December 7th, 2012

Married to Graham

A honeymoon in London--the night we'll never forget.

I feel ridiculously awful having abandoned this journal for so long given how well it has served in documenting my life.  

And so, I document again. 

London was absolutely fabulous and more than we could have ever hoped for.  

It was touch and go for a little while on whether we'd go, or whether we'd both go.  I was pretty insistent that Graham make the trip no matter what, because it really was an amazing opportunity for him. But, my own status was a little iffy. Due to a contract being about half of what was expected, we had funds for one of us to go comfortably, but two of us was a stretch.  At the last second, my parents kindly gave us frequent flyer miles for one ticket, and we were off!

We left on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  My mom was flying to San Francisco that same day to see my sister, and we ended up hanging out in the airport with her for a few hours because her plane ended up being delayed. 

Due to separate tickets, Graham and I weren't seated together, but no one else ended up sitting in my row, so Graham moved in, and we sprawled.   It wasn't a particularly eventful flight. I slept a few hours, but not enough to really qualify as a real good night's sleep.  But soon enough we were landing at Heathrow, and Graham and I got to go through customs together for the first time.  I beamed "we're on our honeymoon" when the customs guy asked the purpose of our trip.  It was cute.

The tube ride into town took awhile, but it wasn't bad.  The last stop on our line was "Cockfosters," and every time the lady announced it, Graham giggled.  And then I admonished him. The American couple sitting across from us did the same thing. 

tiny roomOur hotel turned out to be very close to the Euston Square tube stop. Graham had downloaded a tube map to his phone, and it helpfully navigated us through King's Cross (sorry, we never made it to platform 9 3/4), onto another line, and to our hotel.  I'd found the hotel on Priceline by searching around the neighborhood that Graham's performance would be in. This place turned out to be perfect.  It took us about four minutes to find it from the tube stop, and we were checked in to our tiny studio by noon.   It was a double bed, chest of drawers, some shelves, and a wardrobe. But the wardrobe also had a microwave, mini fridge and sink.  There was a small table and a folding chair, and all of this fit into a room smaller than my office.  The bathroom was equally compact yet functional.  Perfect definition of "efficiency." 

Graham and I unpacked, and we set forth to explore the neighborhood.  

I don't think that we were any particularly defined neighborhood.  Euston was nearby, as was St. Pancras (which I always want to pronounce as the organ) and Kings Cross.  It seemed that Camden started on the other side of the railroad tracks. And though we sort of knew that it was very close, we never felt that we were IN the Regent's Park part of town.   It was really nicely located, since there were two tube stops within minutes of the hotel, and they were on different lines, so we could head out in multiple directions.  And later, we ended up walking several places directly from the hotel without having to use any transport.

Bree louiseAfter orienting ourselves, we set off in search of food. The airplane swill was worse than usual, and we were hungry.  After looking at several Indian menus and a few small sandwich shops (and hearing Graham's laughter as I declared that I REFUSE to eat Mexican food on this particular island), we stumbled upon a pub that looked promising.   I ordered the fish and chips, which were good, but I probably should have ordered the pork and cider pie, since this pub was touting it's pie making ability.  Still, a pint of cider with some decent food in a pub was certainly appropriate for our situation. 

At this point we started feeling the travel, and we knew we had a long night ahead of us that would eventually end around 4:00 a.m.  So contrary to ordinary accepted jet-lag fighting methods, we decided to mid-day nap for a few hours before Graham had to get to the show.

I woke up and finally made my outfit decision. I'd brought at least three things that would work, but I still was a little disappointed that the dress I'd ordered (ironically, from the UK) hadn't gotten to me in time for the show.  I ended up wearing a pink cashmere sparkly cami with a black lace mullet skirt along with a black cashmere wrap and a feather headdress I'd bought at the Renaissance fair the week before.  Graham, of course, looked hot in the pants from our wedding, a black checked shirt, and a cap.

kokoWe needed to get there a little early so Graham could work out the logistics of how the show would work.  It turns out our hotel was PERFECTLY placed. We just had to walk up the road about ten minutes (running into an honest-to-goodness urban fox on the way), turn right, and suddenly, the Koko theater was there, lit up and ready for the show.  Scalpers saw us and immediately started making pitches to buy/sell tickets.  The club where the after-party that Graham was djing was right across the street from the theater, and as soon as we walked in, they knew who we were.  The manager of the club gave Graham access to a back room, so he could store his laptop and dj gear during the show.  And Ed, the guy who'd organized the after-show, introduced himself. 

Afterwards, we went to a coffee shop for a chai latte and orange chocolate tart (me) and regular latte (Graham).  Of course, Graham couldn't sit still, so he went back over to double check on something.  

When it looked like they were letting people into the theater, we walked over.   We were directed to a person with "the list" and of course, she couldn't find us.  So she called someone and then looked at us and said, "I'm supposed to say 'howdy'." 

The theater was gorgeous.  It opened in 1900, and it was still gilded with gold and red.  The seats were mostly gone, but there were bars on various balconies.  And there were tons of different levels and nooks and crannies.  

We got some drinks at the bar, and then we ventured outside with the smokers.  dapper grahamGraham immediately made friends, and I don't think I've ever seen him so comfortable, even among people he's known and loved for years.  He chatted with people of all stripes, and everyone was amazed at how we'd flown across the pond for this show.  Of course, here, as opposed to the US, everyone knew Caravan Palace and electroswing, so he was in a crowd that was friendly to his cause.  But still, it was amazing to watch my husband work the non-inconsiderable crowd. 

We ran into Nick Hollywood, who was responsible for our being there. Nick is a dj and record producer, part of Freshly Squeezed records.  He and Graham struck up an internet friendship over electroswing awhile back, and he had a lot to do with this particular concert. When he announced on facebook that Caravan Palace would be playing in London for the first time, feather stina Graham joked on facebook that he'd love to open for them. Nick answered, "play the after-party!" and the next thing we knew, Graham was on the bill.  It was a treat to meet Nick and to thank him.  Our being in the building was a pretty awesome thing, as the show had sold out months ago, and we just waltzed on in.  

We settled in for the show on the top level of the theater, where we could still see the stage, but we weren't in the mass of people.   There were plenty of people who'd taken our strategy, though, so we certainly weren't alone.  

The first group on was an Italian trio called Swingrowers. Guitar, singer and dj.  Their singer seemed overwhelmed that she was part of this bill, but she was really awesome. Lots of energy, lots of fun. I knew a few of theirs songs, and I really liked the others.  After a few years of being the only electroswing household in a city, it was pretty awesome to be not only with other enthusiasts, but SEVERAL of the musicians and producers that put it together.  

Between acts, Graham went to get some swag from the show, a tee shirt and a poster.   He came back a little baffled. The guy selling the merchandise not only had heard of Graham, he'd heard some of his music on soundcloud.  That sort of put this whole "you're performing for people who love this stuff" thing into perspective.  Other guys he'd met while moving through the theater were promising to go to the after-party.  
And then Caravan Palace.  

This group is responsible for the electroswing thing in my house and, by extension, for the success of my husband as a professional dj. I don't remember how Graham found them, but one day, I came home and he said "listen to this."  I listened. I thought it was amazing. I spent days watching their youtube videos and I stole music from Graham's itunes.  Graham hunted high and low and found everything he could on the internet.  And then he started looking for more music with a similar sound.  And then he djed at Flipside 2011, and then started getting gigs in Houston and Austin, and shortly afterwards got a residency at Prohibition. History, rest, etc., etc.

While a lot of electroswing is remixed in a studio by a producer, most of Caravan Palace is live performance, with amazing musicians and an unbelievably talented singer.   I was just transfixed by the show.  I couldn't believe how they could play and play and sing with such energy.  I was dancing my ass off way up in the rafters, and the crowd below was going insane. It was an amazing performance that I'll remember well as the rest of this unbelievable night.  Here are two You Tube videos that people took that night (one, two), but of course, they don't compare to actually being there. 

When the concert ended, we went back over to the Purple Turtle, the club.  Originally, Graham was going to be the first dj of three booked for the after-party.  But Swingrowers decided that they wanted to go first (probably so they didn't have to stay on until 2:30 a.m. given they had a show the following night too).  So Graham got moved to be the "headliner" at the top of the bill.  

London debutAgain, my husband worked the room. He found some of the other djs and electroswing folk, including one that went out of his way to invite us to a party on Saturday night because he enjoyed Graham's djing so much.  Graham knew him from the internet and had recently put the dj's music on one of his recent soundcloud mixes.  A lot of djs and producers in Europe  like what Graham does, and automatically send their music to Graham when it comes out.  He's established relationships in half a dozen countries, and if we'd had more time, I think we could have put together a show in Paris and probably somewhere in Germany.  

He chatted a little more with Nick and the manager of Caravan Palace, who asked for Graham's contact information.  Everyone was so blown away by the idea that we'd fly across the ocean for this night. We explained that it was also our honeymoon, which got some oohs and congratulations.  But still, Graham's commitment to the genre got all sorts of points.  The music, of course, was awesome, and the crowd got to about 150, 200 people about an hour into the show, including all of the Caravan Palace band members.  I was pretty happy that we got to thank them for the show personally.  

After Captain Flapcap, Graham went on.  It was 1:30 in the morning, and the concert had been over about two and a half hours.  The hard core were still there, but it was a school night, and Thanksgiving wasn't the next day for these people.  happy crowd 

Graham set up a Texas flag in front of his rig. And he was off.  His set was fast paced and designed to get as many people dancing as much as possible.  It was a challenge, because this was a knowledgeable crowd. He wanted to please, but he didn't want to play the same stuff that a) the other djs had played, and b) stuff that everyone had heard over and over again.  Of course, the good stuff tends also to be the popular stuff, and obscure doesn't necessarily mean outstanding.  But Graham managed to find that center, and there was a hard core group that didn't leave the dance floor for the full hour. 

I made some friends, too. The word had gotten out that we were on our honeymoon, and some girls thought it was terribly romantic. They hugged and kissed me and they danced with or near me for most of the night. This meant, of course, that the guys that were interested in these girls (and some in me!) were also nearby.  It was terribly fun.  Two Frenchmen coordinated an attack, not realizing I was married to the dj.  Graham said it was sort of funny to watch people hitting on me from on stage.  

He said later that he was nervous for about a half-second, but as soon as he started djing, it all went away.  A year and a half of djing two nights a week, sometimes more, almost every weekend, helped.  Plus, he was just loving every moment of it.   By the end of the evening, everyone was covered in sweat, but I think everyone loved it.  Graham gave his Texas flag to Ed, the guy who'd put the show together.   Ed was floored, and Graham pointed out that he lives in Texas, and it's fairly easy to get another one for us.  The owner of the club noted that Graham was probably the first American to ever play there.  

Since it was so late, we left the club shortly after Graham's set was over.  The walk back to the hotel didn't seem to take much time at all, and we were both still just amazed at this amazing night we'd just had.  

I don't think it would have been possible to be more perfect.  Everyone was so welcoming and nice to us. The music was great.  Graham was amazing.  I got to dance to my husband's European debut, and we still had another three days.