Poland - October 2002

When Mr. Lava went to Poland, Mr. Lava had a mission: to see girls dancing on tabletops. I'm not talking about a strip club, you unimaginative sex-starved losers. I'm talking about a bar or a club where, as the evening goes on, more and more kids jump up onto the tables and sing at the tops of their lungs to the pop songs blasting from the sound system. Why was this so important to me? Because a place where the kids dance on the tabletops is a happy place.

I had missed the table dancing experience in Romania, and after the Speed Muffin sent me this picture of a girl dancing on a tabletop in Prague, I became a man obsessed.

In America you can't dance on the tables; most establishments' tables are too weak, and liability rears its ugly head (our all too lawyerly way of life restricts our personal freedom to get up [and get down] on a tabletop whenever the mood strikes us). This is, obviously, a shame.

During the summer of 2001 I fell in love with the films of Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski. Instilled with visions of lovely Irene Jacob trudging across Krakow's central square in The Double Life of Veronique, my interest in visiting Poland grew. After many delays, DJ Cyberian Tyger and I finally snagged some tickets. We were off.

I brought a baseball onto the plane with me thinking it would be good for fighting terrorists. Has there ever been a movie where a terrorist is done in by a baseball to the head? With the thrower exclaiming something along the lines of, "That's for AMERICA, you fuck!" or "Chalk one up for AMERICA'S PASTIME!" or the simple but effective, "YOU'RE OUT!!!"? Maybe?

The baseball must have been a suitable deterrant. Our flight was terror free, although some passengers subjected themselves to Windtalkers.

We caught our connection at London Gatwick, an airport much changed since my last visit in 1992. It's a rather attractively laid out shopping mall. Plenty of stores there, including a mini-Harrod's, sell British-associated goods (Paddington Bears, 007 toys, Manchester United jerseys, Golden Jubilee spoons, Harry and Beatrix Potter stuff, etc.). Englishness is a very marketable commodity.

I was delighted to hear the cheerful strains of Underworld's "Two Months Off" wafting through a sporting goods store—a reminder that I was now an ocean away from the horrors of American rock radio. And the book store provided the following important information: Most of the Spice Girls have penned autobiographies, and so have two of the All Saints girls, one of whom dates Liam Howlett from the Prodigy and the other of whom dates one of the brothers Gallagher from Oasis.

It was morning when we arrived in London, but by our clocks it was still the middle of the night. So we drank several pints of various ales, and some Guinness, and then tottered over to the arcade's Dancing Stage Euromix machine where we looked on as two 12 year-olds battled each other to Shaft's "Mucho Mambo (Sway)."

Introduction to our Poland trip
Krakow (1)
Kryjowka, Krakow
Lublin (1)
Lublin (2)
The Park, Warsaw
Some interesting information
Some useful information

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