Arriving in their droves on the vaguely rainy day that was Sunday 16th January, the unstoppable yelpers of Leeds splashed into Aqua Preena for this most fabulous klatsch to welcome in the new year: Yelp's New Year New Start Pamper Session!
Folks partook of the complimentary wines and juice as the risible event got under way. Whilst everyone formed a schoal of anticipation, the Gara Ruffa fish were prepared for the sumptuous sampling session, and with a palpable amount of excitement and trepidation the first few attendees dove straight in!
Aided by the delightful proprietors Sarah and Sean, and their fabulous shop manager Jamey, folks learned all about the healing properties and pedicure qualities of these delightful fish, as they tickled away at the tootsies of those brave enough to take the first plunge.
Once everyone had arrived, the full on nibbling session began, for both the yelpers and the fish! Those lying in wait for their turn in the tanks began sampling the delights of the buffet and, as Tim M aptly wrote, those whose feet were being feasted by the fish allowed "them to sample the delights of me"!
As the tide of tastings swept in, wave upon wave of laughter could be heard throughout the shop, creating an almost tangible feeling of rapture. Although a few almost capsised with laughter, no one fell fully overboard, and more giggling was audible than at a Eddie Izzard gig.
Prize moments go to Tim M; the first to champion the furor of putting one's face into the fishtank, which sparked off a series moments where everyone attempted every possible body part (within reason, of course…) and Carla D for her ultimate feet-fish reaction.
Whilst folk took turns, making leviathan efforts to remain feet first, the wonderful Amy Pulfer got hands on and gifted those waiting in the shallows with a free sample head, back, shoulders and hand massage. Those lucky enough to have gotten a session with her magic hands literally floated over to the fish for their nibbling, enjoying the lull of their relaxation before being revived.
As the snacking slowed yelpers were treated to a virtuoso vocal performance by the wonderful Terri Shaltiel, who serenaded folk into solace and calm to close the event. As the last few nippers were hooking their fishful bounty, folk swayed and chatted as the gig swept everyone back into a calm.
In one final bestowal of aural pleasure, Jamey the shop manager wowed the remainder of the crowd with his piano skills, as everyone bid farewell until the next exciting installment of Yelp Elite goodness. Those hungry for more joined in the after party CMYE at one of Leeds' coolest bars, distrikt, for a few decent brews before bed.
An incredible thank you goes out to the folk at Aqua Preena, for the fabulous fish festivities and wonderful hosting of this most spectacular event. Muchos gratitude is also bestowed upon Terri Shaltiel for her wonderful set, Amy Pulfer for her magic hands, Matthew Kitchen for his wondrous photography and of course everyone who was in attendance! Oh-what-a-night!
"Went along to sample the delights of the Gara Ruffa fish, or to let them sample the delights of me! By the time I'd watched a few people 'take the plunge' I felt ready and offered these friendly and attentive fish a taste of me. I know I got over my squeamishness because I was suddenly wanting to see just how they felt on my hands, my arms, my nose, my lips… common decency prevented me going further, although a bath with the Gara Ruffa would be awesome!" Tim M
"The experience? AMAZING. Incredible. Bizarre at first, but everybody else was going through the same experience so it made it rather comical to start with. 'Think of it as bubbles!' Rowan said. I did, and it felt brill. Occasional stronger 'nibbles' were a nice surprise, amidst an odd yet good feeling. So I put my hands in too…" Stuart C