First Week – Summer Soiree Series

The Beverly Hills Hotel, baby.

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Our first week of residency at the notorious Pink Palace.

I arrived Monday evening for rehearsal in a black & white striped-silk top. It seemed appropriate with all the fine stripes strewn around the hotel; covering the roof of the grand entrance, around the arcade, stretched poolside all over the lounges. Entering the lobby I bumped into ‘Lilly Captain Mary (also donning stripes) and we elevatored together down to the Crystal Ballroom to get started.

Rehearsal began with a group stretch and check-in with all the gals followed by a land drill. Land drill? Yes, we drill material on land before getting wet. A lot. The show this week begins with a flirty ditty called “Cat & Mouse,” by Nikki & Rich, a number I have done multiple times but never once the same way. This day is no different. Performing at a new pool means resetting choreography, transitions, and patterns to meld to that new ‘stage.’ Our director, Mesha, likes to add a little sparkle, twist, or pop for each show. In addition, every pool has a unique shape, size, depth, and level of clarity. After three straight hours in the pool Mesha asked if there were any questions. I had a few. “Could the hotel do anything to get this water any clearer – I can’t see #*%^ under here.” (Mostly having to do with light and not cleanliness by the way). A few snickers came from ‘Lilly Diana who after years under the surface knew that was a lost cause.

Visibility is a honest challenge during a show. During rehearsals we all sport nerdy goggles. During a show? Never. It’s all about the lips & lashes. One perk to being a ‘Lilly is all the product Tarte Cosmetics has recently shared with us. I’m currently in love with their “lights, camera, splashes! 4-in-1 Waterproof Mascara.”

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This week was a great example of how the requirements of being an Aqualilly go beyond being able to swim with open eyes, dance with confidence in a bikini, and smile without getting lipstick on your teeth. Tuesday was the beginning of press. A news crew had cameras rolling at 4pm, which meant showing up “camera-ready.” I chose a strappy sundress by Free People and beige platform wedges. Two hours of interviews, posed rehearsals for the cameras, a spontaneous underwater photo shoot, and five hours of high impact rehearsal later, I was drowning. With the cameras and sun long gone, I dog paddled my way to the pool’s edge, propped my elbows and started to cry. Oh, sensitive Sarah. My body was a prune, I swallowed a liter of chlorine, and mostly frustrated I was still missing about ten 8-counts of choreography. Nerves were kicking in already. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and did a short lap underwater. Releasing my stress in the weightlessness of it all. Back to the moment, back to the game.

Wednesday was magical. Aren’t all mornings that begin when you’re driving down Sunset Blvd before the sun comes up? At 6am the hotel began to buzz with camera crews, artists, reporters, publicists, & parasols. By 6pm there were starlets, summer sounds from Luca Ellis, and tasty cocktails complimentary of our sponsor, which made for a very snazzy VIP opening night of the “Cointreau’s Poolside Soirees.” Burlesque Queen Dita Von Teese (who shares a birthday with me on September 28th) teased the audience with peacock feathers, and Aqualillies had everyone in awe with their sexy splashes and patterns of perfection. Our swimsuits were even the Pantone Color of the Year 2012: PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango. How could it all be so synchronized? Well, I confess. I got a little help from my friends. At one point towards the end of the 2nd routine, ‘Lilly Catherine literally pulled me into formation when I couldn’t see clearly. Oh, but you would never know darling, we were under the surface!

Dita Von Teese

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