I first heard of it at TVChix (http://www.tvchix.com/) almost a year ago when people would mention they were (or weren’t) headed for the BNO ... Big Night Out. At the time I was a long way from feeling able to head out for somewhere like that.
A couple of months ago a few tgirls at the Surrey Swans mentioned they were going and asked if I was interested. It sounded like a nice idea ... pity it’s so far from home. But there is a hotel just across the road and one Friday a month it seems that it gets fully booked with tgirls out to party.
Of course, organising such things is a kinda hit and miss affair.
“Hmmm ... who is Laura ...” my wife asks one evening. Laura is a regular at the TV Dinners and Swans. My mobile phone is slowly filling with similar names and numbers.
At the get together at the end of April things began to take shape. The hotel works out a lot more affordable if you can share a room. When I said that I reckoned that I’d be able to make it, Nikki had also decided to give it a try. I offered to try to book in at the hotel. On the way out Nikki said ... “Ohhh ... and make it twin beds!” Made me smile.
As the day approached I began to have misgivings. I’m not a natural born dancer. I have always pretty much hated discos. On the other hand ... Andrea hadn’t ever been to a disco.
Because today has been warm and sunny I’m sitting in the garden typing this and have decided I dislike laptop computer keyboards even more than I thought I did. It’s really nice though to sit in the open air in a nice blouse and a skirt. The garden is hardly overlooked at all. And I guess that by now I’ve decided that eventually, if people begin to notice my dressing preferences then both I and they have gotta learn to live with it.
So ... Friday arrives and I set off from work early. Well, actually it’s at normal end of work day, which is about 2 hours earlier than it has been for a while. Unusually no one asked about “what are you all doing this weekend” at the lunch break.
I set up the sat nav ... waited for it to acquire its satellites and was off. Hoping it would take maybe 90 minutes.
Thoughts passing through my mind as I drive along are mixed.
Why am I doing this?
It would be so much easier to just drive home.
Did I select “suitable” clothing?
I wasn’t worried about shoes much ... I took them all. And, to be honest, 4 different skirts and four blouses was more than enough to choose from.
The traffic news was good, for a Friday... unless you were driving out of London ... or into London on the M40. Thankfully I wasn’t.
I listened to some Simone White. Lovely voice, tunes and lyrics. Makes me smile and cry.
I get to the hotel and find a parking spot.
Get the suitcase ... I know ... a big suitcase for just one night is a little over the top. But what’s a girl to do?
Start walking through the car park towards the hotel reception.
Then walk back again to the car thinking things through.
In the end Nikki had booked the room. I have a reference number. But ... what is Nikki's name? What do I say at reception exactly?
Too late to worry.
At reception I stand in line.
The guy in front ... do I recognise the voice?
Well ... maybe.
I sure don’t recognise the person ... but ... it’s possible.
I step back a bit. Get my phone out. Try Nikki's number. Hoping to see the guy in front reaching for his pocket.
“You have reached the voicemail service of ...”
It tells me a number. Not a name. I know the number already.
Now I’m at the front of the line.
“Can I help you sir?”
“Yes ... thank you. I have a reservation number here.”
I show her the text message.
“What name is that for?”
“Mmm well ... a friend booked it.”
She doesn’t ask me the friend. I think she knows that I don’t know.
She checks the reference on the computer. Asks my name.
I’m feeling a lot more at ease with this than I expected.
“Sorry sir ... perhaps you can wait for your friend.”
I step back from the desk and get my phone and phone the number again.
It stops ringing!
“Hi ... Nikki? This is Andrea.”
This kind of scenario still makes me smile. Andrea and Nikki with such husky voices.
It turns out Nikki is in the room!
“It’s room 119” I say to the receptionist. She hands me a plastic electronic key and tries to sell me breakfast.
I knock at the door and Nikki opens it. And yes ... Nikki had been standing just in front of me at reception ... and had been listening to my voice when I was there checking if I sounded like Andrea.
I smile again.
It’s about 7:00 pm.
We chat a little. The journeys had been fine.
Unpacking and talking.
It’s a strange place to be at. Metaphysically I mean ... the geography is easy. Girls together. Neither of us having seen our complementary selves before.
Nikki heads for the car to collect a few things. I begin to shave.
Nikki showers. I brush teeth.
I shower, Nikki brushes teeth.
It feels less oddball than I thought it might.
Now time for the makeup. For the first time this week I think cooler weather would have been nicer. I’m not so sure how well foundation will cope with this. But I’ll know soon enough. The routine of makeup is less daunting than it used to be. But still slow.
Foundation. Max Factor applied with my fingers.
Powder. Kryolan translucent. Brushing off the excess.
Nikki wonders what’s going on as I get this out. One of my favourites of the moment is a Startgazer thing. Sparkly white. It’s in a little plastic pot and I kind of smear it on with a little felt tip shaped spatula ... the kind that is included with a lot of eye shadows that you buy ... well ... if you buy eye shadow that is. I get some onto the felt tip and smear it on the back of my hand a little so there isn’t too much loose powder. Then I start dabbing it onto my eyelids.
The voice of Nikki. “Wow ... I thought you were gonna start snorting something for a minute.”
Creases me up.
The lighting in the room by the mirror isn’t so good ... so off comes the lamp shade.
I’m reminded of scenes from “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” ... guys applying makeup at a mirror.
Darker eye shadow.
I must have blinked too soon ... big black lines across my eyelids!
Cotton wool buds to the rescue.
Now what to wear? Decisions, decisions ...
Black holdup stockings, panties and bra.
Pop in the boobs.
Short black skirt. Black shirt.
New hair ... it arrived on Thursday. But it’s too warm ... the hair will have to wait.
Earrings. Watch. Bracelet.
Nail polish in a hurry is a risky thing to do. But I can think of a lot riskier things. So on it goes. Bright red. The left hand isn’t bad. The right one is a bit of a mess.
Everything seems too fluid in the heat. Eye liner and nail polish especially.
Now I have to waft my hands around and wait for it to dry a little. Wishing I had put my shoes on before I started the nails.
After a while I reach down and try to fit a shoe without taking too many risks with the nail polish.
In moments I am wishing I hadn’t put the bracelet on yet as it grazes softly along my leg ... leaving an unfriendly kind of line along my stocking.
But ... I did bring a spare pair. I take the bracelet off.
Skirt off and I manage to get the old stocking off and a new one on without doing anything terrible to my nails.
I know ... my perspective on life at this moment is rather oddball. But little things ...
Skirt on. Shoes on. Hair. As Nikki mentions ... the hair seems to have a mind of its own at times ... rather like a small furry rodent.
But it goes on.
I’m wondering if I should revert back to my other one ... but no ... I’ll get used to it.
We meet up with Laura and Dianne in the hotel bar.
Quite a sight if you were just passing through unawares. The most number of tgirls and transsexuals I’ve ever seen in one place at one time.
We sit and chat a little. A drink.
Laura decides to change while Nikki gets a bite to eat.
So many different people. Different looks. Different styles. Different hopes and fears.
It’s almost impossible to not look at some people and wonder ... is she a tgirl ... a ggirl ... a transsexual. None of this really matters – just labels. The atmosphere is one of acceptance. Can you guess?
Time to head across the road. We take the longer route to avoid the grassy ditch.
A few girls lean out of a hotel room window and wave. A guy calls out to us. Just friendly things.
I have 4.5 inch heels on ... so I’m glad there isn’t much traffic. I’d have hated to have to try to hurry across the road.
The cameras come out and we pose in front of the sign. Laura, me and Nikki.
Laura, me and Dianne.
I discover that walking down a fairly steep hill in high heels is trickier than it looks. In the end it feels like I am trying to crisscross a piste with skis on.
Then up the stairs ... pay at the desk ... and there we are.
There are three levels. Very loud music in the basement. Loud music on the first floor. Seats upstairs.
On BNO nights, so I’m told, the upper floor is mostly populated by the transgendered community. And so it was. A few drinks and a seat. We spend a while chatting and meet a few new people. It’s interesting, in an odd kind of way, working out which is the shortest dress of the night ... which is the most see-through.
The people though are just regular kind of folks ... in an irregular kind of way.
A trip to the ladies. Then down to the first floor.
There are a few people dancing. The music is loud.
After a few minutes L nudges me and nods to my side. I look round and a young lady is standing there ... mid twenties I guess. It’s not at all easy to hear anyone speak, but we manage. She’s travelled 3 hours to get here ... a friend’s birthday and they decided to drop by. Sarah. She’d decided to have a chat with a tgirl and I happened to be there. The kind of questions that I’ve been asked a few times now. And still I don’t know all that many answers. So nice to talk with though. And very sensitive ... interested but not wanting to intrude. She also says some nice things. That she thinks I look pretty ... and that the makeup is good ... not overdone. And here she is holding the camera ...
She heads back to her friends and I go to the dance floor. Not being a natural born jive bunny I stand and wiggle a little. Way too self conscious.
Back to the bar for a while. Then the dance floor. Perched on the edge of the pool table for a while.
The party of birthday girls is dancing. Handbags in a pile on the floor. A guy comes along with a mop and asks them to move the bags so he can clean up a spilled drink. They make the most of a photo opportunity and he seems to enjoy the experience.
A girl with blond hair is obviously feeling the heat and it takes her just a couple of seconds to take her shirt off. Nice black bra. None of us can remember the colour of the shirt that she was wearing. Ahhh ... now I have a photo just before the couple of seconds it took ... her shirt was black! There she is a little to the left of Laura.
The party girls are busy taking photos. Sarah takes a few of Nikki and me as we perch on the pool table. Asks if I’m on facebook ... but I’m not so I guess I’ll never see the pictures other than the mini versions at the back of the camera.
As she dances past a little later she takes my hand and we dance a little. Still self conscious, but very much enjoying the moment.
A little while later, another member of the birthday group walks over and draws me onto the dance floor. And now begins something totally new for me. Well .., I know ... the evening has been full of totally new things! She tells me to relax. Not to think about what I’m doing. Not to move my feet for a while. Just to sway and move. Then to watch her feet and do the same. Hands clapping together. She says such nice things, telling me I look great, to enjoy just being myself, to smile. And, for the first time that I remember, I am on a dance floor and not at all feeling self conscious or embarrassed or worried about what anyone else is feeling. As we sway and bounce around a bit, A walks past. This is a mistake ... our hands move out into the air, and all of a sudden, Dianne has no hair ... or at least quite a bit less than she had a few moments ago. My dance partner is so apologetic, and Dianne is wonderful. Not at all flustered, and smiling even. One of the nicest moments of the evening. Here are a few stills from some video footage.
My teacher and me ...
Laura dancing with Sarah.
My legs begin to show their age as time passes. And the heels don’t help to decrease the level of pain. I take a little break and then back onto the floor again for a while.
A lovely and liberating experience. I don’t know the name of my dance teacher ... but anyway ... thank you xxx.
Back to the bar for a while. I make the mistake of leaning just a little too far forwards. My bra is front fastening. And also it is front unfastening and has a mind of its own. Now, it’s one thing for a ggirl to have her bra come undone. But, when your boobs aren’t actually attached to your chest it’s a completely different experience. My second trip to the ladies, with my arms kind of pressed in towards me in an attempt to make sure I don’t lose any parts of my tgirl anatomy. I get there and back with no major mishaps. Though, at the top of the steps a security guard kind of waves at me. He points down towards my feet. There’s a trail of paper tissue following me, attached to the sole of my foot. I try to detach it by stepping on it ... but it sticks to my other foot. A couple of girls help out ... taking a-hold of me and stepping on the paper. After a few moments of playing footsie I’m free.
And there's the moment where a young guy wanders through the bar asking for a kiss from all the tgirls. So funny, but also kind of sweet.
Everything is a challenge in heels.
The foundation survived better than I expected. And, as ever, it was with a hint of melancholy that the makeup was removed.
So ... Andrea does like to dance, and even though my feet are a little on the sore side, I am smiling.