Every year a girlfriend comes up from Canberra to stay, and, along with a few other friends, we head out to festival shows and events.
It’s not just the Festival, the whole atmosphere of the city changes. It’s warm, even the people who live here are on holidays, and everybody just wants to have a good time.
Of course, the Sydney Opera House becomes a focus. New Year’s Eve saw fireworks let off from the Opera House sails, and now there are pop up bars setup around the courtyard, with outdoor areas made to resemble back yards. Well, nice backyards where they cut the grass, the plants are all healthy, they have lights strung between trees and good outdoor furniture.
We’ve had a drink under the backyard clothesline at the Opera Bar, by the barbecue in the pop-up bar outside The Studio, and under the lanterns at the Festival Garden. We skipped the retro caravan with the Veuve Cliquot bar. At $19.50/glass of champagne it was a little bit too pricy for us.
Our first show was Chaka Khan at the Domain. The free outdoor concerts are always fun. We take along a picnic, some nice wine and sit outside as the sun sets over the city. Usually there are support acts throughout the late afternoon, but this year nothing started until 8.30, which meant lots of time to catch up with friends and enjoy our picnic (and the champagne). I even had time for a nap. The first act was a DJ who might actually have outshone Chaka Khan. He got the 50,000 strong crowd up and dancing and proved once again that the music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s is still the best!
Then last night it was La Soiree at the Opera House. Of course, a show like that requires suitable attire so I put on my green sequined dress and off we went. After a drink at the Opera Bar, where I sat in the sun reflecting an aura of green light, we went to the show. And there was Joan, sitting at a table with a bottle of Chandon in an ice bucket, and wearing a stunning red flapper dress, complete with long black gloves and a sleek black bob. I expected her to pull out a cigarette holder and start puffing away despite the smoking ban. She was fabulous, and we had a wonderful chat sitting by the Harbour after the show. That’s another great thing about Festival time in Sydney, you meet the most interesting people.
But of course, first there was the show. In true cabaret style the MC introduced the program, urging people to be loud, to clap and cheer. The house lights went down, the stage lights came up, and three Aboriginal dancers came down the aisles towards the stage. The audience went quiet, watching in respectful (or perhaps stunned) silence, until the music changed and they started doing the crocodile dance to Zorba the Greek. The crowd erupted in wild cheers and clapping. Perhaps the name of the troupe (Chooky Mala) should have given us a clue that it wasn’t a traditional smoking ceremony dance.
I know it’s been a few years since the Man in the Bath was part of the Sydney Festival, but I still miss him. The way he flicked water off his hair into the crowd while his wet body glistened as he rolled himself up in the rope and swung out over the crowd was pure sex. Well, I just found something to replace him. Katharine and Hugo doing aerial acrobatics together in the cage. They were amazing, and hot. The show is on for 10 weeks, so if you can get down there – do.
But our festival program isn’t over yet. We’ve still got Scotch & Soda and Limbo to go, along with jumping on the inflatable Stongehenge jumping castle and getting lost in the huge inflatable maze at the Opera House. And just generally wandering around the city looking at all the installations and watching buskers.
And of course there’s all those morning swims at the beach in between. I love Sydney in January!