If anything was going to go wrong, it was going to be the Hwimori. The others were easy: at most four lines, each one the same length, and played once before moving on to the next; and the cycle was repeated several times so that there was no way you were going to forget it. The Hwimori had 31 lines, of different lengths, played any number of times between one and 8 before moving on to the next one. That’s a lot more to remember.
We were wobbling by line 4 and completely lost by line 9. With some vigorous conducting and shouting by the professionals we somehow came back together by line 13, and from then on we were fine. I think some of our audience noticed, but hey, we’re amateurs — we’re allowed to be clueless.
We had mustered shortly after 7pm. Some of the people milling around outside SOAS were expecting us; others seated on the grass sunning themselves were a little bit bemused and even a little hostile. But after some crowd-warming-up by Dulsori everyone was on-side and enjoying themselves.
After our ten-minute set, Dulsori did some performing of their own. I’m sure they were very glad the temperature was just a few degrees lower than it had been the previous couple of days, and there was even a bit of a breeze, because all that leaping about and head-twirling can’t be much fun for them when it’s really hot.
Then there was a communal conga, and some thank-yous, and we were done. We retired to our rehearsal room, put the instruments away and were then instructed to sit in a circle on the floor. We weren’t sure what was coming next. But it was some sharing of conversation, of fruit, and some impromptu performances: one of the members of the troupe sang an Arirang which brought tears to my eyes; and another was about to start singing some Pansori. I felt guilty about leaving Louise waiting outside (and maybe there was also an element of terror that each of us was going to be called upon to do some party-piece) so I regretfully made my apologies and left the gathering. I wonder how long it went on. One thing I am left with is a tremendous feeling of warmth and friendship.
Many thanks to the fantastic Dulsori. Having this much fun on £4 an hour shouldn’t be legal. I hope somehow our group keeps in touch with each other.
A full set of photos from the evening can be found in the gallery below. Thanks to Melissa and bluebronte for these.