Growing up in Florida I somehow had avoided going to Horror Nights In Universal Studios Orlando for years. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of paying $85+ to get the shit scared out of you, like who would voluntarily put themselves through such torture. So yeah I was scared, but I had been living on campus at UCF when an old high school friend just happened to be driving up to go to the parks with his family and wanted me to tag along. I was curious and scared but mostly excited because he said my hotel room was already paid for which included breakfast. Yay, free stuf – I mean friendship!
On my way to the park I was all in my own head thinking of the worst case scenario, hitting an unsuspecting employee that just jumped out at me. I knew that when it came to fight or flight response I always chose to fight; this was a certainty as I will never forget the time that my mom thought she’d be cute and jump out at me at home and my first reaction in the face of danger was a high kick that went up over her head and came down hard only missing her as she stepped back to avoid the hit.
Turns out though that the night was actually hilarious. See the trick to not getting chased by a bunch of recently escaped prisoners with bloody-loud chainsaws is to mostly remain calm. The ghouls and insane people feed on your fear and the louder you scream or faster you run just causes them to focus on you while others sit and laugh in enjoyment.
Horror Nights was filled with many haunted houses of varying themes, but my favorite had to be the one with the classic movie monsters where everything was black and white and accompanied by strategic strobe lights. It felt like you were in those old school monster flicks like Nosferatu, the Mummy and Frankenstein (Frankenstein is the doctor that animates the monster not the monster itself). After, having crawled under the Mummy’s low hanging crypt I was at the front of the group when we entered a black room at the end of which you could see the Bride of Frankenstein in obvious spotlight. The fact I could see her reassured me that nothing more than her trying to scare me was bound to happen, I was mentally ready for her to attack.
I walked towards her eyes totally fixated and tension rising and I had been forced to the front of the group somehow. As the strobe light intensified and the music rose I saw a huge shadow barreling toward me from my left peripheral. Once, I realized it was too late I felt paralyzed as one part of me wanted me to run away and the other knew there was no point because the lady Frankenstein was blocking my way. I braced for the biggest scare of the night as Frankenstein jumped up before landing in front of me and letting out an extremely loud scream and all I could do was stare at him right in the face and taunt him with a charming kiss and a laugh.
At the end of a very uneventful 4th of July, where all plans made were never completed and it was raining, the disappointment was interrupted by loud bangs and bright lights from fireworks all over New York City. Fireworks adorned both sides of the highway as we drove back into the city from our mediocre BBQ experience in Connecticut. As we arrived in Bronx the sounds of blasts intensified, which was to be expected since fireworks had been going off here already for a few days prior to the big Independence Day celebration. Then just as I prepared myself a shower the loudest encounter yet, I could hear the sparks or pieces of store bought fireworks crashing down on the roof of our ordinary apartment building. It was magical and scary at the same time and unexpected unlike the promised beach day that never happened.
If you think there is only one type of Flamenco in Spain you’d be wrong. As a trained dancer in more contemporary dances all I knew of flamenco was what was taught at one of the many dance schools I attended; red dresses with polk dots and a rather large fan. My trip to Spain however taught me that although Flamencos was heavily influenced by the French Ballet it can be performed in varying intensities.
The Flamenco that is danced inside small white caves in Granada I would describe as having a more leisurely and adagio pace. The space felt cramped not only because of the amount of people they crammed into such a small space, but because the dancers took turns sitting and waiting for their turn to perform just to the left of the stage. I did not enjoy this Flamenco as it lacked, in my opinion, the emotion and intensity I was expecting and it did not hold my attention. The performance was accompanied by plenty of wine and a stage lit with color changing lights like a cheap ploy to get you to “look over here!”
Seville though, oh Seville delivered! There’s a clear reason why Seville has it’s own Museo del Baile Flamenco and dance academy because after you see one show you’ll want to learn this performing art too. The Seville performance was held in a large atrium, the center piece of the museum which was built inside of an 18th century building on the foundations of a Roman temple, on a raised all black stage. The show began with a single female dancer performing in a beautifully adorned black outfit with lace detailing accompanied by beautiful guitar music that slowly built to a greater intensity in response to the dancer’s movements. Then a male dancer performed solo, highlighting the pronounced differences in female and male Flamenco movements. The whole show reached a climax, after a quick costume change for both dancers, in a battle of marked and precise movements perfectly complemented with guitar and intense shouts and wails of tragic agony intermixed with a story of a love lost performed by the guitarist. It was truly one of the most beautiful dance shows I have ever seen.
As a small shadow quickly scurried underneath the raised mattress I was sitting on I knew I wasn’t in Miami anymore! I sat there terrified at first as the instinct to get rid of the possible intruder (rat, mouse or cockroach) came over me, while at the same time realizing that I had no idea how to remove or kill it. Add to that four roommates and only one bathroom for a true New York welcome.