After 870 miles, four states, twelve performances, and two tumbles off Paul (which of course called for a tire licking each time, oh p.s. I’ve fallen off my bike the most on the tour), I am pleased to say that I have successfully completed my journey with the BAAD Kinetics Tour. Thanks to the BAAD Tour I can eat anyone under the table in a cliff bar or peanut butter and jelly eating contest, hitch hike like a champ, bask in my own body odor for extended periods of time, change bike tires, find hidden spots amongst trees/roadsides for stealth camping, rock helmet hair, and identify all types of road kill. Who could ask for more? Additionally, I believe I have set a record for "most roadside peeing." This statistic I am most proud of. But, in all seriousness, this was one of the most unique, crazy, awesome experiences of my life. It was not simply a bike tour, it was a bicycle AND dance tour! What a delicious combination! I met so many awesome people along the way and saw parts of the United States I have never seen before. Furthermore, I truly had a bonding experience with Layla, Alerxsis and towards the end Emily too (my new name for Alexis is Alerxsis, copyright Chris Milette). Emily is the dancer who replaced me. She too is an Alfredian. Since I had to dip out of the tour two weeks early in order to work in Italy for the remainder of the summer, Emily took my spot on the tour. Emily is a beautiful dancer with a hot bod! It was great to meet her and pass the torch onto such a talented, kind person. I knew Emily would be awesome because I danced with her twin, Laura, at Alfred who was totally fly as well! I spent the last week of the tour teaching Emily my choreography so she could take over when I left. It was a lot to learn in a week, but we pumped it out!
Now that I’ve left the tour it feels really weird. I feel like Paul has become an extension of me and to think about not traveling by bike is such a strange concept. When I was taking the bus back home it felt so swift! Also, I can’t wait to get back into the dance studio. This tour has helped me to truly appreciate and own my passion. Anywho, there is much to talk about since my last post! I am currently blogging from the house of my Italian host family. I suppose I should begin with where I left off which was in North Hampton, Massachusetts before our performance at the potluck.
At the potluck, which was actually more of a studio warming party celebrating Ben and Carolyn’s completion of their studio renovations, our performance went well and was very well received. We performed two pieces and after we performed Leah played guitar. It was a really fun party and Ben and Carolyn’s studio was so cool! Their studio is an old warehouse, thus, it is very vast and perfect for their welding and sculpting projects. The crowds that we performed for in North Hampton, Massachusetts were probably my favorites. The artist community there is great. They are all very down to earth artists and open to all mediums. It was really awesome to be around this community and I was so happy that we had the most performances in this location.
The next day, after spraying our water bottles gold and stenciling the BAAD logo onto our panniers, we departed for Providence, Rhode Island to Ben Fino-Radin’s house! Ben is another Alfredian and talented artist who I was very pleased to spend time with. He showed us a boppin’ teen time in Providence, and he is a check plus human if I do say so myself! Adventures with Ben included: going to building 16 to see a show, indulging in Mexican food at El Rancho Grande, sleeping in a pile on his excellent roof, partaking a ballin’ dance party in his living room, and going to the beach (while there Ben buried me in the sand and hit me in the face with a loaf of bread while racing. I guess I deserved that bread thrashing considering he woke up to my very white butt cheeks in his face. Nothing like a full moon to start ones day!). Ben is hilarious and I loved laughing with him. What a gem!
My Providence experience was enhanced when my two best friends (Abby and Sarah) met up with us at the beach. Abby and Sarah drove up from PA to visit me on tour! They captured me temporarily from the BAAD Tour and the three of us went to Boston for the day. It was so much fun and I was beyond happy to see them. We did many touristy things in Boston including eating Boston Cream pies and walking the Freedom trail throughout the city. Unfortunately they could not stick around for our Providence performance at Craftland art gallery/store, but that was ok because I was so very happy to be with them. They are like sisters to me.
Our show at Craftland was good I’d say. It was great because Ben performed with us! He was so gracious to have set up this venue for us. But, I must be honest, it was actually hard to tell if people really liked the show or not. The audience was very stoic. The artist community seemed more serious in Providence. This wasn’t a bad thing, I was just used to more reactive audiences. It was good performance experience I’d say because I could not tell what people thought of the show. The stoic faces and serious tones made it uncomfortable to perform. That was hard as a performer. Performing for an emotionless, very focused audience was hard but I’m happy it happened. Not all audiences are going to be chipper and welcoming and as a performer I am happy to have that realization.
The next day after our show in Providence we set out for Connecticut in hopes to reach Beacon, NY safely. Leaving the Providence squad was hard, and biking through CT in order to reach the outskirts of New York City area was extremely laborious! We biked for four days in a row and stealth camped it out for those four days. This was the first time we’ve biked straight through without stops or a performance. We covered 220 miles in those four days. Usually we bike for two days then reach our destination. This was tough and I especially felt bad for Emily because she jumped into the tour at a time where we did some serious biking and covered lots of mileage. It was even hard for me, Layla and Alerxsis and we had already been biking for five weeks at that time. But, as our philosophy goes, let the tour train you! I have no doubt that Emily is probably leading the pack by now.
One would think that just straight biking and stealth camping would be rather uneventful, however, this was swiftly proven wrong when on day three of biking Alerxsis fell over on her bike on the side of the road in intense pain because she suspected she had limes disease from all the stealth camping. Alerxsis falling over in pain is extremely uncharacteristic. Even if Alerxsis is sore or tired or in the slightest bit of pain, she’s ALWAYS leading the pack. She is the best biker on the squad and a tough lassie. Thus, when I witnessed her keeled over in pain I suspected this was serious. I immediately thought, “nooo! Who will lead us on our journeys? The navigator is down!” We sat on the side of the road with Alerxsis for three hours waiting for Tiffany to save Alerxsis (Tiffany is another Alfredian whose house we were headed to in Beacon, NY so we could perform at her graduation party). During the wait Emily and I worked on choreography a lot which was great. Even though the situation was horrid, we got some good rehearsing out of it. After Alerxsis was saved by Tiffany, Layla, Emily and I continued the ride. We were forced to night ride due to our delay. I did not mind though because I love night riding! It’s so exhilarating! I was very sad that Alerxsis wasn’t with us though. Without her felt strange and incomplete, especially because I like being woken up to her melodious singing of lion king tunes as I arise from my camping slumber. Layla, Emily and I biked till around one in the morning then stealth camped in New Milford, CT.
While riding from New Milford, CT to Beacon, NY (about a 70 mile ride, which was the longest stretch we've ever done in a day), I called Alerxsis to get a weather forecast update and see how she was doing at Tiffany's house. It turns out that Alerxsis obtained tonsillitis and not limes disease (thank the man upstairs!). Alerxsis was picked up by her dad and taken home for a few days. This was very sad because I did not get to give Alerxsis a proper farewell before leaving the tour. But, she left me a beautiful note at Tiffany’s that I will forever cherish.
We arrived at Tiffany's around 8:30pm after our difficult and somewhat stressful 70 mile ride. Thank God we did not arrive any later than 8:30 because we almost missed performing at her graduation party! Her party started at 4pm and it's a good thing it was all day, otherwise we would have not had the opportunity to perform for Tiffany and her family and friends. The graduation party crowd was a good one! It mostly consisted of Tiffany's awesome Puerto Rican family members who are hilarious! Tiffany's fam jam in general is great. They let us crash at their place and her dad, Mr. Butler, took me to church with him the next morning. Also, they let me keep Paul at their house so I would not have to ship him back to Pennsylvania! They are very kind and I can't wait to visit Tiffany and her family again when I go back to pick up Paul in late August.
After our Beacon performance and we took the train, and then the subway, into the Big Apple in order to reach the apartment of the ever so delightful Ben Martel. Ben is the chap who designed the BAAD Kinetics website and he too is an Alfredian (of course!). He currently lives in Brooklyn and has his own web design business. He's totes champ and I thoroughly enjoyed him beckoning me from the window as if he were Romeo when breakfast was ready.
I must say that carrying loaded bikes on trains and subways is quite difficult, and I didn't even have to do it. But, just by watching Emily and Layla carry their bikes I could tell it was hard to maneuver about the place. Even though I did not have to carry Paul, I did have to carry my neon pick bucket pannier that I detached from Paul. This was my suitcase. It was hilarious and I am very displeased I did not document me holding my silly makeshift suitcase. Thank God we weren't getting into the city during rush hour because it would have been impossible for me to carry my bucket pannier suitcase let alone the the bikes of Emily and Layla. Despite the logistical ordeal of getting into the Big Apple with loaded bikes and a single neon pick bucket pannier, we made it nonetheless! To me it is always exhilarating to enter the Big Apple. Sadly, I was only in the Big Apple for a day. On my last day with the BAAD tour Emily and I rehearsed a lot because she would be performing tomorrow at a party, and visited with a good friend before catching my Mega Bus back to State College to catch my flight to Italy. Parting the tour was such sweet sorrow. I bonded with Emily the night before even more and that made it all the more difficult to depart.
When I reflect on my BAAD Tour experience, I feel that it was most certainly time well spent. I truly learned a lot about biking, the artist community and myself as a dancer and performer. Also, I got to meet great human beings and see and experience things I never would have otherwise. This was really a unique experience and I would not have asked for a better way to spend my first six weeks of summer. I hope to always continue to bike and dance and keep in touch with the beautiful BAAD ladies and others I encountered along the way.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Elisha for giving me credit towards my dance minor for doing this project with Layla, and Layla thank you for providing this excellent opportunity for people like me. Your ideas are inspiring and original, and I wish you the best of luck at the Bates dance festival and kickin' it in Amsterdam with Jacobo!
Alerxsis! Franks for constantly providing comic relief and your positivity. You are so organized and efficient! I can tell why Layla put you in this position. You are boss as shit, and you're coming to my wedding.
Emily! Yo you are good man! Learning all the choreography in less than a week is mad impressive! You are so fly and truly a lovely dancer. I loved biking with you and having wicked awesome girl talk and learning about you. Your ass better visit me at PSU this year! Bring ya sista too! Also, if you are having a performance/showing at Alfred I wanna come watch, so keep me posted!
There are def more peeps I am missing on this acknowledgment list, like all of the lovely humans who let us stay at their place and Julia Calabrese. However, this entry would go on forever if I continued, and, it is currently two o'clock in the morning in Italy and I have to wake up soon to watch a child, thus, I must be off!
Ok, I am done with my graduation speech now. LOVE!