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By The Gay UK, Dec 20 2014 08:00PM

Our Web Series ‘Pick of The Week’ for a change is neither a comedy or a romance or drama but a useful series of good advice of how to avoid having any of them in your own life.




Actor/writer and very funny man JASON FARONE has created the most hilarious list of tips that we have seen in a long time and that we highly recommend. The first one in his PORNOMEDY series is aptly entitled ‘6 WAYS GAYS PISS PEOPLE OFF’.




After you have played this several times (and we know you will) try the second video which has a title that needs no explaining ‘5 WAYS BAD PORN RUINS SEX.


by Roger Walker-Dack





By The Gay UK, Dec 20 2014 03:00PM

Mandy Rice-Davies actress, model and ‘good time girl’ who with her best friend Christine Keeler almost brought down the British Government in 1963, died yesterday at the age of 70.


After Keeler’s affair with War Secretary John Profumo and also a Russian naval Attaché became a public scandal there was major court trial, which uncovered tales of sex, wealth, and national security, which rattled the Establishment and became the fixation for the entire nation for months.


In the witness box Rice-Davies was told that aristocratic party host Lord Astor had denied her allegation of an affair. She replied with her now famous quip ‘WELL HE WOULD, WOULDN’T HE?’ which was splashed over the headlines of all the newspapers next day and endeared her to the public.


The story was made into a movie called ‘SCANDAL’ in 1989 for which Bridget Fonda picked up a Golden Globe Nomination for her portrayal of Rice Davies, and was the basis for the 2013 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical ‘STEPHEN WARD’.


Rice-Davies went on to be a cabaret performer, before running a chain of restaurants in Israel, and she married three times to wealthy men.


She and Keeler will however always be entrenched in our memories as the two people who exposed the hypocrisy of the British Establishment who preached about the sanctity of family values whilst at the same time many of them had scant regard for them in real life. They also made sex a front-page story and became symbols of the 1960’s era of hedonism. Looking back on those days, Rice-Davies recently said ‘Good girls didn't have any sex at all, and bad girls had a bit’.


by Roger Walker-Dack




By The Gay UK, Dec 20 2014 09:00AM

Ex-Batman actor Michael Keaton must have felt more than a touch of deja-vu in the title role of Alejandro G. Inarritu's brilliant dark comedy about an actor trying to redeem his career by staging a serious dramatic Broadway debut after his career as a movie comic-book hero has faded.

★★★★★

The movie filmed almost entirely in the St James Theater on West 44th Street starts as Riggan Thomson (Keaton) is about to begin previews of a play that he has adapted from a Raymond Carver novel, which he has both directed and also stars in. Having the camera follow the actors at close quarters as they rush around the theatre gives the movie the illusion that the whole proceedings are just one big single take. It's an inspired idea and succeeds in keeping the adrenaline flowing at a rapid pace throughout the whole piece.


Riggan's nerves are very raw as he has sunk everything into this production from his reputation to every single cent from the Bank, and he is racked with such self-doubt about the production being a success. The play's cast include Lesley another film actor making her Broadway too, and Laura who is also doubling the role with also being Riggan's on/off lover too. The third member of this four-handed drama is such a hammy actor that when an accident (!) incapacitates him, Laura persuades Riggan to re-cast the part with Mike a well-known and popular stage actor who just happens to be her current boyfriend.


Mike is possibly the most talented actor of the play's cast which he is happy to remind Riggan at every single opportunity, but he is a bit of wild card who can behave erratically on and off the stage. He however isn't the only problem that Riggan has to face. There is Sam his teenage daughter just released from re-hab who he has misguidedly employed as his personal assistant. When she is not rebuking her father for ignoring modern phenomenon of social media try and boost his sagging career, she is having inappropriate sexual relations with Mike. Also girlfriend Laura announces she is pregnant just before the curtain rises too.


The deeper the mess that Riggan seems to find himself too, he resorts to listening to the voice of his alter-ego and he has also convinced himself that he has this superpower to move inanimate objects by the power of thought alone.


During the countdown to the opening night of the play there are manic scenes straight out of a comic farce. Such as when a near-naked Riggan is accidentally locked out of the theatre's stage door midway through a preview and must stride through the packed crowds of Times Square in just his underpants to get back in. Then there is the encounter in the bar next to the theater when he has a contretemps with Tabitha the NY Times Theatre Critic who tells him she has vowed to give him the worst review in history to ensure the play is a flop as she bitterly resents Hollywood celebrities invading Broadway which she considers is her holy grail.


However, convinced that Mike will yet again upstage him on the play's opening night and firmly believing that he is about to lose everything, Riggan finds some inner strength to add a totally unexpected twist that shocks us all and wins him rave reviews from the Times after all.


Throughout this whole process Riggan is still completely obsessed with his past playing the infamous Birdman that brought him fame and success and has unquestionably shaped who he has become on so many levels. In the end he accepts the inevitability and simply gives in and let's him take over completely.


This is one amazing joy ride of a movie that never lets up both delighting and confronting the audience for the entire two hours. Inarritu's has imbued this, his 5th feature, with his extraordinary impassioned imagination that as, is his raison d'etre, is evident in every minute detail of the movie. The stunning cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) is nothing less than breathtaking. and it's accompanied by constant bursts of jazz drumming from Antonio Sanchez.


Keaton's very raw and brilliant performance as Riggan is what really makes the movie soar. He literally exposes himself in a role that could easily be conceived as based on his own life with a career that has hardly been in ascendant since his last Batman movie twenty years ago. Here he shows what a remarkable and honest actor he really is as he totally captures every nuance of this fallen star who wants to rise and fly again. I'd go so far as to suggest that this is a career best for Keaton, a fact which will be borne out when the Acting Award season starts soon.


He however wasn't alone up there on the screen and was complemented in particular with two powerful performances from the remarkable Emma Stone as Sam, and the ever wonderful Edward Norton as Mike. Nods also to Naomi Watts playing Lesley, Andrea Riseborough as Leslie, a very low key Zach Galifianakis as Riggan's manager, Amy Ryans as his ex wife, and also Lindsay Duncan as Tabitha.



I would hesitate to declare that this is director/co-writer Inarritu's best ever movie as the four memorable ones that proceed this (especially 'Amores Perros') are quite brilliant. However it was good enough for me at least to consider the thought for more than a moment. He is nothing less than a cinematic genius who continually successful pushes the boundaries of our imagination and gives us something remarkably refreshing and unique that is always such a sheer joy to experience.


Reviewed By Roger Walker-Dack



By The Gay UK, Dec 19 2014 07:00PM

When I was asked ''Do you fancy a day in The Rover's Return this Christmas?'', it took a fraction of a millisecond to say yes. If nowt else I was open to the possibility of uncovering some juicy backstage dirt. Purely in the name of investigative reporting of course.




The politically correct term for them these days is ''background artistes''. Everyone still calls them ''extras'' though to be honest. They are the people you see in movies and TV shows, fleshing out the screen and adding depth and presence; whether the thousands of mourners in the funeral scene in Gandhi or a handful of punters in the pub on Coronation Street.


I must say I am not the most regular of viewers these days but Corrie will always have a special place in my heart. Still going strong after over 50 years of existence, it's influence and importance can not be overstated. On a personal note, I remember how it was the only telly show my dear old mum considered unmissable. I'm also old enough to get a touch misty eyed at the slightest mention of Elsie Tanner (aka The Greatest TV Character Ever).


Production of the show has moved out of Manchester in recent years to a purpose built studio complex at Media City, Salford. The studio is just yards away from BBC North and the legendary cobbles and familiar terraced houses are a stones throw from the sleek glass and metal, Blader Runner-esque buildings of Salford Quays.


On arrival at reception, extras are ushered into a nearby area called The Hub, a holding area where we await further instruction. With its white and bright orange walls, it is not dissimilar to the breakfast room of a budget hotel. Trays of ITV branded mugs sit in a small kitchen area, next to a fridge crammed with milk and loaves of bread. After making coffee and toast, it was time to sit and wait to be told the plan for the day.


Young assistants, or runners, rush in and out in their unofficial uniform of hoodies, battered jeans and Converse. They clutch clipboards loaded with lists and wear headsets constantly connecting them to the show's Mission Control, as vital as life support to the smooth running of a logistical juggernaut like The Street. The runners are friendly enough but have the brisk, no nonsense manner of people well drilled in getting disparate tribes of people from A to B with minimum fuss on a daily basis.


I asked our runner, Paul, if the novelty of working on Corrie ever wore off.


''It does become just a job, yeah. But when you tell someone where you work and see the reaction, you remember it is a cool place to be working.''


Paul took us across into the studio, a vast low ceiling hangar like space. Off the main walkway are the individual sets; rows of plywood boxes with words like ''The Kabin'' and ''Bookies Flat'' written on the back of them. Moving through the studio, I caught brief glimpses of familiar rooms through gaps in the flimsy walls.


After a brief delay, we were taken onto our set; The Rover's Return. An obvious statement but the first impression was that it looks just like it does on the telly but smaller and darker.


The scenes we were filming were short and light in tone. They were for the Christmas episodes, so the pub was festively decorated including a string of silver tinsel around the picture of the much missed Betty Turpin on the wall. That made the inner long term viewer inside me go “Aw''.


Us extras were briefed on what we were doing and when and where to move and work on the scenes commenced very shortly after. Film and TV making can be notoriously slow moving and exacting, but turning out over two hours of television a week Coronation Street is factory like in approach. Flubbed lines or technical hitches cause only the briefest of breaks in the production line and it resumes at a relentless pace.


From my privileged position as ''Man At Bar Reading Wetherfield Gazette'' I eavesdropped as the regular cast on set gossiped, joked and chatted between takes. Listening in it all seemed to me so, for want of a better word, normal. As they discussed weekend plans and showed each other You Tube clips on their phones, it felt exactly like the light, time killing banter that takes place in a million other workplaces day in and day out. Although not many workplaces have a cabinet packed full of BAFTAs and Royal Television Society Awards in the foyer admittedly. The cast shared private jokes, talked about family and gently teased each other; the universal language of professional colleagues who get on well together.


It stands to reason actually. With their grinding schedules and constant demands, Coronation Street and the other long running soaps are the actor's equivalent of a 9 to 5 office job. And just like in any other place of work, there is even a spot of office politics as I overheard a couple of long standing stars having a grumble about management. Discretion of course prevents me from naming names. That and I would quite like to be invited back one day.


So I can't say I was privy to any major revelations or noteworthy nuggets of gossip during my visit to The Rovers. However next time I read one of the show's stars tell an interviewer how the cast are One Big Happy Family, I'm now slightly less likely to write it off as PR bull and roll my eyes in cynicism.


This Christmas On Coronation Street:


Will Gary Ruin Christmas? Does Kylie stand to lose everything? Find out in the Christmas Day Episode on ITV1 at 8pm.


By Richard Glen



By The Gay UK, Dec 19 2014 01:25PM

Today (19 December 2014) is dubbed ‘the black Friday of booze’, as the Christmas party season reaches its peak with an influx of revellers in pubs, bars and restaurants creating high demand across the emergency services. However, a spike in sign-ups to Dry January is also predicted, as people start to think about giving their bodies a break in the New Year.



This comes as new figures show that:


* last year, Friday 20 December 2013 saw sales of alcohol in pubs, bars and restaurants rise by 114% compared to an average Friday


* £3.7 billion was spent on alcohol last December, with total sales of alcohol rising by more than a quarter (28%) from November to December


* sales of sparkling wine and liqueurs jumped by 88% and 54% respectively


Jackie Ballard, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, said:


"In the run up to Christmas many people start drinking more than usual as they celebrate the festive season with parties and get-togethers.


"This is the perfect time to sign up to a holiday from alcohol. Dry January is not about never drinking again. It’s just an opportunity for people to reflect on their drinking patterns and to give their body a break from alcohol after the festive period. We know from previous years that people who do Dry January will feel better, lose weight and save money.


This data is supported by a number of people who have been keeping a record of their drinking for the past month, with many noting that their alcohol consumption in December had increased considerably from the previous month.


Charlotte Gowing, aged 38 from London, said:


"I don’t really see myself as a big drinker but I was quite shocked to see just how much more I drink in the run up to Christmas. Drinks on nights out with work and friends, as well as a few when I’m at home, all start to add up.


"I am definitely going to give my body a bit of TLC after New Year’s Eve and Dry January will be a good place to start.


Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, says:


"Over 17,000 people took part in Dry January in 2014 and many reported that taking a month-long break from alcohol acted as a reset button concerning their alcohol use for months afterwards, not only helping people to drink less per drinking day but also to drink less frequently.


"As with any commitment to a healthier lifestyle change, people need some time to prepare themselves in advance so that they are in the best position possible to successfully achieve their goal. People who sign up to Dry January will receive the tips, ideas and encouragement to stay motivated and make the most of their month off alcohol"


To sign up for Alcohol Concern’s Dry January and register for tips and tools to make the most of the month, please visit the Dry January website.








By The Gay UK, Dec 19 2014 08:00AM

Mews of Mayfair



££

★★★★

A short walk from Oxford Circus tube, tucked behind shopping chaos is the tranquil Mews of Mayfair. The clientèle appeared to mainly be tourists which is not surprising as the menu design is a marriage of classic familiar dishes (Fish & Chips, Burger, Club Sandwich etc.), alongside more refined sophisticated dishes including Duck Egg, Salt Baked Cotswold Chicken, Superfoods Salad, and rare breed beef.


The team within Mews of Mayfair were all really lovely, welcoming and engaged in conversation with us both. I find especially in London that service can be almost robotic and cold at times, but the team here were faultless and this was consistent as I observed the service with the other diners.



To start my friend ordered the Mosaic of Wild Duck & Red Deer- and why wouldn't you want to order the mosaic to start? Their creative flair continued through to the taste of this well constructed starter. Essentially a pate paired with a raisin bread, and the flavours in this were superb.


I chose the Orkney Isles Scallops served with pork belly and artichoke. Again the Mews of Mayfair showcase their expertise in the execution and presentation of this dish. Butter-like scallops served in a shell on top of a rock/seaweed filled bowl it was great to see their presentation going that extra step further. I was really impressed with the scallop and would highly recommend it.





For the Winter period the restaurant have come up with their take on a Bambi Burger, on the menu as Venison Burger. With this dish only being available til Christmas I went for this and had it cooked medium. Served in a brioche bun with a gin and redcurrant sauce, this really was a good burger. My friend opted for their traditional Mews burger but with added meaty chunks of lobster atop the meat, which was cooked to her liking perfectly.


With so many new restaurants opening with meat as their headlining dishes it's important to be able to get a burger right, which the Mews of Mayfair have done so here. There were plenty of caveman flesh in face style grunts from us during eating the burgers. Always a good sign.




Dessert. Here is where the show was stolen. I would come back here just to have the desserts alone, and I do not have much of a sweet tooth so this is really a big credit to the restaurant. I chose the Chocolate Delice served with honeycomb, yoghurt and hazelnuts. Pow in their presentation and an “oh god” moment with the first mouthful. The Chocolate Delice really is something special. Rich and mousse-like with subtle orange notes and light honeycomb with globes of cream and yoghurt.


We also had the Roast Williams Pear served with croissant ice cream. The pear was perfection and such a great match with the ice cream- seriously good ice cream, and I should know after many a summer spent in Italy.


I will definitely be back, not only for the dessert and friendly service, but to next time try something a little more adventurous with their main courses. Portion sizes throughout were good value for money, especially with the desserts (£7.50 most expensive for one) and the food arrived at the exact right amount of time between courses, making this a good venue not just for dinner but lunch (we dined over lunchtime).


Mews of Mayfair


www.mewsofmayfair.com

10 Lancashire Court

New Bond Street

London

W1S 1EY


Reviewed by Jordan Lohan



By The Gay UK, Dec 19 2014 12:00AM

Latest figures from Public Health England (PHE) indicate that flu is now circulating in the community. Increases have been seen in both children and adults across a range of indicators, including GP consultations.



Following PHE advice, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has this week issued guidance to all GPs on the use of antiviral drugs for the management of people presenting with flu-like illness in England, who are at higher risk of developing complications. Although flu is starting to circulate, flu levels currently remain relatively low.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “The NHS is well prepared for the flu season, and although flu levels remain relatively low, we are starting to see increases.

“Prevention is better than cure, and the increase in flu activity means it is even more important to get your flu jab if you are in an at-risk group. If you have not already had it, call your GP as soon as possible. I am very grateful to GPs for the work they are already doing to vaccinate people, and I know they will continue to strive for higher uptake.”


Dr Richard Pebody, head of seasonal flu surveillance at PHE, said: “We are starting to see increases in flu activity in both children and adults, indicating the start of this year’s flu season.

“People in ‘at risk’ groups can get the vaccine for free as they are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu, and sadly many end up in hospital. This includes people with health conditions, even those that are well managed, such as asthma, diabetes, heart, lung, liver or renal diseases, those with weakened immune systems, as well as older people and pregnant women.”

The latest vaccine uptake figures show some positive signs with 70.6% of people aged 65 and over vaccinated. However, only 47.1% in those aged under 65 with a health condition have been vaccinated and 41.6% of pregnant women. In addition, 34.8% of all 2 year olds, 37.3% of all 3 year olds and 29.3 % of all 4 year olds have been vaccinated with the nasal spray vaccine as part of the childhood flu immunisation programme. PHE also encourages healthcare workers and carers who could pass the infection to vulnerable people to also get vaccinated.

Dr Pebody, added: “Although unpleasant, for most healthy people, flu is a self-limiting illness. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, cough as well as sore throat, aching muscles and joints. The best advice for treating flu in healthy people is to stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and take pain relievers such as paracetamol. Children under 16 should not take any medicines containing aspirin. People in at risk groups who develop symptoms consistent with flu, or if anyone’s symptoms persist or become more severe, they should seek medical advice.

“Maintaining good cough and hand hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, disposing of the tissue as soon as possible and cleaning your hands as soon you can are important actions that can help prevent the spread of germs and reduce the risk of transmission.

“Every season we remain vigilant and assess the flu situation as more information becomes available from our various surveillance systems, and from the different virus samples we receive from across the UK.”


RELATED STORIES:

8 Foods To Beat Colds And Flu



By The Gay UK, Dec 18 2014 08:00PM

Sam Smith has become the only artist in the world to score a million-selling album in both the UK and the US during 2014, the Official Charts Company confirms today.

Smith's In The Lonely Hour passed the 1 million landmark in the UK during the past 24 hours, making it only the second artist album to reach the landmark this side of the Atlantic.


The confirmation comes 24 hours after his album was confirmed a million-seller in the United States, by Nielsen Music.


Sam told OfficialCharts.com: "OFFICIALLY sold 1 MILLION copies of In The Lonely Hour! To say I am ecstatic is a huge understatement. Thank you so much to every single person who has purchased my album."


By Midnight last night, In The Lonely Hour had sold 1.007 million copies (based on Official Charts data), making it only the second artist album to achieve the feat in the UK this year, after Ed Sheeran's X hit the milestone at the end of November. In the US, Only Sam Smith, Taylor Swift and the Frozen soundtrack have passed the million-mark this year, according to Nielsen Music.


The success of Smith and Sheeran also makes 2014 the first year since 2011 when more than one album has passed 1 million sales in the UK – in 2011, Adele's 21 and 19, Michael Buble's Christmas and Bruno Mars' Doo-Wops & Hooligans all passed 1 million sales.


Official Charts' Chief Executive Martin Talbot, said: "Many festive congratulations to Sam. To hit a million anywhere is impressive, but to become the only artist in the world to do so on both sides of the Atlantic is quite remarkable. His journey in 2014, from unknown newcomer winning the Brit Awards' Critics Choice award to internationally renowned double million-seller, has been incredible."


The BPI's Gennaro Castaldo added: "It's proving to be another amazing year for British artists, who are not only dominating the charts at home but continue to fly the flag for British music around the world.


"Like Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith is enjoying an absolutely stellar year, but for him to sell a million copies of his debut album in the UK and, remarkably, the US within the same 12 month-period that he collected his BRITs Critics Choice Award is a truly outstanding achievement. British music has unearthed another great talent that has all the makings of a global superstar, following in the traditions of Amy Winehouse and Adele."


In The Lonely Hour debuted Number 1 on the Official Albums Chart in May and June this year with impressive first-week sales of 102,000. It spent a second week at the top returning for a further fortnight 12 weeks later.


The record has also been a regular feature at the top end of the chart, having spent just one week outside the Top 5 since its release.


Sam's album has also spawned a string of successful singles, including Number 1s Money On My Mind and Stay With Me, as well as Top 10s I'm Not The Only One (Number 3) and Like I Can (9). To date, To date, tracks downloaded from his album total 2.48 million, have been streamed 87 million times and viewed on video streaming sites in the UK 48 million times.

By The Gay UK, Dec 18 2014 07:00PM

Here’s our Top Ten List of Fab Films to Fill a Christmas Stocking to suit any (movie) buff boyfriend from Amazon that will still arrive by the 25th if you have still not bought a Christmas gift for ‘him indoors’?



1) LA FOLIE D’AMOUR: THE XAVIER DOLAN COLLECTION. A box set of three of the award winning movies from Canadian Wunderkind (still only 25 years old). These astonishing, glorious films explore themes that are always deeply personal: fundamental questions of sexual identity and the boundaries of love, the testing of friendship, the obsessive nature of desire, and sexual awakening.





2) THE WIZARD OF OZ: SING-ALONG VERSION. To mark the 75th Anniversary of the release of this wonderful classic, Warner Brothers has released this new Blu-ray that encourages you to be Dorothy in your own home.





3) BOYS ON FILM 12: UK film distributor Peccadillo Pictures much acclaimed series of gay short films has a new 12th Edition called CONFESSIONS. Like all the previous collections this shockingly-good compilation of movies from mainly first-time filmmakers around the world features different stories about the lives of young gay men. As the title indicates the theme of this latest collection is about exposing private lives and uncovering secrets and presenting a choice or whether to keep hiding or to confess?




4) THE NORMAL HEART: Unquestionably one of the best gay films to hit our screens this year, Ryan Murphy’s powerful adaption of Larry Kramer’s celebrated play about the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic is an unmissable and compelling part of our history.




5) THE EROTIC FILMS OF PETER DE ROME: In the late 1960s and early 1970s British-born New Yorker and unsung hero of gay underground filmmaking Peter de Rome produced a number of explicit, painstakingly crafted Super 8 films each of which took the viewer on an immersive sexual journey. In 1973, eight of these films were brought together as The Erotic Films of Peter de Rome producing one of the finest cinematic examples of the intersection of artistry and eroticism. Now released on DVD for the first time, these extraordinary films are accompanied by a new BFI documentary.



6) THE LAST MATCH: A heartbreaking and touching wee drama that is completely engaging as it so accurately portrays the price that young men have to pay when they discover their sexuality in such an un-accepting and intolerant culture like Cuba.




7) THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL: A wonderful drama/comedy about a group of older impoverished Brits who seek an alternative cheaper retirement in a charming but dilapidated hotel in Mumbai with a star studded cast that includes both Maggie Smith and Judi Dench.



8) EASTSIDERS: an edgy and intense dramatic comedy that shows a slice of contemporary gay life in LA, which refreshingly does not just focus on his characters sexual orientations as its major plot point. Highly enjoyable.




9) FIVE DANCES: Alan Brown's latest movie has one of the most accurate titles that pulls no punches and is exactly what it promises i.e five dances. Held together by the strands of a wisp of a tenuous plot, it is however still a sweet and sensual coming-out-tale thanks to the presence of a charming young dancer who proves he is quite a mean actor too, despite his inexperience. You don't have to be a contemporary dance fan to love this one, but if you are, it does help.



10) JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK: The late great gay icon allowed the filmmakers unfettered access to her for a whole year and the result is an extraordinary frank and compelling documentary when we see the real Joan up front and personal. This one should be everybody’s stocking this Christmas




By The Gay UK, Dec 18 2014 03:16PM

Renowned world champion ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine returns to his home town of Jaffa for the very first time since his family fled when he was just 4 years old. At that time when the state of Israel was established the majority of the Arab population were pushed out, and those that remained became Palestinian Israelis.

★★★★★



Dancing In Jaffa
Dancing In Jaffa

Sixty years on it is still a deeply divided city and Dulaine believes that through his program of teaching children to dance he can break through some of the political and cultural differences and bring a moment of unity that hopefully may even endure.


Enlisting the support of six local schools, all but one segregated by religion, he realises early on that his task will not be an easy one. What he is asking them is literally that they dance with the 'enemy' which both the parents and the children themselves have deep reservations about, especially as it doesn't just involve close social interactions but physical touching between the children.



Dancing In Jaffa
Dancing In Jaffa

At the beginning Dulaine struggles to hide his sheer frustration that despite all his charm and elegance he seems to simply fail to convince many of the reluctant children of how much they would enjoy learning to dance if they would just at least try it. Things start to improve when his ex dancing partner Yvonne Marceau flies in for a visit so that she can help demonstrate all the dances he is trying to teach them. The children are entranced by the elegant Marceau and in response to their questions about his 35 year old professional relationship with her, Dulaine tells the children that 'you don't have to marry everyone you dance with!' 


As the weeks pass, the camera follows a handful of the children around so we can see how this new activity will impact on their particular lives. They include Noor a slightly chubby Palestinian girl who seems to have no friends and who lives alone with her unemployed mother. Her unhappiness with her lot is carried through to school where she is often in trouble for being a disruptive influence and a bully. She is not initially keen on the dancing lessons especially as none of the boys want to be her partner, but when Dulaine selects her to be part of the team to represent her school in the Competition they have been working towards, she somehow remarkably transforms into a totally different, and rather charming, young lady. 



Dancing In Jaffa
Dancing In Jaffa

It is actually a reflection of Dulaine's success that by the time it comes to naming the children that will make up the teams, some of the unlucky ones who are so upset that they didn't make the cut, round on him demanding explanations.


The day of the Competition in the packed local Community Hall the atmosphere is rife with excitement. Palestinian mothers sit next to Jewish parents to watch their children dance with other children from other schools and other faiths.  And somehow the patient Dulaine with his irrepressible good humour has turned these once reluctant and clumsy ugly ducklings into graceful swans that just glide around the dance floor. It is a rather sensational success and one that we could have never have forecasted after watching Dulaine struggle to break the children's initial deep-rooted resistance. The main pay-off was not who won medals of the gold cup, but the scenes in the days after when Arab children are playing with their new Jewish friends, something that no-one would have ever deemed feasible just a few weeks ago.


This enchanting documentary from prolific filmmaker Hilla Medalia (also has just released the excellent 'Web Junkie') cannot avoid being compared to 'Mad Hot Ballroom', a highly emotional roller-coaster story of kids in New York Public Schools getting addicted to a mean tango too. Both movies so beautifully prove their point that dancing like this not only crosses the divide but also is a great eye-opener as to how it affects the children's social behaviour and attitudes.


This is a heartwarming tale beautifully told that makes one feel so greatly encouraged that one man's vision of putting something back into society could pay off so handsomely.


Unmissable.


By Roger Walker-Dack








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