I had not worn this fine leather jacket for some time. I bought it on Ibiza from a fashion house in the summer of 1989. Though it bemused us that students without many means were treated as princesses by attentive sales people, I walked away with the softest buffalo skin leather jacket, hitting the waist with generous pleats in the back and a diagonal zip overlay at the front. And a payment plan. It is fair to say it was an impulse buy.
The Queensland climate rarely lends itself to wearing a leather jacket. Our summers are hot and our winters are mild. But on Thursday I wore it to the opening night of La Boite’s indie season’s Hedonism’s Second Album. As we were waiting for the show to start, I thought to check if there was something in the buttoned pocket of my jacket. And I was immediately transported back in time. I found a ticket stub for a concert I attended with my very good childhood friends in Århus in February 1991. Mek Pek and the Allrights. I could almost hear the ska with the trio of trumpet, trombone and sax in the background, thumping out Hit me with your rythm stick, Mek Pek style, in a smoke-filled room packed with young people, well imbibed by the 10pm start, the laughter, the shouting, the drinking, the dancing, the sweating into my leather jacket.
It was an apt entré into Hedonism’s Second Album which portrays a four-piece band after the excesses of their first album’s success. It explores the ‘sometimes badly behaved characters we may hide within, behind our public selves’. The play was fun with its comedic approach to the ideosyncracies, posturing and insecurities of four young men. But it had a serious edge with its terrifyingly real message about conflicted young men struggling to be: in endless pursuit of pleasure, excruciating pain sometimes is the price. Did they have a choice?
This message came on the back of our Monday night experience when we, courtesy of the Danish Club, attended a special screening of the Swedish film, The Hundred Year-Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Dissappeared. It is a surprising and funny film, which places its affable main character in a series of historical events. Allan became an orphan at the age of nine, yet he is portrayed, not as a troubled, but as a straight-forward young man, whose favourite pleasure was to blow up things. He is almost oblivious to his profound impact on the course of history. Things just happen, as he carries with him the words of his dying mother: Stop thinking so much like your father – just start doing. But if you thought this liberatian advice was the message of the film, it needs to be seen in light of Mum’s fatalistic advice: it is what it is and it will be what it will be. No point to pursue pleasure or avoid pain.
In their painful pursuit of pleasure in the flotsam of their success, Hedonism’s musicians found it difficult to just do. So Saturday’s performers of Casus Circus were a perfect contrast, demonstrating the power of free will. We braved the unseasonal, relentless rain and went to the opening night of Finding the Silence at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Art. The title refers to ‘that elusive silence, that moment of pure clarity’ which a circus performer has to find before every trick to defy danger, fear and gravity. Through physical exploration, the show questions whether the silence and clarity really exists. I was in awe of the young performers’ physicality, skill and bravery; and most of all their ability to work together to do what seems impossible. Like ballet dancers, just much more interesting. And shorter.
Real-life Casus appear not unlike fictional Hedonism. Hot on the heels of their international success with Knee Deep; however, Casus have been determined to follow up in a timely way that seems to defy the fear of not reaching the heights of former glory.
As I reflect on the arts experiences of the week, it seems to me that we fall into a trap when we give in to nostalgia. The youth, the dreams, the life in front of me, all came back to me when I stared down at that 23 1/2 year old ticket. Would it be what it would be or was I able to influence the course of my life? I think the latter. But as I look back I see that though my life is full of thinking and planning before doing, I also see that life changing events can happen with little planning and decisions may be taken at the spur of the moment. Like the soft leather jacket and the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude of Mek Pek’s Allrights. And when I find that moment of silence, I see that I would not change a thing: it is what it is, it will be what it will be.