The city streets in the CBD were closed off of all cars, trams and bikes, and the massive flow of people filled the tram path and laneways. It was a very unusual sight in Melbourne. But first, some food. Fortunately, a table was just vacated at the French crepe restaurant off the crowded Flinders Lane. We sat down to watch the typical French ways of the waiter and enjoyed the good food.
We were just going around the block, and avoiding the main streets that are way too crowded, we managed to check out some of the recent additions of graffitis on the laneways.
I’d picked up the brochrue for the event so I was relatively aware of the rich list of street, open to public free performances, including jazz by some well-known local performers, light art on the building walls, galleries were also going to open its door all night to host special exhibitions. But I had no idea how massive it was going to be. I got on a train and saw lots of people filling it, and yet I still thought they were all going to some music concert or sporting event. Little did I know the streets of Melbourne were full of people like New Year’s Eve!
Tired of walking, many people found a place to sit down inside galleries and, like us, ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Images http://www.acmi.net.au/ ). I wonder if ACMI has ever seen so many people filling its permanent display down stairs! My faint hope of seeing some of Andy Warhol’s 16mm footages were quickly scratched off, when we saw the queue building up at the stairs (little did we know, again, it would be almost 5 times longer by the time we had enough rest downstairs and came back up!).
Stepping outside, the crowd was going through the Bollywood dancing sequence with dancers demonstrating on the main stage and the big TV above it. We stepped across the crowd to go down towards the river, when the music changed to Latino. Our friend was just talking about how she wished they put on Salsa a minute ago, so I yelled them back and went back up to find a spot in the square. Her friend, who just got off the plane from UK for a holiday earlier today, has never danced salsa, and found himself learning the steps with everyone in the crowd. I managed to find a group of 3 girls and asked one of them to dance with me. It had been ages since I (tried to) lead a girl to the tunes of salsa. But it was fun dancing for a good half an hour, thanked her good bye, and then we tried the African dance that followed.
Up on the Princess Bridge, artists were working on the illuminated letters of WHITE NIGHT. It always amazes me how those visual artists can come up with such designs that fill that space and bring about such interesting experiences.
Well past 2am in the morning, again, feeling a bit hungry and in need for a place to sit down, we headed down Southbank.
3am, the cafes at Southgate are all closed. Same goes for the river-side cafes at Crown. We settled for the coffeeshop at the foyer leading into the casino entrance. At least they had cake and drinks we needed.
Bidding good night to friends, I walked solo back the southbank towards NGV. Almost 5am, still got a couple of hours to check out the two photography exhibitions that are on concession entry fee tonight. Upon turning up the steps back up towards Arts Centre I now recall the art exhibitions on tonight. The music was playing loud in that tent in front of Arts Centre, which we so should have checked out, but I personally preferred the NGV. And then I saw that installation – the one that gives you the sensation of touching the cloud.
It’s this big pile of what looks like the bubble that build up on the surface of water in washing machine. It seems the stuff keeps bubbling out so some pieces may fall, or stretch out close enough to people, who would then grab some piece off (yes, you can touch the cloud!), and gently lift it up to float above our heads. Like cloud, really. It was pretty cool sight. Expression on people’s faces said it all.
By the time I’d seen enough of this, I decided I was just too tired to properly appreciate photography exhibitions right now. There is still the exterior wall light paint that I wanted to photograph, and there are more on the street, I was sure. Picking up the heavy gear and tripod reluctantly from cloak room again, I stepped outside again.
6am – the morning was approaching. Everyone was looking forward to the first light of the day, leaning against the Eastern side of the Princess Bridge.
Big crowd was building on the other side of the bridge, though, with the band and a large group of chorus singing what sounded like Big Band marching and funky music. Some people cannot hold themselves down and start dancing, clapping hands, cheering to the music. Then the band moved on to under the roof of the station, where I could hear their sound much better. But the time was up. With the last tune of the Saints Are Marching In, they wrapped up their performance, and with the happy exhaustion on their face, the band pushed through people back towards the bridge.
And then, all of a sudden, the another day was already here.
How did you enjoy your White Night?