Got up and washed the bed and vacuumed the house and ironed my shirt and worked on my essay. Get the boring things out of the way, so I can get to The Russian Gala Ball. That’s right, my very first Russian Ball! (Aren’t you proud?). I got a random call from Sonia the other week, as she was giving free tickets to some of the people from Syezd in lieu of the post-Syezd outing we never had. She also offered me a couch for the night, which is terribly handy when you’re heading into the western suburbs and won’t be able to drive back.
But first: getting there. There being the western suburbs, that part of Melbourne with which I am terribly unfamiliar, and the precise part of Melbourne that seems to consist entirely of complex and confusing intersections, turn-offs and freeways. Freeways aren’t generally a bad thing unless it’s raining so hard that you can’t see the street signs and accidentally get in the wrong lane, which takes you out past the airport towards Sunbury. Yes, Sunbury. Look it up– if you start at the city, you’ll be scrolling for a while. Anyway, so after driving halfway to said definition of “middle of nowhere”, I finally managed to turn around (on a dark road with a speed limit of 100km/hr and cars whizzing past in both directions) and head back past the airport and onto the right road. Of course, it was still atrocious weather, so not being able to see roadsigns, I made another wrong turn-off before discovering that I could actually follow the road down and in the right direction. So after 80 minutes in the car, and having taken a trip twice as long as necessary, I finally arrived at St Albans.
After a cup of tea to calm the nerves, I got a lift in to the reception centre and found my table, which consisted of Kolya, Adrianna and some of their friends. Hurrah for sitting with people I know! We were served a three course meal (ooh la la!) and were entertained by a fat, bald Russian dude who sang along to backing tracks on his laptop. He had what appeared to be a back-up singer, but you couldn’t hear her voice too well. She seemed to be there primarily to wiggle her hips. Also, the guy had a Casio keyboard and would occasionally seem to play on it, but it couldn’t be heard and often what he appeared to be playing bore no resemblance to the backing track. How positively queer! And then in between tracks he would make random announcements at a machine-gun tempo, or (my favourite) engage in talk-show-style banter with the Hip Wiggler (to demonstrate chemistry and all).
Other entertainment for the night included an old Russian dude (who else?) absolutely shredding on a balalaika (that’s Russian for “small guitar with sharp strings that will slice your fingers open if you go near it”), several appearances of the local Russian dance troupe (with much spinning of women and Cossack Dancing) and (to provide some cultural balance) some quite impressive Latin dancers (with the throwing of women up into the air rather than just spinning them).
So we ate and we drank and we danced. The DJ/singer/whatever played a combination of some Russian music and classics, such as Sway, Macarena, Nutbush, Moscow, Rasputin and some rock-n-roll medley. I worked up quite a sweat, even if my moves weren’t quite as groovy as Kolya’s. At least I didn’t do “The Forklift” this time. But yes. All good fun. And then a taxi back to Sonia’s and sleep.