melodies and serendipity

Music is a form of magic. It unites strangers. It can stir up your soul. It is the ultimate story teller. It matches your emotions and can make your mood swing from one end of the spectrum to the other. It is a universal language. It is powerful.

Dublin has a wonderful music scene. No matter what days you have available to go out, you’ll never have to worry about catching some live music because guaranteed there will be multiple places with live music to choose from every night of the week. You have the option of concerts, smaller gigs with new and upcoming bands, traditional Irish music and dance, or talented cover artists at local pubs.

Since I’ve been here I have experienced all of those options. I had a great time clapping along to some traditional Irish tunes at the Old Storehouse in Temple Bar, I sang along to some of my favourite songs being covered by an amazing vocalist/guitarist at Trinity Bar on Dame Street, I danced with a former of Lord of the Dance performer to some Irish jigs at The Mercantile, I experienced Bon Iver’s show in all of its glory at the O2, and I saw Matt Corby in an intimate, casual setting at Whelans Live. All of the shows ranged in price from free to 40 euros, and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them.

Taken from Bon Iver’s Twitter account, caption “Thanks Dublin, emotional.”

I experienced a phenomenal week music wise, seeing two of my favourite artists within a few days. I had the privilege of seeing Bon Iver twice this year, and I got the best of both worlds because I saw them in an outdoor venue in Burnaby on a beautiful clear summer evening and then again in Dublin in an indoor auditorium. They opened with the first track of their album, “Perth,” and then went in order of their album for the first few songs. They sounded incredible and I swear I could feel their music in every part of my being. The best thing about the indoor venue was that I got to experience the magic the set crew put into the performance. The lights accompanied the music, emphasizing moments and aiding in creating the appropriate atmosphere. It was their last show of the tour so it was very emotional for them, which translated into their flawless performance. They did a double encore because they “weren’t ready to stop playing music” and then lined up at the end to take a bow in front of a standing ovation. It was also announced that at this time there are no plans for Bon Iver to make more music together. One can only hope they’ll make another album.

I can’t help but wonder how it feels to have your music, a product that you have dreamed up and pieced together, affect people by the hundreds, thousands, millions. So many people have an emotional tie to their music and that must be a surreal feeling. Whether a song evokes happiness, anger, or nostalgia, I think it’s all positive and cathartic.

Matt Corby, several feet away from me. Halleluiah!

Two nights later, Matt Corby, one of my favourite Australian artists, was playing at Whelans Live (I highly recommend buying his EP “Into The Flame” on iTunes. You can thank me for the recommendation later). I discovered he was playing in Dublin about two and a half weeks prior, but it was already sold out. I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I didn’t try to see Matt Corby when he was playing at my local bar, so I was absolutely determined to get into that show. I scoured Gumtree, eBay, and Facebook ads in hopes of finding a ticket. Nothing. I posted an ad on Gumtree saying I’d pay over face value for a ticket. Again, nothing (well that’s a lie. I did get one guy emailing me two hours before the show asking if I wanted I ticket. I responded twice, with great enthusiasm, and then eventually he wrote back saying he gave his ticket to his friend — for free. Awesome.) And then, Whelans posted at the last minute on Facebook that an extra 15 tickets were being sold. Here was my big chance! I got butterflies in my stomach from nervous anticipation, grabbed my phone, and got some guy named Richie on the line. Richie told me there was one ticket left, and a wave of excitement and relief washed over me. Then, the line went dead. I ran out of credit and had to call O2 to top it up which took about five minutes, and then when I called back the last ticket was gone. I was devastated.

My determination didn’t allow me to lose hope, though. I went to Whelans several nights before the show and asked everyone I talked to for advice on how to get in. Whelans is a big venue, with three different areas set up for gigs. The most common advice was to just show up early, grab a drink in the main bar, and hope you can either buy a ticket off of someone or be let in at the last minute. So, after Richie let me down, I quickly got ready, hit up the ATM, and booted it over to Whelans.

ser·en·dip·i·ty/ˌserənˈdipitē/

Noun:

The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way: “a fortunate stroke of serendipity”.

There was already a queue outside, and definitely no chance of buying a ticket off of anyone. I felt discouraged, but figured I might as well stick around until the doors opened and the crowd dispersed so I could try and convince the door staff to sell me a ticket. After all, we’re talking about Matt Corby here.

Earlier that day I had been thinking about how I should talk to strangers more. Yes, I’m aware of stranger danger, but I’m talking about seizing opportunities to meet people. So, when I saw a girl journaling while drinking a glass of wine at Whelans at a table with an extra seat, I got over social boundaries and any fear of looking like a weirdo and asked her if I could sit with her. It was by far the best decision I had made all week. We ended up getting along really well and bonding over our love of music. She had been at Bon Iver’s show as well (and MET them afterwards!) and it was one of those times where we kept finding things in common with each other. Her friends joined us a little bit later and they all had tickets to the show and managed to get me in. It took a combination of sass and stealth, but ultimately the key was the serendipitous meeting of new friends.

New friends and post-gig hangs at Whelans

Everything happens for a reason. If I had gotten a ticket to Matt Corby earlier, I wouldn’t have met the amazing group of people I spent the evening with. My new friend, Laura, said that earlier that day she had actually been asking how people meet outside of work and school. The answer is to get over any fear of “bothering” people or looking strange and simply say hello and test the waters to see if there’s common ground. Ask if the seat is taken. What do you have to lose?

If I had gotten a ticket earlier, I wouldn’t have met my new friends. If I hadn’t met my new friends, I wouldn’t have gotten into the gig. Serendipity.

Matt Corby’s gig was everything I could’ve hoped for and more. His ridiculous vocals tore me to pieces. In a good way.

Music. It’s a wonderful thing, and I’m so grateful that Dublin is a hotspot for it.

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First Impression: Aqua Zumba

A week ago I left Ottawa and started my big adventure! Saying goodbye to my family is always tough, but I’m so grateful I got to spend about a month with them before I left. They’re all so important to me and I really value the time we spend together.

Robyn and I workin' it in our '80s gear
Robyn and I workin’ it in our ’80s gear

From Ottawa I went to the Okanagan Valley. After living there this past year, visiting my sister Robyn and her husband Chris felt like coming to my home away  from home. The mountains are so beautiful when they’re covered in snow. Our week was filled with good chats, great food, some movies, and a little bit of work.

The weekend was a different story. I was gearing up for a Zumba packed couple of days. On the Friday there was a Zumbathon in Vernon, which was an hour and a half class that cost $20, and the proceeds went to charity. There was a whole bunch of local instructors as well as my sister Robyn and her friend Tamara, who are both Zumba Education Specialists. I got to help lead the warm up with Robyn and Tamara, which was a really fun and cool experience. After I got over the blinding spotlight that was shining in my face, I eased into “Im’ma Be” and things got a little groovy (or gangsta. Little bit of both.)

On Saturday Robyn had a full B1 training that I helped out with, and on Sunday Tamara had an Aqua Zumba training. I got to participate in the Aqua master class, which was sweet. In one of my first blog posts ever I talked about my first encounter with Zumba and my awkward hips. Now I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with the program, so I was like “oh yeah, Aqua Zumba should be great. I love Zumba.” It was definitely a ton of fun, but so different than regular Zumba. It’s a good thing my legs were underwater because otherwise everyone would’ve seen how much I struggled with getting my feet going in the right direction. Nevertheless, it was a great workout and so much fun. The music was fantastic and the whole class was high energy. Tip: if all else fails, flail your arms and splash around.

Sunday night is when things went awry. We were all exhausted from the weekend and just stopped making sense.  After a little debate, we decided to get coffee for our ride home from Kelowna, cause let’s face it — life is just to short. However, the first time we went through the drive through we literally just drove through. We missed the speaker and there was a car behind us so we couldn’t back out, so after a quick hello wave to the counter person we looped around and finally got our coffee.

Once we got back to Armstrong I had to run into the store to pick up some sour cream. Let’s just say I was a little self conscious of my appearance. To put it lightly, I looked like a tired girl with crazy hair who had walked straight out the 80s. To make matters worse, when I came out of the store I beelined for the first truck

I saw and swung open the back door right away. Surprisingly enough, after seeing the startled driver I thought to myself “that isn’t Robyn” — it was a surprised young girl. I don’t know what’s worse: this poor girl going through the shock of some

random person opening her car door, or having to look at my appearance. Meanwhile, Robyn and Tamara were parked a good 5 or 6 car parking spots away. I blame the high intensity aqua workout.

Summer Party-2