Monday, March 14, 2016

White Night

It's been a stressful summer for the Mister and me thanks to all work coming to a screeching halt for a few weeks and us having to decide between groceries and paying the power bill at one point. We count ourselves among the lucky that the financial tough times were short lived and we are both back to working more hours and have picked up a couple more odd jobs to supplement, too. Our days of living paycheck to paycheck are hopefully numbered because our FBI checks, the final pieces of our registering-to-teach-in-Australia puzzles, are FINALLY arriving in the mail so hopefully we'll be back in a classroom soon.

Anyway, a few weeks back after a very long day of working two jobs, I dragged myself out to the streets of Melbourne at midnight to see what all the hype about something called White Night was all about. It sounded like a thinly veiled Trump rally, but in fact it has been an annual all-night celebration of art in Melbourne for a few years. Main streets in the core downtown area were closed and became one massive, pedestrian-friendly, music and art drenched public party from 7pm till 7am.

As previously mentioned, I had worked two jobs that day, so I had been standing for at least 13 hours and I was TIRED, but almost as soon as I stepped off the tram, my energy was fed by the excitement on the street. I wasn't sure what to expect but I had gotten the impression that there would be lots of public art displays and maybe some late night museum strolling. I was partially right. White Night did not involve any indoor displays and almost no displays that were predominately the color white, instead it meant there were tons of street performers of all types, light displays projected on iconic buildings, and public "sculptures" stuck to buildings or roving the crowds.

The street performers ranged from really awesome musicians to...this.

The crowd quickly swelled around him, perplexed by what he was going to do with the flame and the balloon...

Deep throat it, apparently. The whole display was oddly interesting and yet off putting at the same time. I moved on. Other street performers were really great. Most of them were musicians and it was the closest to Nashville I have felt in a long time. The streets were alive with music, you just had to stroll down the road and listen to the genres, songs, and instrumental styles change. I always tell people that my favorite thing about Nashville is that the streets sing, and on White Night the streets of Melbourne sang.

The other really cool thing about White Night was the light displays. My feet could only handle seeing one or two of them, and from what I could tell the ones I saw weren't even the best ones, but I was so grateful for the chance to sit and be mesmerized by the undulating colors and sounds.

This is the State Library of Victoria, a major hang out spot outside Melbourne Central Station, but on White Night is was transformed into a public dance party. Before I arrived there had been some internationally known DJ, but by the time I got there the music was just a recording, but the dance party was in full force.

There was another light display like this one, but better from what I've been told, about half a mile down the street at the Melbourne Museum. I couldn't manage that walk. There were other smaller light displays that were hidden away on other buildings and it was really fun to find them as I strolled along Swanston Street.

The public sculptures were also pretty cool. There was this giant inflatable golden monkey attached to Melbourne Town Hall

I don't know the significance of the monkey or if there was any symbolism going on there. I got the impression that monkeys are a theme for this particular artist and she has created primate-themed exhibits for White Night for a couple years.

There were also these roving sculptures that worked their way through the city all night, and one of them was this very small school of "jellyfish."

All of the exhibits were profiled on the White Night website, and I really wanted to see these jellyfish but I was not willing to wander the city for hours in hopes of running into them. Thankfully they crossed my path as I was making my way to the train station to head home for the night.

They were a little anticlimactic, but I could only imagine that the artists that were giving the jellyfish "life" were feeling pretty low on energy after roaming the crowded streets for 6 hours at that point. They probably were a little more convincing when the night started at 7pm.

Even though other people complained that this year's White Night was really disappointing, I was thoroughly entertained with my first experience. I definitely want to make a night of it next year, planning to take the night off from work, get dressed up, and grab a trendy dinner downtown before joining the party. All the art displays were free, the crowd was very well behaved, and I really wished I'd had the energy to hunt down all the cool sights before the party ended at 7am.

If y'all are feeling up for a late summer night in Melbourne, come visit us next mid-February!

Vicariously yours,

1 comment:

  1. This looks awesome! I'm glad fatigue didn't cause you to miss it! Also agreed that white night in the south means something a teench more rebel flaggy. Ps. How hard are they heckling us overseas about the current bat shit political scene?!?