Celebrity bubble shoot!

Day starts early with breakfast on set at 7.30 and because it’s a fashion shoot, breakfast is sublime. Fashion shoots have a different air about them than film sets or tv commercials.. can’t quite put my finger on it.. there’s definitely a hierarchy around here. You can’t just go up to the director and say your ideas. You need to have it passed up through the ranks, at least until I’m on set and dealing with the director in person, which means a lot of ideas get canned because people don’t want to trouble them unless it’s super-super crucial.

I’m sitting in a white white room, without corners – literally, there’s no corners in this space and it’s the size of about 3 houses. There’s something beautiful and strange about giant corner-less white rooms – you can walk and walk and walk, and the first time you realize you’ve got to the edge is when your feet start curling upwards and you hit the wall. I’m reminded of the scene in the Woody Allen film “Everything you wanted to know about sex but were too afraid to ask” when he’s a sperm waiting for his mission..

 

I make it my mission to find out how I got this job, who recommended me and how they found out about me. All I got told in the beginning was that it was a tv commercian involving some a list globally famous actress and bubbles. Turns out I was hired through the guy who works on the Art Department – originally met at a private bubble bbq gig about 8 years ago for Fox. It was a fun gig - I remember it well. I’ve even still got the pictures:

They were a good bunch and up for the bubbles. Incredible really that here I am 8 years on! Must’ve made an impression I guess…

 

The Art Department guys are cool but financially and creatively, it’s the best for me when I’m hired by the Production team themselves, or even better the end client themselves. So, I keep myself in check and follow direction to the tee.

 

Day#1 is a ‘pre-light’ day, when we test the lighting and make any adjustments to how the equipment looks. My ‘hero’ wand looks good (it’s actually made of gold!) but is NOT good for making bubbles – in tests, I can only make 1 or 2 bubbles with it. So I do what I can with an old squeezey washing up bottle and some double sided sticky tape and repeat the test... 10 bubbles! When I bring it on set, there is an audible gasp (I love this sound on set – it means I’ve done my job and the people who hired me realize it was worth spending the money on bringing in a bubble specialist!).

 

As a result however, when day#2 (the big day) comes around, expectations are high. They start with me making tubes and even though we’re getting the same size as yesterday, they’re less impressed. The atmosphere is built around getting ‘the’ shot, so it’s stressful on set too. Bubbles tend to get nervous on set, so it takes me a while to calm them down and with a bit of extra bubble tweaking, they’re performing even better than yesterday. We run some test shots with a ‘stand-in’ before the ‘famous person’ comes in. She’s really nice and tells me about making bubbles with her daughter. She’s excited to meet me and already is hatching plans about her kid's next birthday party!

 

The bubbles section is only one of 3 short commercials they’re shooting today for the same client so we have to be over by lunch time to keep to schedule. It’s going ok, as I try to get the best results for them. After a few hours of trying to get a compilation of good shots that they can edit down, they shift the lighting and settle in for the final ‘hero’ bubble shot. Things go well, really well, and we have it in the can in 5 minutes flat! The whole team are giving these huge orgasmic gasps now and we wrap with enough time for them to start on the next job before lunch! I know I’ve done a good job.. good enough to stick around to chat with ‘famous person’ and also grab some delicious lunch

Who is it? Aw, come on, you know better than that! You’ll have to wait and see! I’ll tell you what, as soon as it’s out, I’ll post up a copy and the pics that ‘famous person’ let me take with her!

 

Coming up next week – my second advert in as many weeks! And this time it’s in the US of A! So don’t touch that dial – America here I come!

 

 

Ps did I say anything incriminating?

Written by Sam Heath • January 21, 2016

Giant bubble sword - Review!

I just came across this blog post article which is a review of our best selling toy - the Giant Bubble Sword! 

It's been one of our favourites since we began as it's really the first time that there's a toy out there which anyone can use to make giant bubbles. 

I think it's time i made an instructional video on what tricks you can do with them, but for now, i thought you might like to read this! 

http://www.bubbleinc.co.uk/products/giant-bubble-sword

Sroll down towards the bottom of the page for the review link

Let us know what you think!

Happy bubbling!

Samsam Bubbleman

Written by Sam Heath • January 07, 2016

#DreamworksHOME bubblicity job - day 1

Phew! What a day!

Started at 5am when i got up for the first part of my job for Dreamworks  - a Guinness World Record attempt at the World's Biggest Bubble!

The record currently stands at 20.65 cubic meters and is held by American Megan Colby Parker - an awesome record and one that's hard to beat! My hat off to you Megan.

A job like this takes a combination of several factors all coming together at the same time to allow a bubble big enough - humidity, wind-speed and direction, equipment, juice, inner bubble... plus there's a whole lot of work behind the scenes getting a measurement of the bubble and getting that verified for Guinness is a serious feat in itself! Amongst other things, they need a measurement to be calculated and affirmed by a Chartered Surveyor/ an expert in measurements... not easy people to convince to come to a park in North London at 5.45 am before their very serious day jobs. Thankfully i signed this part of the job over to the PR company dealing with the stunt, but they struggled with some aspects of it at which point i had to get involved and together we've managed to put together the team. None-the-less, it has been a mission just getting to this point and a lot more work involved than you might think.

So the first attempt went well - i'm not sure if we broke the record yet - have to wait for the final calculations which should come at some point later today - but i just heard it's close! We have to beat it by a full 2 cubic meters to be in with a chance. Regardless, we'll be having another go at it tomorrow morning when i hope we'll get better conditions. Fingers crossed!

Following the attempt, which went on till 8.30, there was a short break for breakfast at the local lovely Downhills Park Cafe, then back home to re-equip and straight out to a photo/video-shoot session in Alexandra  Palace from 11 - 13.30. They are expecting the story to be covered by various news channels here in the UK so they want some story/extra footage to put together a short film about it  all that the news people can use.

Then it was off to the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square to do a recce and have a meeting regarding the next part of this activity - the premiere of the film "Home" which i will be performing at on saturday.

Now 4pm, just got back home and need to re-prep for tomorrows second attempt!

And get some sleep i hope....

Happy bubbling!

 

Written by Sam Heath • March 11, 2015

Guinness World Record attempt - WORLD'S BIGGEST BUBBLE! - day 3 and 4

Day 3

Location – Café green

Wind speed – 14mph and increasing. Southerly.

Humidity – 72%

Cloud cover partial

 

There’s a lot of wind about at the moment. I don’t know why, but it’s a really windy week! It’s hampering my efforts to be sure. When the wind is like this it’s all I can do to get a few bubbles off the ground in quiet moments between the gusts, when what I really need is a nice still constant wind of about 4 or 5 mph.

It doesn’t give me much satisfaction but on the positive side, I’m thinking if I can get used to this now, when it comes to the record attempt itself, life should be a lot easier! Like practising tennis with a really heavy racket, or the piano, with weights around your wrists.

What is actually happening with the wind is that it is constantly changing direction and speed, so sometimes it’ll be still, and I’ll bring up the poles to full height. I’ll open them up only to be hit with a gust that causes my film to shatter like glass. Other times, I’ll open it up and the wind will suddenly be coming towards me, causing me to try and get out of the way of the bubble. This way is never going to get a giant.

 

My focus is on the strings as they come up and up and up for what almost seems like forever out of the bucket. It’s like snake charming an anaconda. The tips of the poles need to be together so that the strings remain closed and aren’t blown apart by a sudden gust before I’ve even got them out the bucket.

 

A lot of excess juice comes off the strings, especially when I open them up a little, and I’m conscious that I try to keep this in the bucket, rather than on the grass. But sometimes, I throw caution to the wind and bring the strings up quickly, which sometimes get’s reasonable results.

 

This is one of the funny things about making bubbles. You never know when they’re going to pop. Sometimes I practise ‘tubes’ which is where you just keep the strings open and see how long the film will stretch. So I don’t try to close/complete the bubble (which I WILL have to do for the record, but it’s a good test of the strength of the juice). Sometimes this tube will go on and on, and yet another moment in similar feeling conditions, it barely gets a few feet away before exploding.

Why?

It’s like there could be a particularly pesky cloud pixie out there with some kind of vibration gun. I imagine that the bubbles which do go to full length (or the occasional large sphere which completes, are the ones in between the cloud pixie’s shots, when his attention has been diverted by a kid with a kite.

 

I pick up my standard set of sticks, without extendable poles that I used for the last time I made a giant bubble for a project. They seem so small! Suddenly I realise I am well into getting used to this new size, but also that the bubble I made that time was a real monster, considering the dimensions of the strings I was using at the time.

 

I’m not getting that big now with these bigger strings, so know I’m really going to need a breakthrough before I can break the new record of 20.65 meters.

 

Day 4

Wind 14mph increasing over the day – Westerly.

Humidity 72%

Partial cloud cover

Location – Café green

 

Setting out early and alone, it was quiet in the park this morning. An occaisional jogger. A leaf rolls around, playing with the squirrels. And a few dogs, walking their people.

I realise and remember that my personal calmness is crucial when making big bubbles. You have to stay relaxed and remember to take lots of deep breaths. Yoga would be a good idea. Meditation even. I always find that breathing helps.

 

My arms ache.

 

I focus again on the strings, and this time, notice something new – my strings are twisting at the bottom. Not massively, but there tends to be several twists in my cords which only unravel as I pull the strings apart. This concerns me because it puts stress on the bubble and flings juice off as they come apart. Does it affect the bubble? Well, maybe not as the bottom is probably the least of my worries in terms of bubble wall thickness – all the juice drips down there. But it makes it hectic, and I long for calmness.

I consider cutting the strings and trying to unravel them, but decide to go ahead with the session and do this at home.

I’m glad I do – once I get over this, I notice for the first time that I’m beginning to free myself up with this. I’m moving my feet and enjoying the bubbles a bit more, and it seems to me like the bubbles know this and are rewarding me by doing what they want a bit more! I follow down this road a bit more and attempt a few tricks – splitting the bubble with the strings, encasing a smaller bubble in a bigger one.

 A lady passes by and kindly takes a picture for me. It's not much, but it's the first i've got of me attempting this - i always seem to be on the other side of the bubble where photo's are concerned.

 

I think Reuben's bubble on saturday was better!

It’s a nice morning and I use a full batch. I am making my juice each day, though sometimes like today I’ve come back from the test and have already made tomorrows juice. And the next day’s. Sometimes the juice ages well, and so I figure it might throw up some new improvement in results.

Time will tell.

 

Looks like the wind is going to start to drop tomorrow (Tuesday) and improve as the week goes on.

Written by Sam Heath • March 03, 2015

Guinness World Record attempt - WORLD'S BIGGEST BUBBLE! - day 1 & 2

Training day 1 – Friday 27th February am

 

There’s many sides to this record – Firstly, there’s the equipment, needs to be made and as the record currently stands at 20.65 meters cubed (which is a very big bubble!), I’ll need to have extra long poles, just to keep the extra long strings from hitting the floor! The poles I’ll be using are 3 meters tall, and once they’ve got wet strings hanging off the end, are pretty heavy. Not heavy like you can’t pick them up, but heavy like once you’ve been holding them up in the air for more than 5 minutes, you really start to notice the muscle ache.

The muscles down the centre of the forearm are the first to feel it, followed by the muscles in the shoulder/neck area, and across the shoulder-blades.

So there’s a physical side to this which requires exercise and training.

Not to mention that equipment of this size doesn’t handle easily and needs to be gotten used to. It’s awkward. They’re long. Just getting the strings back in the bucket takes time and focus.

 

Then there’s the juice – it’s got to be ‘A’ grade, fresh and fruity.

The conditions on the day – the humidity, wind speed, cloud cover and temperature all play a part.

Location too.

 

And all this before you even think about how you’re going to measure a large moving translucent irregular object. The Guinness stipulations are considerably extraenuous and if you don’t get it just right, they’ll disallow your record.

 

Upon applying for a record attempt through the GWR website they send through the list of rules and regs, plus a list of evidence they need to approve it. I thought that they would be happy to allow the same method for this as when I successfully attempted the indoor version, but the stipulations state that it has to be measured by a qualified surveyor.

To me, a surveyor is someone who charges a significant amount of money to come and look at a house and not tell you much.

So I’m now on the phone to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors to see if they can help!

…. Sometimes my job leads me into situations talking to people I would never have considered might be involved in bubbles... you should have heard the receptionists reactions when i told them what i needed! Kinda wish i'd recorded them actually. I then sent them this picture to give them an idea of what i needed:

I got one message back saying:

"Unfortunately we have limited experience in this area of work and therefore would not be able to assist you on this occasion. We would like to thank you for your enquiry and wish you good luck with your world record attempt.

but another, from Vicki, looks hopeful!

"Thanks for this!! That's wicked!! I have forwarded to my director and asked if he is available next week to measure up for you?.."

 

 

Day 2

Wind speed 12mph and gusting. Southerly.

Temperature 8 degrees

Humidity 70%

Saturday morning and I figure I can easily kill two birds with one stone here – best weather conditions are in the morning generally as it tends to be less windy and the humidity is often higher, so I get up early with the kids and let Roanne have a lie in. Brownie points...

I give them breakfast and sort out my equipment, whilst telling them I’m off to the park to do my practise, and would they like to come with? Reuben was up for it, so I grabbed a smaller set of sticks and a sword so he could join in.

The wind speed according to BBC weather is at around 12mph (Southerly), getting windier as the day goes on. This is a bit too windy for me, but I was hopeful that even if it was too windy, I could at least start getting used to the equipment. Full cloud cover, but no rain predicted. Humidity at 70% which is pretty good. My main issue would be the wind.

We wandered up to Downhill’s park (my local) with the aim of doing a bit of a location recce. Downhills park used to be the gardens for a big manor house, back when Tottenham was a very well-to-do area. The Manor has gone, but there’s little tell tale bits of rocks and wall’s, and I suspect grandchildren of trees dotted around. There’s a surprising amount of history in Tottenham: It was a big Quaker area back in the 1800’s.

 

Location 1 – the green outside Downhills Park Café.

This is a good location – it’s big enough that no tree or telephone wires etc are going to pop my bubble and has a selection of spaces to give some protection from the wind. Another good point is that being near to the café, they are taking a very active interest in what I’m doing and tweeting about my efforts. Plus they give me free tea!

The bad point is that this is where most people congregate, increasing my chances of small people/dogs popping the bubble. But, I’m glad to say that people respected my attempts and wholeheartedly were behind me, with plenty of interest/encouragement.

We got reasonable results for the conditions, especially Reuben who by far and away made the biggest bubble he’s ever made! I wonder if he’ll follow in my footsteps…

 

Location 2 – a car park at the edge of the park. I figured this seemed very sheltered but actually the wind is so squally that it keeps changing direction and speed and so unpredictable that I couldn’t really get anything off the ground. It was interesting to explore the area around this though where I discovered there is an abandoned part of Downhills school, occupied for security only. Interesting space… I could imagine it being a great place to have the Bubble HQ!

 

Location 3 – The Rose Garden.

What with the Southerly wind, this was not good for bubbles – the wind blew straight up the path and whilst it’s the prettiest locaton, not good for bubbles

 

Location 4 – the entrance walk into Lordship Rec

We’re lucky enough to have several parks in walking distance, and this one backs onto Downhills Park. Again, like the Rose Garden, it was a bit of a wind tunnel. But there was a very good sheltered spot behind a fallen tree where we spent the remaining time/juice practising, much to the delight of the locals.

Juice all used up, we wandered back to the cafe to meet up with Roanne and Jasmine and treat ourselves to chocolate croissants.

Written by Sam Heath • March 03, 2015

Christmas Dates

Hi there bubble fans!

 

I'm sure you're all getting super excited for Christmas and thinking about what bubbly gifts would be perfect for your loved ones...

the last date for guaranteed delivery is Friday 19th December 2014 so make sure you get your orders in before then!

 

Our office will be closed from the evening of the 22nd of December 2014 until Monday 5th January 2015.

 

We hope you have a bubbletastic run up to Christmas!

Sam Sam Bubble Man & the Bubble Inc team

Written by Sam Heath • December 01, 2014

"Dragons in bubbles" or "Thursday 25th September 2014. Part 1"

THURSDAY 25th September 2014

 

A few weeks ago I got confirmation on a gig for a big qwertyioup company. Might as well get it over and done with from the start (sigh): i had to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement so you’ll have to put up with me being careful about what I say, nay, give away.

It’s one of those where you probably won’t have heard of the company, but without question have many of their products in your home.

They wanted to use bubbles to illustrate how it worked in their presentation to a massive supermarket chain (you will have heard of this one) in full Dragons Den style. At least I'll be fully prepared and rehearsed when I do go into the Dragon's Den for real!

 

The long and short of it would be a minute and a half gig (my shortest yet!) in Leeds,. Working out my hourly rate based on this, you’d think I was a millionaire. Unfortunately it doesn’t actually quite work out like that. Aside from the crucial minute and a half on the day, there was a rehearsal day a couple of weeks ago at the venue, and many hours figuring out the best equipment and solutions to create the effect that they wanted.

 

So two weeks ago I got my suggested equipment together and took the fast train up to Leeds. I like the train. I can sit and look out the window and wonder how many fields there are in the whole of the UK (Anyone know the answer? … I did find out there’s approximately 300,000 farms, with an average size of 57 hectares, except Scotland where they’re twice as big. I guess if you could find out the size of the average field, you could work out how many fields there are…. Answers on a postcard please).

 

Where was i? oh yes…I got up to Leeds and headed to the venue. This turned out to be a gallery and incredibly, had an exhibition on festival folk! Lo and behold, there was a great pic of none other than my good friend, Rosa Bloom in some of her fantastically glamourous and sparkly outfits (check it out at http://www.rosabloom.com/)

I unpacked my equipment and discovered in my exhausted state, I’d forgotten to pack the scabbards for my bubble swords. doh! Btw you can get our very own fantastic bubble swords at http://www.bubbleinc.co.uk/products/giant-bubble-sword (shameless plug? Maybe but check out this new family review just out! http://madhousefamilyreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/were-forever-blowing-bubbles.html)

Anyway, I guess I got away with it because the client went ahead with the plan which seemed to be largely about blowing bubbles in a bubble. This is something I’ve held 2 Guinness World Records in, and consider it a bit of a speciality. I left Leeds feeling confident and thankful it was only the rehearsal.

I waited for a week for confirmation of their vision before I got to work on rehearsing. Emails and phone calls went back and forth over the remaining days with increasing fervour.

When their vision eventually came through, it was a bit more complex than they’d originally suggested. Now they wanted me to make a cluster of 3 equally sized bubbles within a large bubble, hold on to the whole structure with a large wand and then ‘volcano’ it by popping the bit of the soap-film within the wand so that the big bubble deflates and the cluster shwoops out the top.

Got that?..

I set to work, trying different wands, different solutions different dilutions.

3, 4, 5 days of practising later and only 3 days before the event itself, I realised this gig needed a different approach.

I‘d got it figured and could make it work (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UfBHlk-UYA&list=UUlgBFNz8kYXXq-oIK7WYNxg) but at best, with only 50% accuracy. Bubbles are unpredictable, slippery little buggers and there was just too many things that could go wrong: the cluster in the middle could hit the side of the big bubble and join with the wall, making them un-volcano-able. The cluster could drop off the wand and fall right through the bottom of the big bubble onto the floor below. And more… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEENP2gENlU&list=UUlgBFNz8kYXXq-oIK7WYNxg

I needed a different approach. I needed something which was fool-proof and I could do with my eyes closed and also something I just loop so that it could go on for the full 90 seconds and if anything went wrong, I could fix it.

That was it… the no.1 most important part of this gig. There was ONE chance to get it right and that’s IT! Bit like doing live tv – I hate doing live tv with bubbles – they have a rebellious spirit (that’s what I blame mine on) and don’t work well under pressure. Much better to be calm and take a deep relaxed breath as I go in confidently to do what I do best.

I made videos. Lots of them. What can work, what can’t work and why, plus the original idea working. I sent them over to the client and waited for a response.

None was forthcoming. I kept on rehearsing and worked out a 90 second segment that I was happy with.

 

The day came. Actually the day before came. They wanted to meet with me in the evening and run through a last rehearsal. I got on the train and tried to count the fields, secure in the knowledge that my swords, scabbards and all my other equipment was definitely with me this time.

 

Tensions were high – I want to do a good job, and there’s a lot riding on it. One chance… I learnt that this day was filled with pitches – the big supermarket set it up that way, so they have the best 40 products which they are considering taking on, and get the companies to pitch their ideas. There’d be a lot of competition on the day and it was crucial that it all go swimmingly.

 

The rehearsal, I’m glad to say, went sweet. They’d watched my videos and highlighted something I was doing that they asked me to loop. Make 1 large bubble, turn it into a cluster of three and then blow it apart. I had a suggestion to make it better, by umbrellacizing it. If you don’t know what this is, check out the video on my website’s homepage (www.bubbleinc.co.uk). I showed them, they loved it.

There was still a couple of things that could go wrong on the day, so I did my best to minimise the issues (secrets of the trade!). Then it was just a case of putting the dragons in a bubble and we were home free.

 

We met the following morning at their office which just happened to be round the corner from the ‘Den.’ Bright and sparky,… except all the alarms in my hotel went off at 4am and the entire hotel had to be evacuated onto the street till a couple of big red fire engines turned up. Our time slot was 10am, and we had an arrival time at the venue of 9.30

 

I changed into my outfit, deliberated over wearing my Blue Peter badge (I did) , and tooled myself up.

 

At our designated time, we wandered over to the venue. People dressed in pseudo science outfits and cups of soup were ahead of us, looking angsty and like none of us had had enough sleep. Maybe they were staying in my hotel?

 

We kept our cool as we moved up through the queue. The company was confident about their pitch, and confident in me. We could do this. One take.

 

Final preparations done, bladders emptied, the door opened and we were ushered in.

As we’d known, there was a full tv crew filming the whole thing and the empty white room we’d once rehearsed in was now an unrecognizeable film set with 4 dragons in their antique leather armchairs, several project managers from the supermarket, plus a tv crew of another 7 or 8 people. Including 3 camera-men/women, producer, the director, the gaffer(?) and of course, someone holding a long pole with a furry ferret on the end J

 

And now our team of 6 to add into the equation. We strolled in. Swift set up. Began. 10 minutes to nail the whole thing and within that I had 90 seconds to complete my tricks, and put the dragons in a bubble.

It all flew by so fast, there was no choice but to swim with it. The moment I really remember is when the first dragon said they liked the presentation, loved the theatre (me!), and most importantly they were IN! The other 3 Dragons followed suit!

 

Hook line and sinker. We got it! A quick pack down to allow the next angst-ridden looking team to come in, and we were all done. All that was left was to congratulate eachother outside, ignore the fact that I’m a corporate tart, feel exuberant on a job well done, and then miss my train home.

 

Home I hear you say? Oh no, I wasn’t going home.

But that will have to wait till “Thursday 25th September 2014. Part 2”

Coming soon to the Bubble Inc website near you!

Hope you enjoyed the blog – do feel free to share it et al and keep spreading the bubble!

 

[later] On reading your posts on my FB update, I realise there’s a few of you who mistakenly thought it was the tv version of Dragons Den. Sorry! That was never my intention!

Believe me, when THAT happens, you’ll know about it..

 

Happy bubbling!

 

Samsam Bubbleman

 

Written by Sam Heath • September 25, 2014

Blogger Cheryl Pasquier full review of our products!

We tried a little experiment recently and sent Cheryl Pasquier some of our products!

Read all about how she and her family found their inner bubble!

 

https://www.facebook.com/samsambubbleman/posts/10152675897345295?notif_t=like

Written by Sam Heath • September 22, 2014

First Bubbleshows in Saudi Arabia

First shows are always a bit hap-hazard, and without an actual rehearsal, you have to expect the unexpected!

 

We began the show yesterday with suspiciously low volume – I had been warned that this might be the case due to potential intervention of the religious police aka Haia, or as I now understand they are less colloquially known as The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (see previous blog post).

 

I would like to make it clear that I have complete respect for the people’s and culture of Saudi Arabia, and as a visitor here, I’m fascinated by the differences in social and religious practices from the UK.

 

Anyway, as I said, my first show had very low volume, so I couldn’t hear it on stage, - I take my cue’s from the music, so it made it a bit tricky. Added to that, there were a couple of technical issues and the show was cut short because of the upcoming call to prayer.

 

I was also kinda surprised that the audience was partitioned for men and women, and that the audience were being held some 5 meters back from the stage. I bought it up with the organisers that some children should be let into this area so as to be involved in my show - They were worried that the kids would get too excited and be unmanageable, and indeed, there did appear to be some element of this when my show was bought to an early close!

 

So my show was stopped after the first two sections which seemed a shame. I am happy to honour my clients wishes, and I’m new to this country, so despite my temptation to carry on my show just a little bit longer, I did curtail myself and took my bow.

Considering what seemed to me to be a somewhat ramshackle of a first show, I was completely surprised by the kids reaction at the end – a mass of cheers, enthusiasm and photos, hand shaking and greets which lasted longer than the show!

When I eventually pulled back and took myself to the back of stage, I requested something to drink but by now it was prayer time, and all the shops shut during the 5 prayers of the day.

I also heard during this time that the organisers had received word that the Haia had arrived and hence the decision to cut my show short – they don’t want to risk any cause for the Haia to see fit to get intervene.

During my break, I was lucky enough to meet the 2 members of the Haia, who were joined by a very friendly looking policeman holding religious beads. “No music” said the wonderfully rotund and gold caped man.

 

And so it was decided. What could I do? I grabbed a pen and paper and tried to think how I could perform to a non-English speaking audience without music, but no time - I was suddenly being called to stage and had to just jump in at the deep end and do my best! I tried to minimise talking, and maximise the bubbles and was happy with what I’d put together ‘on the hoof.’ As were the audience it seemed, but I was left feeling a bit bemused by the whole experience! It also left me wondering why I was booked to perform here? Apparently in the other cities like Jeddah, they aren’t so strict but here in Riyadh, any music accompanying live performances is basically not allowed. MTV get’s through, but if you’re hoping to see live music here, you might be disappointed… unless you enjoy traditional Islamic music.

 

At the end though, it was suggested that for the next day’s performances I play my music on my ipod with headphones so there could be no risk of anyone being insulted in my show, and I can perform as usual

Again, the idea of this leaves me feeling a bit bemused, but I am more than happy to give it a go- maybe it’ll work? I’ll try it in the first show, and then we’ll take it from there.

 

I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

Happy bubbling!

Samsam

X

Written by Sam Heath • June 07, 2014

Adventures in Saudi Arabia - 2

Adventures in Saudi Arabia – Haia

 

En route to a meeting with the client yesterday, I was talking to the organiser about the other events his company works on and he told me about the time that Stomp came to Saudi Arabia recently.

 

You may know that even by Middle Eastern standards, Saudi Arabia is known to be on the strict side. Locals here go to Dubai if they want something to do. There’s just not much entertainment here.

 

To hold an event here, requires Government permission – entertainment to adults is fairly strictly controlled, and kept to a bit of a minimum. It’s ok to entertain children within reason, but there’s no cinemas, no theme parks, none of the indoor ski-slopes and ice rinks you’d find in Dubai. Of course it’s also a ‘dry’ country and alcohol/bars are not allowed in any circumstances. You can’t bring in duty free. You can’t bring in valium.

 

This is upheld by the religious police, known as ‘Haia’. They dress in typical local clothes (long white Jelobia with headgear) and venues have to be very conscious of the fact that they could turn up and close down your show. As they did with Stomp. After the first day, it was decided they were too loud and what they were doing constituted too much entertainment and they were shut down.

 

So this is my challenge of the day – I have my first shows this evening at 7.45, 8.30 and 10.15. They’re supposed to contain a fair bit of loud music, and I generally consider my job is to get the kids screaming and making as much noise as possible.

 

Wish me luck!

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Written by Sam Heath • June 06, 2014