Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Death & Beauty

Traveled up the coast and took a turn inland to a place called Bonalbo. It's the same site we got evacuated from last year due to flooding. This year, no rain. But the party ended on a pretty tragic note. Some of you might have read about it in the news.

First up though, it really was a good party. Well organised, loads of good music, vibe just as it should be. Met up with many friends who had also traveled from Sydney. Saw faces I think we saw at Soulclipse in Turkey. Others are people Ann and I are getting to know from parties around this area (north west NSW, near the Queensland border, roughly eight hours' drive from Sydney).

Set up camp on the river's edge just far enough away from the music to enjoy going to sleep to it. I like drifting off to music. Nice to wake up to it too, knowing that some die hards are probably still dancing. Also nice to wake up to the chime and whip of tiny, unseen birds and the deep and comical chirrup of frog-call.

Emerging from the tent, there are friends and strangers making their way to or from the dancefloor, drink in hand at breakfast time, and it's a lovely sense of freedom to think fuck it, and also crack open that first beer of the day. Some small talk with neighbours about how it's good to get a good night's sleep at these things.

The day soon becomes another blur of laughing and dancing, dancing sometimes under the sprinkler system because skin is already stinging with the glare of the sun. Sometimes it's just good to sit in the shade and watch others have their fun. Sometimes the fun is infectious and the pulsing music too hard to resist any longer and it's time to dance on tired limbs again, smiling that psytrance smile.

There's a face I remember from last year, this girl who is amazing to watch. She's beautiful, no doubt about it, but in a strange way. She was at each of last year's parties and in Byron away from the parties too. She's one of those people I want to know, maybe someone I shouldn't get to know. She's a kind of Earth Mother type, layers of earthy clothes, a hypnotic sway of the hips, a smile and a laugh you fall in love with each time you see it. I know she's seen me smile as I watch her, and today I decide to go and say hello. I tell Ann this.

"That girl," I say, "I want to say hello to her. I want to know her name."

Ann says nothing. She knows who I'm talking about because I pointed her out last year. I pick up a vibe. I change my mind about saying hello. Then I change it back again.

I walk down the hill and join the crowd, stomping in the dust beneath the trees and the colourful streamers. The girl is laughing again and doing that swaying, sensual dance. Her eyes could be green, those lips are dark and wide across her face, hair dusty red. She's not a classic beauty. She's so much more than that. I walk over to her when the time is right.

"Hello," I say to her. "What is your name?"

"I'm Kylie," she says, smiling and open.

"I'm Lee," I tell her. "I've seen you at a few parties around here and just wanted to say hello. I'm not hitting on you or anything. Just wanted to say hello, because you're a very attractive person. And I thought I'd say hello."

The smile is a wide one, lines at the corners of the eyes deepening. She presses her hands together and says thank you, and I leave it at that, knowing that we'll see each other again, probably at next week's party.

Back up on the hill I tell Ann that I said hello to the girl, and again I pick up a vibe, and I think this is very funny because Ann has guys telling her that kind of thing all the time. They stop her in the street and ask to have their photo taken with her. I know it makes her happy.

Was I wrong to say what I said?

Later Kylie walks past and I introduce her to Ann, so there is no confusion. They smile and shake hands and tell each other their names, and as Kylie continues walking she touches me lightly on the shoulder, a gentle squeeze, another generous flash of that smile and I think no, I was not wrong to say what I said.

As the day darkens we notice helicopters buzzing around. Last time this happened at a party like this it turned out they were not joyflights that we were waving like fools at but search helicopters. The guy they were looking for had wandered off at the beginning of the party and his friends had assumed he had not come back to his tent because he'd met a girl. His body was eventually found in the river. He'd wandered off alone, slipped at the river's edge, hit his head, drowned alone.

We're not sure what these helicopters are doing, but it makes us feel uneasy. We've danced enough for a while and decide to go back to the tent for a bit of chill time. On the way, we find out what happened. There had been parachute jumps on offer for those that way inclined. Several jumps went smoothly, one did not. Young guy from Iceland had pushed the limit and freefell for too long. Chute didn't have enough time to open properly. He was, by all accounts, an adrenalin junkie. It had just happened. We bumped into one friend who had been watching, then another who knew the guy. The scene was as you can expect.

My mood was swirling. Drunk on beauty, then this empty sadness, that cold hard fact again that it can all end so quickly, a life ending in the name of fun.

We lay in silence in the tent, knowing that most of the others were not aware of what had happened. The music was still pumping, people were still dancing. It was the strangest backdrop to the scene we had just walked through.


gin said...

lee, that was beautifully written. Yes, I had heard about this, but reading your post changed it from being just another news story. My throat feels swollen with sadness as I write this.. Thank you for sharing such a strange and personal experience.

overnight said...


Public meets personal. And if it ended tomorrow - and it can always end tomorrow - that girl's smile/
would make it all worthwhile

I imagine.

Quick said...

Thanks Gin. It was a strange weekend, strange emotions. I'll probably craft the thing into something proper when I have time.

And thank you OE. Happy to have engaged someone so constantly engaging.

guyana-gyal said...

Hi Lee, I've been catching up with your life...instead of writing. I get great insights into Aussie life here. Well, one part, at least.

I agree with Gin, this post was beautifully written. I hope you can sculpt it the way you want to, later on.

emma said...

Don't get a big head but you are a brilliant writer. What an evocative scene. I was with you right there, and charmed by Kylie's smile. Sounds like you had a great feral trip. Not sure exactly where you were, but I was in Bryon once and loved it.

Quick said...

Thank you GG. There will be lots of blog catching up when I'm back home. Haven't had much computer time. Still more fun to be had on the road though.

And thank you Emma. Had a quick peek into your weekend in New York. Fun stuff. I'm still on the road and still being feral. Well I've spent a few days in civilisation but am about to head off for another party. I'm sure there will be lots more to write about. Just hope it's all good and fun stuff.