It’s official, folks. I survived my third JamCruise. It was, in fact, my favorite JamCruise yet!
I’ve been thinking about how to write about JC15 for a couple of weeks now and have honestly had too much rattling around in my brain to get down to business. There are the obvious reasons (activism is hard work, yo) and the less obvious reasons (I had to make-up a lot of sleep… okay maybe that is obvious).
But as I reflect on this most recent and epic of JamCruises I can’t help but put it into the context everything in my life now falls under: Fun vs. Serious Business.
I left work on the eve of our drive to Miami all like “man, I hate that I’m leaving right now, things are so busy.” And then I got home, packed, and drove to South Florida all like “ugh, I gotta get down there.”
We arrived at Dave’s and spent the night as has become our habit – with a vacuum sealer. And then on Inauguration Day I studiously avoided the news, stressfully purchased Radiohead tickets, got bundled into a van and boarded a boat that holds 2,000 LESS people than the previous JamCruise boats have held and is the official beater boat of the Norwegian Cruise Line (so yeah, I was stressing about the quality of the accommodations because at that point, why not?)
This entire process I couldn’t help but feel stressed, overwhelmed, tired… really just not having a good time. And looking back, I realize now that I had literally FORGOTTEN how to quit worrying. I’ve just been straight up worrying full time since the election.
Thankfully, I was able to quickly procure a drink within 5 steps aboard the beautifully appointed Pearl:
Seriously though, I was STIFF. I was stressed. I couldn’t loosen up.
But then…. we sailed away, I put on a rainbow unicorn romper, and I parked on the rail for Beats Antique. And magically I was able to put away the Serious Business of the world and get. the. fuck. down.
Naturally it took my brain a few days to acclimate to this “fun” business – so I woke up the first day at 9am, threw on a bikini and made my way to the hot tub where I joined a group of 8 or 9 folks who had “played through.” There were bottles of champagne ordered, stories traded about what made it aboard and what had to be consumed in line, and what we all do for a living.
What I love most about JC? Unlike most festival experiences, I was not hanging out with unemployed Wooks or buskers. I was sitting in that hot tub next to a lawyer and a senior financial analyst for Fortune 100 companies. Turns out I wasn’t the only one trying to transition my brain into fun mode, though I might have been the most conservative in my process…
But even though I acclimated, I found time to still work serious business into my fun. Before we left, about 20 other ladies on JC organized a Women’s March on the boat to march in solidarity with our sisters, friends, coworkers, loved ones back on land.
Besides the march, I spent my days reading AN ACTUAL BOOK, getting a massage, drinking champagne, and soaking up sun – all without the distraction of a cell phone, the news, politics, or Twitter. It was glorious.
We were scheduled to dock in Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Considering I didn’t even get off of the boat AT ALL last year, I optimistically planned a relaxing beach day in Jamaica with two busloads of fellow JC’ers. Turns out that was the right idea because our Grand Cayman port was cancelled due to bad weather.
In Jamaica I remembered how to get back on “island time.” And for the 7 hours we were on that beautiful island I felt like everything was gunna be irie.
My favorite part about missing Grand Cayman? We had to spend 2 days making a 1 day trip, so the boat was practically anchored in seat at one point. It was glorious. 🙂
Nights are so magical on JamCruise.
First of all – anything goes. Any costume, any outfit, any state of mind… absolutely anything.
Secondly – the nights feel like forever because the music goes until sunrise. The show you catch at 7:30 on the pool deck is in the dark and 9 hours later you can still find the music and the lights all raging just as hard.
The nights on this particular JC were super special to me because the smaller boat let me get closer to the musicians. I was front and center for Beats Antique, Karl Denson, The Soul Rebels, and Griz at one point or another. I actually road the rail for Beats Antique and Karl Denson’s entire sets.
I have a habit (3 JC’s later, it’s a “habit,” right?) of getting totally drunk on Night 1 and attempting to play through on Night 4. The last night, Night 5, is ALWAYS a hot mess on the boat but I insist Vince and I keep it together – nobody wants to go through customs at 8am pie-eyed. #justsayin’.
This year I did it a bit differently. Night 1 was some draaaanks. Night 2 was a few more draaaanks and a surprisingly early bed time. Night 3 was PARRRTAAAY (see photo above), and Night 4 and 5 were totally sober, chill, go-with-the-flow-and-do-what-feels-right nights.
All in all I feel like I finally nailed down the right mix of chill and party and draaanks, and I absolutely nailed down the right amount of music and photobooth fun. 🙂
Everyone has their own special “moment” on JamCruise – that one that defines the entire trip for you. Mine came the night we docked in Jamaica and I was dressed in a white rabbit costume for Mad Hatter’s Tea Party theme.
Vince, Dave, Jen and I were eating dinner at a thai restaurant that overlooked a bar-turned-piano-lounge… when we heard Ivan Neville start up at the keys.
While this enormously talented musician is on the piano, I hear the most crystal clear trumpet I’ve ever heard – gorgeous and jazzy and soulful – Benny Bloom.
As I rush to the rail to overlook the scene, Borham Lee from Break Science comes to stand next to me, having left the the band Lettuce at the hibachi grill where their epic drummer was bopping along to this scene with chopsticks…
We stand, we take in the music, we marvel at the costumes and the talent and the moment. And then I make my way back to my dinner table, look to the left, and see the members of Beats Antique grinning and enjoying the music and dinner as well.
THAT is JamCruise. And THAT is exactly what my serious heart, brain, and soul needed, exactly when I needed it.
So yeah, that was fun. 🙂
Til next year, my loves. ROBE YEAR!! 😀