HEAR: FATBOY SLIM – 30.01.19

On the hottest day of the year.

In the middle of the CBD.

In a sweaty makeshift marquee.

On a grassy paddock.

That used to be home to big office buildings.

And the Temple of Truth.

And my workplace.

Surrounded by bunnies.

And lime scooters.

Fatboy Slim played for us.

It was feeling like a bit of an odd one, because no-one I knew seemed to be going to this gig. Nobody at all was talking about it. Yet it was sold out. And in a place like Cracked City, that’s weird, cos the law of physics seems to be that you always know at least four people at any given event. It’s like that game ‘six degrees to Kevin Bacon’. But with people you used to be in high school musicals with. Or those that you don’t wanna see, so have to avert your eyes and make like invisibility cloaks are actually a thing.

I dressed in a manner that I’ll describe to you as ‘MTV Host at Glastonbury, 1998’, but, y’know, if Glastonbury was actually hot. It’s amazing how few fucks you give about your thighs being exposed and shoved into $8 Kmart short-shorts when it’s this next-level of warm out. So whilst I’d like to pretend to you that this LEWK was a Big Fashionable Statement of Body Acceptance, in all honesty it was more a case of DON’T FAINT FOR FATBOY (BUT MAKE IT FASHION).

The sky was so very dreamy. Pastel-hued. Wispy. Gigantic. And when the sky is in that much of a BIG MOOD the city looks so very bloody majestic, weird and jaunty. So many contrasts of old, new, broken, and empty, all crammed together to make this kooky lil skyline. I mean, look at her! I love this view so much and whenever I am walking around town (ok, to Smashies), I always make a point to take this exact path, so that I can daydream into this berserk, beautiful, horizon.

I rocked up, alone, with ten minutes to spare, not seeing anyone I knew. However as soon as I turn the corner, I immediately hear the call of ‘BONJELA! BONJ!’ and sure enough, as the Cracked City social-laws dictate, there was my most brilliant pal Violet, with open arms, ready to be my instant gig buddy. And that’s when I knew I was going to have a fucking blast.

The line for drinks seemed at least 200 people deep. So we skipped that rigmarole all together.

Everyone was drinking these cans of vodka and lemon. But like a bourgeois NZ version that seemed to be a gentrified Smirnoff Ice. When did that become a thing that was happening again? Are we back here? It’s was like we were at a 1999 gig, consuming 2001 drinks, in a post-apocalyptic city. Whoa. Someone should make a cultish graphic novel on that.

Within the tent, there were lots of old leathery geezers on what looked like VERY BIG trips grinding their teeth in a startling manner. We gave them a very very wide berth. But I do hope they had a nice, safe, time.

We manoeuvred our way right up to the very front, against the rail. A big, lovely, version of Caravan of Love blasted out. And then just like that, Fatboy Slim came on. How was all SO easy?

And then. Then there was nothing else for it. We went apeshit and danced our tits off for two hours. We had the best view in the house. It was incredible.

For all the hundreds of gigs in my life, this was my first actual dance one.

When I was younger, I was not part of the dance scene, so I never felt cool or wordly enough, and it all just kinda escaped me. I was an indie kid who liked guitar music. Dance felt intimidating and alien. The songs I heard on records and radio never quite conveyed to me the POINT of it all.

But at this show it all very easily clicked into place and I finally GOT IT. I could clearly grasp and appreciate the how, why, skill, thrill and the sheer-bloody-kick of it all. I understood! Finally!

Norman Cook (or do we call him Fatboy Slim?) seemed like this cool, friendly, excitable, Dad. A Dad who really loves to blast air-horns.

He wore a muted Hawaiian shirt, baggy shorts, bare feet and was very tanned. He looks like he actually lives in Ibiza. But in that chill ‘quiet side of the island’ way. You could imagine relaxing and enjoying a kombucha round the pool, whilst Norm plays you some fab old soul records, serves up homemade guacamole, and you chat about meditation, and batshit tales of Moby, whilst you watch his three fat labradors jump in and out of that pool.

Everyone calls it a night at 9:30pm. But not in a lame way. In a THAT WAS A REALLY LOVELY NIGHT sort of way.

Coming back to the gig – none of it was like I imagined it would be. I say that in the best way possible.

There were no HITS. Or stand alone tracks, like I’d hear on ZM back in the day. It was just this big old mix of samples, emotion, hype, dancing, air-horns, thumping beats and wow it just felt like being alive. My chest was going to explode from *FEEEEELINGS*.

The packed, heaving, marquee was as much of a sweaty cess pool as you can imagine. Violet got too hot and took her t-shirt off and danced in her bra, which is classic-cool Violet. The security up front kept handing us bottle after bottle of water, which we passed back to our neighbours, like good responsible kids. Half way through they peeled back the sides of the marquee, revealing the sunset, and a beautiful breeze.

At the end Norman gave me a hearty hi-5.

Whilst Violet repeatedly insisted he take, and wear, her sunglasses.

Which he did. However he put them on, screwed up his face, shook his head and said something like ‘not for me’ before handing them back.

When the show finished, Violet and I hugged and deafly yelled about how much we loved each other, before we all spilled out onto the grass, scaring away the bunnies. Violet hopped a fence and simply vanished into the night as if she was never even there to begin with. If this were a film, you’d now be asking the question of whether Violet was even a real person, or was she a symbolic, imaginary figure who represented the cool girl at a dance gig that I always wanted to be in my 20’s (lucky I have photographic proof, innit?).

I wandered home in the still, warm, night, not giving a shit about how smelly and sweaty I was, how short my short-shorts now were, or whether I’d ever get my hearing back properly again. Just happy. Enlightened. Buzzing.

It was another one of those wonderful, magical, unexpected Cracked City nights of spontaneous beauty that I increasingly find myself stumbling into. One that makes me fall in love with this place time and time again.

Just when I begin to think I know where this city is going, that maybe we are once again starting to resemble something like ‘normal’ (ick), it goes and turns a surprising, delightful, little trick like this on me. And I’m all swoons.

Cos we know that tent will probably be gone by next week.

In the next year or two they’ll construct buildings on that grass.

Those bunnies won’t always live in town, so brazenly, alongside us.

And one day I know we’ll be forced to go to proper venues with real toilets, air conditioning, proper bar facilities, and a *gasp* a floor!!!

After these gigs, we’ll gather outside our beautiful, new, custom built venue, and whisper to each other:

‘Remember that hottest day of the year.

In the middle of the CBD.

In a sweaty makeshift marquee.

On a grassy paddock.

Surrounded by actual bunnies.

And lime scooters.

When Fatboy Slim played for us.

And we danced our tits off?’

And I like to think that we’ll sigh, look around, shrug and agree that ‘sure this is nice’. But deep inside we’ll yearn for that big wacky sky, peeking through tent walls, with a feeling deep inside that anything could happen, at any time, and that all moments in this place are fleeting, so you gotta grab a hold of them, and shake them to bits before they vanish forever.

And all you gotta do is show up and believe in the possibility of this Cracked City.

-Bonjela x




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