Finding your comforts in a hotel

Unless you live and freelance only in New York City, a majority of the freelancing that dancers do takes them away from home. Sometimes, you will stay with a host family. At other times, like I am right now, you will be put in a hotel for weeks at a time. While staying in a hotel sounds fun, exotic, and vacation-like, it can leave you feeling quarantined from society and lonely. To fend off these feelings, I have compiled this list of things you can do to find your creature comforts and to feel like you are still an active part of society.

- Sitting in a hotel in a suburban location can become a redundant experience. It is easy to get stuck in boring patterns due to an inability to get around much on your own. Try changing up your routine. Eat out some days, eat in others. Call an old friend that you haven't talked to for a long time to reconnect. Take a bath. Use the pool or hot tub. Watch TV. Schedule a movie night and rent a pay-per-view movie. Interact with the hotel staff. Go for a walk. Try to get out of your mundane patterns and do something different every day.

I went for a short drive along Lake Ontario before rehearsal
- Staying at a hotel rarely allots you a stove or a microwave to prepare your own meals. This usually leads to one of the least comfortable situations for many people. Eating alone at a restaurant. When I first started writing this post, I was doing exactly this. I walked into the restaurant and the host insisted that I would probably enjoy (or...erm...feel more comfortable) eating at the bar. But I wanted to sit at a nice table in the main dining area...by myself. Then, when my server walked up to me, he stated, "you must be waiting for a pretty lady." He must have missed the memo, or multiple memos. Any newbie at eating alone might have felt embarrassed or extremely awkward in this situation, but after a few years on the road I am a pro at eating alone. Bring a book or newspaper. Bring your smart phone and catch up on social media or download a new game to play. Or, like me, bring a pen and paper to journal, log, blog, or anything else that you would like to document or write about. A nice glass of wine will help relax your discomfort, too. Or just sit back, breath, and take in the characters sitting around the restaurant having dinner. I always find great entertainment watching how locals interact with one another.

My items from home
- For me, one of the least comfortable things about staying in a hotel is the sterility and impersonal feeling that most rooms share. You don't have any personal home-y touches. You didn't decorate the room. What I always try to do is to bring a few things from home that make me feel like I am closer to home. It would weigh your luggage down if you carried your favorite piece of artwork. What I do is carry a very few lightweight items with me. I always bring one or two unframed 4x6 photos with me to decorate the room and remind me of loved ones. The pictures tend to get beat up a bit, but they still make me happy. I also have a stuffed sock monkey that my partner gave me as a gift. Yeah, I'll admit that I sleep with it. I haven't slept with a stuffed animal since I was 4 years old. But, only when I am traveling, I sleep with this stuffed creature.

- I always go on an extensive search for new music on ITunes in the days before departing for a gig. That way I have some new music to go along with my old music. I have an IPhone, which has a speaker loud enough for me to listen to music. But if you don't have a phone with these capabilities, consider buying cheap, portable speakers that connect either to your computer or MP3 device. I know I am late to the game, but I have also recently discovered the joys of Pandora. You can type in your favorite artist, song, or genre of music and it plays random songs, like a personalized radio station, for free. I feel music drowns out the stifling silence of sitting in a hotel room.

- One of my biggest issues when staying at a hotel is that I get lonely. After a long day at work, dancers often want to vegetate and rest their body and mind for the next day. It isn't uncommon for dancers to reject invitations to hang out. Sometimes, it is necessary to fight the urge to act like a hermit and enjoy some company. While an invitation from a co-worker may not always sound enticing at first, most of the time you end up enjoying yourself more than you would have staying by yourself in your room. Getting out and being around people will not only keep you company, but it will forge new friendships and relationships.

- You won't have the luxury of having a DVR to record and watch your favorite television shows when you are at a hotel. Sometimes, the wireless doesn't always work well enough to download video. In the worst of situations (for me at least), there is no internet. Always come prepared with a handful of your favorite DVD's. I always bring a few seasons of different TV series on DVD of my favorite shows; like American Dad, It's Always Sunny, and South Park. I like to take a relaxing bath for my muscles, pop a DVD in my computer, and have a good laugh.

- One of my biggest mental comforts is having access to a gym. The gym is an important part of my daily routine at home. What does one do if there is no gym at their hotel or affordable gym options nearby? This one is hard for me. I tend to associate my place of rest, whether it be my home or a room with a bed, with nothing other than that. I can tell myself that I will work out at some point, but it becomes very difficult once I sit down and start to relax. I find that when I wait until later in the day, this effect gets even worse. So, I have created a set of exercises that simulate what I would do in my regular gym workout. And while I despise them, I can do them all without any equipment that I use in my regular routine. I find if I do these exercises earlier in the day, prior to class or rehearsal, I am more likely to complete them. If I wait until afterwards, I do exactly what is supposed to be done in your bedroom. Rest.

- I always make sure to show up to a gig with a task to complete that doesn't have to be finished by the time I leave. You never know how much free time you will have and it is better to have a backup plan if you have no other options. For instance, my current task that I hope to complete during my time preparing and performing the Cavalier in The Nutcracker with Rochester City Ballet is to start compiling a list of ballet companies and Broadway shows that I find interesting. I have slowly been gathering information to help clarify the next step of my career. While I am lucky to have friends here from last year and a car to drive myself around, there are still times where I find myself pent up in my hotel room. This is one way to be proactive in my down-time and to occupy hours sitting in my room.

Glad to be back in the studio at RCB rehearsing with my Sugar Plum, Jessie Tretter

1 comment:

  1. It was great to see the old printshop and everyone who works there again. I am excited to see a printing business still operating and growing, great job guys