from the outside, and from the inside – down some narrow dimly lit stairs – it doesn't look much different. Bare dirty white walls, concrete floor, a few wooden benches and a bar selling cans of Strongbow. And yet, it was totally packed full, of a whole other tribe of people, the likes of which I don't usually cross paths with. All colourful and young and dungarees and painted faces and maybe students but I'm not quite sure, plus all sorts of older characters in sequins and fancy dress and tracksuits.

I took my younger sister, we felt a bit out of place in our work clothes, but took a seat on our coats on the floor down the side of the 'stage'. We arrived before it started and even so 18 of the 20 open mic slots were already taken. I didn't sign up as I couldn't stay late enough. The event is free and I'm guessing it's this popular most weeks. There were clearly regulars, a friendly host, and no featured performers - just open mic, 5 minutes each, max. As is always the case, poems and performances were a mixed bag. But the audience was enthusiastic, people read for the first time - it's definitely a place for trying stuff out I'd say.

A couple of weeks later I was back in Dalston at a very different venue: Passing Clouds. Again an almost hidden entrance, but once you climb the stairs you're greeted by warmth, colour and comfy chairs. Lyrically Challenged has more of a hip hop vibe, with rappers and MCs as well as poets and a singer in the open mic and featured slots. I went alone, but felt very welcome and able to chat to people. There was vegan food on sale, great tunes on in the breaks, and the host and her friend did some freestyling too. It's a monthly event and I'll definitely be back – hopefully next time I'll get on the open mic list :-)

The Museum of London 

This museum caught our attention when we heard about an evening event for the opening of a London Tattoo exhibition there. We couldn't make that but finally got around to checking it out. The tattoo part turned out to be very small (a little disappointing) BUT the rest of the museum was great!

It was especially interesting learning more about the Thames Valley before the Romans built Londinium – like all the offerings made to the river, because of course that dictated all of life around it. And did you know that once upon a time elephants and lions roamed here?!! It struck me how from the very beginning people have made things, both to be useful but also to be beautiful. But then how possessions quickly started contributing to marking out class and divisions. I also loved seeing the collections of posters and adverts, like from the Victorian times. And from the looks of the Living Wage campaign poster, some things haven't changed much...


And finally, one of the best people I know is moving from Paris to London. Hooray hooray for a friend to get out and about more with in this city.

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