The 2009 Mardi Gras Festival began two Sundays ago but my Festival begins on Thursday with one of the MG Film Festivals… no idea what I’m seeing, I’m going as a guest of some friends. But, really, it is next week when everything takes off with Bears Essentials 13 – United Bear Tales, starting Monday with the exhibition opening (to type this I’m taking a break from stretching the fabric Bills around their canvases; it’ll all get done, it has to!). From Monday I have something on every night (and volunteering every day), till the March (it’s not a Parade) on Saturday, then Sunday for the Recovery Events (I’m not attending the Party). Then there’s Monday – rest – before returning to work on the Tuesday – whew!
I’m really looking forward to the week; it’s going to be a great, rememberable time.
My Mardi Gras two years ago, however, was not one that I wish to live again. Inspiration in Devastation, I wrote a two-part entry about the whole horrid event, though, reading back. it ended well. As a cathartic act – to expel any possible Demons, if you wish, from next week’s festivities – please enjoy…
Thursday Night : Monday Morning – Part One, The Weekend Before Mardi Gras
Thursday Night – where it all begins.
Big party weekend, this and the next, so went and got my two after-party tickets at the Midnight Shift. Might as well have a couple of beers while I’m here.
Next, I pick up some tic tacs – it’s very important to have fresh breath at parties.
Then, it’s a Thursday, my favourite show the Super Supremes. I stay for the act (of course), and have a few more beers (of course).
I’m at home on my sofa, which has been folded out to bed, and there is a strange man making me comfortable. He’s got me a drink and a pillow and is closing the blind. I fall back to sleep.
I wake up, I don’t know, about 4. He’s still there. He’s tidying up; stacking magazines, piling up papers, that sort of thing. He asks if I’m ok. Again, I fall asleep.
Seven o’clock now. He’s lying on the sofa next to me. I drift off again.
Friday Morning – where it all falls apart.
Eight, I wake and realise I have to get up and go to work. The man is still there. He chats to me about going for a picnic as I shower, but I tell him I have work. I check my wallet, which has no money in it but that’s not that unusual after I’ve been out, but the tic tacs are missing.
Then I do a silly thing (what, I haven’t already?). I put the loose pile of money in my locker in the silver envelope where I keep all my tickets, theatre or party. I then go into my bedroom to check there for the missing tic tacs, and I realise I can no longer hear the man.
Down the stairs I run, and there he is in front of another door with my suitcase and four of my shoulder bags. He has another bag on his other shoulder which I don’t recognise. “Hey!” I say, “that’s my suitcase!” “I know it’s your suitcase,” he says. I grab my suitcase and the four bags tied on his shoulder. He yells at me that I’ve taken his bag too; I tell him to follow me and we’ll work it out upstairs.
Back up stairs I throw all my stuff inside. He hasn’t followed. I rush back down the stairs and out the street door… no sign. I bang on the door that he was in front of, finally waking a woman up who knows nothing. I head back up stairs.
I check the bags. Inside is a pile of books all wrapped carefully in towels. Strange things: the complete Calvin and Hobbes (a huge three book box set); collector card sets of Batman Returns and Jurassic Park (I’d forgotten I had them); a commemorative plate from an old ABC show which I’ve been carrying around since the early 90’s.
In my bedroom every box I have, and I have a few, has been unpacked and then restacked and covered with sheets. In a slight way I’m impressed of the man’s thoroughness.
On first glance, he’s run off with my leather jeans (ouch) and a pair of red vinyl pants (no great loss there). Also my credit card is also gone and the silver envelope with all the money (about $400) and all my tickets. The funny thing is he didn’t touch the DVD or video players, or any DVDs for that matter, but also left the portable computer, which is good because I can find the number to cancel the credit card, and transfer some money (he left my bankcard, thank goodness), and report the stolen theatre tickets. Now, every time I go to the Opera, I have to pick up a new ticket from the box office. I wonder what happens when I get to my seat and find someone else in my place?
The rest of the day goes on fine, but every now and then, sitting at my desk at work, I would speak out, “Bum!” The only thing I could focus on was the inconvenience. There goes my whole next two weeks.
Look, he was just some druggy who saw a chance. Frankly, it could have been so much worse. He didn’t touch me, he didn’t touch the computer, and I got a lot of my stuff back. Everything else can be replaced. So, in a way, I’m thankful.
Friday Night – where things all settle down.
I was half expecting to get home to find the place emptied but everything is there. I quickly check: yep, there’s my spare set of keys, phew!
Call Anne, whom I was taking on Saturday lunch to a Chinese tea appreciation. “Hi Anne, do you mind if you pay?” She understands completely, but what a horrible thing to do to her.
I fall asleep on the sofa (my bed is covered with opened boxes and discarded books). It could have been a lot worse.
Saturday Morning – where it all gets back on track and things look up.
Someone is smiling; the money transfer came through! Right, I think, first to log onto Pinkboard classifieds and email a few people who have spare Azure tickets for sale. Then it’s out the house.
First stop, Anne and the tea, and what a wonderful, relaxing event that was. Next time we all must go. And I was able to treat her like I wanted. She’s a good sort.
Next to get more tic tacs. Done.
I’ve had a phone call: a spare Azure ticket! Just down the road, I thankfully rush over and pick it up.
On the way home I pop into the Shift and purchase another after-Azure party ticket. I’ll get the after-Mardi Gras ticket next week.
Saturday Night – where things are all put back to normal.
A night of tidying up. While I sort I make up a big pot of pasta (one needs their carbohydrates for weekends like this), put on a few loads of washing, then make the big effort of packing everything back up.
Now I’ve got the time I’ve also discovered the bastard ran off with my four-person picnic bag (that must have been the other bag – he’d emptied the contents then tucked it under the bed), and a couple of loved books, but ones I can easily replace. I’m sure there are other things, but nothing I can quickly see. At least the bedroom looks nice and neat now. I suppose I owe him a favour.
Sunday Morning – where all is prepared.
Wake about 10, and have a relaxing day around the house. A dish or two of pasta, a movie or two, keep it all nice and easy.
The Azure Harbour Party starts at three. I figure at getting there around 4, it should have started pumping by then. I start getting ready around 2.30. I notice it’s raining, softly but still the last thing we want is the drenching of last year. Quick check of the Bureau of Meteorology’s website – should be ok.
3.30 and it’s still raining. Still not dressed. I go and grab one of the t-shirts in the tallboy. They’re gone! That bastard stole my two Bonds t-shirts! Plan B: an olive green sleeveless number I bought a year or two ago. I look good and, thinking about it, I don’t know if I would even fit those t-shirts anymore. Some would call it Sour Grapes, personally I call it Looking at the Bright Side.
Ten to 4 and finally the contacts are in, money and ticket are pocketed away, the tic tacs are in my sock, and a small bottle of room deodoriser, just in case it’s a bit smelly, is in place next to my keys. It’s also stopped raining so the walk is pleasant, if not a bit humid.
Sunday Night – where it all looks promising, but looks are deceiving.
So I get to the party about 4.30, and there are police with snuff-puppies and people doing body searches. My bottle of room deodoriser is confiscated in the pat down. A snuff-puppy pays me some attention but moves onto another leg. I can only guess no one noticed my intense sigh of relief.
A bottle of water and two rather hideous glasses of sparkling later, I run into some friends and we mingle, compare pat downs and prepare the entrance onto the dance floor. First I make a pit stop to the loos for a tic tac – I’m told later that there were snuff-puppies hanging around the doors snuffing everyone coming out but I never saw them. Perhaps they were there later?
Had a great time on the dancefloor. One of the first numbers, and the floor was only half full so I could go extra crazy, was Big Pig’s Breakaway. That’s what the audience wants DJs of the world, funky numbers from the 80’s that everyone knows the words to.
Nine o’clock DJ begins and the night has been going well. The rain has kept at bay, the music has been fine, I’m feeling good about myself, and 3 more hours of to go. Five minutes later the music stops: “Due to Police action this party has been shut down.”
So that was that.
About an hour and a half later, after a trip home to shower and a fruitless search of the Cross for more room deodoriser (the Police have raided every shop and confiscated the lot), I’m at the Manacle dancing away in the corner by the pool table. Had a few drinks and a great time on the floor. Knew a few people there but I mostly kept to myself.
I’ve still got that ticket to the Azure-after party, so eventually I head off. I’d been given a tip to where I could fine some room deodoriser though, so I figure doing the search first. I finally found one place that sold me a bottle only when he realised I wasn’t an under-cover cop.
Three o’clock, after another trip home to shower, unpack the deodoriser, and pop down a tic tac, I’m on the incredibly packed dance floor of the Midnight Shift. It’s times like these that I realise just how crap dancers some people are. LISTEN TO THE BEAT, PEOPLE, LISTEN TO THE THUMP THUMP THUMP, IT’S NOT THAT HARD! My favourite was a guy who must have thought he was on a pogo stick, but he got annoying after he thumped into me the umpteenth time. Eventually I find a space surrounded by not too unattractive men and settle down for a good dance. The music’s not really my thing, all sounds and no words, but you can’t listen to Adam & The Ants 24/7.
A dark-skinned man has taken an interest in me. We exchange looks and grins. He finally reaches over and introduces himself: Darren. We get chatting, and everything’s looking good. He’s a half-Tamil UK boy out on holidays. He asks me if I live nearby, a good sign. He asks me how often I work out, a great boost to the ego, perhaps that soup diet is working after all. We chat about the music. He asks me my preferred taste, I reply Rick Astley. Oops, wrong thing. He tells me I’m not as cute anymore. Still, he kisses me, and all I can think of was perhaps the drought is finally broken. Hallelujah Peoples, the dams are sure to break tonight!
His friends have left and we decide to go too. It’s a nice work home, but I think he finds it a further walk than I do. At my door I tell him I’m not going to apologise about any thing he sees inside, what with the robbery, me having done washing, and the cockroach problem. ‘Cockroaches?” he says with a slight sense of revulsion. “Cockroaches,” I reply, “It’s the Cross, you can’t get rid of the bastards.
I’m getting us a drink when he tells me he may not be able to stay. I’ve figured he’s found a DVD or CD not to his taste (remember Rick Astley), but, no, he’s seen a bug.
We drink our pineapple juices and steal a couple of kisses, but he then tells me he has to leave; it’s the bugs, you see, he has this thing about cockroaches. He’s very apologetic. I smile, and show him towards the door.
For the second time in three days I speak out, “Bum!” The drought continues.
It’s now about 4.30, a few more hours before the Manacle opens for the day party. I catch a few winks on the couch.
Monday Morning – where I wonder was it all worth it.
I wake about 7 but frankly can’t be bothered heading off yet. I move to my bed, set the alarm for 8, then fall back to sleep.
Quarter to 11, I wake up. The alarm had been buzzing softly all this time. It’s still not too late to go to the Manacle, but I’ve lost interest. I turn off the alarm and get a few more hours of sleep.
Sometime in the afternoon I finally get up and settle in for a day around the house. It’s raining out, sometimes heavily, and sometimes a soft mist. I make some of my amazing weight-loss soup, watch some movies, and contemplate doing the ironing. But the highlight was when I emptied half a can of cockroach spray into the crooks and crannies of the kitchen. The floor is now covered with the upturned corpse of cucaracha. Not as good as a root, but all things considering over the last few days, it makes me feel a little better.
Last thought for the day: there’s always next weekend.
Thursday Night : Monday Morning – Part Two, Mardi Gras Weekend
In our last exciting installment, our Hero was robbed, raided, and rejected by an Englishman with an anti-bug fixation. Read on to see if things finally work out…
Thursday Night – where I learn nothing.
Well, I’ve lost my glasses. I don’t know. It must have been at the Oxford ‘cos I didn’t have them when they escorted me out.
Friday Morning – where I go shopping.
No sign of my glasses. I never liked them and have wanted an excuse to get a new pair for ages. I’d had them since June 2004 so I suppose it was about time anyway Sarah and I go shopping. My eyes haven’t deteriorated that much but Fashion surely has. Depressing though: as I handed over the credit card I realised that thanks to my weekend misadventures every cent I had saved has now gone. If you take into account all the rebought tickets, stolen leather jeans, and beer and tic tacs I was well over $2000 out of pocket. That En Zed holiday was looking further and further away.
Friday Night – where I give in.
The soup diet has beaten me. I haven’t lost the 10 kilos I was hoping to shrink by Mardi Gras. I’m having roast chicken for dinner while I watch The Biggest Loser. With feta stuffed olives. And a banana smoothie. Let’s see how fat I can get before tomorrow night.
My eyes are hurting. I’ve got a week of contacts. Considering I’m wearing contacts all weekend at the parties I’m just going to have to get use to it. It’s either that or prescription sunglasses and I somehow don’t think I’m that cool for school.
*Groan * I wish I hadn’t had that second banana smoothie…
Saturday Morning – where I feel silly.
I found my glasses; they were in the back pocket of my jeans the whole time. One of the screws had come loose and the lens popped out. Oh well, look on the bright side – at least I’ll be getting a nice new pair out of this. I pop into the city and get them fixed.
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning – where I wander from here to there.
Not that much to tell. Went to Mardi Gras, had a good time, but left at 5. It was an enjoyable party but (there always is a ‘but’) it was just so stiflingly hot. The Dome (thump thump thump) was like a sauna, including the steam. The Forum (retro, where I started the night at the very front of the stage idolising my goddesses the Super Supremes) was so jammed that the one time later I worked my way in I struggled through the crowd directly towards the opposite exit – I couldn’t get out quickly enough. The Hordern, I suppose the main hall that the big name DJs play, was one lump of bodies… and not in the nice way either. Its blessing is that it’s air-conditioned and has bleachers to rest those weary toes. I spent my night in the RHI, which was once described to me as Handbag Hall; you know, girly vocals you can sing to and wave your arms about in the air. I always find it interesting that it’s full to the brim with big muscle boys in their leather accessories. It just goes to show that you can’t have ‘Leather Queen’ without ‘Queen’.
But the RHI was sometimes unbearable. Not air-conditioned, full of dancing over-adrenalined persons, it was at times too much to cope. For once in the last two weekends I was sensible and would (have to) leave the Hall every half hour or so for a walk and some fresh air. I wondered about the many others that had taken maybe a few extra tic tacs and who knows what else. Myself, I was left content with a pair of jeans that were so saturated it looked like I’d wet myself.
Played kissy-face with two young men, but it was too hot and I wasn’t that interested. I’ll tell you one thing: I’m not the prettiest thing or the youngest thing on the market but I’m sure not the podgiest either. I’m all for a natural body (who can be bothered spending their lives in pain at the gym when there’s yum cha to be had?) but, gees boys, have some respect for yourselves. I would occasionally try that sidewards glimpse at those around, checking out their guts against mine. I’m not too bad. I reckon that soup diet might just have worked after all.
Like I said I left the party at 5, so very early, but I had enough and didn’t want to be there just for being there’s sake. I’d also run into everyone I wanted to see – it’s funny but if you try to find people you never find anyone but if you simply glide along then your entire address book shows up. I even managed to bump into the English entomophobe from last weekend.
Anyway, I left and moseyed around for a while before going to the Manacle day club, where, not dressed in the mandatory leather, I managed to jump the queue with a well-placed nod to the bouncer. It’s always so important to be polite to the staff. I was only there till 10 when Mardi Gras would have just been finishing. Fatigue kicked in so I went home. I realised later that I had fallen asleep before some people would have even left the Mardi Gras halls, but I didn’t envy them.
Funniest site of the weekend: While in line for Manacle two leather and laced lesbians swaggered up to the bouncer. One obviously had an axe to grind (I’m sure there is a rather naughty joke in there somewhere, but I’ll move on…). ‘So,’ she said, ‘I suppose you’re not going to let us in.’ The bouncer (Alex) looked at them calmly and replied, ‘No, you are always welcome here if you are dressed like that. If you would like to stand in this line we will let you in as soon as we open.’ ‘Oh,’ the Axe Grinder replied, ‘but I bet this is only day in the year that you would.’ ‘Not at all,’ said Alex, ‘You are always welcome at Manacle,’ and then gave a run-down on all the dress code themed nights and events. By this time the Grinder had run out of steel. ‘Well, we didn’t really want to come in anyway,’ and with that turned her tail taking her girlfriend with her. Alex allowed himself a smile; he was in for a long day and I’m sure little wins like that make it go just that little bit quicker.
Sunday Night, Monday Morning – where I keep going and going and I like it!
(Again it’s easier to combine as it’s really one very long night.)
Well, a couple of beers to start with, they didn’t taste very nice, then a movie. I’d picked up Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit on my journey out on Saturday morn. A great film, it’s my new film of choice before attending leather-and-denim themed dance parties.
Guess what was my next step? That’s right: a leather-and-denim themed dance party. I’ve been going to these for over a year now. I remember the first one I went to with Mark last NYE: I was petrified and thought I was going to throw up… five minutes in I was home-sweet-home. This one, I think, was one of the better do’s though my gripe about annoying floor users continues to grow. I’m not sure which are worse: the men who bounce up and down like a paddle ball or the ones that sway back and forth like a palm tree caught in a cyclone. Either way, they interrupt my groove.
Familiar faces (I even got another chance to grin politely to the UK boy, he heads back next week but with my luck I’m sure to see him every night till then) and mostly semi-handsome men. Was chatting to someone I had met that morning at Manacle who was saying that in the year or so he’d been attending the average age had dropped significantly. It used to be around 60, he said. I can only assume that ‘significantly’ to him means ‘by 10 years’.
OK, so the trade was getting on a bit, and I thought so should I. As I discussed later with a friend who knew a thing or two about the scene; you might meet Mr Right-Here-Right-Now at a party, but you don’t meet Mr Tomorrow-And-The-Next-Day-And-The-Day-After-That. You’ve just got to know what you are looking for, I suppose. So I went looking for a beer.
I found one at the newly refurbished Oxford Hotel. I’m still not sure if I like it or not; it’s all too shiny with no where to hold up the bar, but I’m sure it will grow on me at that time when there’s nothing else open. It was a little over an hour till Manacle opened so I pulled a stool up to the closed end of the bar and enjoyed a few Carlton Draughts with a dash of lemonade. I’ve got to thank Kate for that one, and I can tell you they are the most delicious things when you’re coming down from a night of tic tacs and loud music. I really must make her that T-shirt as thanks, she doesn’t even remind me politely about it anymore…
Most audacious site of the weekend: At this time in the morning there’s always a strong representation of straights in the Oxford; today there was a small collection of lads taking pictures of the trannys and drag queens with their pocket camera. One would even pose in front as if he was standing in front of the Eiffel Tower or something. I don’t think they were expecting the glaire-coiffured marvel that is Polly Petrie though. I tell you, that creature knows how to knock the wets down. When she came staggering past on nose bleed heels wearing her glittered ‘It’s My Fuckin’ Show’ mini-dress, the camera boys could only stop and stare. By the time she had turned the corner on her way to the loos they had completely forgotten to take their shot. Later, as she finally made her way out the door into the new dawn light, I secretly hoped that I looked as glamorous as that after my big nights.
Manacle again, but this time I’m dressed for the occasion and walk straight in with the other harnessed gents. I make the decision to stick to my beer with a dash combos, to the wry smile of the bar staff, but the lemonade is just the sugary boost I need to keep going. The occasional jellied snake from one of the complimentary bowls doesn’t go astray either. I’m in my usual spot on the floor (I’m a man of routine) and having a ball, dancing up a storm! Have a chat to a gentleman with a redhead fetish, something I will never really understand, and also hand my phone number to a pair of Melbournites who have discovered a love of the Super Supremes after seeing them perform at Mardi Gras. I tell them I’m going down for the International Comedy Festival and we vow to book a small group. Note to self – must arrange.
The place was pack’d, the music was pumpin’ and I was goin’ off! Gees it was a good morning, and a pretty good early afternoon too. But I suppose it all must come to an end eventually so about 2 I made my way home. I was asleep by 2.30.
All in all I had a better time on Sunday/Monday than the more expensive and hyped Saturday/Sunday. Overall, though, considering last week, I was pretty much sensible and nothing alarming happened. I somehow feel I’ve let you all down.
But I enjoyed myself. And the belt has gone in another notch. I tell you, I’m sticking to the soup.