Or: Party all day (fuck all night)
It started as a very regular and boring friday. Southport is very slow. Laid-back. There really isn’t much to do but hang out in the sun by the pool – yes, all buildings come with a pool, and it isn’t any sort of luxury here. It’s pretty essential for survival. The sun comes up so early in the mornings, that at 7 AM it already feels like midday.
I was hanging out at the library to get some free wifi, when I decided, I should go for a run later and get rid of some of this burger grease that has planted itself on my hips (I have never in my whole life eaten as much junk food as during my 5 weeks in Sydney).
But in Australia, it’s pretty pointless to plan anything. You never know where you’ll be in a month, a week, or even an hour from now. As I go to the hostel to pick up my running buddy, I run into Leigh instead – that’s that guy who remembers people by the kind of drugs he did with them. Like, the kid from Terminator 2 is the guy he did coke with. He’s covered in tattoos, and the first guy to at least intended to get my initials on his body, in theory. In practice, when he had his tattoo done, that was supposed to show all the cool people he had met at the hostel we both were staying at, mine was the only one he forgot (and people call me paranoid).
He tells me about his plans of going to Brisbane that night, to see some rock’n’roll bands, and if I’m down. How much it would cost, I wanna know. „Nothing“, he says and grins.
Well, I’m down for a very inappropriate adventure, as it’s surely gonna be with Leigh. Shit, I’m in Australia, I wanna have some crazy stories to tell as well when I get home! So here it goes.
While Leigh distracts the bus driver, I just get on without paying. Check one. At the trainstation in Helensvale, we don’t buy tickets. We are meeting two guys, Skip and Shawn, that he had met the night before and were totally down for seeing a free concert as well.
Because I am a bringer of bad luck, there is security on the train. Before they get to ask us to present our tickets, Leigh urges me to get up and walks me to the bathroom in the back of the train. „Act as if you’re sick“, he whispers. I lock myself in the bathroom, sweating. Oh god, I am too innocent for this! Maybe I can flush myself down the drain… A short while after, he knocks on the door and tells me to come out, the coast is clear. When I get out, he explains to me that I am his pregnant wife and have a terrible case of morning sickness. Instead of giving us a fine, the security lady offers me a breath mint, which I gladly take. The rest of the train ride they keep eyeing us and I have to pretend to be sick to my stomach (which I did very well, according to various sources). Right before we get off at our stop in Brisbane, the lady kindly yells at Leigh that I am gonna die tonight if he makes me do drugs. Check two. Gotta love Australian hospitality. Or should I feel offended that she actually believed that I was pregnant..?
Brisbane feels extremely nice. Of course it’s dark, and I can’t see much, but it feels good. Warm. Exotic. There is excitement in the air. We walk to the location of the concert and try to find the weak spot in the fence. And it doesn’t take us long to find it. „I’m going first“, I say, feeling confident, and ripping my shirt in the process – which isn’t nearly as sexy as it sounds. Leigh follows me. As we get to the other side, we are trying to help Skip and Shawn to climb the fence next. And then it happens. A flashlight, a yell. „What are you doing?!“ Caught by security. Shawn and Skip have bolted, and me and Leigh are trying to make a run for it inside. But I don’t react fast enough, and she gets a hold of my arm. The security lady vigorously pulls on my left arm, while Leigh is pulling my right arm, and I don’t know whether to cry because we apparently got busted, or to laugh because the situation is totally absurd. „Let go of her!“ Leigh screams, „she’s pregnant!!“ (at this point, I don’t even know anymore how many women in Brisbane now think that my rockstar husband feeds his pregnant wife drugs). The security lady lets go, and flashes her flashlight in some kind of morse code to get back-up. Leigh and I stand still as to not make the situation any worse. A guy in uniform shows up, and asks the business. „Sorry man, we just tried to let our friends in, they don’t have tickets, really sorry, won’t happen again!“ If it’s because he’s Australian, or just doesn’t want any trouble, he nods and says „just keep walking“. How he ever believed that story without asking to see our tickets or failing to notice that neither I nor Leigh are wearing one of the bri ghtyellow wristbands that you got at the entrance, I will never know. Maybe he simply thought „These guys look too poor, they deserve to listen to some good heavy metal music.“ Either way, we’re in. Check three.
It’s like an open air festival. People are smoking, drinking and making out. We missed the first two bands, but made it just in time to see the main act: Steel Panther. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of them. The best thing about them are their funny costumes. But I am acting as if a life dream of mine came true, just to fit in.
„You wanna see the stage?“ Leigh yells at me over the music. „Sure!“ I nod, not thinking ahead. Without warning, he bends down to pick me up, and literally throws me onto the crowd.
I am fucking crowd-surfing. At this moment I am completely psyched. I can’t even recall anymore if anyone did or at least tried to grab my shit. If they did, I was too high on life to notice.
A happy peeface.
After the concert, Leigh suggests we find the after party. „I know a dude who knows the band, we’ll get to party with the band!“ Sounds legit.
Seems like everyone who was just at the concert is now on the way to the after party, and we don’t stay alone for long. A guy is sharing his Rum and Coke (mixed in a Coke bottle) with us, and just when I hand it over to Leigh, we have apparently arrived at the location. „You’re not getting in“, says the bald bouncer, pointing at the bottle in Leigh’s hand. „What? That’s just Coke! I was thirsty!“ explains Leigh, but Baldy takes the bottle out of his hand and smells it. „Nice try. Now get lost.“
Leigh is pissed. I somehow feel that it is my fault for naively handing him the bottle and not thinking. This isn’t Germany where we even have a word for drinking alcohol in the morning (Frühschoppe). This is Australia, where alcohol laws are only rivaled by the United States of America. „It’s fine“, he says, albeit very annoyed. „We’ll find the back entrance.“
And walking around the block proves once again that you don’t need a plan to get by in Australia. There isn’t a single security at the back entrance. We simply walk in. Happily that we outwitted security once again, we buy drinks. And as Leigh turns around, Baldy is standing right in front of him. „Didn’t I tell you to get lost?!“ He escorts him out, and I try to hide in a dark corner.
„Come on Silvana, think on your feet, you can do this, you can do this!!“, I am cheering myself on. But I really don’t know what it is that I can or should do, and so I just keep standing in my dark corner waiting for a sign from Leigh. Baldy comes back up the stairs and walks straight towards me. I turn around, thinking there is no way he recognizes me. But I underestimated him, and when he taps me on the shoulder I just throw up my arms and shout „All right, all right!“ and walk outside, where Leigh is already waiting for me. „Let’s find another pub and figure out what to do“, he says. So that’s what we do.
„Let’s get some free drinks“, is his suggestion at the next bar. I don’t understand how, though, the drinks are free for me, when he tells me to buy the first round. „It’s simple“, he says as we carry our red wines to an empty table that has some half full glasses standing on it. „Put your glass right next to the one that was already standing there.. and then down them both.“ Disgusting? Well, I like to think of it as „rock’n’roll“. Soon some guys are starting a conversation with us, and Leigh has a blast pretending to be a guitarist from Hollywood and mispronouncing Melbourne (‘Mel-born’), even though that’s where he’s originally from. The guys think he’s such a hot-shot, they keep buying us authentic Australian drinks thinking they are introducing to us a whole new culture.
By the time we go outside for a smoke, I am already pretty tipsy. Don’t know how it works, but Leigh has already started talking to another guy who is offering free cigarettes. Together, we crawl to the next pub down the street for even more drinks.
And that’s where it happens. Leigh is just gone. He’s left me. I am all alone in Brisbane with no cell phone battery or rationality left. I walk through the pub about 5 times, but there is no sign of him. The last dude offers me his couch, but I don’t feel comfortable going home with someone I just met. So I just walk off. When in distress, I’ve learned your best bet is to make for the trainstation.
I have actually no idea where I am walking, but something tells me which direction to walk in (possibly I saw a sign in my drunken blur).
Man, I am completely out of it. I have no idea if I make myself be that way, or if someone has spiked one of my drinks, or what the hell is going on. I feel like Alice in Wonderland.
As I am wandering around Brisbane and thinking, I actually like this city!, I come to stop at a traffic light. As I have lost all sense of direction (I am now just following the greasy smell of McDonald’s) the impossible happens – there come walking Skip and Shawn. They are on their way to the trainstation as well, assuring me that I am not completely useless after all.
„You up for Maccas?“ they wanna know. I just nod. Skip’s got it, they say. I am not arguing. But instead of ordering my one Chicken Burger Meal, Skip orders three. And three Cheeseburger Meals, three Big Mac Meals, and two servings of Chicken Nuggets. I mean, a huge plate of food makes me happy, but hadn’t I just decided on losing some weight? Well, don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow, as the English say. They are pretty impressed with my eating skills, which took years of practice. I do finish my three meals, and some chicken nuggets, and before I can eat even more, they give the rest to some homeless guy roaming the trainstation.
Skip and Shawn give me a ride home to Southport not so early in the morning, where I fall into bed without noticing the questions in the eyes of my flatmates. I don’t hear from Leigh until two days later, when he texts me and asks if I am ok.