(I just found this on my laptop; it’s the inane tappings I made whilst at the opening night part for the Festival, Friday 3rd March 2006)
A little black and silver card gets me into the party that overlooks the Persian Garden. It’s supposedly a party to celebrate the opening of the Festival; the invitation was claimed back off me at the entrance, and I really can’t remember; it’s probably a (Festival) Friends and family affair.
Anyhoo – looking into the Persian Garden, I see the young and influential milling around. And it suddenly strikes me – those people are going to be the ones making the Persian Garden the “In Place To Be” tomorrow. Those people are the ones setting the trends for the next fortnight. And they probably don’t even realise it. Or maybe they do; maybe they’re there to set the trend, it’s their lot in life.
The crowd here are a bit more reserved – each, like me, are likely to be considering themselves “special” by virtue of the fact that they’re here. But they’re not setting the trend, not setting the tone; sure, they’ll name-drop to their friends that they were here, but in the grand scheme of things we mean nothing. The Festival’s already got our commitment, already got our money; the ones below, the casual punter, the malleable, are the ones that need to be indoctrinated. And the trendsetters will do that job for them. And the Festival will be deemed a success.
(I’ve just had my first glass of orange juice in years – it’s supposedly bad for my haemochromatosis – and it’s absolutely delicious.)
There’s camels down by the riverfront. There’s eastern-influenced music playing in the Garden. The sound system is great – it sounds brilliant from our position up on high. Half the people in this enclave line the front wall of the Riverfront Promenade on their barstools, all enjoying the music. None of them applaud the artists onstage; the crowds below (sans the drunkards on the edges) are raptuous and appreciative. The lines outside the Garden are long.
In general, the people here are done up for a party. Put another way – there’s a total of about five men here wearing shorts, and precisely one wearing bright orange Okanuis (guess who). There’s a lot of evening wear, a lot of sideways glances. It’s fantastic to watch these social interactions, rendered invisible by my own stubbornness and fashion crapulence.
People milling about in the general vicinity of Brett Sheehy, all eyes on him, hoping to hobnob. He’s a busy man, he has little choice but to ignore most of them. They nod knowingly towards him as he drifts past. Security asks some guys sitting on a wall to please refrain from doing so; they comply, wait until some better dressed patrons seat themselves in a similar manner, then re-acquaint themselves with the prime seating area.
There’s an opening-night speech: Welcome to all the politicians who are here. Welcome to all the artists who make this Festival what it is.
The security guard who stamps my wrist as I’m leaving looked at me disdainfully… “nice to see you dressed up for the occasion.” The snappy comeback only occurs to me later.