We went to the High St festival yesterday. Not the most heterosexual event I’ve ever been to, but a fun time was had by all. There was a Senegalese stall serving Yassa Poulet (with token white woman and adorable curly-headed child on her back), public drinking, an unearthly-sounding flamenco lady, hairy men, hairy women and a slender fellow sporting a rather marvellous crimson pantsuit. Asymmetrical haircuts! Grown women wearing pinafores and rubber clogs! Spaniel’s ear hairdos! Pink wigs and yellow cheongsams! Dogs in studded collars!!
We agreed that rather like Sydney, we like Northcote to visit but would never stay there, as all the people who imagine they’re cool moved in, while the people who are actually cool live in Brunswick. If you tried to sell stone-like vegan organic doughnuts made of spelt flour for $5 a pair in Brunswick (and tasting of compacted potting mix and snuff), some old Greek bloke would no doubt pull you up quicksticks. In Northcote we devoured them though, only grumbling under our breath. Anyone can call me on this one, I will fight them to the death.
As the spring-like weather turned on a sub-zero treat for us that day, we immersed ourselves in the Northcote Social Club. Cheek-by-chops with the aforementioned hairy fellows. Hey, we had to get warm somehow. Fran’s mate, a lively lass, produced a breathtaking array of pick-up lines, the likes of which haven’t been heard since Benny Hill was first on telly. We wondered where all the hirsute spunks were normally hiding, and figured that they were probably at home with their Playstations, in preference to talking to real human beings.
We had a fine time in the Social Club, tried out some local brew at Punch (a converted hairdresser) and took in another band – Mr Invisiablo. In fact, a lot of the shops had cleared the decks and were showcasing bands, or serving drinks. Thumbs up all round.
My final stop was at the Regal Ballroom to see a gyspy/cabaret/jazz band. We were there to support a friend’s boyfriend, but were a bit suspicious of the put-on French accent of the lead singer. No matter – we were warm, and had beers in hand. In about two seconds the band had the dancefloor jumping so much we could feel it move under our feet. We just stood there and goggled.
Firstly, a small, neat woman in formal shorts started gyrating with her girlfriend. Then their mate with a Hasidic beard leapt in, pretending to jump rope. Another couple joined them – a leather-faced, high-waisted man with smaller partner – they were obviously on their way to a dance class, as they had the gypsy twirling down pat. Two chaps, one with grass green hat and red braces, had a bit of a danceoff. In the distance, a very tall young man in a check coat pogoed with a bag on his head with eyes cut out. Then the real freaks arrived.
A 60+ woman with a long, beaded headpiece past her chin swirled in, undulating her arms and spinning her hippie skirts wide. A gaggle of dreadlocked women bowled up, doing high-kicks. There was some grinding going on. One very tall, slender woman sported high-waisted pants, a cummerbund, braces, ratty shirt and a drawn-on moustache. A pencil moustache, if you’re wondering. Two lassies were not so much ballroom dancing as grappling. Their gypsy spirits were up. It was time to brave the cold again.
After a quick detour by the Social Club again, and chins glistening with lamb sausage and a belly full of yeast, we bowled off into the near-freezing night.