Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness & salsa dancing at Vivaz (1st July 2011)

This was the first weekend without Jono around and it sure feels weird not having made any plans for the weekend with him. We have been chatting online briefly each day which was nice but I would really like to hear his voice and see him too. With the time difference, it is quite difficult to have a proper conversation with him especially when we only have a 2-hour window when we are both online and it's usually during work hours, making it even worse :/ Perhaps we'll be able to have a Skype call over the weekend...

My colleague, Julie-Ann (everyone calls her JAK, which are her initials) came to see me about an hour before I knocked off work to ask me if I wanted to join her and friends to the theatre tonight - she mentioned about she was going to a play during our weekly girls' lunch yesterday but her partner wasn't feeling well so now she has a spare ticket and asked me if I wanted to come along. Sure, I haven't made plans for the evening so happy to join in!

Around 5.30pm, JAK and I went to meet Mark at the lobby of our building and took a taxi over to Walsh Bay where the theatre was located. Mark, an Englishman who has migrated to Australia, is an ardent theatre fan and buys several tickets in advance without knowing much of the play or how many people would come along - risky but from what I gathered, he's a social butterfly and usually has no issues finding enough company to the plays. He had organised pre-show dinner for the group at Firefly, a cosy wine and tapas bar by the waterfront in Walsh Bay. Sandy, JAK's gf came to join us as well, sharing 2 bottles of red wine plus a selection of tapas from the menu - Quattro formaggi rustic pizza, lamb and pork meatballs, grilled haloumi with watermelon, mint & almond, Pino's organic sweet pork chorizo, salad of shaved beetroot, goat curd, pinenuts & garlic crouton, and 6 hour beef bourgignon with garlic mash - a feast for the taste buds as each of the tapas had its own distinct flavour. We chatted and laughed over our meal, sharing our experiences of travelling and living abroad which seemed to be our common ground among other things. JAK was also secretly trying to hook Mark and Sandy up, and they seem to be getting along well so far :)

Around 7.30pm, we settled our bill (cost us $50 each - ouch!) and headed over the Sydney Theatre Company located around the corner to collect our tickets for play Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness. Sydney Theatre Company is a premiere theatre company in Australia and where famous actors such as Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Geoffrey Rush have played a part in the theatre's productions. I had plans to come see the play but didn't know that if you were under 30, the ticket cost less than half the normal price (I paid $30 instead of the normal adult price of $73 for this play). In fact, this applies to all shows in the theatre. Darn, Jono and I should have checked out what was on and made use of the offer - will have to make a point to see more shows at this theatre before we hit the big 3-0 this year!

We headed towards Wharf 1 theatre where the play was held and split into two groups, me seated with JAK, and Sandy with Mark. "Ooo, look, they are talking and smiling," said JAK, elbowing me so I would look down towards where Mark and Sandy were seated. Looking good! The theatre kind of reminded me of Circa Theatre in Wellington and surprisingly for a Friday evening, it was only two-thirds full. The show started at 8pm and was 1 hour and 40 minutes long with no interval. It featured 4 actors, one of them playing the character of Edward Gant (a ringmaster-like moustached man with a protruding tummy who wore tights, a top hat and uses a walking stick) and his troupe of performers who together was putting up a show to entertain playing various characters and fascinate their audience (us, in this case) with tragic stories of human loneliness. The first story was of a pimple-faced Spanish girl Sanzonetta, who was so ugly people repel at the sight of her but whose pimple when popped produced pearls. A naive young girl, she was exploited by her evil sister (played dramatically by a male actor dressed in a flamenco costume), 'harvesting' and selling the pearls, even stealing the man Sanzonetta loved. It all ended tragically with the lover realising Sanzonetta was still around and running off with her, only to follow in the footsteps of the evil sister, 'harvesting' Sanzonetta's pearls and eventually leaving her for an oyster (yes, highly bizarre but this was how it was potrayed). There was a part were the evil sister barged into Sanzonetta's lover's house, trying to win the man back by giving him her pearl (she grew a massive pimple on the head) but when she squeezed it, all that came out was yellow puss (eew, yellow bits of stuff flew across the stage in the 'explosion'!) and caused her permanently brain damage and eventual death.

The next story was of Edgar, a man who lost his love and travelled the world in search of a medicine man to cure his grief. Medicine man was played by the same guy in the flamenco dress and he was brilliantly funny, speaking in an Indian accent and bobbing his turban head. Sadly nothing could cure the Edgar's grief even though medicine man tried by cutting out part of Edgar's brain and then stuck a cork back in the opened wound to stop the bleeding. The third story was of a poet who couldn't remember his lines and was interrupted by a teddy (an actor wearing a teddy bear costume) wanting 'imaginary' tea and cake. Partway through this act, the actor who played the poet decided to call it quits and rebel against Edward Gant. In all the commotion of shouting at his boss, the other two actors appeared from behind their huge teddy heads, lost and unsure whether to follow the mutiny or stick to their orders. The situation was strained but Edward put an end to it all by killing himself, pulling a cork from his head (so was he Edgar??!). Sometimes grotesque, other times hilarious, it was very imaginative and a rather magical experience even though the play itself didn't quite make sense, especially it's abrupt ending. But that's the thing with theatre - not every play makes sense. I enjoyed my first theatre experience in Sydney though and thanks JAK for inviting me along!

Around 9.45pm, the group walked towards The Rocks where I said my goodbye to meet Ken at Vivaz on George Street for salsa dancing. This was another first for me today, to dance salsa in a Sydney salsa club. I have not done so to date! Band Club Havana Band was playing and the place looked rather crowded when I arrived. Vivaz is a restaurant and nightclub, and on Fridays and Saturdays, Latin bands entertain patrons while dancers fill the dance floor. Unfortunately I had spent all my cash on dinner and the theatre ticket so didn't have any cash left for the $10 cover charge :/ Ken had left to a nearby pub for a drink so I had to wait for him to turn up to pay for me to get in. Frankly, I wasn't prepared for dancing - I was still wearing my work clothes and wore boots but gave it my best shot anyway. Oh my god, it has been such a long time since I last danced! "You still got it," said Ken after our first dance. Aww, that's sweet, thanks :)

Club Havana Band was playing many salsa songs that we knew and it was fun to be back dancing again. Ken and I had a few dance together then split up looking for other people to dance with. I stood by the bar, checking out the dance floor for potential leads - it was amusing to find myself in 'hunting' mode, seeking out Cuban dance leads and making a beeline toward them when the current song comes to an end, asking them for the next dance. Over time, I have come to realise that if I wanted my 'awesome' dance (fun and relaxed, sexy groove and occasional new but still able to follow moves), the probability of a desired lead coming to me is less likely than me seeking him out and I have no issues asking a man for a dance. I had lots of fun dancing with Sri Lankan guy David who despite knowing few moves was a pleasure to dance with and wasn't shy of dancing close, grooving to the music - we dance several times throughout the evening and I gathered he is a regular dancer in the local salsa scene. Several of the guys who asked me for a dance where beginners and it was highly amusing to watch their 'oh-o' expressions when they found out I could dance after the first bar of the song, confidence slightly faltered. Oops... :P One bald-headed man made me laugh every time he does the shoulder shimmy - I could feel his whole upper body vibrate as we pull apart and continued dancing. It always gets me in giggles :) Almost everyone I danced with asked me where I came from (several also complimented on my dancing which is always lovely to hear) and it turned out Ken got the same too. Hmm, I bet these dancers have sniffed out that we were new in the dance scene (what I term 'new blood'). I like 'new blood' on the dance floor and thrive on 'sucking' their dance souls. I'm such a dance vampiress hehe...

Ken and I left around 12.30pm in time to catch the last train home. God, our legs were killing us! But we had a great time on the dance floor, dancing for a solid 2 hours. And I still love dancing, even though I know it's going to cause me grief tomorrow, muscle aches and all. Home by 1am absolutely knackered - bed time!


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