People have the tendency to make predictions about the New Year based on their New Year’s Eve experience and/or their first moments after midnight. Using this methodology, I am starting off on a real rough-and-tumble, yet rewarding, 2009.
Back during Ruddigore rehearsals, my friend and double showed me pics of a performance art/dance/modeling gig she had done, dressed up in a spandex costume with these crazy things around it- I have no better way to explain, except it was called an “Hourglass Diva”- and I was like OMG THAT’S SO COOL!!!! I WANT TO DO THAT TOO!!
So she referred me to the company, who were happy to take me on, with my “dance background” looking pretty decent on paper, even though in reality I’m a total klutz who got a C in my college tap class.
I wasn’t able to do any of their other shows, but when they sent out a call for New Year’s Eve performers, I jumped on it. My friend Philine’s birthday is New Year’s Day, and to celebrate we had tickets to the 2am Amanda Palmer concert. So I didn’t really have any commitments before then, just to hang out at the before-party at Philine’s.
So I was booked for the gig, along with my friend who referred me in the first place. But it wasn’t for the hourglass thing, it was for something called a “Performance Ribbon.” They attached a picture- 5 people in black spandex suits, covering their faces, manipulating one giant malleable ribbon. I didn’t really “get it” from the picture- I figured it’s something you had to see in motion.
The gig was part of the opening ceremonies for the Midnight Run, a fun run the Road Runners host annually: “Where you’re guaranteed to run your best time in 2009 so far!” I’ve never done it, but considering that I am (was?) a runner, and have run the NYC Marathon (a Road Runners event) among others, I thought it was a charming coincidence.
So the day before, we got together for a rehearsal, which I thought would take 45 minutes but really took 3 hours. (2.5 on paper, but then we were helping load things up.) The concept was pretty easy- you just follow the person in front of you, like a roller coaster. I was dead center, which was a pretty safe place to be- I was in a good position to use my (superhuman!) strength to help speed up or slow down the pacing as needed, and to make sure the ribbon maintained its proper arch and torque, depending on the particular pose. Unfortunately I used my superpowers a little too much, and actually broke one of the ribs in the ribbon early on in the rehearsal, and we had to stop and replace it.
The one disadvantage to being in the middle was that I couldn’t really see what the finished product looked like- the people in front or back could get a decent view, but I was too much in the thick of it. So I still don’t really get what the whole thing looks like.
OK so funny thing, whenever I was telling people about this, they assumed it was part of my aerial/circus stuff. So, just to clarify- no relation whatsoever.
We also tried on our spandex body suits. Yeah they were kind of hard to see out of. But my big problem was that I couldn’t really open my eyes. I don’t know whether it’s more because of the shape of my face (I don’t have a big nose and have a very retiring chin) or because I have really, really long eyelashes (I guess whatever hormones make my hair grow so long apply to my eyelashes as well), but the spandex was pressing against my lashes so that it was hard to open my eyes at all. They promised to bring me goggles.
New Year’s Eve I had a full plate. First, I had an hour and a half rehearsal with my kind of band. We were supposed to be auditioning a new bass player. Except I couldn’t get ahold of our drummer in time to schedule the rehearsal, so we were using Ross’s drummer from another project, whom I’d never met.
I’m really regretting having scheduled this today, as my plate is too full as it is, but I’m excited to meet the bass player. I spend the subway ride to the rehearsal space writing out charts for Monica’s Getting her Tits Done for Ross and the bass player. I get to our room, sit down, and right at that moment- at 6:27, for a 6:30 rehearsal- I get a text from the bass player saying that something’s come up and he can’t make it. Goddam it!!!! However, the drummer has listened to our tracks including the secret unfinished ones that you’ve never heard!) and is totally game to play anyways, so we rehearse anyways.
The rehearsal is awesome!!! We played most of our rep, and everything sounded great! I was especially happy that the drummer got a particularly weird meter change that we have in one of our unpublished songs, that is one of the true tests to me of whether a guy knows his stuff or not.
So we really had a great time- and it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to have a really good rehearsal, since we don’t have a full line-up- we are always either not rehearsing, or auditioning someone who sucks. Occasionally we audition someone good who then proceeds to flake after that. Eh, such is the life of a wannabe rockstar. So in the end, the rehearsal which I had been regretting scheduling turned out to be one of the high points of my day.
I had a short time at home to get changed into the warmest black clothes I could find. We couldn’t wear our coats, but we could wear anything black we wanted that would fit under our spandex suits, which were surprisingly baggy! I put on my insulated running tights under black yoga pants, two layers of Icebreaker sweaters that I bought for Bolivia, and my heaviest hiking socks. I also had a hat and running gloves. I was as warm as I was gonna get.
When I got to the bandshell, I waited in the performers’ tent, where they had hot coffee and cookies, and a really small, really weak space heater that everyone was gathered around. We all just sat around bundled up for an hour trying to keep warm, while a costume contest was going on outside. We also walked around and the group leader explained where our line would go- we’d snake out in front of the stage, go up on both side stages one at a time (they were really small), and then lead the way to the start line. We were scared when we saw how small, dark, and unsafe the little stages were- way smaller than what we had been planning on, and one of them had no railings. It’s hard enough to see outside at midnight when you don’t have black spandex over your face.
We got dressed and I could see much better with the goggles on under my mask, but they were tinted so that was a whole other handicap in the dark.
As we filed out with our ribbon, waiting for our start signal, we were freezing our asses off. I’m trying to look it up and it looks like the wind chill was about 1 degree. It feels colder when you don’t have a coat! I did a little stomping dance in my black alien suit, trying to keep warm and stay in character.
As soon as we were off, it was a nightmare. I had no idea where we were going, I could just barely see the person in front of me. Getting onto the first stage was tricky, climbing the steps and even finding the steps. I think one of the stage managers was travelling alongside us, telling us when and where to go, and she unfortunately led us right over a little snow bank- not realizing apparently that we couldn’t see where we were going? I mean, come on- it’s the middle of the night and I have BLACK SPANDEX OVER MY FACE. So I totally wiped out on the snow bank. I mean I completely fell and slammed into the ground. It was not subtle, I did not slip and catch myself- I tumbled head over heels into the snow. Then I saw the line leader do the same thing. Not cool.
It got worse. When we got up to the second stage, the cold became so biting that I lost feeling in my hands. I was wearing really good gloves under my costume, but it was just so cold, and we had our arms raised in the air holding onto the ribbon. I saw my friend in front of me trying to take her hands off the ribbon one at a time during held poses so she could blow on her fingers, and did the same- they felt frighteningly cold against my face. We stood up on that second stage for a few minutes, barely moving, and it became so agonizing that I literally thought they might cancel the rest of our performance and take us back into the tent to get warmed up. My eyes were tearing up and I was whimpering and moaning, as were my colleagues. But no such luck- we were led on and on and on, through the crowds of people going “COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and “OMG WHAT ARE THOSE PEOPLE!!!!” and “LOOK, ALIENS!! OR NINJAS OR SOMETHING!!!” It was a small consolation to know that we looked awesome from the outside. Oh, and some bitch yelled at me for brushing against her. UMMM, DID YOU NOT SEE THE GIANT GLOWING SNAKE BEING HELD UP BY 5 PEOPLE COMING TOWARDS YOU, AND DOES IT LOOK LIKE I CAN SEE WHERE I’M GOING?!?!?!?!?!?! My blindness was multiplied by 10 when the tears I had shed when my hands went painful and then numb caused my goggles to fog up. I could literally almost not even see the ribbon, even though it was blacklit and glowing.
We just kept walking and walking and I had no idea where we were, but apparently we reached the start line and did some circles and then we were free to speedwalk back to the tent. I was stumbling and bumping into everything, people, I even knocked over a garbage can (I never saw it but I heard it fall). We finally got back to the tent and tore off our costumes, and my friend and I made a break for the space heater. (I think the other girls had gotten some hand heat packets from the dancers who went on before us.)
OK you all know I have a high pain tolerance, that’s why I’m an aerialist and a marathoner, but when the feeling came back into my hands, it hurt so bad that I just criend and cried, and asked if anyone had any Percoset. It was just terrible pain. I’m used to numbness- I used to be an artists’ model, try holding a single pose without moving for hours at a time and you get comfortable with the feeling in your extremities fading in and out with often painful consequences- but I’d never had its parting greeting by that much burning. Somebody asked me if I needed to go to the ambulance, but I said I would be fine, and that the pain was a good thing because it meant I could feel, and I just wanted some Advil. But nobody had anything, which was okay because after a few minutes I was totally back to normal. I felt like a baby but it really just hurt that much.
It was 11:55 by the time I came to my senses, and just as I was getting ready to take off, I heard the countdown. The next thing you know, we had the best view in the entire world of the fireworks. Right in Central Park, just blocks away from where they were launched, standing in the doorway of a fenced off tent by ourselves. It was impossible not to feel better.
Until I got to the subway and found my 30-day MetroCard had expired at midnight. Happy Frickin’ New year.
It was 12:45 by the time I got home. Philine and posse were planning on leaving from her place at 1:30, and I was a mess and needed to get changed and cleaned up, so I called, bagged out of the fore-party, and planned to meet them there when the doors opened at 2.
I felt much better after a fresh coat of make-up (and after getting my hair unzipped from my coat, which took several minutes), and got a subway really fast. Unfortunately it was stopped for ages at one station. I wondered if somebody jumped on the tracks. It is the holidays, after all. Everybody dies during the holidays. So I didn’t get there til late, but there was a really long line to get in anyways.
The concert was great- she played a song by Muse, who are probably my favorite living band. That was a big joy for me. I talked to a bunch of people (much to the annoyance of some fans, during the quiet songs- but I’m making friends, that’s a good thing!) Anyways I got home after 6 and I felt pretty darn good. So yeah there were some rough patches, but in the end I had fun.
Happy New Year.