UK Life | 5
Singing in the rain at the Barbican
n Sick of the wet weather? At a unique art installation, the Rain Room, our resident adventurer discovers all the joys of the rain, whilst still staying dry, visiting #40 on the TimeOut London Top 100 – the Barbican Centre. bron in
the don BRONWYN SPENCER
Living in a city like London, which experiences its fair share of rain each week, it is hard to believe that I would go out and actively seek bad weather on the weekend. However, a new interactive art installation at the Barbican Centre – number 40 on the TimeOut London Top 100 – challenged me to change my mind. The Rain Room, open until 3 March, is one of the most unusual experiences in London I have come across, and many other Londoners must agree – given the crowds. Warned that the wait on the weekends can get up to three hours long, we tried to arrive at around 10.15am, 45 minutes before it opens, to snag an early spot in the line. Even with the head start we had to wait over two hours, and finally got into the exhibition about 12.30pm. We were lucky that we had a group of about five people, so we spent the time chatting away and catching up. Others around us had come prepared with books, packs of cards and movies on tablets. Once finally inside, we were led into a dark curving tunnel. All we could hear was the sound of the rain pouring down, and all we could see was people’s shadows on the wall. It was an eerie feeling, heightened by the fact it is difficult to predict what is coming next. As you walk around the corner the first thing that hits you is a bright spotlight that illuminates the rain pouring down. Walking into the 100 square metre area of falling water in pairs, you can’t help but think you are about to get soaking wet. However the sensors can tell where you are
and it automatically prevents the rain from pouring on you. Although you occasionally get a few drops here and there, overall you end up coming out of it high and dry. We stayed there for a long while, testing how we could stop the rain – walking in groups or stretching out our arms and legs. It is a unique experience to walk straight into pouring water and stay dry, although the sensors have trouble picking up black so make sure you wear bright colours. Although the wait is worthwhile, the Barbican Centre is also home to many other different types of arts and cultural experiences. This multi-arts centre is one of the leading arts and learning organisations in the world. It hosts art exhibits, installations, theatre and film throughout the year. The Centre is also home to the London Sympathy Orchestra which I hope to see on my next visit to visit this beautiful building.
Image by Jason Tester
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men may think they have perfected the art of male bonding with their footy match getaways, but it has nothing on the British lad’s weekend for shared shame. heavy drinking and debaucherous glory.
> PAUL BLEAKLEY
Australian men have always perpetuated the idea that we have a very strong culture of male bonding in our country. There is nothing better than getting the boys together for an esky full of ice cold beers and a game of football on television. Every true blue Aussie bloke has some kind of ‘man cave’ to retreat into, whether it is a tin-roofed shed in the backyard or the traditional men-only ‘pool room’. In Australia, the lad’s weekend is not an uncommon thing. A group of boys may go down the coast for a surfing trip, or interstate for an
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Image by Andy Liang
The Rain Room is on at The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery until 3 March 2013. Opening hours are 11am-8pm daily, and 10pm on Thursdays.
important football match. There is always heavy drinking and sore heads. Although these lost weekends provide the type of bonding that typifies a boy’s trip away, British lads seem to commit to lad’s weekends with an enthusiasm and gusto that would put the wildest of party animals to shame. I happened to come across the Channel 4 documentary What Happens in Kavos recently, which focuses on the revels of British partygoers on the Greek island of Corfu over the peak summer period. Many of the featured holidaymakers were on the mythical lad’s weekend and within the first episode the documentary had shown an island that had descended into pure debauchery: one man was forced to
drink his friend’s urine as punishment for sleeping with the same girl three times while another was forced into emergency surgery after an unfortunate sexual encounter led to his pride and glory being horrifically mangled. The excitement of a boy’s trip away comes from being in a foreign environment where a group of young men can act completely wild without fear of embarrassing themselves in pubs and clubs that they frequent on a regular basis. The lad’s weekend bonds a group of boys through a mixture of shared shame and relived glory. It is no wonder that British men have perfected the art of the lad’s weekend considering the vast array of locations easily accessible just across the English Channel. While places like Kavos or Ibiza might be prime locations during the summer months, the winter offers up the depravity of Prague or the everubiquitous Amsterdam. Groups of British lads can literally take their pick of locations throughout Europe where they are able to throw up on the side walk, make clumsy attempts to seduce women and shave off their mate’s eyebrow while he is asleep. That being said, it is only about £8 on Megabus to go to Cardiff. Meet you at Victoria Station?
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