In Borneo, I received some exciting news. Thanks to the power of Facebook, I got invited to be a swing dancing extra in a new British Channel 4 period drama. Indian Summers is set in 1932 and they needed some Caucasian swing dancers between the ages of 25 and 35 to join the cast for a party. The show was being filmed in George Town, Penang, which was on my list of places to visit. How could I refuse an opportunity like that?
It meant changing my flights to Australia but Air Asia only charge $50 for that and my dancing is actually worth something and I would get paid to be an extra. Despite the hard work involved it’s probably been my best temp job.
I can’t say much about the TV show, the filming, or share any pictures from the set, at least until the show airs in 2015 (probably February). Just watch out for me as a blur in the dancing background of episode 5. I’m wearing a dress that reminds me of autumn leaves.
I can say that I meant some excellent people. There were five other swing dancers, all of whom had travelled from Australia to be part of the show; one girl from Melbourne and a Perth Quartet.
I thought I would have quite a bit of time to be a tourist in Penang but I was really wrong about that.
Most of our time was spent either in hair and make-up or on set, either standing around with a glass in hand or waiting in the wings for the next time to stand around with a glass in hand. Oh yeah, and there was some dancing.
We had to learn to waltz for a few of the scenes so we were sent to the studio of Malaysian ballroom dance champion and consultant, Chan, to learn some steps. And to play around with some of our lindy moves, as half of us handed danced with each other before. I can share pictures of that.
We did manage to get off set before dark one night (after an early morning 6am hair and make-up session), so we decided to treat ourselves by hitting Old Town Penang for dinner. It was the first time we’d seen more than the Evergreen Hotel, the road to Citibank (where wardrobe was set up on an empty floor) and the set at Suffolk House.
After we wrapped at the end of the week I had a whole day before my flight to Kuala Lumpur to explore Penang (should have made that flight later!). I joined the other dancers in the morning to explore the amazing street art gallery.
The other Australians had earlier flights so I spent the afternoon walking around town by myself. The street art is absolutely amazing.
Penang’s colonial past shines through too.
I really must go back one day.
I’m also in the Channel 4 trailer for Indian Summers! If you stop the video at 13 seconds you’ll get a brief glimpse of me.