Monday, January 9, 2012

Nopants and Tango dancing to start the New Year!

Photo by Xingxing Huang.
Please do not copy, use for commercial purposes without
consent of Xing. 

My weekend was anything but normal.

How else should it be since it is the FIRST weekend of the year?

For this weekend I decided to do things a bit differently by turning off facebook and getting out of the house.

For Friday, I stayed in (oxymoron I know) and watched one of my favorite Movies, The Dark Knight while eating pizza. It was perfect. :D


I grabbed some paper and pen, a book, bought a new diary, and hit the streets of Istanbul.

I was reading the book  "The Art of the Question" loaned to me by my couchsurfing friend back in Gdynia. (I'm trying to finish this thing finally so I can get it back to you!! Educational texts have a way of clonking me out even if they are really interesting).

I got to Eminonu and decided to pull out the paper and do some sketches. Here's what I came up with:
Where in Istanbul is Josh?

I'll be doing a drawing every week and see if people can guess where in Istanbul I am

After this I got a text saying there was a tango class I could attend with my friend Canem, but I'd go to the earlier beginners class first. So off I went to Kadikoy...where Canem usually is for tango except the class was on Istiklal street in taksim. So then I jumped on a bus and it took over an hour to cross the bridge because of the traffic. MORE TIME TO READ!

I got to the place and found I was the first to arrive and luckily I met Sinem who could speak some English and she gave me the rough and dirty secrets of how to step and move in the Argentinian Tango fashion.
I picked it up rather quickly and started dancing for a few hours and getting to know the different people there. I had to sign up.

Some photos: 

And we were all floating around like angels by the end. 


Being Pioneers in Istanbul for the 6th annual No Pants Subway ride started by

I woke up a bit late today at 11am and after having a nice video chat on skype with Jinky and also talking about vacation plans with Nino I showered and decided to wear my infamous Candy pants given to me by Lovilyn for Xmas in 2009!!

So I was ready to go and went to Taksim Square where I couldn't see anybody I recognized. Just a big group of turkish men in black trench coats and such and a guy and a girl...yep that was our group.

That group of men, maybe a dozen or more, were all the secret police that suddenly arrived on the spot.
They told us it was okay and they were there to protect us from the public. Of course as they are telling this they are snapping pictures of all of us and taking video...
Soon my friends that I invited arrived. I can't name all of them because some are still a bit nervous hehe

We set off just after 2:10pm to go in the metro from Taksim - Levent 1 and back again.

It was really nerve wracking, we were walking towards the door and it was like the step of no return. We were committed. But we still had our pants on. We weren't going to do it until Rowan, the crazy Australian organizer who we still haven't heard from, took his off. Once he did and started walking down the aisle we all just looked at each other with our hearts up to our throats wondering who would be the first to follow. Of course his girlfriend took hers off right away. Then I saw some of my friends going for it and as I chose a kind of corner seat I did it as well and then took out my iphone and began reading my ebook as if nothing was happening.  You see that's the whole point of the Global Improv of No pants metro ride. You kind of break the barriers by not following the standard rules that society sets (although you can wear the same clothing on a beach) and pretending like nothing is out of the ordinary. Reading the book calmed my nerves a bit but then we got to Levent street and had to get off the metro and wait for the return one.

While waiting I sat on a bench while some of the others walked around.  How I wish i could have walked around or started to do the SHUFFLE haha...that would've been great but would have caused me to be detained because my junk would have fallen out of my shorts. You see, they weren't tight or long like the others were wearing. No no, not the candy shorts. So I sat down and a Turkish woman came and sat next to me. She asked if "Are you contest?"  I said.." not quite. I'm an American."
She smiled and asked "why aren't you wearing pants?"
I responded, "Oh, I spilled coffee on them."
 And she said "but what about everybody else?"
I  responded simply that I had no idea what they were doing.

She smiled and was like "yeah right!"

Then the train arrived

OH was FULL!  Not all of us could fit in so the organizer stayed back and we haven't seen him but know he was being questioned by police. They had told him at the beginning he'd be responsible for all of us. I believe he'll go away with just a warning since he didn't break any laws. We'll see!

So we were all kind of packed in the train and there wasn't much room to move. People nervously went past us to exit on the stops in between and then we were back to Taksim. Everybody was supposed to put their pants back on before they left the metro but I forgot this until it was too late.  Not that it mattered anyways. My Turkish friend Ali knew what was coming next and he was out of there and I didn't see him until we rendezvoused else where later in the evening. The rest of us were coraled (we had pants on now) and made to wait while they joked with us. One of the secret police looked down at my pants and jokingly said "you looked better with your pants off"
I guess I need some more stylish jeans when my white, blonde-haired legs and short shorts are more fashionable than my dark jeans!

After a much too long nervous wait there was a group of Turkish teens and early twenties that walked by and they recognized us (we saw them at the taksim square before we started and they knew what we were up to). Luckily the police were there and told them to get on the train and then told us to "go go go"
Later I was told these 'young guys' are the hooligans of Istanbul that just like to find reasons to fight, etc. We dodged a bullet.

But we still weren't sure what was going to happen to us. But finally they were told they can let us all go and so off we went.  Until somebody had the brilliant idea of taking one last group photo inside the metro. This brought the Manager coming over. I saw the big, brown trench coat walking over to us and put my hoodie up and walked out of there quickly...never looking up until I crossed the street.  I recognized some more secret police outside of the metro entrance and waited for the rest of the people to go. Several of them were able to but my flatmate who arrived late with the other new flatmate (he didn't participate but she did) didn't come out. They were detained at the metro for quite some time and made to show their ID's but that was a long wait.

We started walking down Istiklal towards the designated rendezvous point of Riddim Pub but as we were walking we became a little separated and then I noticed one of the under covers following us and I molded into the crowd of people and just kept walking, never looking back until I was in Sisli but messaging the whole time.

I then went and had dinner alone and met up with the group in a different place once I heard that my flatmates had been released without any trouble.

Congrats to Rowan at for pulling this whole thing off without anything serious happening.


What a day.

So...that's what it's like being the first people EVER to do a No Pants Subway ride in Istanbul.

One time is enough for me :)

But next week I'm ready for the 150+ people, 6 minute Freeze Mob happening on Istiklal.  :D

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