When the opportunity came up to volunteer for the 2012 Olympic games, I signed up. And when the chance came up to buy tickets for both the Olympics and ParaOlympics, I applied for the maximum. But I only vaguely remember volunteering to be a part of the opening ceremony.
Then one day in June, I received an email from the Olympic opening ceremony organizers asking me to come in and audition for a part.
I assumed they wanted to interview me for a volunteer position, either to be an usher, a crowd wrangler, or perhaps to help out in the parking lot. The email gave a date, time, and location, which was in an area of London called Bromley-by-Bow, which I had never been to before. But their invite was very vague on what was going to take place that day, though it did say to expect to be there for three hours.
When the day came, I made sure I left with plenty of time to find the venue. Of course, I got lost. Luckily, I did find the venue at the exact time the email said I had to be there.
I joined the queue, and I noticed it was a queue made up of people from all walks of life and of all ages. I chatted to the woman in front of me and she, like myself, had no clue what we were going to do that afternoon.
Upon getting to the front of the queue, my identification (passport) was checked. I handed over a copy of the email they sent to me, and then they asked to confirm my details, such as name, address and email address. I was photographed, my measurements taken (surely this must've been for the volunteer outfit I thought), and then I was told to follow a white line on the floor, which led to a huge dance studio.
It was only then that I realized that I was about to be put through a dance audition! Huh? I had never actually danced in a show before, though I have on occasion been know to get on stage in some Vauxhall clubs and dance with my shirt off, but to actually audition to dance in a show that would be watched by over 1billion people! I was way in over my head.
I just decided to go with the flow and not be nervous about it. There was about 200 of us in the room, and we were introduced to several people who were assistant choreographers for the opening ceremonies. They very nice and put us at our ease.
We then started to do some warm up exercises (Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show was the first dance step of the day). We were asked to do some other dance moves, moves that one would not do on the dancefloor at a gay club.
We were told that these dance moves will be a part of the actual ceremony, and we were asked not to tell anyone what they were. Let’s just say they were exaggerated versions of a typical Londoner's day routine. The audition ended, and I could not believe how much fun it was, and how quickly the time went. They mentioned that we would (or would not) be receiving emails in a few weeks asking us back for the second round of auditions.
Lo and behold, a couple weeks later I received the email from the organizers asking me back to audition for the second and final round of auditions! Wow, I passed the first round! I could not believe it!
The audition this time was held on a week night, so I had to leave work early to get there on time. When I got there, I noticed that the crowd at this round of auditions was much younger then myself – I'm 47. The dance moves this time were much harder, some of them I mastered and some of them I did not.
In one routine I was so out of synch with the six in my line that I hoped that the people walking around with clipboards scoring us did not notice. Again, it was over very fast, and I was pretty sure that I would not be chosen.
Then on 16 January, I received an email: 'Congratulations! London 2012 Ceremonies are pleased to inform you that you have been successful in your audition to become a Ceremonies Volunteer Performer in the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening or Closing Ceremonies.
'We hope that you are able to accept this once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of a global event that expresses and celebrates the passion and creativity of the United Kingdom in front of the entire world. You have been selected to perform in the Opening Ceremony as part of the 44-GROUP-D cast group.'
Wow! I can't believe that I have been chosen to be part of this historic event! Someone like me, with no dancing experience, who had the desire to audition on a fluke, and I am now going to part of the greatest show on earth, it is really unbelievable. So look for me on television on 27 July at a little event in the east end of London called the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.