Aiming to take the theatricality of Britney headsets and over-extroverted instructors, and combine it with deep inner feelings of grief, Jamie-Lee Money lands at EdFringe next week with what can only be described as a unique combination of themes for a show. We wanted to get behind the wheel with Jamie-Lee to chat all things spin classes, mourning, and how we cope when we’ve been knocked sideways. We sat down for a pixelated pint to talk all things Spin Cycles.
Catch Spin Cycles at Pleasance Courtyard – Bunker Two from August 2nd to 28th (12:20). Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.
Jake: Hi Jamie-Lee! Your new show Spin Cycles is performed entirely on a spin bike – tell us a little about what brought you to the concept and how it was creatively working with your stainless-steel companion.
Jamie-Lee: I’m not going to lie, I have become one with the spin bike, but that wasn’t always the case.
I had been spinning the odd time here and there and felt as if I was going to die before, during and after, so it just didn’t feel like my go-to. Cardio isn’t really my jam. But then I bought a bicycle and became one of those cyclists in London and THEN I went with a good friend to a class in Shoreditch shortly after my grandfather died and within the first minute of the class, I thought to myself “This is bizarre, this is a play” and I just started writing and spinning (loosely). I had a million little notes here and there, my friend bought me a pocket moleskine to take with me and observe. So that’s what I did, observe, and write.
My ideas were mostly scribbled in the Barbican Foyer or on the bus and a lot of late night ramblings happened after a glass of wine. My mum was diagnosed with Cancer shortly after my first spin class and it just all felt a bit much to write about spinning and grief. So after a bit of a hiatus, I opened up my google doc when it felt right again and now a year and a half later here we are, a week away from Fringe.
I had always had an idea of how I wanted the show to work rhythmically with music and movement, but that changed instantly when we started working with the bike. It was a whole new feat talking and spinning, but we have dialled that up and down accordingly. I’m not so sure the audience is keen to watch me spin solidly for 60 minutes, or maybe they do, either way they should still come. If nothing else to watch me bop around to some fab tunes.
Jake: The show takes on grief through the lens of the almost cult-like world of spin classes. Tell us about the process of diving into that world and what marries those two themes together in your opinion.
Jamie-Lee: Quite frankly nothing and everything marries them. So many people look to some sort of thing to hold onto and then search for meaning when the unthinkable happens and they are dealing with, and for so many people that becomes exercise. The weird thing about spin classes nowadays is that they really are what you make of them. You can go in as a determined fitness fundi and it can be 45 minutes of cardio where you push yourself to the limit of what your physical body can do, or you can go in and struggle the whole way through every hill climb and every reference to dropping your baggage and maybe tear up when Sia’s Alive comes on… It’s spiritual.
I’ve been to spin classes in NYC, London, Cape Town and Edinburgh and they are all so different but fundamentally the message is the same, you go in to achieve something you didn’t think you could when you started. It’s all very woo woo and I’m still not quite sure if I totally actually enjoy spinning. But there is something quite arresting when you are sweating and bopping to the beat in a dark room full of strangers and one person in the corner is whooping and another is sitting down and the lights are flashing, and then the instructor tells you to reach down and add more resistance. It’s all quite bizarre but it really can be 45 minutes of uninterrupted escape.
I don’t really love group exercise but there is something about an exercise class that makes you feel held, and there is something about the cult-like mantras and speeches about determination that can make even the most tightly wound attendee bop their little heart out to that beat. Spinning is not for everyone, but everyone experiences grief and gets to a point in their life where they need to find something that is concrete and makes sense, and that’s sort of what She does in Spin Cycles.
After denouncing any form of communal sweat, I’ve now become one of those people who has a Peloton in their lounge and their own Shimano brand cleats, the irony is not lost on me.
Jake: Grief is a deeply personal topic to many people and I’m sure the show will connect with a lot of audience members’ experiences – what are you hoping they take away from it all?
Jamie-Lee: I’m certainly no expert on grief but I hope that through the journey that She goes on in Spin Cycles the audience are able to connect with at least a single moment in the show where they go, yeah I’ve been there, or huh, I’ve felt that. And maybe they come away with nothing and that’s ok, but I hope they at least laugh, because grief can also be weird and funny, sometimes.
I find it really interesting how many performers and writers are dealing with the theme of grief in their shows this year. It’s something we all experience at some point in our lives and every story and experience is different and so I’m really looking forward to hearing about other people’s journey’s.
If I move at least one person, I’ve won.
Jake: Tell us about your relationship with Edinburgh and the Fringe – have you been before and how are you feeling about it all now we are a week away?
Jamie-Lee: So this is my first year ever at the Fringe, as both spectator and performer and it’s my debut solo show, and my debut as a writer so I’m really just diving straight into the deep end, with my eyes closed in the nick. I’ve been to and performed at Cape Town Fringe Festival but it’s a tiny tadpole in comparison, so I’m ready to just JUMP straight in.
I adore Edinburgh, it’s where my parents are based so I love coming up from London and visiting them and it really is such a magical city. I took a stroll through the city today and started spotting poster’s and the final touches going into venues. I feel pumped and also like I might faint. It’s a lot of trepidation and excitement but I’m trying to channel the nerves into positive performance energy, and as they say, trust the work.
Jake: Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?
Jamie-Lee: A Margarita with cointreau and fresh lime juice, and always a salted rim. It’s tangy, She’s salty but has a citrusy twist. Cointreau is also higher in alcohol than triple sec but makes for a smoother drink. Expensive but worth it.
Also just generally love a marg.