David C Dawson's blog

David C Dawson's blog

Four Days to Go – So Good They Named it Twice

Chorus tour of the USPosted by DavidCDawson Sat, May 13, 2017 16:15:15

Four Days to Go – So Good They Named it Twice

In four days I’m flying to America with the London Gay Men’s Chorus for a twelve-day tour. We’ll be singing in Chicago and New York.

New York.

I’m flicking through internet pages, deciding what to do during the few days rest we’ll have in New York.

I’m like a kid in a sweet shop.

There’s so much to see. So much to do. I don’t want to make a wrong choice.

I’ve been to New York many times in my life. I was first there in 1975 on a school trip. That’s when I first fell in love with this loud, brash, grimy, beautiful city.

I returned years later on my honeymoon. My wife and I saw the show 42nd Street on 42nd Street. At the end of the show, we ran to the Port Authority building to catch the last train out to New Jersey, where we were staying.

When I was with the BBC, I filmed there many times. It’s really easy to film in New York. Far easier than London. Everyone in New York likes a film crew. Everyone wants to be on camera.

The last time I was there was in 1997 with my wife and four year old son. The twin towers were still standing then, and we stayed at the magnificently retro Mayflower Hotel on Central Park.

A lot’s changed.

I’ll be staying with my host, also called David, from the New York Gay Men’s Chorus. He lives in Chelsea, just a few blocks from Greenwich Village. He’s lending me a Citibike pass so I can ride around Manhatten on a bicycle.

That will be interesting. I’d better go and check out my insurance.

Next: The Ess-a-Bagel Deli

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Five Days to Go - Choreography Panic

Chorus tour of the USPosted by DavidCDawson Fri, May 12, 2017 17:50:43

Five Days to Go - Choreography Panic

In five days I’m flying to America with the London Gay Men’s Chorus for a twelve-day tour. We’ll be singing in New York and Chicago. And dancing.

That last word terrifies me. I am the definition of dad dancing.

And yet.

Five years ago I joined a gay men’s chorus (“Europe’s largest boy band”) that not only sings – but dances.

Choral-ography they call it. Two hundred gay men in perfect synchronisation.

Well, one hundred and ninety-nine – plus me. Usually a beat behind everyone else. The Corporal Jones of the London Gay Men’s Chorus.

In the show we’re taking on tour we’re going to be dancing to…

…but I can’t tell you. It’s got to be a surprise.

So I’ll tell you about just over two years ago. On the stage of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London’s South Bank.

We were performing a very action packed version of Jai-Ho – the fabulous song performed at the end of Danny Boyle’s seminal film Slumdog Millionaire.

Week after week in rehearsals I failed miserably to get the movements in the right sequence.

The rest of the chorus would be raising their arms to the left.

I raised right.

Then one day, I got it. I was in perfect synchronisation with everyone else.

I was ecstatic. But there was one problem.

We were performing the song jointly with our visitors. The New York Gay Men’s Chorus. Fabulous, friendly, fit, masters of the dance.

And there were a lot of them. Our chorus was nearly one hundred and seventy. There seemed to be hundreds of the hunky New York guys.

And we were all squeezed onto the modest stage of the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

So when it came to the combined choral-ography, all my confident, expressive, expansive, and above all, accurate dance moves were totally invisible.

I’m relying on that happening this time too…

Next: So Good They Named it Twice

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Six days to go – My Kind of Town

Chorus tour of the USPosted by DavidCDawson Thu, May 11, 2017 16:17:17

Six days to go – My Kind of Town

In six days I’m flying to America with the London Gay Men’s Chorus for a twelve-day tour. We’ll be singing in New York and Chicago.

I’ve spoken to four people from Chicago in the last few days. Now I can’t wait to get there. They all seem so – friendly.

There’s my work colleague Jim, who lives in San Francisco but is from Chicago. As soon as he found out I was going to his hometown, he sent me a list of recommended restaurants and details about the best art deco sights to see in the city.

Then there’s the lovely Scott. He sings Tenor in the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. He took time to write a detailed email about how to apply for a Ventra card. It’s like London’s Oyster card, but works on the Chicago Transit system.

Scott not only emailed all the details, but also arranged with the New York Gay Men’s Chorus for us to be able to have the cards sent to their offices. Then we could pick them up when we arrive next week.

Simple. Except…

The Ventra website is very fussy about addresses. It didn’t like my very British postcode, which it needed to confirm my credit card details. It demanded a zip code.

In the end I typed in the zip code for the New York Chorus and hoped for the best.

First I got an email saying all was well. Two days later, I got an email from someone called Toye in the Ventra Customer Contact Center. I had to ring them. I could see the money I was planning to save with the card being eaten up by my transatlantic phone bill.

But it was worth a try…

It was an automated phone system. “Listen to the following menu. Press one for…” You know the sort of thing.

Twice it sent me round in a full circle. On the third attempt, I got through to a really helpful man called Dustin. I thought there was only ever one man called Dustin in the world…

He fixed it for me. And wished me a great stay in Chicago. I emailed Toye to say it was all fixed, and to thank her/his colleague for being so helpful. S/he emailed back to wish me a great stay in Chicago.

So thank you Jim and Scott and Toye and Dustin, for being from Chicago and being so friendly. It definitely sounds like my kind of town.

Next: Choreography panic

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7 days to go: What to Pack?

Chorus tour of the USPosted by DavidCDawson Wed, May 10, 2017 16:41:54

Seven Days to Go - What to Pack?
In seven days I’m flying to New York with the London Gay Men’s Chorus for a twelve-day tour. We’ll be singing in New York and Chicago. The highlight for me will be singing in Central Park, early on Sunday morning. OK. The “early on Sunday morning” bit doesn’t fill me with enthusiasm. Perhaps we simply won’t go to bed the night before…

This is the earliest I’ve ever started planning for an overseas trip. I’m usually very last minute. But with one hundred gay men as my travel companions, I’m getting plenty of advice. They’ve all got opinions. Strong opinions.

For some of my fellow travellers, it seems the generous luggage allowance of forty-six kilos plus multiple cabin bags is not enough.

I’ve only got one suitcase and a rucksack. I’m feeling inadequate.

We’ve been given two special t-shirts for the tour, plus we’ll wear our Silver Jubilee t-shirts from last year. I don’t need much more do I? A pair of trousers, a pair of trainers, a couple of changes of socks and underwear. That’s enough isn’t it?

I’ve just received an email from a member of the New York Gay Men’s Chorus. They’ll be hosting us. “Social evening at the Eagle NYC on Thursday night. The theme is sports gear. Bring a wrestling singlet, or a pair of speedos!”

I’m beginning to feel my small wardrobe is very inadequate.

Next: My Kind of Town?

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