We would like to share with you the story of the first singing tour that Doodles had the opportunity to take outside the Czech Republic thanks to an invitation from the French gay chorus Podium Paris.
Our host allowed us to choose between two events: the city-wide street festival, Fête de la Musique, or a performance at Paris’ Gay Pride Festival. We were almost all in agreement – so in June, we went to the streets of Paris to entertain and sing to a crowd of passers-by in la Fête de la Musique with many other choirs, soloists, singers, guitarists, and drummers. We also had another concert on a different day with three other gay choirs.
So what did we actually perform there? We started with the French versions of songs that we have in our repertoire and usually sing in Czech, and we also added another French song that we learned from the very beginning, so that the French could be astounded that their diabolical language could actually be learned by Slavonic people. We then added a bit of Moravian folk, Czech opera, and British pop. The programme was set, and we had high hopes that it would be received well.
The day of departure is getting close, and all of those French words still do not compute. Error, error. Did you try shutting it off and turn it back on? We tried … :-/. Perhaps the effect of an abrupt awakening during the performance itself will work, or even a miracle. And it’s here. We roll out of the airplanes in three waves. Paris! We live at the canal, next to Montmartre, under Montmartre, in front of the tower, behind the tower, bars and cafés everywhere, Parisians on bikes and scooters rush to work or honk at the bikers from their Citroëns, Peugeots, and Renaults. They drink coffee and wine – we can easily adapt to this way of life.
We are welcomed to the Town Hall of the 3rd Parisian arrondissement by the local gay choir. We rehearse a bit and then on stage. This is in front of the Town Hall next to a small park. Waiting with us to perform our 20 minutes of fame in Paris are the mixed gay choirs from Milan and Copenhagen, and of course, the local gay choir. In addition to the usual stage fright, this time even the weather plays a role.
Bingo! The organizers had giant rainbow umbrellas, which were needed in particular for Doodles’ performance. “Lascia ch’io pianga la dura sorte” – Let me weep over my cruel fate! Wind, rain, flying notes, falling music stands … though the umbrellas where holding their own, and the audience was not waning – just the opposite. What can we say – we’re a little bit exotic – from the East and beyond, they sing in French and Italian and also in their own strange language. You have to see this! The applause drowns out the rain, and Doodles sprout like mushrooms. And the winner is? No, not over the other choirs. That’s not the objective of this lovely musical rendezvous.
In the evening, we have a meeting in a bar. Our French hosts cooked, baked, and brought wine. And it all ended in song. This probably comes as no surprise considering that it was a party of choirs.
The following day, no singing, only Paris. Our local hosts who invited us and organized everything in a French manner prepared additional entertainment and a guided tour of the back streets of Paris away from the tourist traps of Montmartre, the Champs-Élysées, the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower. The bar where Amélie worked; the place where the last gay person was executed for being gay, a Japanese passage with only Japanese people, squares and churches, not those from the tourist limelight, but from the pleasant tourist underworld. Added to this were the Euro Cup fans, very loud, storming their way into the streets and the metro, but with smiles on their faces. Some like girls, others singing …
Another day and another concert, and so again we were rehearsing songs in the bizarre language of our hosts. We even have our own spoken words to introduce the songs. The question is whether the locals understood: perhaps a little bit … We keep an eye on the weather and once again in front of the Paris 3 Town Hall. Again, nice people who are getting off work and who would normally not listen to a choir for an hour-long concert. They were not disappointed, you could tell. The concert was slowly coming to an end. There was only time for the last evening in Paris, the last coffee, the last delicacy at the local bar off the beaten path from the city’s tourists. We received another invitation abroad, and we would like to invite everyone to Prague. It will happen somehow. Slowly but surely.
We’re on our way home, the same as all of the Czech football fans, because Turkey beat us that evening two to zero. So why not humour them a bit at the airport in front of the piano? They seemed to enjoy our performance of Pívečko and Let The River Run.
A definitive farewell to Paris, the place of our first singing tour abroad. But certainly not farewell to the Paris gay choir Podium. They will come to Prague in April 2017 to sing with us as a part of Prague Rainbow Spring.
See you soon.