Something I have been enjoying about Brisbane is being pleasantly surprised that life does, in fact, happen out of NYC. There is always something to do here…if you have the money - the issue being that most things cost a pretty penny. Sometimes, though, you just have to go do something and choke back the tears as you watch precious cash melt out of your hands.
What I’m trying to say is that yesterday, after a challenging exam, Photosynthesis Drew picked me up and we went to see a show at the Brisbane Comedy Festival. In New Farm Park, there’s this old powerhouse that the city converted into something like a multiplex for culture. There are restaurants and bars folded into different parts of the massive building, and art speckling walls here and there. There are also a lot of independent rooms where several comedy shows can perform at once. I am always keen on learning more about the nuances of a culture by seeing how they enjoy jokes.
We got the tickets for a Melbourne-based comedian. During the performance I struggled a bit with the cultural references and her dark humor. I thought that maybe I’m just too cold or dull to understand the glory of comedy in Australia. Thankfully, when we left the set, Drew mentioned that he also wanted to give the woman the number to a therapist nearby. So at least I know that, in some ways, humor between the US and Australia are not completely separate. That said, there were still a lot of things lost on my American ways - I was reminded that I am not near home and still have a lot to learn about the nuanced details of Australian culture.
Drew’s friends were there, and I ended up hanging out with a large group of Aussies – my first time since I've been here! (It’s so easy to socialize with fellow foreigners when a foreigner, but locals are often harder to meet.) I relished watching a group of local friends interact comfortably with each other, without much interruption for clarification or cultural explanations (even if I didn't know what they were talking about for some of the time). It was refreshing in some sense to see the “normalcy” happen in front of me, and I loved every second of it. Also, everyone was incredibly super and friendly – a constant I've noticed with all Aussies I've met. I had a blast joking with all of them, even if I was the odd man out in a sense.
We shut the place down, but the group was not quite done hanging out. So we ended up in Fortitude Valley. I have been told legends of this area, and I've gathered that Fortitude Valley is a place where, if you go after graduating college, may earn you a few raised eyebrow from your friends. It’s kind of like St. Mark’s Place in NYC, or Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street in New Orleans (not like I've ever been). In the day, it’s kind of quiet. But at night? It’s buzzing with people and bacchanalian rituals. Girls are clad in scandalously short dresses (how DOES that not ride up and expose your entire booty?!) and the bass booming from all of the clubs echo in the last-night food shops thriving with drunk diners. Cops hang out on the corners, watching for places where they may need to intervene. This is truly the only place at night to dance, drink, and party.
If you know me now, you might understand that I may have been a bit out of my element, truly. I dance on the street with myself, and two glasses of wine and I need to be walked home. But, as I am in a new place, the answer is (almost) always “yes!” to new experiences. And the company was great, so I felt compelled to continue to fun evening. We ended up in a comfortable bar that had a pop/funk cover band playing for dancing people my age and older. We danced and laughed for the remainder of the evening – I felt like a college kid again a little bit, being out so late. One of the guys in the group was very thin and danced as if he was a cartoon character; I wish I had filmed it to share the supernatural phenomenon I got to observe with his skills.
I got home at 3 in the morning. I'll be going to bed early tonight. I should start cashing in my pension, now...if I had one, that is.