So we’d been at the Howard Johnson (bates motel) for two nights, an unusually long stay, and this morning we convened at 9am after managing to secure only a banana for breakfast and off we went. En route I managed to get my hands on a Corn dog for breakfast, a corn dog is a sausage on a stick covered in something like corn bread, it was meaty, fatty and delicious in equal measures. We then Drove to Tampa, very possibly via a pharmacy, as per.
We arrived in Tampa City, it has been a while since we saw tall buildings and a sprawling metropolis so it was a new day with a new vibe on and here, laying In wait for us was the South Bank of Tampa, an amazing massive venue. The American touring version of Dirty Dancing was visiting, and we were welcomed alongside them in poster form, in various parts of the building.
Pretty much immediately we had to get our dresses on for another workshop. This time it was with two choirs who were about to go and sing carols in the park (in the heat and sunshine, hilarious. Must remember it is December). We managed to utilise Ben drummers skill set for this today and so full band were in on the act. Same format as yesterday but Clarey added a massage circle into the mix for her warm up. We Baebes were dotted around the circle and weren’t quite sure about how we felt when we had to turn around and massage the person behind us. I had a seven year old, and so did Em, it was weird, well it wasn’t weird, but, sadly in this day and age massaging a stranger child might be considered weird, but when we had to turn the other way I was massaged by said child who seemed to have the hands of a lumberjack, so you know, win some lose some.
Once again I introduced us as a variety of Princesses, intimating that we may very well own various stretches of land in the UK (well, in Sophie’s case…….). I masculinised Charlie this time and also bequeathed Ben with the role of King Ben of the bongos. He seemed to be happy with that. We sang songs and they learned the chorus’s/chorusi and it was lovely to have so many young voices belting out new songs that they picked up with great speed. Charlie once again shared a few of his instruments and Anna talked about hers. The hurdy, once more had a special yet mini section of its own and after more singing we were done. And on with the next mission of the day – the soundcheck.
What a venue! This may be the largest capacity seater yet. The theatre goes dark for lunchtime (closes) so we were forced out on to the be-fountained streets surrounding this vast complex of theatres. For some reason, it has been noted that the peoples of America don’t tend to sit on the many grassy areas which adorn urban spaces. So we thought we would. The sun was bashing down on us and we lay down for as long as we could before entering the air conditioned darkness of the stage, for our set up and sound check. We quickly worked our way through with the help of the many stage crew and side stage monitor men, it was ‘Wit’ helping us today Pom, not ‘Kip’ or even ‘Kit’ for that matter.
Then there was word that the beach was only a $12 cab away, so we feverishly gathered our bikinkies out of our suitcases, Ben drummer got his too, and off we went to get a cab. But no, wait, Maurice is going to drive to the hotel, and there is an outdoor pool, so let’s go there instead! So we ran back to the van and sat waiting for the others. But no, wait, it is a 15 min drive and by the time we get there we’ll only have enough time to put on our swimmers and jump in and jump out again to get back by 5. So Ben drummer, Clarey, Em and myself decanted ourselves back out of the van to find a table in the sunshine along the river in this Floridian version of then South Bank. See! It is difficult to coordinate for 12 sunshine deprived people.
So, we did indeed find a table and Emily snuck to the bar and brought out 2 beers and 2 glasses of champers. Champers in Tampa, pre gig joy all round. It shone on us and rained a little bit while still shining. We watched the speed boats churn the brown river up as they sped past with topless waving men on them, and Clarey (postulating once again, more ‘Hamptons’ less ‘yogic’ this time) seized yet another opportunity for a winter summertime photo shoot.
Back we went to find a lovely dinner waiting for us. Some delicious steak and potatoes and salad, and ranch dressing. I LOVE RANCH DRESSING, so much. We seemed to have quite a lot of time to flop about pre gig today, so Pom made a sleeping area out of bubble wrap and some towels, I skyped my mum, who was sat in the dark next to the lit up Christmas tree in the depths of Cornwall, and there I was showing her around backstage and sweating in the heat as she was being all snug and Christmassy.
This gig was particularly enjoyable, the house was extremely full and we felt the grandness of the enormous stage and theatre that we were in, and it was absorbed into our show. Once again we ran out to meet our audience after the show, and once again we loved everyone we met. The wonderfully polite and lovely Freya, and the couple that had driven 8 hours from Georgia to see us and of course, here we meet the super Angel once again.
Photographs and signings later we ran backstage and almost slammed into the most enormous Sweetie trolley, laden with huge jars filled with thousands of sweeties. So we shoved as many as we could into our mouths and swiftly ran off……the ladies filling the jars backstage didn’t know who we were or what we were doing backstage dressed in mediaeval dresses with crowns on, but Pom explained and they were then delighted.
We rammed the chariot of joy back up with our suitcases and instruments and drove off to another hotel – which I can’t really remember now, but I know it wasn’t the one where I saw a raccoon on the car park……I saw a raccoon, a real life raccoon, running, in the car park, amazing.
Oh but it did have this wonderful display.
This evening was an exciting evening for us because we’d had a lovely gig, no one was ill and we had two days off now AND Maurice had finally purchased the ingredients for the ‘White Russian’ party. So, we had a White Russian party in Kat and Poms room. Various dresses were draped over the many lamps in the room, as per usual, for ambience, and Maurice and Ben made, mixed and handed out the cocktails. So much milk!
Then Maurice thought he’d have a wee rest on the bed, which was slightly partitioned from the sofa that Jamie, Charlie and I were sat on, so Clarey (once again, NOT on muscle relaxants this evening) took it upon herself to assume the character of Cilla Black and decided we were to play a game of ‘Blind Date’. It is advisable not to share the content of Maurices questions with a large public audience, or indeed any of either mine, Charlie, or Jamie’s answers. However, Charlie obviously did the best job of providing all the right answers as Maurice decided contestant number 1 was the one for him. That was Charlie, but the game was suddenly over when Charlie refused to stand up for the reveal/hug/kiss. It really was difficult to get him off the sofa. Pictorial evidence provided below.
The party suddenly became very physical and dancey. Clarey and I went into extreme ‘twearking’ mode (that’s Mediaeval twerking). Which resulted in all the men leaving the room to ‘go to bed’, oh, maybe the inverted commas seem to allude to the fact that weren’t actually going to bed, but they actually did, I don’t know why I put them there, but I’m going to leave it now anyway.
Some daggering took place, google it. And Katharine was surprisingly bad at holding her own and I managed to dagger her to the floor, but remarkably she didn’t spill her drink, she is an expert. Then there was the circle of dancing ladies. Sparkles the dog was having a truly wonderful time and we all took a little solo in the middle of the circle, then people started to lie down and it all subsided very naturally and the party was had and done, empty bottles and fun.