A night out is a much-coveted affair, am I right? And I’m talking a car-free, dressed-up, who-knows-where-the-night-will-take-us kind of evening. There’s the planning and plotting, the daydreaming whereby you delusionally see yourself out and about as one might do in London or New York – not to mention the humming and hawing over what to wear. Then the day will come and you might shave your legs, probably suffer a ‘I have nothing to wear’ breakdown and most definitely, at some point, decide it would just be easier to stay in. But you go, because you’ve made a promise, and who knows when such a chance will present itself again.
OK. Having read the above you’ve guessed I don’t get out that often. But I’m in that parent-to-small-children demographic that makes it pretty tricky right now. In order to stay sane, my demographic meets up with two representatives of another demographic (smart, fun-loving females) most weeks to shoot the breeze, drink tea* and have a laugh. Living, as we do, in the Burren, our meet-ups are like a support group for the marooned and it’s a nourishing, fun and life-preserving activity – particularly in the Winter, when we decided we needed to go buck mad and have a night out in the Summer – a night ‘out out’ – in Galway.
Queue the Galway International Arts Festival and advance ticket-buying which sealed our commitment. We were on the road for 4.30pm allowing us a bite and a cocktail, if you don’t mind, before going to see one of the Festival’s centre-pieces Woyzeck in Winter in the Black Box. It was a gut-wrenching, physical, slap-you-in-the-face piece of tragic, operatic theatre that enraptured me, impressed the second and slightly flew over the head of the third. With an amazing set, the music of Schubert and a truly stellar cast, our need for some high-brow culture was most definitely more than met.
Now, it was time to take ourselves to the Rowing Club for some Sing Along Power Ballads.
If you’ve ever been, you’ll get this immediately. Whenever two or more are gathered in the holy place that is a karaoke booth, you will all share that moment of; ‘Oh, I’m happy to watch, sure I can’t sing – I’ll let ye off, I’m just here to have the craic’. Oh no, no. It doesn’t work that way. No sooner has the first bar of the first song been uploaded than people are grappling for the two supplied microphones, standing on the sofas and singing like their lives depended on it until BAM, the hour has passed in what feels like a 5-minute flash and you’re left hungry for more. People like a sing-song. And I’m not talking about the kind where everyone has to ‘shush’ because Patsy has decided to sing Black is the Colour at the end of the night (yawn). I’m talking about the kind of sing song where you’re on your feet to Miss American Pie or What’s New Pussy Cat? and, although you’re baffled as to how you know all the words, it’s making you so happy that you just might explode. It is ridiculously heart-soaring to sing at the top of your voice, in a group – it is the essence of exultation, of joy, of rejoice.
In the rowing club, Limestoned-Anonymous did our adopted home proud. Like everyone else, we meekly entered the venue’s ballroom (FYI, it’s out the back – no-one would like to admit they go to Sing Alongs – it’s fun, not cool), shyly taking a lyrics pamphlet and sipping on a beverage to calm the nerves. A girl across the table from us joked that she had come there hoping to meet a nice man – we all laughed (a second FYI, these events are teeming with women, a no-brainer when you think about it). However, much like the karaoke booth scenario, by the second verse of Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a Place On Earth, everyone was on their feet, KILLING it – baby I was afraid before, but I’m not afraid anymore…
The sing-along brought us full-circle. From Love Is A Battlefield to a Total Eclipse of the Heart – from being All By Myself to the more upbeat Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now. We got thrown on the floor by Whitney’s I have nothing, nothing, NOOOthing… if I don’t have you and lifted back up by Bryan Adams’ I’ll be there for you, I’ll walk the wire for you, I will die-for-yoooou… We went through key-changes and fist-clenches and even took on Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights (God help the neighbours) with gusto. I personally could have bawled as I truly, really soaked in the lyrics of Jennifer Rush’s Power of Love (LORD that song’s got soul) and having rocked Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer (why is that song not somewhere on the Leaving Cert syllabus?) who couldn’t but feel that they were truly living and being in that moment?
And a bag of chips to share afterwards…
It was a night that had it all – high brow to low brow and everything in-between.
As we shared a spin home and our internet connections began to dim in the Burren hills beyond Kinvara, we were buzzing, renewed, topped up. Cyndi really got it spot on (everybody now) – Girls just wanna have fu-un, oh-oh girls just wanna ha-ave fuuuuuuun...
The Galway International Arts Festival runs until July 30th – www.giaf.ie
Click Here to check out this fantastic impromptu Tube Station sing along, London Style
*By ‘tea’ I mean gin.