Sunday, 30 May 2010

Go You Beauty! (30th May 2010)

I’ve not been to Batucada practice for the last 3 weeks (I was away most weekends) and turned up today at practice to find Thistle Hall filled with more people than usual! A mix of new recruits and current players as well as the dancers, everyone was gathered for band member Stephen Templer to film us playing, dancing and chanting to song “GO YOU BEAUTY”, a song written by the man himself and Batucada musical directors Darren and Tim for a previous performance at a local sporting event. Stephen had submitted the song to TVNZ Nightline’s Rugby World Cup Song Competition, a competition in great search for an anthem for the 2011 Rugby World Cup but he needed to submit a music video of the song so got Batucada organiser Caroline to put the word out to get as many volunteers as possible for the video.

The volunteers were split up into groups – dancers, All Black fans (yes, they were donned in All Blacks paraphernalia) and Batucada drummers – with Tim leading the video playing the intro of the song and the rest of the band joining in. Tim and the band were ‘lip-syncing’ to the song that was played over the huge speakers (they weren’t actually playing the instruments) and as we had too many band members, some of us (including me) had to be an All Black fan, chanting “OOH, OOH, GO YOU BEAUTY!” as the chorus came up. The music video showed the band having their usual fun on their percussion instruments and then us fans chanting and jumping up and down at the chorus. It then hones in on the samba dancers performing their samba moves followed by everyone blending in together to form a huge whirl around the cameraman, playing, dancing and chanting.

We did several takes of the whole music video (it had to be 1 shot of awesome recording as Stephen wasn’t planning to do too much editing to it) which took an hour and then 50 minutes straight of band practice. Was feeling tired after samba gafieira practice, the music video shoot and band practice but I had SO much fun and glad to be part of it all! Check out the YouTube video here:

I hope our song wins the competition!

High Class Cocktail Party at James' (29th May 2010)

Several of us friends have been hassling James to organise another party at his place – we always have a ball at his parties (James throws AWESOME parties!) and tonight’s High Class Cocktail Party was no exception. And as you may have guessed from the theme, the party was all about making cocktails AND we were all expected to dress up, girls in cocktail dresses and the boys in suits, ties, waistcoat and hats. That means I get to put on my new dress – yay! ;)

Jono and I spent most of the rainy Saturday running errands around town including our weekly grocery shopping and buying cheap white clothing from The Warehouse for the Illuminate Paint Party next weekend. It has been raining the whole week – I haven’t even seen the sun at all this week and the gloomy weather makes me feel rather down too. I really can’t imagine how people in Norway or countries that has near 24-hours of darkness for the whole winter season cope – I need the sun!

Whipped up a quick dinner and around 7pm, took a taxi over to James’ pad for the party. We were the first to arrive despite coming an hour late! James already had bottles of spirits displayed in the kitchen plus our 2 bottles of Bombay Sapphire – everyone has to bring along a bottle of spirit from the list James provided. This is going to be a night of lots of drinking, I’m sure…Amy turned up shortly and busied herself in the kitchen adding more ‘zhoosh’ to James’ two jugs of punch. ‘Let me know what you think,’ she said and offered me a shot glassful of her concoction. Damn, HOW MUCH alcohol did you put in the punch?! Oh, but it taste SO good, especially the apple juice based one. Jono might want to hold my glass of punch instead of me – I’m sipping it too fast!

More guests started arriving, with most people dressed up for the night. I cracked up laughing every time one of the girls tell Jono how much they liked his purple velvet jacket and the feel of it. ‘Oh, just feel it, hmm…’, or ‘very vintage, darling!’ pipes girls Grace, Cilla and Amy. He sure is popular with the ladies tonight haha :P

We all had a turn making cocktails based on Fiona’s cocktail booklet. I made my first Japanese Slipper, which was a cocktail mix of 1 part lemon juice, 1 part Midori and 1 part Cointreau, producing a melon-tasting drink in fluorescent green colour. Long Island Iced Teas, Black Russians, Tequila shots…every possible drink we could make with the ingredients we had were coming out from the kitchen. Jono downloaded a cocktail recipe application for his iPhone earlier and there were over 8500 recipes to choose from – even more cocktail choices! We selected one called Angel Wing to try out, which was a mix of half part apricot brandy, 1 part crème de cacao and 1.5 part brandy, producing a clear coloured cocktail that looked like water but quite potent in alcohol. Mmm…cin-cin!

Niall is really funny when he’s tipsy – he just couldn’t stop emphasizing how huge pearls Amy has and how gorgeous they were (Amy was wearing a pearl necklace but the way Niall expressed it was sounded more sexual in nature). He’s a charmer and totally harmless but it was just really funny to watch him go about telling everyone in his path about the pearls (his own gf included) and Amy playing along with him, several of us watching their little melodrama, laughing in stiches :P

James, always the great host, was busy running in and out of Fiona’s kitchen next door bringing guests cheese platters and an assortment of finger food. You have to stop running around and enjoy your own party, James!

Lots of chit-chat, laughs, some swing dancing by the swing crowd, it was a fun night spent indoors in good company :) Photos taken at the cocktail party:

Friday, 14 May 2010

Friday night out after work (14th May 2010)

Yay, it’s Friday!

Caught up with James for after-work drinks with friends and headed to Public on Courtenay Place at 4.30pm. He was meeting with fellow swing dancer Saran for a drink and had me tag along – the more the merrier! Bumped into Flo on our way who joined us for a jug of beer at the pub/bar. I’ve not seen Flo since Kim’s & Colm’s joint birthday party at his place. Lots to catch up on! You have to tell me all your travel stories in Vanuatu!!

Public is the newly refurbished Sports Café – I’m not sure if it is still a sports café because it no longer feels like one with the sophisticated décor. We had a booth with leather sofas and elegant black chairs for our group of 6 – Saran was already there with her friends Michelle and Niall who recently moved to Wellington from the UK so me and the boys just joined in their table.

Around 5.30pm, everyone left Public and headed over to The Temperance where band The Codebreakers were playing. According to Saran, they are an amazing folk band and a must-see. I’ve never heard of the band but sure, why not? Flo left to meet up with his other mates – was lovely to see you and catch up, and thanks for shouting the beer!

The Codebreakers is a 2-man instrumental band with guys Peter and Blake playing acoustic guitars and using the same guitars as a percussion instrument, slapping and thumping on the guitar making their band one of a kind. I’ve never seen any musician use the guitar so creatively – who would have thought an acoustic guitar is powerful enough to make bongo-like sounds! Very cool indeed :)

Cilla came to join our little gathering shortly and boys Niall and James went to get everyone a round of drinks. The Temperance has a discount wheel called the Daily Happy Wheel at the bar where you get to spin it whenever you order a round of drinks (I’m guessing this just means per bill) between 5-7pm on weekdays and you could stand a chance to get your drinks for free or 10-30% off. James was so close to getting it for free!

I’m getting tipsy drinking on an empty stomach and Niall’s just gotten us all a round of tequila! ‘Ready everyone?’ asked James. 1…2…3…lick, scull and suck! Ok, must stop drinking…Thankfully James ordered a large fried platter for the table – just what we all need!

Jono came to meet me at The Malthouse after his work drinks (yes, my gang has ‘drifted’ again) and we headed over to Readings Cinemas for a cheap and quick dinner before heading to the movies to see Robin Hood. It has been a fun evening spent with friends and now, spending quality time with my man :)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Week 1 in my new flat (13th May 2010)

It has been a week since I moved into Jono’s flat and I’m loving it :) It is quite a change from my previous lifestyle living in Wellington CBD and having my own room; now live in Newtown, a vibrant and multi-racial suburb about 10 minutes drive away from Wellington CBD and I’m sharing the room, storage and personal space with another person. Though I’ve previously room mated with others, every room mate is different and it takes time to adjust to each others’ likes, dislikes and habits. It still feels a bit like I’m ‘invading’ Jono’s personal space in the sense I still have my clothes and personal items in boxes lying in the upstairs hallway and my workstation is a corner of the dining table – it feels a bit nomad-like, as if I’m only living here temporarily and out of bags/boxes. Much to sort out and we’ll probably get another closet to store our things…

Compared to my last home at Mt Victoria, my new place is much warmer (I can run around the house in t-shirt and shorts yoo-hoo!), newish-looking and has bigger communal areas i.e. kitchen and living room. I used to spend most of my time in my room in the past but now find myself using more of the shared areas. There are 2 existing flatmates who live in the flat: James and Amy. I’ve met James on several occasions when I dropped in or stayed over at Jono’s while Amy I hardly see (she lives in the room downstairs that has a bathroom en suite). Even though there are 4 of us, it doesn’t feel as congested as my old flat (I had great flatmates but the Mt Vic home was really small). It feels more like there’s just 3 of us (me, Jono and James) in the flat that’s split into 3 floors since Amy is never seen out of her room much (with the exception of seeing her briefly when she’s zapping her meals in the microwave). No queues to the bathroom and toilet in the mornings with our staggered work times – yay!

One of the biggest changes for me living in Newtown has to be commuting to and fro work on the bus. The bus now has a new payment system using Snapper, a card that is pre-loaded with credit which you tag on and off on the card reader and it automatically works out your fare. Day 1 on my bus adventure to work, I didn’t tag off on my Snapper card and ended up paying the full fare for the whole ride on the bus line! I was hoping to see what other people did when they got off the bus but I was the only one who got off AND the bus driver never bothered to tell me I had to tag off either!! Grr…It has been a long time since I commuted on the bus and I was shocked to find out my 10-minute one-way ride from home to work cost me $2.40, which works out to be about $5 return a day. According to Jono, we live just at the start of the second zone and work at the outmost edge of the inner city zone so we do not get our money’s worth for the ride. Oh well, beats taking the car in – car parking would be even more costly! My daily routine too has changed, with me going to the gym or swim during lunchtime instead and finishing work later. A lot more pre-planning and packing my bag for work because I won’t be able to zip home as easily as before when I lived 5 minutes walk away from my office.

To be honest, our home in Newtown is situated in a prime location – the hospital, school, bus stops, main shopping and food strip, library, post office etc. are all within a block’s distance. It’s no wonder the rent too is slightly more expensive, costing me $250 a fortnight inclusive of power (I used to pay $255 a fortnight for my room in Mt Vic) but everything is within walking distance. What more can you ask for?

Ah, of course, I get the bonus of living with my amazing bf. No more 6.30am alarms and rushing back to my old flat in Mt Victoria so I can get to work! Now I can leisurely get up at 6.45am and get ready for work (the poor guy probably gets woken up by me every morning but denies it when I asked him…tsk,tsk…). Hehe, we’ve been somewhat ‘domesticated’ since I moved in, spending most nights cooking together, having dinner and chilling out watching movies or TV series. It’s great to share cooking – we get to try something different on nights we do cook and I’m eating much better too (than when I was on my own, most days raiding the pantry because I can’t be bothered to cook for one). And lots of cuddles and snuggling in bed :P It’s really nice to have someone to keep you warm in bed, snuggle up and wake up to :) Photos of my new home:

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Intro Pole with Pole Dance Aotearoa (12th May 2010)

After last week’s challenging free pole dancing class taught by gf Shirley, I decided to return to Pole Dance Aotearoa this evening for their Intro Pole class. Cost $90 for the whole block of 5 classes which I will be learning the seven basic spins and a selection of poses and dance moves. In addition, I could choose whichever introductory class session I prefer to attend (there are 3-4 Intro Pole classes a week). I think I’ll stick to Wednesdays for now…

Arrived at the pole dance studio for the 5.30pm class and there were only 2 other girls and me tonight. As usual, the class began with a sexy warm up and Shirley taught us a few more spins: the mermaid, the goddess and the princess. The mermaid was a move that you would clamp on the pole with your inner thighs and sit like a mermaid, with legs outstretched and crossed at the feet. The move looked simple but one could easily hurt yourself ‘down there’ by accident – I’ve been there before, doing a totally different sport, so trust me, you don’t want to go where I’ve been…The goddess was my favourite spin by far, which has a start like the attitude spin but we invert (back against the pole) and spined round, upper body arched back and both legs hooked on the pole. It was SO cool – I love it :) The princess move is one I have trouble with this week, having to spin and sit on the pole in a position where my knees were bent and closed together, feet crossed at back as if sitting in a prim and proper manner on a chair but with added challenge doing the same on a pole. Plus my right arm was getting tired gripping the pole towards the end of the class, making each attempt on the princess harder than the one before. On the up side, I felt more confident on the pole tonight and the attitude and fireman spins were looking much better than last week. Practice, practice, practice!

Because our class was so small tonight, Shirley was able to work on us individually, teaching the other girls more moves since they have been to more introductory classes than I have, which I thought was great because that meant every one of us got to learn something new. Shirley warned us that our arms will hurt the next 2 days. I’m already feeling quite sore now and had smacked my feet on the pole several times tonight when attempting the fireman. Hmm, wonder what we will learn next week…

Oh yeah, one of my classmates tonight thought I was familiar but couldn’t quite put her finger where she would have met me before (she wasn’t a salsa or swing dancer). “She’s the 2nd runner-up for Miss Burlesque NZ – that’s probably where you saw her!” said Shirley enthusiastically and I blushed. Shirley, Shirley – she’s always promoting me as the 2nd runner up at the competition in her classes :)

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Miss T-Pinups photo shoot (8th May 2010)

After my debut performance at Dr. Sketchy in March, I decided to get some professional burlesque/vintage photographs done for myself (just in case Dr. Sketchy was my first and last burlesque performance) and booked a photo shoot with Auckland-based director and head photographer, Talia Stephens from Miss T-Pinups – I’ve seen gorgeous burlesque photos she had taken of Grace on her visit to Wellington for a photo shoot last year and would love to have such photos of my own! Pinup photography is one of Talia’s specialisations and with the revival of 20s-50s vintage and retro fashion, her photo shoots proved very popular in New Zealand and fills up pretty quick! The photo shoot session I had today was the $395 package which included a vintage hair style and full make-up with false eye lashes by Debonaire Doos (run by my lovely swing dance gfs Amy and Michelle), use of their wardrobe of assorted costumes, hosiery, hair accessories, burlesque frilly panties, garters, props, corsets etc., 5 high resolution and fully retouched images, and all low resolution proof images.

Prior to the photo shoot, Talia and I had several email discussions on what vintage look I wanted done. A dream of mine was to have a photo of me in a traditional Chinese dress, the cheongsam, with a 1920s Shanghai female star hairstyle for a glamour shoot. I had Mum send me Ah-Yi’s (Mum’s younger sister) cheongsam, one that Ah-Yi worn at her wedding back in the 70s (“…before you were even ‘manufactured’,” said Mum) and have been waiting anxiously for it to arrived via sea mail from Malaysia. I had given up hope that the dress would arrive in time for the photo shoot and disappointingly told Talia we may need to try other looks and have the Chinese vintage look done another time. You wouldn’t believe my luck – the parcel arrived the day before the photo shoot AND the cheongsam was a snug fit! Damn, my aunt must be really tiny back then. I could hardly move in the red cheongsam!!

So, cheongsam…check…now, for the rest of the items I need to bring along (Talia’s very well-organised – she sends you a list of things to bring and breakdown of what goes on during the photo shoot): black and/or red high heels, matching underwear and bra sets in black and one other colour (possibly red), lingerie or any other clothing item I would feel amazing in that will suit the style. Haven’t had much luck finding a nice pair of red heels and only this morning when I tagged along with Jono to Kirkcaldie & Stains did I manage to find a red matching underwear and bra set. Jono was there to get a bottle of perfume for his mum for Mother’s Day and I thought I should give it one last try to find myself lingerie that fitted me – I’ve been to so many other places that sold lingerie but they either do not have my size, the top and bottom didn’t match or just darn uncomfortable. Not sure if I should be glad (or sad) that I’ve finally found a place in town that sells lingerie that fits me – Kirks is really expensive!

Caught up briefly with Jono’s parents (they were in town to pick up Jono’s old bed and help move mine to Jono’s flat) for lunch at Brooklyn Cafe on College Street. I didn’t purposely shy away from doing the heavy lifting; it was pure coincidence that the weekend of my move into Jono’s flat happened to be the same weekend my photo shoot was on and the shoot was scheduled months ago. Hey, I did move everything else on my own in the past week, leaving only the bed and study desk for them to help move! And Jono’s getting Ben to help so the two strong boys should be able to move the huge furniture without too much hassle (frankly, I don’t think I would be much help physically anyway). It’s always a joy to catch up with David and Cheryl – pity it had to be brief this time but hopefully have a proper catch up when we head to Palmy for Cheryl’s birthday next weekend.

Around 12.45pm, I walked over to Photospace Studio on Dixon St for my 1pm photo shoot session. Finally met Talia in person and also properly introduced to Michelle, whom I learnt the naughty glove peeling and stroking move I used in my routine for Miss Burlesque NZ when she demonstrated it in one of Grace’s beginners class I took last year. And of course, my amazing gf and former sponsor, Amy :) Artistic and stylish duo Amy and Michelle are the brains and brawns behind Debonaire Doos, creating fabulous vintage styles to compliment special outfits and have you look fabulous for a special occasion. I’m so fortunate to have them style my vintage hair and do my make up for the photo shoot today – they are such lovely and fun people to work with! I was telling Michelle stories about my previous performances and Amy teasing my ‘cat poo’ big vintage roll on my hair I painstakingly took 2 hours to put up for Footlight Follies – we all cracked up laughing as the girls worked their magic on me! It felt like a mix of a group of girlfriends giggling and playing hair salon and dressing up with me as the superstar, sitting on the high chair getting fussed over :)

The hair and make up took about an hour and then, it was straight on to the photo shoot. Wow, I looked quite different in the pinwheels and curls, false lashes and full vintage make up – zapped back to the 20s! Amy slotted a headpiece of roses into my hair. “Now you look like Shanghai Rose!” she squealed, clasping her hands together admiring her work. “I can SO eat you,” she continues on while Michelle was snapping photos of her work (i.e. me). Michelle, save me! Amy’s said she wants to eat me a few times already today…I’m scared… :P Photos taken by Michelle of me:

All dolled up for the photo shoot

Side view of my amazing hairdo done by Debonaire Doos

My hair pinned up in vintage curls and twists

Just me :)

I had a kimono dressing gown on while Michelle and Amy did my hair and make up and Talia immediately saw a great photo opportunity, adding a bow to the dressing gown and took photos of me in it with an old-fashioned pump perfume bottle as prop. Squirt, squirt here…squirt, squirt there, my first look was me ‘making love’ to the perfume bottle (these were Amy’s words, not mine), finishing off with a cutesy ‘oops’ photo of me slightly lifting the ends of my dressing gown to show more leg and saying the word ‘panties’ with a cheeky smile. Michelle and Amy decided ‘panties’ was the word of the day and every model had to say it at least once when they had their photos taken today!

I still had some reservation about the cheongsam, afraid I might split it when posing (don’t think Ah-Yi would be please to hear what I did with her old wedding dress…) but the girls insisted I put it on. Ok, ok, I guess I’ll just have to move really carefully…With Amy’s help, I managed to get into the dress without messing up my hair for the next lot of photos, this time with a change of prop using a Chinese fan, and later a short black faux fur coat. Very 1920s indeed…Another costume change and this time I swapped into a purple and black corset, wearing one of Amy’s top hats, long black gloves, frilly underwear and garters, a more burlesque look with photos taken of me sexily lying on the floor as well as one of me peeling the glove with my teeth. The final lot of photos was me without the corset, covering myself with a short brown faux fur coat. Naughty, naughty…

My, is THAT really me?? Talia would show me photos she took in during the shoot and wow, they look amazing! To be honest, I was a little nervous with the photo shoot at the start, unsure of what poses to do or what facial expressions to portray but Talia was wonderful to work with – she was very encouraging, always giving me ideas on how to stand or place my hands and were to look and expression, making me feel much at ease when her huge SLR lens was focused on me. And after a while, the poses started to come naturally and with confidence – no more shy Angelica, out comes the diva! She also has a great eye for what looks and garments suited me. Oh yeah, Talia knows her stuff! Amy and Michelle too were very supportive and gave plenty of ideas and suggestions but most of all, making me laugh lots and feeling relaxed during my shoot. Thanks so much Talia, Amy and Michelle! It was just awesome working with you ladies and I look forward to more opportunities to work with you again!

I had SO much fun at the photo shoot, loving every moment of it and I urge you ladies to book yourselves in for an amazing time with Miss T-Pinups. It is a great gift to gift yourself or for the gf/wife – it was such an awesome feeling being treated like a superstar for the day, getting pampered and glamorised! I know it’s rather expensive but oh, it’s SO worth it! Talia tells me she’s planning to have another photo shoot in November – I’m going to do it again! And I would be more prepared this time, with more ideas of what looks I want to do and characters I would like to portray. Need to stock up on more Asian costumes! Photos taken today:

2 hours whizzed by so quickly. Jono and David came to pick me up from the studio (the Woolleys haven't left yet) and headed back to the flat to catch up with Cheryl and Ben. I can’t call it ‘Jono's flat’ anymore since I’ve now officially moved in! The bed’s all swapped over – great job everyone! Thanks so much for your help! Made us a pot of tea and chatted with David and Cheryl while we waited for Jono to return after dropping Ben home so Cheryl could open her Mother’s Day present. Jono had gotten his mum a bottle of Estee Lauder’s Beautiful, just what Cheryl needed ;)

Still have lots of my stuff to sort out but at least the flat is feeling more like home to me now :)

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Free introductory pole dance class at Pole Dance Aotearoa (4th May 2010)

After a weekend and 2 days of unrest not knowing whether I still had a job on-going due to company restructure, my team was finally told at 4pm today that we are all safe. Sadly, my colleagues that were part of Andrew's team will be reporting to a new manager. The team leads are getting a petition signed and proposal submitted to the people who made the decisions to keep Andrew's team within our group as it has always been. I sure hope it'll work out because honestly, we have been working so closely together as one big team for years; splitting us up is just silly.

Feeling more settled now, I can get on with my life and went to check out my friend Shirley's free introductory pole dance class at her studio, Pole Dance Aotearoa, located on Edward St at 6.30pm. Shirley's a friend of mine I met through burlesque dancing who coincidentally also works in Telecom (we ladies have another life outside work, ha!) and has told me about the free class a few weeks ago but I was just too busy with all that's going on in my world so haven't been to it till tonight. I've never done pole dancing before - a first for me!

On arrival at her studio, I had to complete a form of my personal and health details for their records. There were already many women (mostly highschool and university-looking girls) here for the free class gathered around watching students from the Intermediate Pole class practicing moves they had learnt today. Very impressive moves of inverts, reverse aerial spins, and wraps. I wondered if I could do that one day...

The introductory 1-hour class was taught by none other than Shirley herself! Started off with a sexy warm-up, followed by us learning a simple routine, dancing around, and up and down the pole with lots of hair/head flicks. There are 11 poles attached in the studio so we had to take turns practicing the routine (Shirley tells me her free classes are very popular) and Shirley comes around to assist us individually as we worked through the moves. She also taught us 2 spins: the attitude spin, which is one that we would pivot around the pole, changing weight from one foot to another, and the fireman spin. There's going to be some bruises on my feet tomorrow from the fireman spin - we had to hook the top of the feet onto the pole and slowly (and sexily) slide down, and I don't think I've quite got the right technique for this spin yet, smacking my feet on the pole most times. I feel like a cat leaping onto this stainless steel vertical pole and gripping onto it for dear life to support my body weight. It didn't help that I had sweaty hands and weak upper body strength - just made it even harder to grip onto the pole.

By the end of the class, I could feel my arms feeling somewhat sore. Pole dancing is hard work! It is said to be a great way to tone and strengthen the arms, legs and core, and with time, effort and practice, we would look as graceful as the advanced student who was performing crazy gymnastic work for us (one wonders if she has some sort of super glue hands, strong enough to support herself on the pole upside down) while we did our cool down stretches.

I had fun at Shirley's class tonight - she has a great sense of humour, making the class fun and easy-going. Thanks Shirley! You go girl with your sexy hip moves and grace on the pole ;) Might have to see how I can fit in the full block of the introductory classes into my busy schedule! Ladies, if you're keen to give pole dancing a go, just turn up to the studio any Tuesday for the free introductory class. I suggest you wear a singlet and shorts to the class, no hand accessories like rings as it would get in your way, and don't worry about heels - no footwear required. Most of all, have fun and enjoy the class!