I'm here performing for an event which turns out to be a pr event/ swanky trade fair for some well financed small businesses. Young Kuwaiti individuals/companies from wealthy family backgrounds
with a vision of what they'd like to do with their life/business and the financial backing to promote it (and probably keep it afloat for some millenia!). The
organisers have built a custom made area from scratch (it was a desert
before!) with booths to show off their talents, and sell to the public
too. The area they've built is quite impressive with stages, a fake lake
(with fake boat!), young trendy food, and some large dome tents to
There are some local musicians, and Epico (Jamie and Michael, the dragon guys), along with some sand sculptors who have built several incredible structures and carved into them beautifully over the last 3 weeks. Tall twirling towers representing the Royal Palace,... the Middle Eastern equivalent of igloos, made complete with a couple of 'statue' performers... and a jeep rolling over desert dunes all made from compacted sand. I thought i had a great job till i met these professional sand castl-ers! Incidentally, they were telling me that their brief included a polite request that they do not make any representation of human images, because to make any such art with human faces without a beating heart here in Kuwait is considered against the wishes of Allah.
One of the great things about travelling is finding out these kind of cultural differences, and life is all the richer for it! Even at Heathrow, the Kuwaiti cultural fingers reached over the Oceans all the way to the duty free counter in Terminal 5 where i was informed that no alcohol is permitted in Kuwait whatsoever - it's completely banned.
i heard the best one yet speaking with Samir, a student volunteering on the event - He was telling me about his studies at school. Along with science and economics, one of
his subjects is "Democracy." I've never heard of Democracy
as a subject before although the thought of it's quite exciting...my mind Iimmediately started buzzing with how they might explore the subject... through open mindedness,... looking at the different nations of the world, and highlighting specific examples of when democracy has shone through...This all came crashing to the ground like a blimp when he innocently informed me the subject was complusory for all : )
There's other reasons I love travelling with my job - bringing bubbles to the 6 corners of the world is always exciting, and makes me feel proud to have achieved what i've achieved. Added to that, i'm always put up in fancy hotels, have an expenses account, and an artist liason to help with whatever i might need during my stay.
Unfortunately, this is not the case here and they've made a bit of a mess of it for me so far. They failed to come and pick me up from the airport for some hours (not
a good start) and once i arrived, it was clear to me that they hadn't read
my rider, and none of the things i requested had been put in place.
Some of the things on my rider are essentials such as supplying
distilled water for my bubble solution, carpet on the stage (to avoid
slip hazards) etc. They hadn't even organised me a hotel room! I
eventually got a room at about 11.30 last night.
To be honest, none of this has ever happened before in a gig situation. I've gotten quite used to being treated a whole lot better than this, and it doesn't warm me to my 'host.' Still, at least i'm only here for 3 days - i'll do my job and be done.
Although, this brings me to the other side of my current position - my job is made harder by the fact it's an outdoor event. This wasn't made clear to me when they booked it. The conditions in the UAE meteorlogically, are not prime for making the world's best bubbles! The temperature can be very high, humidity can be low, and the dust pops the bubbles (= bubble death!). Thankfully, if you're going to perform at any time of year in Kuwait with bubbles, this is the time to do it. It's almost chilly in the evenings, and humidity is resting currently around 30-40%... not ideal by any stretch of the imagination, but workable. I even felt a few drops of rain yesterday!
So little was in place last night that the host said for me not to start till tomorrow so no bubbles yet. I hope the Bubble Gods will be smiling on me today and bring me good weather (and an artist liason!). Wish me luck!