Category Archives: Travel

European DJ Tour Recap!

I spent the final night of my 2-week European tour DJing with Coconut Jim at Brass Monkey, a beautiful low-lit, bamboo-covered tiki bar in Copenhagen. And I remember this specific moment—when Coconut Jim played Ted Taylor’s “Somebody’s Always Trying” and a gang of us danced together in the tight spaces between the tables and chairs. I thought, this is a record I’ve heard in New York, Helsinki, London, Boston, Baltimore, LA, and now Copenhagen. This lil’ soul record from 1964! Unknown to the majority of the world, yet cherished and adored by a select few music lovers and record collectors, and played at soul parties across the globe. And that really summed up the magic of spending two weeks traversing the European continent, meeting folks in London, Helsinki, Budva (Montenegro), Copenhagen, and Paris, who, like me, love digging up old records and sharing them with the people. DJ Coconut Jim sorting his 45s at Brass Monkey, Copenhagen Joining me on that final night of my tour was Mick Patrick and Phil Chapman (who had flown over from London), my fellow Danish girl group lovers Peter Andreasen + Per Frederkisen, Sofie Jekel, who used … Read more

Mini-East-Coast DJ Tour!

I just got back from a DJ trip to Dallas that involved digging through the ENORMOUS stock of 45s at Josey Records (this photo doesn’t even do it justice), and I’m heading out on the road again for more DJing (and hopefully record shopping) in Providence, RI, Boston, MA, and Richmond, VA. Here are the deets! xo-Sheila Friday November 13, 2015 / Providence, RI Soul Power Girl Group Spectacular! DUSK, 301 Harris Ave, Providence, Rhode Island 02909 10pm – 2am With DJs Resident DJs Ty Jesso + John O’Leary + guest DJ Sheila B. Plus go-go girls + rare girl group videos on a big screen Cover: $7 Facebook event page: Saturday November 14th, 2015 / Boston, MA Soulelujah! A Saturday night soul n’ funk 45s party! The Middle East Club (Upstairs), 472 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139 10pm – 2am Cover: $8 Click here for tickets. Saturday November 21st, 2015 / Richmond, VA Le Garage! An all vinyl DJ night that features garage, mod, soul, yé-yé, psych, freakbeat, and girl group records from all decades. With DJs Sister Golden Haze, Lightnings Girl, + guest DJ Sheila B. Balliceaux, 203 N Lombardy … Read more

Holy Moly

Perhaps this quiet, sweltering Saturday in Tel Aviv (when most shops close and public transportation shuts down) is a good time to lounge around my Jaffa Air B’n’B and do some reflecting n’ writing. I’m one week into this exhilarating, eye-opening 2-week stay in Israel (which began with my being detained at Ben Gurion airport immigration for more than five hours). Israel’s ancient, religious, spiritual, militaristic, open, extreme, dizzying n’ disorienting energy hits you hard and fast, and I feel like I’ve been on some sort of crazy high since the moment I arrived. The reaction to my visiting Israel has been unsurprisingly mixed—“Why are you visiting Israel if you’re not Jewish?” “Boycott Israel, free Palestine!” “It’s the most amazing place in the world!” “You won’t like it at all.” “You’re going to feel so at home given your Middle Eastern background.” I’m doing my best to tune out the noise and just see and feel it for myself. One thing that strikes me the most is the open-ness of the people. There’s no ice to break! No guards up! What I’ve seen so far in Israel is lots of … Read more


A couple months after gushing my heart out over Herb Lester’s impeccably designed, pocket-sized travel maps, an invitation from Mr. Lester arrived at my doorstep, asking if I’d like to prepare a guide to Miami (my go-to destination for many a frigid January). I RSVP’d with a capital “HELL YES!” and promptly set sail for the Floridian coast to more closely investigate both the familiar and the new. It is a spectacular city, an ideal spot for lovers of archictecture, art deco, mid-century modern, and preservation. It’s also home to a large population of Cubans and Haitians, whose restaurants serve mouth-watering sandwiches, stews, and juices made from fruits you’ve probably never heard of. Record collectors will be thrilled by Yesterday and Today’s Records, where you could spend all day flipping through LPs and 45s (all in excellent condition, by the way). I am tempted to divulge all my Miami secrets, but I shall instead direct you to Herb Lester’s site, where you can purchase the Miami guide, so very beautifully designed and illustrated by Javier Garcia. 

Notes from the Australian Road

I’m currently sitting in a hotel room perched above Apollo Bay, on the southern coast of Australia. It’s our last day of a two week trip that took us from Sydney down the East Coast to Melbourne, to the tip of the ridiculously scenic Mornington Peninsula for a wedding in Portsea, and lastly to the Great Ocean Road. The first huntsman spider I’ve seen outside of the zoo is currently hanging out above the door in the bathroom. And yesterday we drove up a pathway in the Great Otway National Forest, where high up in the eucalyptus trees we spotted wild koalas.  The drive from Sydney to Melbourne takes you along some pretty coastline, but the Great Ocean Road, with its rugged cliffs, beautiful and accessible white sand beaches, lined with what looks like the world’s largest christmas trees, is by far the most scenic road I’ve ever travelled (it’s similar to California’s Pacific Coast Highway, but surrounded by tropical rainforest and koalas!). The drive begins in Torquay,  the surfer’s capital of Australia. Sadly we arrived two days early for the Rip Curl Pro competition at Bell’s Beach. The plan for … Read more


Over the next coupla weeks, Cha Cha Charming will take on a slightly more Australian tone, as I’m currently one hour into a 20-hour trip to Sydney. This is a continent I never thought I’d see in this life-time, as I’ve spent 34 of my 35 years as a severe arachnophobe, always researching the spider population of a country before I visit. I believe Australia is home to the largest, most diverse, and most dangerous population of spiders and so it has always remained at the bottom of my list of places to visit. I’m planning to do a proper post on the AA for arachnophobes that miraculously cured me of my fear, but just wanted to quickly write up a post that will explain the jet-lagged, exhausted, sporadic nature of the next few days of blog posts.  We’re spending five nights in Sydney, and then taking a coastal road-trip down to Melbourne, where we’ll be staying for a week. Aside from my thorough research on Australian arachnids, I know very little about the cities I’ll be visiting. Any tips on record shopping (specifically for 45s) would be greatly appreciated. 

Send Me a Postcard, Darling

Call me a Luddite, but e-mails don’t hold a candle to getting hand-written correspondence. Yesterday I came home to two postcards–one with just one line. “Sheila, I found this in a car and I thought of you.” It was a photo from 1975, a girl in a muted pink tank top, with rounded edges. Another came from Palm Springs, from two friends saying thanks for the tips on where to go (they loved Melvyn’s and Cheeky’s). It made my day. It was also a refreshing change from the usual computer-generated drab in my mailbox. Compared to an e-mail, sending a postcard is a time-consuming pain in the ass. But somehow taking the time and care to write a postcard or listen to a record, or cook dinner, or make a cup of tea (tea leaves, stove-top kettle) oddly ends up being so much more satisfying than anything quick n’ easy. Somehow these “inconveniences” or chores have become the anti-thesis to the non-stop, multi-tasking, not-enough-time-in-the-day, time-is-money, do-it-faster, progress! progress! progress! messages that bombard modern living. Convenience was meant to give us more time for leisure. Instead we have even less time, less vacation … Read more

Mapping In Style

For an artist, designing a Herb Lester map must be a dream job. You’re given one sheet of paper on which to bring a city to life–to map its many marvels, illustrate its feel, and guide its owner to a perfumerie in Paris or where they make the best sour dough loaf in Copenhagen. Of the ever-growing collection of maps I have amassed, each one is impeccably designed and beautifully illustrated by artists clearly thrilled to be a part of this project. The love for Herb Lester maps has spread to every corner of the web and to boutiques worldwide; all have praised Herb Lester’s combination of guide book, gorgeous design, very fine taste, light weight, and pocket-size. What began as a bare yet informative guide to help London freelancers find places to plug in their laptops, has evolved into a full-fledged map-making enterprise that has sought the expertise of designers and city-dwellers around the globe. I’ve put the Paris, London, and New York maps to the test, and can assure you that these folks know their stuff. I’ve spent years living next door to Greenwich Village, and had never even heard of … Read more

Guide to Palm Springs

When Don Draper needed a vacation, he headed to Palm Springs, California–the desert playground for Hollywood’s elite in the 1950s-1960s, and still the hub of what is known as mid-century modern design–a distinct architectural and interior style that favors sleek lines, steel structures, unconventional shapes, and enormous pieces of glass that bring the outdoors indoors. Palm Springs’ preservationists have put up a mighty fight to protect the works of architects Donald Wexler, William F. Cody, and E. Stewart Williams, as developers seek out more space for golf courses and Starbucks. Thankfully the ever-growing adoration for mid-century modern design and frustration with clone-towns has breathed new life into the desert town, and it is lauded worldwide as a rare symbol of the beauty and design America was once capable of. I stumbled upon Palm Springs in January 2011, when I spent six weeks road-tripping from San Francisco to Miami. We checked into the Del Marcos hotel, dined in the old-Hollywood glam of Melvyn’s, rode up to the top of the San Jacinto mountain via the Palm Springs aerial tramway, and attempted to trespass the gates that kept us too far from John Lautner’s space-age Elrod House, built in … Read more

Palm Springs Mix

Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr., or the Rat Pack, are the logical choices for music to enjoy Palm Springs by. Hotel rooms often come with their Greatest Hits collections, and “Come Fly With Me” is always playing by the pool. I’ve included Sinatra (and daughter) in the mix, and Dean Martin’s country cracker “1200 miles from Palm Springs to Texas,” but I wanted to stay light on the Rat Pack and choose other artists + songs that I think capture the mood of the desert. Todd Rundgren’s “Hello it’s Me” may feel more East Coast , but when it came on as I was speeding past a sea of windmills, I was certain it couldn’t sound better anywhere else. They are the perfect match. As is anything by Claudine Longet. And Diana Dors. Even though she’s so English.  1. Santo & Johnny: Sleep Walk 2. Frank & Nancy Sinatra: Something Stupid  3. Diana Dors: Come By Sunday4. Alan Moorhouse: That’s Nice 5. Priscilla Paris: I Can’t Understand  6. Dean Martin: It’s 1200 Miles from Palm Springs to Texas 7. Lesley Gore: A Girl In Love 8. The Walter Wanderley Trio: Amanha 9. Claudine Longet: Run Wild, Run … Read more