When Cloud USA announced that it was going to have its next meeting/fan gathering (aptly called a Cloud Burst) in New Orleans I thought to myself, hmmmmm, a group of Rain fans gathered together to celebrate Rain in a city known for its festive atmosphere pretty much every day of the year? That sounded like a complete win-win situation to me. And, it was.
[Photo credit: blog.goo.ne.jp]
When I was on the plane heading to my very first Cloud Burst since learning about Rain and becoming a full-blown fan, I wondered if he ever had the opportunity to visit The Big Easy on any one of his previous visits to the US. Having gone there many times myself (mostly for business purposes as my job takes me there often), I was familiar with this little city’s big penchant for explosive entertainment and good food – two things I would think Rain would be genuinely interested it!! I thought to myself, I am sure Rain would dig this city in a big way and would probably tear it up!! With his diverse musical palate and well-publicized fondness for good food, I am thinking he should put New Orleans on his to do list. And I am sure our host for this most recent Burst, Gi, would be ALL too happy to personally welcome him to her city!!!
There are so many good things to talk about regarding this Burst that I almost don’t know where to start. But I can sum it up by saying that apart from celebrating Rain, making new friends was probably the highlight of the evening. I am sure I won’t be able to remember it all so I will share some of the hijinks below!
First of all, I was SOOOO happy to have a RAINunion with my two Cloud sisters Toni and Miss ‘One’ herself, Lee. I met Toni and Lee in Washington, DC back in May of this year when we got Rained on for a good 8 minutes by his royal Rainness himself. Yes, Rain crossed the ocean to be part of the Arirang World Peace Fest on May 8 which was a wonderful cultural program honoring the long partnership between the US and South Korea as well as honoring South Korea’s incredible growth and progress in the world today. It also celebrated Korean culture of which Rain is most definitely a part of! There are many great videos of Rain’s performance in DC, but I love my grainy, iPhone captures simply because there were times he was SO close, I could have almost touched him! And, well, these are my very first videos of my very first time seeing Rain. ♥ So, they are a sentimental favorite! Although a sergeant in the ROK Army at the time of this performance (his discharge was 2 short months away), we still received some of that Rain playfulness we all love so well…in addition to that smile and voice!
(We were missing Pat from Pennsylvania – as she was unable to join us at this Burst. If she were able to join us, it would have made the DC RAINunion complete!!)
There were so many new Cloud sisters to meet and I feel as if I extended my Rain community even further! Clouds from Texas, Iowa, New York, Illinois, Florida, Louisiana, and Georgia ??! How fantastic it was to meet Gi, Denita, Tammy, Vicki, Cyndi, Diane, Terri and Stephe! I know I am missing a few names here as my memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be so I apologize to those Clouds I have unintentionally left out of this mention.
And how about this, when we arrived at Gi’s home, we were greeted by this lovely banner commemorating the Burst! Such a nice welcome, right?
Then there was Gi herself. I think if you look up southern hospitality in the dictionary, you will probably find a picture of Gi. She opened her home to us all and welcomed us in as family. In addition to being the biggest Rain fan in all of the State of Louisiana, she is a true kind spirit, down to earth and ever so gregarious!
While we waited for our fearless leaders (and moderators for the evening), Stephe and Terri from Cloud USA to arrive, we introduced ourselves, listened to music (yes, Rain’s music), ate genuine New Orleans fare and simply enjoyed being in the company of each other, kindred spirits united by the love and admiration of one man – Rain. Once Stephe and Terri arrived the fun really began because they came bearing gifts…..bearing LOTS of gifts. Seriously, the Rain cup runneth over!! Here are some happy Clouds with their loot!!
Ok, I admit that many of the Rain prizes won that evening were compliments of my out of control shopping in Seoul this past July and that I was secretly hoping to win some of that back!! I actually did, now that I think of it! But, in all sincerity, it was SO wonderful to see the excitement over these Rain goodies. It made buying and transporting them all back that much more worth it! Gi had a mini-giveaway of her own and I managed to win a copy of Sang Doo on DVD!!! Score!! ^.^
I would say the wildest part of the evening happened when the guy below was released from the safe haven of Gi’s bedroom and was unleashed upon us:
Yes, that is a near life-sized cardboard cut out of Rain. And oh yes….there were those of us who were honestly contemplating an all out heist to steal it while trying to avoid a homicide in the Big Easy that evening! Gi is FOR REAL y’all! In any event, he became the center piece to a number of pictures and, in an effort to keep this PG-13 rated, I am going to refrain from posting any of those, but will share this group shot which is so lovely:
What a truly divine eclectic bunch of beautiful Clouds! (And I have to say, Gi and I had the best seats in the house for that picture…yep, we sure did)!!
More Cloud love:
Did I mention there were cupcakes and soju? Indeed!
And more soju!
And even MORE soju!
There was even a how-to-make a soju bomb class, compliments of Gi! ^.^
After all of the Rain goodies were distributed and our stories shared, we moved on to the entertainment portion of the evening. Yes, it was well after 1:00 AM at this point but a Cloud has no concept of time, space or otherwise when Rain shows up on a huge flat screen television ready to sing and dance! The selection for the next two hours was The Legend of Rainism 2009 Rain Asia Tour in Japan. If you are a Rain fan and have not yet seen it, I HIGHLY recommend. If you are not a Rain fan and have not yet seen it, I HIGHLY recommend. It is awesome. Rain is such a consummate and amazing performer. Additionally, when he is backed by a live band, it is just off the chain good! Here are a couple of videos taken from that show.
[Video credit: dukedik2]
By 3am I figured I should call it a night. My travel partner, Toni, had reached the up-for-24 hours mark at this point and as much as I wanted to stay and continue bursting with the rest of the Clouds, I knew we had to head out.
The next morning we heard that the party did not break up until after 5:00 AM! Being a Cloud is hard work and can be exhausting. But, it is without question truly rewarding!! Since we were not sure when and if we were going to be able to meet up with the Clouds who were remaining in New Orleans for another day, Toni and I decided to tool around the French Quarter as this was her very first visit to The Big Easy.
I promptly initiated her with beignets and chicory coffee….a New Orleans tradition, at the Café du Monde.
We took in the sights and sounds of the French Quarter, a place that never seems to rest, even on a Sunday! A stroll down Bourbon Street will bombard you with live music, strippers, frozen daiquiris and more. New Orleans is definitely a place to experience. It is a small city with a big heart and an even bigger capacity to entertain no matter what your interest and/or vice!!!!
[Photo credit: synvenfold.tumblr.com]
I believe a Cloud has all it takes to experience New Orleans and survive! Many of us have a built-in resiliency to handle long hours due in part to Rain living and breathing on the other side of the world. It renders us here in the USA to live, as it were, on two continents. And Rain if you are listening (and/or reading), we are so ready for you to be here in the States. We are ready for you to take us by storm and conquer us! We are waiting patiently for that day. In the meantime, we will continue to support you, celebrate you, your talent and your incredible ability to inspire. That, after all, is a Cloud’s creed. ♥