Tuesday, December 01, 2009

December 2009 Activity -- Cancelled!

Due to some snow and some scheduling, our Spy Mission activity was cancelled this month. Look for us to make up the activity in the Spring!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

November 2009 Activity -- Flower Arranging

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Dilettante Amy's House, Arlington, VA
Cost: $25/person

Our Flower Arranging "teacher" advertised on Craigslist as "Practically Martha," claiming that she culled Martha Stewart's site for great ideas and tips and then simplified them so that "normal" people could entertain in Martha Stewart style. Because she was not coming to Amy's house until 8:00pm and because it was a week night, we did the dinner and drinks portion of the evening first -- at The Lost Dog Cafe in Arlington.

(NOTE: The next section is for mature audiences only. Meaning not for any of our readers...)

At the Lost Dog, Dilettante Amanda was ordering a beer and said to our waiter "I will have an Old Chub" and I (predictably) commented, "Just like in college." (We followed that up by saying to our waiter that we bet he had not heard that one before and that we wondered if the brewery was aware that the beer name was a double entendre.)

Right after that, Nicole ordered a sandwich called "The Fatty." It all seemed so phallic that when it was my turn to order, I told the waiter that I'd like "The Girth Monster." From that point on, every single thing we said to the waiter and everything he said to us had sexual undertones. To wit:

Waiter: "Are you done with your plate?"
Me: "No. I'm not finished. It takes me a long time to finish."
Waiter: "Well, take your time. I want you to be satisfied."

Nicole: "Can I have some more water?"
Waiter: "Oh, I'll get you some more water."

Amy: "Can I get some horseradish sauce for my onion rings?"
Waiter: "You really like the white sauce, don't you?"

We hope he enjoyed getting a big tip. >smirk<

(NOTE: PG-13 content begins below...)

From there, we drove to Amy's house where "Practically Martha" was meeting us for the activity.

Prior to the class, this woman had asked us each to bring two containers in which we could create a floral arrangement, so we had some pretty reasonable (we thought) expectations about how many flowers she was going to bring, and were also assuming that we'd be heading home with two floral arrangements each.

But...she only brought two tiny bunches of flowers and selected two containers from the eight that we had provided, and then proceeded to cut the stems and stick them into the containers in the exact arrangement in which she had bought them. (See photos above.) She added nothing. Except the suggestion that we might want to consider adding foil-wrapped chocolates into the bottom of the clear vase. What?

That part of the demonstration lasted about 15 minutes, and then she moved on to teaching us how to make paper flowers...all the while (kiddingly?) telling us that we were terrible at this and were probably not ready to move on to the more advanced flowers. Apparently, she did not fully appreciate Amanda's Greek key foliage pattern, which was rather inspired (by the Old Chub, most likely). And then telling us that "she was awesome" at paper flower making.

So...we spent $25 to sit there and get criticized. (If I wanted that, I would've just met my mom for a drink.)

She brought along some ModgePodge (TM), ribbon and a paintbrush, yet these never appeared during our class. When asked, she told us about all the cool stuff we could have done with these items.  (Again...what?)

Perhaps she was "Practically Martha" in her condescending attitude. Other than that...we failed to see much similarity to the entertaining goddess.

Overall, we'd give this activity (as well as Dilettante Amanda's creations) a big, fat "F".

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 2009 Activity -- Horror Makeup

Thursday, October 22, 2009
The Soundry, Vienna, VA, www.thesoundry.net
Cost: $27/person (instruction and supplies)

The course description on The Soundry website said, "Make your scary Halloween costume truly grotesque with this workshop on horror makeup. Learn simple techniques for creating authentic-looking flesh wounds, wrinkled skin, bulbous lesions, and more with liquid latex, fake blood, and face paint."

Soundry -- you had us at "authentic-looking flesh wounds."

Since it was a school night, we met at Bazin's for dinner and drinks in advance of our activity. (Two words: yum). Dilettante Amanda brought along some Tupperware she was returning to Dilettante Kathleen and a couple of other things that she had in a brown paper bag that she placed under the table during dinner. (Remember this fact...it will be important later.)

After our meal, we headed around the corner to The Soundry for our class. We met Jordana, the instructor, on our way in and went into the back of the space to get set up at a table. She provided each of us with our own tubes of black, white and green makeup, some liquid latex, a tube of fake blood and a palette of assorted colors of cream makeup.  Oh, and we also each got a container of a product called, "creepy skin." (Why did we not know about this when we were dating? Do you know how many bad dates this stuff could have prevented us from suffering through? When I remarket this as "Bad Date Ender" it will include the instructions: Go into restroom. Return sporting hideous growth. Bad date over.)  It's genius, really. (Except that some of the guys I dated may have been into that sort of thing. But that's a story for another blog.)

Jordana began by teaching us how to do Zombie faces (blending the black is the key -- you don't want to look too raccoon-like). The Zombie faces were super-scary -- especially when she used a stippling sponge to add blood all around Amanda's mouth. (And as scary as that was, it did not rival the horror of Amy's comment about her husband getting some "zombie strange" later that night.)

Amy took off to the bathroom with her creepy skin and returned with a bullet hole in the middle of her forehead that was dripping blood. It was exceptionally realistic and quite disturbing. Jordana transformed Nicole into a witch by adding a bulbous nose and black and green makeup to her face until she was unrecognizable and then did a scary skeletal hand out of liquid latex on Kathleen's hand that was dripping blood.

At about this time, Amanda remembered that she had left her bag at Bazin's and stated simply, "oh, well, I'll just pick it up after class." (Forgetting, of course, that she was now a flesh-eating zombie.) We did end up going to Bazin's when our class ended. The handful of people at the bar were amused by our makeup yet the Bazin's staff appeared to have no sense of humor at all. Especially when I wrote down my name and phone number for them to call me when they located the bag, and dripped blood onto their notepad.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dilettantes featured in the Washingtonian

Washingtonian Blogger Beat -- The Dilettante Club

(Thanks to Columnist Emily Leaman -- this was a blast.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 2009 Activity -- Bridge

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
6:30pm - 9:00pm
Dilettante Amy's house -- Arlington, VA
Instructor: John -- (jkuchen at verizon dot net)
Cost: A six pack of Oktoberfest beers and our gratitude

You really have to hand it to our bridge instructor, John (get it? hand? like a card hand? I'll pause while the hilarity ensues...) He has been playing bridge for 20 years and attempted to teach us in 2 1/2 hours what he normally takes eight weeks to teach his beginning bridge students. His goal for the night was to teach us just enough to be able to decipher the bridge column in the Washington Post.

Using the Standard American Bidding system (and probably 100% of his patience reserves), John taught us some bridge basics (using Disney and Dog Breed cards -- thanks to Dilettante Amy.)

We learned the point values assigned to certain cards, how the suits ranked, how to make contracts, the rules for opener, what trump and notrump mean, and how to determine the longest suit while playing a few practice hands. (Dilettante Kathleen managed to get some awesome cards during the first two hands, so she just sat back while Dummy (it's a bridge term -- I swear!) Nicole did all the work. Amy manged to pull a couple of bad hands, so every time it was her turn, she simply retreated into a fetal position with her head on the table.

There is a lot to know about bridge rules and terminology, and a lot of strategy. It is a little overwhelming to the novice. Especially the novice with a short attention span. However, there is also just enough colorful bridge language to keep things fun. To wit:
  • When vulnerable, if you go down a lot you might win the game but still lose the rubber
  • That's a stiffy
  • She's the dummy
And Dilettante Kathleen's favorite:
  • Now switch partners
John obviously knew his stuff and in spite of ourselves, I think we actually learned something. At the end of our activity, we went through the Washington Post bridge column and understood some of it. Mission accomplished.

No de-brief was necessary as we enjoyed some pizza and beer while we played cards. Pretty efficient, huh?

Friday, August 07, 2009

August 2009 Activity -- High Ropes Challenge Course

Sunday, August 30th
12:00pm - 2:00pm
Terrapin Adventures
Savage, MD
Cost: $49/person

This high ropes course takes you 40 feet high and through 17 different (and progressively challenging) traverses using a continuous belay system. (Translation: the only thing between you and certain death is a decent sense of balance and one short rope.)

The Dilettantes checked in at the Terrapin Adventures office and were outfitted with harnesses and helmets. (EXTREMELY IMPORTANT NOTE: Men who are participating in this adventure would be advised to wear jeans or khaki shorts. Some of the men there were wearing gym shorts, and let's just say that the way the harnesses fit over the flimsy material let us know that our group included some of our Jewish brothers.)

From there, we walked outside and stood in line to get attached to our belay and begin the challenge course by climbing up a ladder to the first platform and having an instructor "show us the ropes." (That pun was not nearly as satisfying as it sounded in my head.) For anyone with even a tiny bit of a fear of heights...this first ascent (yes...just up a ladder) was intimidating.

You know how there is always someone in every group that makes you wonder how many bricks of hash his mom smoked when she was pregnant? There was a total Meathead in our group who was loud and obnoxious and pretty much a total idiot. While he was doing one of the zip line traverses, he screamed at the top of his lungs, "Ow, my nuts!" (Which is funny enough on its own, but even funnier considering that was the name of the game show in the movie Idiocracy. Purpose of the show: to hit people in the groin area with heavy objects, causing them to scream, "Ow, my nuts!") (As you may imagine, Idiocracy is a Dilettante favorite.)

Because she is hilarious, when it was Dilettante Amanda's turn on the zip line (right after Meathead's), she got about midway across and screamed, "Ow, my nuts!" as loudly as she could, causing us all to die laughing.

Speaking of which, there was a lot less giggling and joking than in a usual Dilettante activity. We had to focus and summon up courage to do things like jump from a perfectly good platform into mid-air 40 feet off the ground (in a maneuver called "the flying squirrel") and hook ourselves to a zip line, hoping we had done it correctly. Every ounce of strength we had was required for things like crossing the rope net and balancing on small wooden platforms way up in the sky.

But you know what? We did it. Dilettante Nicole (who is terrified of heights) made it to the second level; and Dilettantes Amanda, Amy and Kathleen conquered the whole course (after much screwing up of courage and about twenty minutes watching other people on the third level). We all finished the activity with a huge sense of accomplishment (and some very sore arm muscles).

Celebratory beers and lunch followed at the Rams Head Tavern (which had more of an Applebee's than a tavern ambience, complete with entrees named "Sammich"), which was walking distance from the ropes course. Our waitress was a bit of a question mark who seemed to alternately think she was at a Grateful Dead show and remember that she was serving us in a restaurant. (We ordered all of our food without mushrooms, just to be on the safe side.)

We are rock stars and are still rocking some serious bruises from this little adventure.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

July 2009 Activity -- Kangoo Jumps

Kangoo Jumps Class
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Golds Gym
Woodbridge, VA

Kangoo Jumps is an aerobics class. That you do while wearing contraptions on your feet that look like a combination of ski boot and springboard.(Because keeping up with the choreography in aerobics has never been challenging enough.) (At least for the "helmet brigade" portion of the Dilettantes...)

Aside from wobbling around like a newborn fawn when first standing up in these boots, we got used to them pretty quickly and had a great time in this class. You cannot be in anything but a good mood when bounding around like a kangaroo in time to great music. (Which is why school dances in the 80s were so much fun.)

You might think that the instructor (think Stockard Channing with white-blonde hair) would take it easy on a class that was about half full (I'm an optimist!) of people who had never been on these contraptions before. Not the case. We went full tilt for the entire hour. There were many moves that were reminiscent of tap dancing...and also some moves that were pulled right from an MC Hammer video. (Why Madonna has not incorporated this into the choreography for her latest tour we may never know.)

And aside from some blistering and chafing where the boots rubbed our legs, we all felt (but did not smell) great after class. The fact that this is low impact made a big difference.

We followed up class with lunch at The Original Steakhouse in Woodbridge. And then a nap.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

June 2009 Activity -- Making Hula Hoops

Thursday, June 18th, 2009
Dilettante Kathleen's Home, Oakton, VA
$32.50/person (all supplies and instructor's travel costs included)

We found Carly on a DailyCandy e-mail and thought she taught hula hooping. She actually teaches hula hoop construction. (Talk about re-inventing the wheel.) (I'll be here all post...tip your bartenders well...)

Carly is primarily a weaver who got into making hula hoops on a whim, almost. She is part of the Crafters Mafia in Baltimore along with some other creative types who do all sorts of interesting things like this. (Note to self: Avoid concrete shoe-making class...)

We began our activity by cutting a length of PVC tube. This is purchased in 100-foot quantities, which means that you should be fairly certain that you want to make a bunch of hula hoops (or get really into irrigation) before investing in this.

After cutting our lengths of tube (the bigger the tube, the cooler the dilettante) (taller people cut longer lengths of tube), we each put one end in a pot of boiling water to soften it up, and after doing so, jammed a plastic joiner into one end of it. (“Jammed” seems so indelicate, yet that is exactly what we did.) Then, we poured about a cup of water right into the tube as we softened up the other end in the boiling water and jammed the other end of the tube onto the joiner. And just like that, we were done and all that was left was to decorate the hoop. This sounds amazingly simple…and it was, with the right tools and materials. It was very satisfying (especially for a bunch of women with short attention spans) to be able to create this so quickly.

Carly brought a huge assortment of colored tape with which we could decorate our hoops. Dilettante Amanda went with Denver Broncos orange and blue, Dilettante Amy went with her sorority colors of yellow and red, Dilettante Nicole went with a cool pattern of blue, yellow and magenta and Dilettante Kathleen (with an assist from Dilettante-in-training Avery) chose a rainbow scheme (in honor of Pride Week, of course).

When we finished with our taping, we headed out to the front yard to try out our hoops. It was amazing how much easier it was to hula hoop with a hoop that had water inside – all of us were able to do it almost immediately. Carly was excellent at keeping the hoop going and also tried to teach us all a very cool trick, which we all attempted with varying degrees of success (“varying degrees” meaning that some of us managed to just hit ourselves in the head with the hoop, while others were quite literally swept off their feet). Without question, we are white.

We ended the evening with some pizza, beer and great stories from Dilettante Amy's recent trip to Russia.

(And yes...we do think "hooping" should be an Olympic sport...hence our photo homage to the Olympic rings....)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

May 2009 Activity -- Ishi Yama Ryu (Modern Japanese Swordsmanship)

Saturday, May 9, 2009
The Jhoon Rhee Institute of Tae Kwon Do
1136 West Broad Street
Falls Church, VA

(Yes, we did fight the urge the entire time we were at Jhoon Rhee to say, "Nobody bodders me." Perhaps not entirely successfully.)

According to the description for this class, Ishi Yama Ryu (IYR) is a modern form of battojutsu and kenjutsu developed by Russell McCartney Sensei. This art form is a unique expression of Japanese style swordsmanship. The fundamental basis of IYR is rooted in Toyama Ryu and Nakamura Ryu, while also drawing from physics, biomechanics, and geometry to create a powerful yet elegant style which emphasizes dynamic movement and stability. The forms and rhythms of IYR are also deeply inspired by nature and sacred geometry.

Got that?

The dilettantes were the four members of this introductory class (they offer two intro classes for free before you must enroll in a course). They should really reconsider this business model, as the instructor (Steve) is great, the class is really interesting, and we all definitely would have paid for it.

Our instructor had a fantastically dry sense of humor and kept saying things like, "You want to make sure you block yourself when someone is coming at you with a sword because if you got stabbed, it would not feel good. Not feel good being the official Japanese term for it." He had been studying this martial art for more than nine years and obviously knew his stuff, yet was able to translate it into kihon (basics) for us to keep us interested.

After we learned to bow while entering the mat, we attempted the eight kata (prearranged form and technique) and then moved on to kumitachi (forms conducted with a partner).

Of course, we felt like total morons going through these movements, so when the instructor asked, "Do you have any questions so far?" I said, "Just one...is that thing on?" (They have a video camera set up on a tripod to record competitions and such. He did assure us that none of the dilettantes would end up on YouTube. Well, for this class, anyway.)

We learned about one defensive move called a slapping parry (which totally sounds like a euphemism for masturbation) and also a Japanese word that translates into "song of the sword" that describes that really cool sound a sword makes when slashing through the air at just the right angle. (Of course, I have totally forgotten the word, and none of us experienced that first-hand, as we were issued wooden "swords" with which to practice.) This was downgraded to foam "swords" and helmets at one point during the lesson because he had obviously read about our Segway experience for safety reasons. This was for the tameshigiri (target cutting), jigeiko (free sparring with RSW sparring weapons), suburi (repetitive swings) and ashi sabaki (footwork) part of the lesson.

The two hour lesson flew by, and we even stayed for ten more minutes to watch Steve and another guy practice duel.

Dinner and drinks followed at (the awesome) Dogwood Tavern in Falls Church.

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 2009 Activity -- Scientology

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
L. Ron Hubbard Church and Museum of Scientology
Dupont Circle
1812 19th Street, Washington, DC

Disclosure: We were totally going into this activity with no knowledge of Scientology. Based on the negative media, we assumed that Scientologists were whack jobs who found religion in the cheesy 70s Sci-Fi writings of L. Ron Hubbard, eschewed advances in modern medicine and bought their way into certain levels of enlightenment.

After spending a couple of hours at the Scientology headquarters, it appeared that we actually had a pretty solid understanding of Scientology. Holy brainwashing, Batman!

Prior to this activity, we made a pact that no one was giving real information to anyone (including any real names). Also, there was no leaving the group for any reason (as we thought they may do the ol' time-share-sales divide-and-conquer routine). (As Dilettante Amanda so gently put it, "I don't care if the bathroom is a one-seater...if one of us has to go...we all go.) With back stories in place (and a couple of bottles of wine at Sette knocked back), your dilettantes "Liz Nickels", "Kathryn Whitmore", "Amber Morrison" and "Julia Meiser" headed over to Scientology Central.

What we did not figure into our (well-laid, borderline genius) plans were:

a) Immediately upon arrival at the Church of Scientology HQ, we were shuttled out the door (by some freaky guy who said, "this is your first time here, right? and I replied, "yes, how did you know?" and through a creepy, plastered-on smile, he said, "I can always tell") to the Church of Scientology Museum (about two blocks away via a network of back alleys) with a Scientologist escort. (Ergo, our location would be unknown to any of our survivors...)

b) Dilettante Kathleen is a total idiot who within three seconds of arriving called both Amanda and Amy by their real names. Oops.

Our escort left us with a different Scientologist who took us on a tour of the three-story row house that was the original Scientology Headquarters. He gave us a lot of background on L. Ron's personal history and then took us upstairs to see L. Ron's office and meeting rooms that were still intact and decorated with some of the original pieces.

We went into one room that displayed all of the volumes that L. Ron had written -- everything from Sci-Fi to art, writing, religion, detox, education, prison reform -- you name it...he was an "expert" in it.

A couple of the more intriguing pamphlet names were:

Ritalin - Kiddie Cocaine
Psychiatry - Industry of Death

We were also fascinated with his Happiness doctrine, which basically just re-wrote the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments and included such nuggets as, "Don't Murder" and "Take Care of Your Teeth." (I mean, sure, I can buy into both of those tenets, but I'm not sure that I need to read them in a plagiarized Happiness doctrine to incorporate them into everyday life.)

Our tour guide would have stayed for many more hours answering questions (it was close to 11:00pm), but we had to get to our parking garage before it closed. Of course, we all came up with a million additional questions as we were driving home. There really is a lot to ask and a lot we still want to know. Primarily about how we can start our own religion. That is some pretty schweet real estate these people own in Dupont.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Supplemental Activity -- Richard Cheese at the 9:30 Club

Know who I love? The Dilettantes. Know who else I love? Richard Cheese. Know why last night was lounge-tastic? Because The Dilettantes (and their hep cat spouses) went to see Richard Cheese at the 9:30 Club in DC in truly swank-a-rific style.

We met up at the Stucco Mansion (Amanda & Leon's house) in our '50s era garb for some appetizers and cosmos, then headed out in our white limo for some cruising and lounging before the concert. As we drove through the pouring rain, we sipped cocktails and enjoyed the dulcet tones of Dick on CD.
Ozio was our first stop for side cars, Manhattans and bellinis, then it was off to Chi Cha Lounge for a few more drinks and our first collective experience with a hookah. (That's the water pipe with flavored tobacco.) (As opposed to a "hooker," with which we've had many collective experiences...)

By the time we got to the 9:30 Club (where we were carded and where my unlit cigarette was confiscated), there was no more seating available on the floor, so we headed up to the balcony. We had a great view of the stage and then Mr. Cheese worked his way through the audience including the balcony. He made our little group part of the show for a few minutes...he was totally digging our 50s finery.

We cabbed back to the stucco mansion after a long discussion with the cab driver about Eritrea. Just a typical Wednesday night for us, really.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

March 2009 Activity -- Mechanical Bull Riding

March 13, 2009
Cadillac Ranch
National Harbor
Oxon Hill, MD

The Dilettantes met up at the Cadillac Ranch at the new National Harbor, bedecked in jeans, boots, massive belt buckles and cowboy hats, pard'ner. We reckoned that the harbor area looked like a ghost town until we went inside and the place was packed. As we waited for Dilettante Amanda (she got a little lost finding the place) we watched a bunch of people ride the mechanical bull (not a euphemism, even though I really, really want it to be). As each person took turns riding, the crowd that had gathered to watch cheered them on and got really into it. We enjoyed a few cocktails as we watched one person after another get tossed onto the ground.

When Amanda arrived, we got a table for dinner. Since we'd had to wait for a table for a while, we decided that we'd eat and then ride the bull. Our table was right next to the bull riding area, so we watched others as we ate until we suddenly noticed that the bull was idle. Apparently, a fuse had blown and the bull was going to be out of commission for at least an hour so it could be repaired.

Our waiter was an interesting chap. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by us and with the waiter gig in general. He didn't know to ask if we wanted additional drinks, and brought the wrong food to the table and just seemed a bit out of his league. At one point, he was reaching behind his back and tugging at something, so Dilettante Kathleen asked, "Do you have a wedgie?" He kind of half-smiled at that and said "no", but also didn't seem particularly embarrassed by the question. He was then known as "Reggie Wedgie" to us.

When the bull started working again, Dilettantes Nicole and Kathleen ran to get in line to ensure they'd have a chance to ride. After waiting for just a few other people ahead of them, Dilettantes Nicole and Kathleen were up. Both did a pretty admirable job of staying on the bull (and not breaking their necks when they finally did let to).

[She's not one to brag, but Dilettante Kathleen had an admirer at the bar. He was apparently bilingual (slur being the second language) and he had quite the silver tongue. He said to her "When you're up there [on the bull], I'll be bouncing all over the place. I'll be all like, wwwwaaaazzzzzuuupppp?" and then he put his arm around her. Good thing she and her husband are solid, because there are temptations...she's only human, you know.]

Dilettantes Amy and Amanda got in line for their turns to ride the bull, and as they were waiting, the bull broke down again. This time, we decided that we could not wait for it to be repaired, as we had already been there for about four hours.

We all did manage to pose on the bull, even though not all of us got to ride it. And really...isn't the photo op what we're in it for anyway?

Monday, January 26, 2009

February 2009 Activity -- Didgeridoo

Saturday, February 7, 2009
11:00am - 1:00pm
Cost: $20 per person
The Soundry
316 Dominion Rd
Vienna, VA 22180

Color us surprised to see 14 people at this didgeridoo (accepted academic spelling: didjeridu) workshop. After all, The Soundry has only been open for a couple of months and let's face it...didgeridoo?

The class description noted that we would "explore this ancient Aboriginal musical instrument with basics of playing, learning about variations of tone and touching on the history and artwork of the didge."

We began the class by selecting a "didge" that "spoke to us" and then learning how to breathe into it to achieve the proper "droning" sound. The instructor told us that we needed to move our lips like a "horse" or like a "motorboat." Dilettante Amanda certainly had the best frame of reference for the motorboat (if you know what I'm saying...)

Our instructor was fantastic at playing and building didges, but not so good at teaching. Fortunately, he had an assistant with him who played equally well and was much better at teaching us the techniques. (Plus, he gets bonus points for being from Scotland and having that killer Scottish accent.) ("Killer"? Jeez. My junior high clique just called and wants their adjective back.) (Okay, fine...I didn't really have a clique in junior high...unless you count the other French club officers as a "clique.") (I'm suddenly sad for my junior high self. A moment, please.)

Playing this instrument is deceptively hard. It took a solid hour in class to achieve even a few seconds of the desired droning tone. (Well, for everyone except Dilettante Nicole, who was a total didge ringer. Seriously...she was all laid back and droning on her didge like she had been doing it forever.)

Most of the time, the didgeridoo is taught with a method called "circular breathing." The instructors touched on this, but told us that it was not necessary to play it for the first time. We played together as a group; played individually and got critiqued; and then practiced our circular breathing by blowing up a balloon and then breathing through our noses.

The two hours went by very quickly -- it was a fun class.

We had lunch after at the Vienna Inn, because really, how else would one follow up didgeridoo?

Monday, January 05, 2009

January 2009 Activity -- Hip Hop Dance

Sunday, January 25th, 2009
Bethesda, MD
Cost: $20

Hip Hop dance class was off-the-chain. I mean it was dope -- fo-shizzle. (Alright, enough of that. I am pleased to report that the dilettantes were much better at the dancing than at the hip hop lingo. More on that in a moment...)

This class was held at the DC Dance Collective on Wisconsin Avenue (near Tenley Circle). There were 24 people in the class, and it was a great mix of ages, ethnicities and about an equal number of men and women. Our instructor, Gwo, was one of those effortlessly cool guys who had some mad dance skillz (I can't help myself).

Gwo began the class with a bit of a history on the different types of street dance, including breakdancing (breakdancers are called b-boys and b-girls -- now you can drop that into conversation at your next cocktail party) and pop-and-lock (which Dilettante Amanda already knew about being as how she's so "street" from listening to Anne Hathaway talk about this on the Ellen show.) (Interesting aside: Rerun from "What's Happenin'?" was one of the original "lockers".) (Bonus interesting aside: Dilettante Kathleen once served Mr. Run during the summer she waitressed at Red Lobster in Virginia Beach. She remembers him as being gracious and a good tipper, though obviously a horrible judge of restaurants.)

Our instructor referenced "What's Happenin'" and "Flashdance" as pop culture media that showcased some great examples of street dance (though he did this in a way that made them seem like they were ancient history -- like the first 'talkies' or something). He also taught us that the four elements of the hip-hop culture are: a DJ, an MC, graffiti and breakdancing (again, perfect for your next cocktail party).

As I mentioned earlier, the dilettantes actually did pretty well at bringing on da noise, bringing on da funk. We were particularly adept at doing "chest pops" in an intimidating fashion (hip hop is all about the attitude, you know).

By the end of the class, we had learned a routine, which we then did in groups facing each other as a sort of "dance off" where some of us pretended to be robots and some of us pretended to be Sesame Street characters. Or maybe that was the dream I had last night after all the spicy food...

(P.S. The photos below are a mere sampling of the million that we took during our post-class dinner and drinks at the Salvadoran restaurant next door to the dance studio. Too bad the one where Dilettante Amy slurping beer through her grill from a crunk chalice didn't turn out.)

(P.P.S. Dilettante Nicole missed the activity because she was not feeling well BUT SHE IS NOT PREGNANT SO DON'T EVEN THINK THAT FOR A MINUTE, so we'll be presenting her with her grill next month -- and forcing her to wear it while playing the didgeridoo...)