Charlotte enters the marquee. It’s the evening concert. She’s been gone a while. She’s looking pale.
“I’ve just been held up by a bunch of kids on the steps demanding a ransom to let me past. I didn’t know what to do!”
And so began Whare Flat.
It’s a strange place, this. A world in which Lord of the Flies-esque chaos co-exists with an elderly couple dancing in a corner, a tent dedicated to Honky Tonk, circles of twenty-somethings huddled around a box of wine, and the stage, endlessly oozing with talent.
It is in many ways a timeless place. A place where generations mix, where the young listen to the old, but where the old ask just as many questions in return. But timeless also in that it’s a place where the young seem to be most keenly embracing eras almost forgotten by the eldest on the campsite - the dances of the 30’s, the singers of the 50’s, brought to life once more. Something old is something new.
For most of my festival - my second visit - I sat behind the bar, serving pints. It’s a fantastic place to capture the festival; to witness the big moments on stage, but the little snapshots too. And as I thought about writing this blog, one-by-one these images came floating by:
The smile reaching from ear to ear when a child realises that a waffle the size of their face is all for them.
The rolling of the eyes from a veteran festival-goer answering for the umpteenth time the question from the excited first-timer: “is this the first year you’ve done this? I’ve lived in Dunedin for 30 years, and never knew it was happening!”
The scowl from the nearside benches towards the chatty folk in the cafe.
The surge of joy that waves through the audience when the harmony just hits that button, and the music seems to melt, bringing both singers and listeners into this unparalleled togetherness for the briefest of moments.
The bright-eyed excitement when the keen dancer hears a song to be danced to, and finds a person to dance with. They scuttle together to the back of the marquee and begin to bop.
That moment when the song ends, the most beautiful of songs, and no one claps - just for a second - as if applause might break the spell.
The look on the faces when the keg of beer ran out.