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David C Dawson's blog

Four Days to Go – So Good They Named it Twice

Chorus tour of the US Posted on 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

Five Days to Go – Choreography Panic

Chorus tour of the US Posted on 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

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

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

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

…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

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

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

Six days to go – My Kind of Town

Chorus tour of the US Posted on 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

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

7 days to go: What to Pack?

Chorus tour of the US Posted on 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
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

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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