Sunday, November 27, 2005

What Did De La Warr, Boys?

Well, what an excellent night I had last night at the De La Warr Pavilion down in sleepy old Bexhill-On-Sea. Many times in the past I have found that when Duckie does a special event away from its natural habitat (ie the Royal Vauxhall Tavern), it just doesn’t quite work and I’ve come away feeling a little let down or disappointed. I am therefore pleased to report that this was NOT the case this time round. I think this was due to the fact that the nature of the event meant it was quite a bit different from a normal Duckie – in fact in many respects not like Duckie at all – rather than just trying to be the same thing but in a different venue.

The journey down took absolutely ages, thanks to gridlocked South London streets; it must have taken us nearly 2 hours just reach the London/Kent border. Made two new friends on the bus (one of whom I was later to have a ‘formal dance’ with), so hello Richard & Richard if you’re reading this! Finally – and about 45 mins later than planned – we reached our destination. Unfortunately at this time of year, it’s dark at 8.45pm, so I wasn’t really able to take in the vision that is the spectacular De La Warr exterior (a Grade One listed building in the Modernist style, I’ll have you know)…..or perhaps more truthfully, after hellish bus journey I just wanted to get inside asap and visit toilets and bar in that order.

Once inside, it quickly became clear that us bussed-down Londoners were actually a very small portion of the total attendees – perhaps 20% at most. The main room had been set out to look a bit like a ballroom, dancefloor in the middle, tables and chairs at the sides and on the raised areas by the walls, big stage at the front. The rest of the crowd were very mixed, but in the main different from people who would ordinarily go somewhere like Duckie. Mostly straight, all ages but generally more towards the ‘mature’ bracket, and I perhaps unkindly remarked that several of them looked like they were having their one night out of the decade! Some had probably come up from cosmopolitan Brighton, many of them seemed more likely to live in the more sleepy, sedate towns nearby. And yet, despite this bizarre mix of punters, it all worked like a dream. There was no trouble, no-one looked out of place or outraged, and it all seemed to sum up the wide-ranging appeal that Duckie has. I’m sure several people there had never seen anything like it, but similarly I’m sure they all went away having had a thoroughly enjoyable night they’ll remember for a long time.

As for the stage acts, these also reflected the crowd mix well, and were introduced by Amy and the brilliant Ida Barr who were sharing the role of hostess. Some typical Duckie-esque avant-garde performance art stuff, but also some more mainstream or traditional stuff, such as a soprano opera singer. Local ladies were also well represented on stage, there was a small choir, plus a Bexhill belly-dancing troupe who wiggled and shimmied to great applause and acclaim! Most of the acts lasted about 5 minutes, so you saw several in one go, before having a break for music. There were also “5 Formal Dances” through the course of the evening, during which you were encouraged to go all Strictly Ballroom with whichever partner you had promised or been promised to on the dance cards that were available. As mentioned, I got a dance with one of the bus-Richards; I was pleased that the track played for this was Glen Campbell’s ‘Wichita Lineman’ – not the most cheery of songs granted, but nevertheless a great oldie I happened to have recently re-discovered. I also bumped into someone from the gay Mensa group who I hadn't seen for ages – because he’d moved from London down to Hastings, just down the road from Bexhill. All too soon though, the party was all over, and I was back on the bus to London. Not quite as bad as the journey down, nevertheless it was nearly 5am before I finally fell into bed.

Today: did a bit more bedroom painting, this time it was “Behind The Wardrobe” leaving just “The Big Wall” to do. Hopefully I’ll get that finished next weekend.


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