Ghost Peloton was always going to be good.
We’ve covered the run up to the event on Culture Vulture for the past month or so with behind-the-scenes exclusives from dancers, designers, partners and participants, and we’ve snooped in on the odd rehearsal, but nothing quite prepares you for what you are going to see on the night.
It was still light when I got to Waides Yard last night for the first of only two Ghost Peloton performances. There were already people milling around, and as the sky darkened the stands filled with a cheerful, chatty, very mixed crowd. It felt like the sort of crowd that would gather at a civic bonfire or a big sporting celebration, lots of families with small kids and groups of friends and young couples. Stewards in yellow T-shirts roamed around, gently ushering people to seats and making sure the event space was safe for the cyclists.
Just before the Ghost Peloton began the announcer mentioned again to visit the toilet now as it would be “unsafe” to leave the stands for the duration of the event. Once the audience was settled and the cyclists had set off nobody would be able to leave Waides Yard. It became plain why not long after Ghost Peloton began.
One cyclist entered the Yard, kitted out in the famous NVA light suit, the glowing wheels of his bike spinning like mobile Catherine Wheels. The suits do look a bit superheroish (probably not the sort of superhero on the side of the good and the right either!) or the sort of thing extreme deep sea divers wear – they are quite otherworldly and a little scary. Then there were too cycles, then three, then too many to count. I’ve heard numbers ranging from 30 to 50.
The cycling began single file and then split into two lines and then into more, snaking, swooping, intersecting in patterns too complex to describe, or occasionally even to make out. The choreography of the cyclists was complex and mesmerising – an experience intensified by the loud, pulsating music – and I often lost the detailed threads and gave myself up to a more general impression of movement and pattern and speed. The lights on the suits and cycles changed colour gradually, from a vibrant blue to a more subtle green and then into a profusion of tones and hues that an excitable toddler in the row behind me delighted in ticking off; “Greeeen mummy … red! … oraaaange!” (Actually I would have said more of a russet but it’s considered bad form to critique a three year old’s grasp of the colour palette.)
Then the cycles seemed to coalesce back into a single creature again and go whooshing past the stand from where I was viewing. The penny finally dropped why it wasn’t a good idea to go for a pee during the performance.
The rest of the event was notable for a virtuoso individual BMX display that brought out the magic of the light suits and bikes combined brilliantly, and a finale which made sure that each cyclist got a share in the adulation of the crowd.
For me the best bit was knowing the performers were just ordinary cyclists off the street (well, obviously they had to pass a few tests first) who each made a massive commitment and put in long hours of gruelling rehearsals. It paid off. A really tremendous event.
So, if you are lucky enough to have a ticket for tonight, you are in for something spectacular – let’s just hope none of the riders are feeling a bit saddle sore today!
And if you are going tonight take your smartphone and snap some pics. City Connect are giving away a bike for the best photograph of Ghost Peloton. Just Instagram and tag your photo with @CityConnect1 and use the hashtag #WYPedals