Last weekend I had quite the adventure. Several weeks ago a friend accompanied me to Fujimama , a fundraising gig for Japan. She'd commented that she'd like to learn how to dance so I did some research and tracked down a Swing Patrol dance class for beginners. I already have some rock'n'roll experience and had heard that we could turn up to Swing Patrol without a partner, which is certainly a bonus for two single ladies! So Friday night saw as donning our dancing shoes and turning up to the dance studio in Richmond for our first swing experience. We arrived to see the last ten minutes of the level two class and thought - ‘Wow! They're doing some fancy footwork!' Never thinking for a moment that we too would have accomplished a similar routine by the lesson's end.
We were taught a 1940s Charleston - somewhat different to the 1920s version we learnt for our Presentation Ball in year 12! I think the trickiest thing was keeping my balance whilst stepping in time and trying to remember what came next. Rock'n'roll is easy in comparison to this - truly! And that was before they threw in a dance partner who was attempting to lead! It was a lot of fun though - do try it if you ever have the chance. We'll certainly be going back.
Saturday morning was dedicated to spending a voucher I'd purchased at A Vintage Appeal - a fundraising event for the Queensland floods. The voucher was for Bonnie Rose which had recently moved to Vintage Garage on Smith Street. I found a park in the narrow one way streets between Brunswick and Smith, and stopped at a small café to drink coffee and eat poached eggs on toast with ocean trout and beetroot relish whilst watching the wild autumnal weather from a cosy window seat and listening to the banter of the regulars.
I continued on to Smith Street where I easily located Vintage Garage. I couldn't see a sign, but the large shop windows were so aptly adorned with items associated with both ‘vintage' and ‘garage' that it was hard to miss. On closer inspection I did notice a sign placed at the bottom of one of the windows confirming I was indeed in the right place.
I was greeted by a lovely lady with a wild mass of corkscrew blonde curls who ushered me into a room in the depths of the store, dedicated solely to Bonnie Rose. I felt a bit like the clothes were on display for me - my own private shopping experience. I placed my handbag on the circular ottoman in the centre of the room, unbuttoned my coat and began rifling through the racks of clothing. The range was quite diverse - 1920s through to the 90s. I was pleased by the variety of 1950s dresses, skirts and blouses (I predominantly fit into this era) though sizing was an issue. Most of the dresses were too small, or too big. Bonnie Rose also stocks selected items from Stop Staring and Betty Page, and I would have purchased one of these had the dress I was interested in not had an iron mark in the centre of the skirt! I settled for a handmade 1950s day dress in excellent condition - perfect for hot summer days and suitable for school. (They're going to order me another Stop Staring 1940s suit dress, sans iron mark).
My next stop was the Aveda day spa on Spring Street in the city where I spent an hour or two enjoying a massage, facial, hair treatment, cut and blow dry followed by makeup, an appropriate way to prepare for the night's outing - Miss Burlesque Victoria which was held at the Thornbury Theatre. Prior to the day spa, I filled in time wandering through the Treasury Gardens. I love the sound of autumn leaves crunching beneath my feet and the icy cold blasts of wind whisking them up into the air in a whirling dance whilst making my cheeks glow a rosy pink.
Miss Burlesque Victoria was my second burlesque experience and I must say that whilst it was highly entertaining and enjoyable, the calibre of the competition was not quite what I had expected. There were several ‘knockouts', but the competition as a whole, left me wondering what exactly the criteria was. I was fortunate to be sitting amongst some burlesque experts (teachers from Bottoms Up Burlesque) who were more than happy to fill me in on what burlesque is really about (narrative, parody and strip tease - not stripping) and to give expert opinions on each performance differentiating the truly talented burlesque performers from those less talented or unoriginal. It was a fascinating experience and it was great to see so many people turning up to support the competitors.
I returned home around midnight on Saturday - I would have stayed in Melbourne but the thought of waking up in my own bed and enjoying a pot of tea whilst reading the papers and looking out over the fields was too appealing. I do love a lazy Sunday, where getting out of one's dressing gown is completely optional. I surprised myself my leaving the house (fully dressed) about midday to walk to the shops and buy ingredients for a chicken casserole. It doesn't get much better than this: a casserole bubbling away in the oven, a roaring fire in the living room and me crocheting on the sofa whilst watching old movies - bliss!