Storytime: 6am Laundry Room Jam
It was September 2017. It was my first European tour and first visit to Prague. Once again in a new place where I didn’t know anyone. This is usually the part where I can taste the bitter in the bittersweetness of traveling alone. I walked around all day long, ate great food, saw great sites, and heard Languages that I hadn’t heard before. But with no one to share it with, the excitement of all the sights and things just didn’t last long enough. Just before 9pm I was walking back to the Arthole Hostel and I saw an amazing group of street musicians. I was inspired.
So I hurried back to my hostel to grab my guitar and hit the streets. I buzzed the buzzer on the hostel door, ran up the almost pitch black stairwell, shoved open the heavy door into the hostel, ran into the 6 person room my bed was in, grabbed my guitar and reversed the process just as quickly. I walked into a large plaza, I can’t even remember the name. I found a spot where my voice could be heard across the entire plaza. I was ready. Those other street performers really got me going with their set. I threw my case down, kicked it open, and pulled out my beat up Yamaha guitar with a shoestring for a strap. I strummed the intro hard and started laying into the verse, shouting across the whole plaza. A couple of excited and smiling people came over to watch. It was going great. I was having a lot of fun pushing out all the energy I kept inside from being alone all day. I finished that first verse and things were going good, some change in the case, I’m getting ready to build up to the first chorus. Then across the plaza comes a Prague police car. They pull up right in front of me. The cop in the passenger seat looks at me, holds up his arm and points to his wrist as if he had a watch. I said “No more?”. He shook his head and they waited for me to pack up then they drove off. Apparently 9pm is the cut off for the street performers in Prague. I was pretty disappointed. I was feeling good about getting out all the energy I had held in through out the day. So I walked back to the hostel. I was missing my friends at this point. Wondering why I went so far away from home.
I was pretty unsatisfied about my street performance. I couldn’t even get one song out. So I decided to at least finish the song. I grabbed my guitar, found a little corner in the common area and quietly started my song over. As I was playing, I caught the attention of a couple of Belgians that were staying in the hostel. Then an Irish guy. Then some Argentinians, some Spanish. Before I knew it, the hostel was crowded around this corner listening, bringing out their own instruments, hitting tables and chairs for percussion, and singing along. It was amazing. A sweet little jam session of people from all over the world who decided to huddle up in the Art hole Hostel for the night.
Around 11:30pm the guy at the front desk came over to us and said “Hey everyone, I was supposed to stop you at 11pm because it’s officially quiet hours in the hostel but I’ve been enjoying it so much. So I’ll say you can all keep jamming another half hour, is that ok?” We all agreed to be quieter after that. At around midnight, we got quieter but at the same time the guy at the front desk was ending his shift and going home. The desk was empty for a moment after he left and then all of the sudden the Irish guy who was jamming with us the whole time stood up, went behind the desk, clocked into work, grabbed fresh beers from the fridge, came back to us and said “Alright! Let’s keep going!” And the jam picked right back up. It was awesome. We went on loud for another hour and a few more beers or so when finally the Irish guy got nervous about his job. He said “Ok, so we were supposed to stop at 11pm. We have these neighbors that complain so surely I’ll be fired if I don’t make sure it’s quiet up here. But I have an idea. If we all (8 of us) pile into the laundry room, close all the windows and doors then we can probably play all night and no one will hear us!” So that’s what we did until about six in morning. Banging on laundry machines, singing sweet melodies and harmonies, making it all up as we went. Around 5:30am, the Irish guy and I were the last ones standing. We went downstairs to the sidewalk outside to share one last conversation and a cigarette. We became good friends. He even returned my favorite jacket when I had left it just a few hours later as I rushed to wake up and get to the train station.
This was one of the many epic nights I experienced in my solo travels. I started alone and wishing for good company. Within ten hours of being certain this was another lonely night, I was introduced to lifelong friends.