I’ve just returned from a trip to London where amongst other things I was belly dancing at the Covent Garden Apple Store as part of the iPhone5Experiment which saw Rob Shoesmith, a PR wizard & genuinely nice guy, camp out on the street for a full 10 days to be first in line for an iPhone 5 (4S) That’s 240 hours! His experiment called for him to spend no money and survive on only the generous donations of businesses and individuals, to see just how strong the Apple brand’s marketing pull could be. Would he survive? Would it even work? When he started the experiment he had absolutely no idea but to his amazement in no time at all he started to see an incredible thing happen… everyone from Dominoes Pizza, Duracell, Skype, Helly Hansen & Cadbury flooded him with products Radox, Weight watchers, innocent smoothies & Gillette the list goes on… he was gifted the use of a 4X4 (think it was a Land Rover he said) and donated a luxury yachting holiday to Dubai and then there were the offers of a personal assistant & security guard… and entertainment from…
I heard about the experiment and said “hell yeah, that’s my kind of gig, I’ll travel from Edinburgh to London and donate some bellydance entertainment for sure!”
After confirming I’d do it I watched his blog heighten and media interest soar, before the experiment started he’d had over 100,000 views to his site and countless interviews with national & international newspapers and television shows. It was exciting to watch it grow arms and legs and exciting to be a part of the experiment, the first of it’s type in the world!
In the run up to the event I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that I knew when Rob planned to arrive at the store, in case they pipped him to the post or the media swarmed him on day 1 but he wanted to give me a few days notice to plan my travel. The weather looked changeable so I planned to go for 3 nights and choose the best day. In the end flights and trains were ridiculously expensive and a 10 hour coach ride seemed, oddly, the most logical at £60 return p/p. 3 nights in a private hostel room was £200, then tube tickets and eating out in London which seems ridiculously expensive nowadays but I knew it’d be a rich experience so the value would well outweigh the cost!
Shortly after arriving in London Shaun and I headed over to the Covent Garden Apple Store to meet Rob for the first time, take him a little something to keep him going & check out the gig. We chose to get some fresh japanese miso soup – I knew it’d be great as it’s nutrient benefits are awesome and would provide Rob with everything his body needed right now – well, except sleep! We stayed for about an hour just chatting to him and his security guard – who enjoyed testing my Arabic! The first thing that struck me was how calm a nature Rob has, even after 6 nights on the street and millions of people reading your story across the globe! He was telling us about the highs and lows of his experience so far, about meeting some of the people who sleep rough every night in life, their stories and strength of character and how he would remember this forever. He spoke about the challenge ahead in fulfilling his experiment, of having to trade an £80 iPad cover for some water and of sticking to his plan to give products remaining after the experiment to others, those people who could use them for their survival.
30 minutes after we left Rob that night the Apple Store was raided in a smash and grab just yards from where he was resting. No one was injured but they managed to get some devices from the display tables. Rob took a picture of the scene, posted it on his blog & Twitter and within minutes it was being broadcast across the globe. Scary biscuits. I let my family & friends know that I and everyone else were safe.
The next day we enjoyed London, went to see Shaun’s friend perform in a standup comedy competition, UK Comedy Newcomer I think was the comps title, then we went out for dinner at Wong Kei with friends and finished the evening off with a romantic drink in a particularly glam & flamboyant soho bar!
The next day it was show time. I got ready following my usual rituals, we fought the crowds and caught the hot, clammy tube to covent garden. It was HEAVING with people. Rob was in good spirits and excited at the prospect of some fun entertainment and of drawing a crowd for his experiment.
I changed into costume in the Apple restrooms and made my way back out through the store browsing the gadgetry as I went. It felt very bold and daring. It was surreal as I thought to myself “I wonder if I’m Apple’s First Bellydancer…?”
A big crowd of the public & photographers gathered. I danced a 10 minute set before getting Rob Shoesmith up to try out some light Belly Dancing moves for himself for about 10 minutes and then I finished with another 10 minute set. All improvisational pieces, my favourite! I went back through the busy Apple store to greet people, change and on my return I was then introduced to Phillip Schofield.
Later Rob told me the Belly Dancing really perked him up, said he felt energised, like it had given him a new lease of life and I could see it in his mood. “You have to expend energy to gain energy” – this is so true! His favourite move that we did was the basic hip circle and I suspect he would’ve carried on if I hadn’t asked him to rest for fear of his exhaustion!
Then I was tired from all the excitement so we said our goodbyes and wished Rob every success before Shaun & I went for a yummy meal and headed back to our “hotel” – actually it was a great place, not all sterile really rather full of energy ..or was that just the orange, green and purple walls?!
The next day we walked for miles, til our feet were swollen up like lbs of sausages squashed into shoes. We saw lots and did lots, went for a three course lunch at the Grosvenor, got the London look, had a nonsense, caught some tubes, watched bellydance videos at the bottom of big ben, went for a lovely lady&thetramp-ratatouille-esque dinner. Then finally caught our coach at 11pm. Shaun and fellow passenger “sid the kid” recited Shakespear on the journey back to Edinburgh then napped with their mouths wide open as I cooried up like a kitten in the seat listening to Fleetwood Mac Tango In The Night before probably also napping, with my mouth wide open. We arrived home at 8.30am to a broken boiler and a defrosted freezer ??? The puddles on the floor were beautiful and the salmon & vegetable aroma interesting
I’m being sent some footage of the bellydancing sometime soon and I’ll of course post it up to share with you all.
London, it’s a different experience every visit. Life, it’s every experience that makes the difference.