Saturday, 11 February 2012

Yarraville gets down.

Yarraville held its annual festival today.  The streets in the village are closed to cars and there are stages at the four points of the cross roads where music of all kinds is played throughout the day.  Local traders bring their wares onto the street and you can't walk a metre without coming across someone you know.

One of the main events of the day is the Pet Parade.  I made a special effort to be in the right place for the parade this year and could not believe what I was seeing.  There were dogs everywhere, often dressed in clothes to match their owner's outfit.  Yes, that is correct, the dogs and owners were in matching outfits. The first pair I saw parade were two girls, one dressed as a lady bird and one dressed as a bee, leading their small dogs dressed as, you guessed it, a lady bird and a bee. Next in line was a dog wearing a grass skirt and Hawaiian lei.  It was called "Hula Dog".  I decided that I had better leave before it started playing the ukulele.

The beginning of the parade was highlighted by the less than wondrous performance of Archie the Wonder Dog.  Archie was a non-compliant Jack Russell (is there any other kind?) who is probably in heavy contract negotiations right now as a result of his failure to perform any kind of trick at all.  He just stood on the stage and looked around really.  I may have seen him do a high-five, but I couldn't be sure.  He seemed to be receiving treats from the owner regardless, so I reckon he must be a pretty smart dog - smarter than the owner anyway.

While I was sitting waiting for the event, I witnessed something very bizarre.  Gus was a very placid and patient dog.  He looked like a Labradoodle.  His owner had two dogs, him and Sal which was some kind of standard looking black dog.  I watched as Gus and Sal were costumed by their owner.  Gus was put into a black dog suit and Sal was put into a grey poodle suit.  The children belonging to the owner were given matching grey dog hats to wear.

The suits were quite ingenious - lots of Velcro and elastic.  As the woman fitted Gus (the dog) into his (dog) suit, Gus stood there with a look on his face that said something along the lines of: "If I stand here still enough she'll be able to quickly get the suit on.  The quicker the suit goes on, the quicker I can get out of this thing.  I can't believe that I have to get dressed in the middle of the street.  I mean, who else is expected to do that?  You'd think I would be afforded the dignity of a dressing room.  Even someone holding up a blanket would be better than this.  Oh, that's right Sal, run away.  I reckon you've got the right idea.  I look ridiculous.  I hope I don't run into anyone I know. "

"At least no one can recognise me in this get up."
(c) divacultura 2012
After realising that the dogs were all obscured on stage by the fold back speakers, I decided that I'd seen enough.  I wandered around the rest of the festival.

As the day wore on, the kids were more sugared up on fairy floss and ice cream and the parents were sick to death of trying to manoeuvre their semi-trailer sized prams through the throng of people.  I caught some interesting snippets of conversation:

"Stop asking me for things!" This was a mother to a child who had obviously been doing nothing but asking for things.  The child looked to be about 5 years old.  It was unclear whether the instruction pertained only to the confines of the festival or applied for the term of his natural life.

"No Jason, you are not going on a ride until you've eaten all your ice cream!" The mother who said this looked normal enough.  Just looking at her, I wouldn't have thought she was some strange vomit fetishist who fills her children full of ice cream before attaching them to machinery which would spin them around at very high speeds.  Any appeal that side show alley may have held, quickly diminished.  I didn't fancy being covered in vomit, even if it was mint-choc chip.

As I walked by the kids' stage, a band of kids looked like they were about to start playing.  They looked to be about 10 - 12 years old and comprised a bass player (also the front man), guitarist, key board player, drummer and brass section with two saxophones and a trumpet.  They looked pretty good up there and I waited for them to play.  It took the sound guy about twenty minutes to get everyone plugged in and ready to go.  Suddenly they started playing the "Peter Gunn" theme.  They were pretty tight and were in tune which is a great start.  Then everyone would stop playing for a couple of bars of improvisation from various instruments. You really can't believe how much the whole rhythmic structure of a piece can completely fall apart in the space of four bars until you hear it happen.  The drummer would count them back in and they'd play again as a tight unit.  When they started playing and singing other contemporary pop songs, I decided it was time to go.

The pop up park got a work out and the astro turf is looking less than stellar.  I caught a couple of bands which I really enjoyed: The Junes were rocking in the IGA carpark and The Mercurials were a great way to finish the day outside the video shop.  Earlier in the day I had caught a little bit of  Rebecca Bernard and Amanda Testro.  They called for a volunteer from the crowd to turn pages for their final song.  A small girl clambered on stage.  She did her best, but it can be hard to wrangle several pieces of A4 paper in a high wind.  There was a pause of about 2 and a half minutes between pages.

That sums up the vibe: friendly, comfy and a little bit daggy.  Love it!

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