Nov 7, 2010

Up & At 'Em

I woke up feeling a little groggy but excited to get going. The plan was to explore London. The phone read 10:30 am. I looked up at the only window in the room and it was dark. Maybe it was just super overcast outside.
One of the things that made me a bit apprehensive about the move was the lack of sunlight and warmth here! While warmth is easily produced, the room is underground with only one small window that leads to the upper level, covered by a lime green cloth to block anyone’s view in.
Jon came in with an exasperated grin “Babe, it’s not ten,” he laughed “it’s 5:30 PM!” I couldn’t believe it. I had slept straight through the day. A little disappointed in myself, I started getting ready for whatever the day… err, night might bring.
James had slept upstairs on the couch and he began making everyone some tea. We ordered Indian food and marveled at our unexpectedly lost day. Susie was performing at a club that night so she texted that we had been put on the guest list.
Luckily I had kept my Oyster card (metro) from the last trip and it still had almost £20. We grabbed the tube to Camden and walked past a few hundred people waiting to get in.
The club, Proud Camden, was actually a converted market and stable. With an aged brick exterior and strung lights that served as a canopy, I’m convinced that in this country anything can be charming. After we made it in, I was shocked that there were still people waiting outside. The place was enormous with three large rooms, a row of stables and an outside terrace.
The Fuel Girls were performing their fire show onstage in their knickers (why yes I AM incorporated English-speak!) and bras with makeshift horse tails. We heard that later a live horse was ridden by an essentially naked woman through the packed club. Really?!
Although I had jealously labeled the fuel girls as “glorified strippers” when I first heard of Jon using them on his events, I now love watching the shows. More of a burlesque-circus act, I whole-heartedly admit that while anyone can shake a little ass, breathing fire is an entirely different story. Interrupting my visions of being able to twirl and spit fire without set my hair aflame, Jon suggested we grab a drink from one of the watering holes- literally.
We entered one of the eight stables and toasted to my first night out in London with Pear Cider. I have no idea why it hasn’t caught on in the US. Lighter than beer and less sweet than wine coolers, Pear cider is decidedly my new favorite drink.
Literally everyone looked like they were having a great time. The girls wore carefully pieced together, loose, vintage-looking outfits with loads of accessories and mussed hair. Most were thin with minimal makeup, and no two looked alike. Culture shock set in already as I compared my surroundings to the predictable blacks and pinks of American evening dress, heavy makeup and everything as tight and short as you can get.

I learned quickly that Euro guys are not used to any sort of attention, so even if you happen to be smiling, and happen to be looking around in their direction they will return with a sort of shocked stare. The men looked like they were loving life as well, making as much use of the stripper poles as the women.
I felt like I would need to relearn social norms if I’m to fit in at all. While I’ve always known I can’t dance to save my life and avoid it at all costs, I’ve managed to fly under the radar with a little hip action (ok, ok, after a few drinks- maybe a lot). But here, people actually dance. No need to pop lock and drop it, and ‘grinding’ would look scandalously out of place. You mean I have to move my feet? Crap.
I motioned to Jon that I needed the loo, and made my way to the inevitable line. After fighting just as hard to make my way out of the restrooms I looked around for Jon and James, and began to panic when I didn't see them on the terrace or stables. I returned to the vicinity of the bathroom and waited like a lost child at Disneyland hoping they’ve not been completely forgotten. My mind was not helping the situation, frantically going over the facts: no phone, no numbers, no money, huge club, no meeting point.
I tried to look a little less frightened and reminded myself that I am an adult and fully capable of handling the situation myself without being rescued. I purposefully marched back out to the terrace and saw them immediately, leaning against the brick wall.
Following the final show of the night, we joined the Fuel Girls and the owner of the club for a few drinks in his office. Oddly, there was a stack of purses on his bookshelf. He explained that they keep lost and found items for a month or so then divide them between staff if they go unclaimed.
Jon is endlessly embarrassed by my go-to $10 gray Target purse, and promised to burn it once I get a new one. I’ve never cared too much about purses. Whenever I have spare money I’d rather spend it on a cute top or a nice meal out.  
So when we were prompted to take what we wished, I was all over it (for poor Jon’s sake of course). I ended up snagging a blue slouch purse with fringe and a purple leather wallet. Saweeeet!

By then it was 3 or 4am and the jet lag was really working in our favor. As the club cleared out we headed for a private room. White leather couches, flashing colored lights and a big screen TV made for the most posh karaoke set I’ve ever seen. I love singing, absolutely love it, but the thought of karaoke makes me literally want to run for the door.
Surprisingly, I had an amazing time. I’m sure it had something to do Susie and I chasing each other round the stripper pole (they were everywhere, don’t ask me) as fast as we could like a bunch of kids on a merry-go-round while trying to sing Katy Perry’s California Girls into the same microphone.
5am rolled around and I was shocked I was still standing. We said our thanks and headed home to Shoreditch. We had the cabby drop us at the local kebab shop, the preferred early morning snack stop. Vinegar on fries never tasted so good.


  1. Serena, you do have a gift for travel writing. I can picture you in the club. I assume you stuffed the old purse inside the new one.
    You have assimilated the lingo already. Hope a weekend trip to Hocking on Lower Horsely is in the cards.
    Hope you have a chance to see the National Gellery and the Tate, if you have not already.

  2. I am excited to read your blog! I have become quite the blog addict lately, to Aaron's dismay! He doesn't understand why I would be so interested in "strangers" lives. Does he know me?!! Anyways, at least now when he sees me reading your blog I can say "it's your sister, now leave me alone!" Plus it makes me feel like you aren't so far away and I still know what is going on in your life! Score on the purse! Pictures would be much appreciated, although you are amazing at describing settings, I have no imagination and pictures help! You should have seen what my brain came up with for a club/horse stable! haha! Love you Sis. Can't wait to hear more!

  3. Dear Anonymous ( :
    Thank you so much for the feedback! I absolutely love museums and have been to both. Definitely never seen anything like the Tate, but National Gallery was my favorite. I haven't heard of Lower Horsely, but I'll look into it- Thanks!

    What kind of aspiring counselor would you be if you were disinterested? Pshh. Trust me, whatever you imagined was probably pretty close, haha. But yes, I will try to take some pics. Thanks for reading! Love you too x

  4. Score for your new goodies! Next time let's aim for the Louis! hahaha ;P

    Enjoy your time there & I can't wait to read of your adventures!

    I love Pear Cider! I don't usually drink it by itself but I always order my faves Snake Bite (Pear Cider + Harp) & Black Velvet (Pear Cider + Guinness). Get them to give you Pear Cider at the bottom w/ Guinness on top! ;D yummms!

  5. Oooh, I do like the Guinness over here! I might have to give that a try. Thank you so much for reading Ang! xx