Me, Jackie and the Blue Lycra Two Piece

Posted: August 7, 2010 in College Memories
Tags: , ,

What they don’t tell you when you’re a chubby, self-conscious 18-year-old applying for Musical Theatre courses, is that if you are successful you will in the not too distant future be confronted with The List.  A seemingly never-ending inventory of things that you have to buy in preparation for your first year at college.  At first glance it may seem innocuous enough; The Best of George Gershwin Music Book, a long black practice skirt, the odd Shakespeare text, nothing too worrying.  That is of course until you reach the dance section…. 

 It was many years ago now but just thinking about it sends a shiver down my spine.  The elation of being accepted into a well-known London drama school soon turned to terror as I glanced down The List to see ballet shoes, pink tights, black ballet skirt and cropped top staring back at me.  Cropped top?!  I was no skinny dancer with a tiny midriff and taught washboard stomach!  A genetic disposition to chubbyness and several years of over indulgence had left me with a very curvy figure and not one that I particularly wanted to show off!  So, it was with a heavy heart that I set off from the depths of Wales to London on a shopping trip with my mum and best friend Sarah.  Soon we were spending exorbitant amounts of money at Freeds of London, an old-fashioned, sombre looking dance shop just off Leicester Square full of very young and very skinny girls buying their pointe shoes and regulation leotards.  I was only 19 and, in hindsight, not that fat, but sitting in-between those 12-year-old stick insects I felt like their morbidly obese grandmother!  Several bags later the ordeal was over and we left the shop to move on to the next level of torture – the cropped top. 

The place to go for more modern dance gear in those days was Gamba in Covent Garden.  It was here that we purchased the shiny bright blue lycra two piece that become one of my most hated pieces of college clothing – a cropped top with a matching pair of knickers to go over leggings or tights.  To this day, I have no idea why I bought them – my usual colour was flattering black!  I can only imagine that a sudden burst of excitement at the realisation that I was actually going to drama school clouded my judgement! 

A few weeks later I stood in my first dance class at college, feeling very exposed in the shiny blue top with my stomach revealed in all its full, plump glory, facing Jackie, the woman who would go on to become my mortal enemy.  I had heard all about her from the other students before I even set eyes on her – the uncompromising, tough, modern dance teacher who took no prisoners.   And she did not fail to live up to her reputation!  But that’s another post….. 

Anyway, not long after that first dance class I had one of my most mortifying drama school experiences in room 301 – the dragon’s den.  Sporting my usual 1st year jazz outfit of black leggings and the aforesaid blue lycra two piece (I had cunningly dumped it by the 2nd year!) and stretched out on the floor attempting to do box splits, I suddenly felt the prod of Jackie’s foot as she stood behind me trying to push me down further than my child bearing hips would allow.   It was just too much for my legs and arms to bear and a few seconds later I lost my balance and my large blue bottom came crashing down towards the floor, finding instead Jackie’s foot!!!  In front of the entire first year!  Unbearably embarrasing at the time but a moment relished in later years – I had sat on Jackie’s foot – all 11 stone of me!  She never stood behind me again!

To all those musical theatre students about to embark on three years of hell otherwise known as drama school – study The List and make your choices wisely or those lycra moments may stay with you for a very long time….

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