Nice is amazing.
The women are beautiful. The men are beautiful.
Les immeubles, the apartment buildings, are built on top of the ground level magasins (stores), typically 6 stories high. The cars are much thinner, as the streets are quite narrow, and the walkways are filled with folks milling about, eating and drinking, walking, biking, riding scooters and motorbikes. This place is extremely sunny, and social, even in this wintertime. I have not yet been “carded” – I don’t think that’s even a thing here, really. I’m able to freely enter bars, pubs, I can buy wine and liquors without a second glance. People drink out in the open; wine on the beach and such. The police ride segways and the only thing I’ve seen them do is ask a man to put his dog on a leash in the park.
The city is full of expensive touristy shops. There is an “old town,” called “vieux niece,” close to the beach, and a more “developed” section further north. Devon and I live in the old town in a two bedroom apartment overlooking a reasonably busy street. We walk through the alleyways of vieux nice in the direction of the beach to get to Wayne’s Bar; the english restaurant whose basement contains our rehearsal space, aptly named “the cave.”
The band is going swimmingly. Evan and Dan, our 5-years-experience proctors of the land, are really great guys. They are social and hilarious, knowledgeable and helpful, and they listen and speak openly. The four of us have a great chemistry already, freely bouncing ideas off of each other and gracefully giving and receiving feedback as it stirs.
We are learning popular music. In Europe this phrase corresponds not only to the American pop repretoire (Bruno Mars, Robin Thicke, The Beatles (yes I know they’re British) and so on) but also a slew of international songs that quite literally everyone here sings along to. They include Volare, Besame Mucho, Champs Elysees, Sympathique, and the favorite around here, Emmenez-Moi (a song about the beauty of the southern coast of France).
Phly Boyz got their start when Evan and Dan took a summer vacation to busk (play street music) in France. They had a friend who recommended Nice as the best spot for such a business. One day they were guided into a restaurant, La Petit Maison, and were very well received. Dozens of business cards later, the Phly Boyz were a private events band with regular gigs at restaurants and dinner parties.
On Saturday night we played our first gig; 6 days after setting eyes on each other. The venue was the restaurant l’Uzine, opened last year by ex-staff members of La Petit Maison, who had saved up to start their own culinary project.
It was a blast! We went around table to table with our upright bass, tiny-drum-kit, guitar and saxophone, singing customized songs for each table. The whole restaurant was enthralled and we got some serious sweat and adrenaline going.
Now it is Monday and we leave for our first big gig on Friday, to the mountains of Switzerland. This week we are preparing more of our repertoire, getting haircuts and swanky suits, and generally chillin hard. Nights with the boyz are really enjoyable – we are a funky little bunch.
Devon and I have met a number of cool french folks. Andreas is in an electropop band called A.Jam with songs in mixed french and english. He showed us a cool music bar called Bspot, where I met a jazz singer named Lucy. Outside of Wayne’s, we met Regis and Michael who offered their advice on local bars and international travel, but who were particularly interested in informing us about the local ladies. I seem to have met a lot of people who seem vested in getting me laid.
Me? I’m more interested in making friends here. It’s a new place and I’m still straddling the language barriers. There’s a lot to take in. I’m taking my sweet time settling in and growing a network of supportive creative friends to chill with.
The people here sure are beautiful.