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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

New Experience Challenge Week 14: Block Party

I volunteer at a radio station called Fresh 92.7. It's a youth radio station that only plays dance music and generally only if it's less than three months old. The station's going through a massive growth spurt at the moment and it's doing a lot of ambitious things. The most ambitious thing so far has been what they called the Misfits Block Party - a clubbing event for which they blocked off a whole part of the CBD and set up three stages for DJs with food trucks and bars etc.

I'm not a clubber. I hate clubbing. I just hate the environment - a room full of music I hate that's too loud to hear anything else, surrounded by angry, violent people who are looking to have sex with anyone they can force themselves on. But I thought this might be a little different for some reason and being a member of the station, I could get in for free. So I reluctantly decided to go.

The event was scheduled to go from 2-10pm. I turned up at 4 oclock, thinking that being fashionably late was a good idea. Unfortunately everyone else had the same idea. When I turned up there was a few dozen people there. They were all standing awkwardly around the edge of the main stage  while the dj made a valiant effort at getting something going. There was a single oldish fat man standing in the middle on his own doing the kind of wonky, jilted dance that clearly indicates that he's imbibed an illegal substance of some kind. I found Emily, a girl from the station who I see on Thursdays, and we started sticking together. We both wandered around meeting people from the station and chatting. It was hard to find a space on the block where you could hear a conversation, but we found one eventually. We sat there chatting for ages, often joining up with Dorian, who reads the news on air on Tuesday mornings. Eventually, crowds started turning up and we realized there was more to do than just talk.

We headed out past the very small group of girls that had joined the stoned fat guy on the dance floor and made our way to the food trucks. Why talk when you can eat, right? I tried some tapioca chips, despite Emily's objections. It was only $5, which I thought was pretty decent. But it turned out I only got five chips for that. It was gone in a minute and a half and I was already looking for something else to do.
There were some people spray-painting a work of art on a wall which I decided to stand around and watch. I call it a work of art, but I'm not sure how much you can call it art if there's a blurry face on it shouting "Pingers!" out of a speech bubble. Emily got bored and walked off, so I was left there watching it among a crowd of strangers.

She eventually rejoined me and told me about the second DJ stage in one of the buildings. Oh yeah, that's right - I'd forgotten there were other stages. I left to check it out myself, wondering how much longer I could really last at this party. The second stage was up a flight of metal stairs and into a building called Fowlers Live. There were a few people here, but not much dancing going on - not like what was starting to happen on the main stage. People were either chatting on tables away from the dance floor or standing on the dance floor watching the DJ blankly. To their credit, I was impressed by all the DJs' professionalism. Any other musical act would have been like "Ah, fuck this," and not cared at all about the three people in the crowd. But these guys kept pumping and yelling at the crowd like it was packed. I met Darren, a guy I see around the station from time to time, and I just kind of hung around him for a while.

It had to be like six oclock when I finally worked up the courage to try dancing myself. I'd left the second stage and come back later on with Emily in tow. We were both standing there watching a couple of people do their thing - one of them being Darren and another being Troy, the station manager. And without saying a word I slid into place and started um... dancing I guess. Yeah I guess you can call it dancing. Any kind of movement that's in sync with a rhythm has to count as dancing, no matter how weird it looks. I danced for two minutes and then most of the people who were there left, so I did too.

Back outside, and there was a decent crowd at the main stage now. I watched three muscly guys in black t-shirts and orange parachute pants walk up to a clear space on the dance floor and start taking turns doing kicks, flips and spins. They'd been hired by the station and they sure drew a crowd. They took turns doing their best impressions of Shaolin warriors, tumbling through the air and drawing applause from mostly girls. This was starting to become much more of a spectacle. But I still wasn't sure how much longer I could stay interested. It was 7pm, I'd been there for three hours. At that point, a lot more people came that I knew from the station. Emily's friend Rachel arrived and Ben Palmer, the station's resident sports reporter came. Ben informed us that there were arcade machines inside the Fowler's building. that we could play.

Well there's my entertainment for at least another hour. The four of us went and had a go at Frogger, Pac Man and pinball. I've never been a very good pinballer, but by some miracle I did well enough this time to earn a free game. Frogger I didn't do so well at. My Pac Man was so-so.

Back outside and the crowd had finally hit properly. The stage was pumping and the dance floor was full. Plus a fire breather had joined the fray, swallowing torches and interacting with the Shaolin acrobats. Ben left and we gained a girl named Paulina, who I later found out was friends with my aunt.

We went to investigate a bus that was sitting just behind the dance floor and a lovely older lady invited us to take part in a campaign for the Sammy D foundation. It involved going on camera and talking about how to have a good night out without overdoing it or behaving dangerously. The four of us piled in the bus and tried on the hats and wigs that were provided. I tried a bit too hard to be funny, but that's me...

More chatting. More wandering around. More attempts at dancing. We lost some people, we gained some people. All the while, the number of people on the main dance floor grew. I was trying so hard to stay until the end, just so I could say I did. Ah, I've got it! There was a third stage I hadn't even checked out yet! People had been coming and going out of it all night and I hadn't thought to go. I went up some stairs and into a third building...

...To a practically empty room. There was a bar on one side and a DJ on the other. Not much else in between. My friend Nutman (don't ask) was standing there with a beer in his hand nodding his head to the music. Three teenage-looking people were playing around amongst themselves near the stage. Then that's about it. Oh well, I've come this far... I shrugged and jumped right in the middle of the dance floor, waving around with just as much abandon as last time. In the time I spent on the floor, more people did come in and have a go. By the time I was satisfied, there were about ten more people than when I came in. I wouldn't say I'm a trendsetter, but...

Ok, back outside. Of course, the main stage was at its peak. The headline act was on and there were hundreds of people letting loose. With less than an hour to go, I felt I was on the home stretch at last. I met back up with Emily, Rachel and Paulina and we joined the crowd to dance together. It felt like the end of a family movie as all the people we'd met throughout they night came to join us. Ben, Dorian, Darren, Troy and even the firebreather at one stage. At last it all ended and everyone headed off to the afterparty at the Light Hotel.

'Are you coming?' asked Ben excitedly.
'Shit no,' I said and I gratefully left to go home.

Author's note: I had an issue with this post on the Blogger app on my phone and a few weeks after it was posted, the second half disappeared and it reverted to a draft. I've had to piece together everything from the video games onwards from a months-old memory. Hope it's accurate.


  1. I like these challenges you are doing.

    That's so true about turning up fashionably late- everyone has the same idea.
    So the tapioca chips were $5 & you only got 5? So basically, 5 bucks a chip! Sheesh!!

  2. Thanks Princess!

    If it's any consolation they were quite thick and tasted great. But yeah certainly not worth $1 a chip :P


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