Wow! What a whirlwind weekend that was! I had not been to Melbourne in about 22 years and that was when I was 17 - a couple of years before I had discovered goth.
It went by as fast as it was organized. A couple of weeks ago I was at a party at a friend's house and Ravenna was talking about a trip she had planned for the next long weekend. It was like the perfect storm on a blue moon - two goth events on the one weekend! In Melbourne (the capital city for goth subculture in Australia) no less. If I was going to get to Melbourne an opportunity like that was too tempting to pass up. And as it turned out they were looking for DJs for one of the events. Ravenna put in a good word for me but I have worked with the main organizer through Adelaide gigs before. Soon I was booked in to play. In Melbourne! The big league! Very exciting!
The timing was excellent as I had an advance loan due to be available. As it turned out the money came the day we came back so I had to do it mostly on borrowed cash and pay it back when we return. Thank you Ravenna for helping me out.
So this was what was on in Melbourne that weekend. Saturday night was The New Order - a fairly regular goth/dark alt event. Sunday night The Damned were playing but I never got to see them. We had too much on and it clashed with other plans. The main event for me Sunday night was Fang - the event I was booked to DJ at.
Anyway, I'll go through how it all went in a timeline of sorts.
We left Adelaide on the bus on Friday night at 8:15pm. Travelling on the bus were Ravenna, Sam, Adrian and myself. The initial plan was to sleep on the bus but none of us did. We were too excited and it was so damn hard to get comfortable. I also have sleep apnea so I usually sleep with a CPAP machine and that wasn't doable on the bus. But they did have USB power. I rigged up a "portable CPAP machine" made from a USB fan, a funnel and a lot of gaffa tape. If the fan was stronger I think it would have worked but as weak as the fan was it didn't really do anything. Plus it made me look like I was fellating the funnel. So no sleep for us.
This is the happy bus. We're happy here on the happy bus...
Ravenna and I were staying at friends' house to help cut costs. Cheers to Dorian and Lucy for letting us stay over. One cool thing is they live right near a massive memorial park. While I didn't have time to take any photos of any old graves I did get some of an old train hearse car they have on display there.
Choo choo to the afterlife
Initial plans were to do some shopping (Victorian Markets and a shop called Victorian Gothic)and maybe get to Melbourne Museum if we had time. We ended up sleeping a few hours and Adrian and I made it to the museum but only for an hour before close. I think it was worth it though.
Dinosaur bones... dinosaur bones everywhere!
While wandering around looking to meet up with Ravenna again we stumbled upon a shop called Socks Shop - a nice little shop in theMelbourne Central Railway Station. That station is amazing, made me think of Adelaide Railway Station combined with Adelaide Central Market but even bigger. We met up with Ravenna at the Socks Shop and we all ended up buying something nice. They had gloves, hats, ties, stockings - lots of stuff we are into. Its accidental finds like that I really enjoy. We went off to grab something for dinner, buy some pre-drinks booze then off to Adrian's hotel room to use as a base of operations in the CBD. Plus they had a bunch of communal showers so it made getting ready for the night even easier.
At the hotel room (Space Hotel) we discovered they had a spa on the roof. We didn't have time to use it that night but thought we should on Sunday night. Ravenna had organised for us to go for pre-drinks/finish getting ready at a friend of hers hotel room - Sven. He is a Melbourne DJ and long time participant in the goth scene. Cool guy. I mostly got ready at Adrians but I did my make up/fixed hair at Sven's.
Adrian, Ravenna, Sven. myself and Sam
His hotel room wasn't far from The New Order and it had an amazing view.
Like something out of a cyberpunk movie
The New Order is currently held at a venue called The Sub Club. Its downstairs in a little alley. As we walked down there I was hit with a major feeling of deja vu. I saw this in a dream a couple of months ago and even recalled it being in Melbourne. Maybe my subconscious knew I was going.
As for The New Order itself? Amazing! I was hit with so much nostalgia as it reminded me a lot of how things were in Adelaide in the mid-late 90s. Like Proscenium, they even had a shelf in the alley outside to sit on. I ran into a few people I knew (some ex-Adelaide) and met some new nice people too. The energy there is so much different to Adelaide. Extremely positive and people actually dance! Music-wise it was pretty similar to what we do in a main room at a club event here.
And I had a fangirl moment. Tim Chandler from Pretentious Moi was there! I got my photo with him and a signed business card. Very unexpected but all wow!
Awesome event, I would totally go again in the future. Looking back I actually enjoyed The New Order a little more than Fang as I had more energy. Plus I got absolutely hammered! I was afraid I wouldn't be able to walk the next day from dancing and all the walking we did during the day.
We ended up sleeping and recovering a fair bit but we managed to get to one of the planned shopping destinations about 4:30pm - Victorian Gothic. As soon as I stepped into the store I saw a display case on my right and a necklace caught my eye. Sold! I was hoping something would pop up that I could wear that night and that was it. As everyone else was shopping I sat down on the shoe chair to rest and my eye was drawn to something on the top shelf I previously didn't see. Sold again! I'm not going to say what it was as I plan on wearing it next Cybermorph.
After Victorian Gothic, we headed back to Adrian's hotel and used the spa on the rooftop. James (also from Adelaide) and Adam (Ex-Adelaide guy I have known since he was an underager sneaking into Proscenium back in the day, also known as DJ Astro plying in the industrial room) joined us. It was lovely up there with the cool breeze and the sunset. Then it was back to Adrian's room to get ready.
Outside Fang we met up with Ridge and Ayla who flew down that day. The Adelaide contingent had grown to a grand total of seven - Ravenna, Sam, Adrian, James, Ridge, Ayla and myself.
Fang (at Platform One) was very impressive. The venue is a couple of old railway tunnels that have been converted into a nightclub with multiple rooms. The front room was goth-friendly metal. The small back room was Cyber Industrial. The main room was a mix of goth/80s/alternative. Thats the room I was DJing in at 1:30am - a prime time slot. I was a little nervous as this is the big time in Australia. Little ol' me from sleepy Adelaide DJing prime time in party central Melbourne. All I could think was "Don't fuck up, don't fuck up, don't fuck up..." beforehand. But Gerry gave me that slot for a reason and if he was confident that I'd do well I would be confident too. Though he did tell me no joke songs. I'm probably the only DJ in Australia you have to do that with.
In a city where they have a train station called Batman no less
I spend most of my time between the main room and smoking area. I'm getting a feel for what the Melbourne crowd likes by seeing what they dance to, what the DJs play and my observations from the night before.
So 1:30am nears and I'm on soon. I get up there early to get my USBs sorted and cue up first tracks. Glad I brought a mini torch and my glasses with me as I needed them to familiarise myself with the equipment initially. This was only the second time ever I have DJed with USBs. I usually use my laptop/DJ rig and CDs before that. I had decided my first track well ahead of time.
People are dancing, so far so good. A few tracks in people are still dancing. Two people come up and thank me for Pretentious Moi and can't believe other people know them. I can barely see beyond in front of the DJ booth due to the excellent smoke machine pumping out the haze. The visuals in and around the DJ booth are amazing. I daresay this is the best DJ booth I have ever worked in. Plenty of room to dance along too.
Then it happened. I cued up my remix of Junkie XL's cover of Cities in Dust - you bet I'm throwing some of my remixes in to stamp my brand on it. I don't know why but it played my remix of Prince's Batdance instead. It partially kills the floor. Panic sets in. Yet some people are still dancing. This Melbourne dancefloor is a lot more forgiving than an Adelaide dancefloor would be. Don't worry Joe, you can recover. You've done it before. And I do. Yay for easy dancefloor fillers to get back on track.
The rest of the set goes well though my last track raised a few eyebrows. But the DJ on after me dug it and I promised Sven wanted to hear it after I mentioned it the night before. I heard numerous cheers for certain songs along the way while I was playing. Ravenna told me afterwards for much of my set I had the whole tunnel dancing. Seems I played a lot of oldies that don't get a lot of play anymore in Melbourne and people liked that. Looks like I have represented Adelaide well.
The rest of the night was pretty laid back for me. I was very tired. I tend to burn it all out in the DJ booth. For me its as much about putting in some showmanship and energy as playing the right tunes. A few people approached me to thank me for playing and say they liked my set. Its always nice when that happens. One person who made a request (I was handed a piece of paper wrapped in a cord and I read it after I was finished then passed it on to the next DJ) apologized for making a request. I said to them its all good and I like getting requests. But they did enjoy the set so that was great. More importantly Gerry seemed happy with it.
After Fang, most of the group went back to Adrian's hotel to use the spa again but I was too tired. I headed back to Dorian and Lucy's to rest up. They all eventually arrived to sleep too.
We all slept in! We woke up about 6pm and had to make the bus by 7:45pm for check in. We have to split the group because we have too many people for a single taxi or Uber. So Ravenna, Ridge, Ayla and Adrian go on ahead as they need to check in and Sam and I go next as we are all on Ravenna's booking (she can check in for us). Sam and I arrive five minutes before departure, load our luggage and board. My money finally cleared a little after midnight. I was getting a bit worried as I don't like owing friends money and I wanted to make sure Ravenna got paid before I went home.
6:30am arrival, pay Ravenna, taxi home and I get there in time to see my kids before they get to school.
A trip like this can change you. For many, it makes them want to move to Melbourne. For me it didn't do that. In my case moving is not an option but at the same time for all its faults I still like Adelaide too much.
...but it didn't change my sense of humour
I don't want to move to Melbourne where things are better. I want to build things in Adelaide so they can be better here. We will never be Melbourne but we can be smaller yet still good.
Musically we are pretty much on par. What works here works there. It seems cyber/industrial is waning in Melbourne yet with Cybermorph its still strong here. That is something we can capitalize on as there is still a market for it. If we could do something similar over a long weekend (say Cybermorph on a Saturday and DecaDanse on the Sunday) that could be quite the drawcard. A mini-festival of sorts, its certainly how this weekend felt.
A major difference is the energy in the room. Melbourne burns with positivity and people dancing a lot. Adelaide its hard to get people dancing (if at all) and easy to lose them. The wallflower syndrome of Adelaide is a bit of a downer energy-wise. We need to teach Adelaide how to dance again. But its not the music as its pretty much the same here and there.
Something I think might make a small difference that I noticed. Smoking areas. The smoking areas at both events I attended were small and alcohol free. Compare this to most smoking areas in Adelaide being reasonably spacious beer gardens. There is more incentive to stay in the club rather than settle outside in Melbourne. Something to consider perhaps? Though its often the case with venues of taking what you can get.
Its interesting to note that Adelaide and Melbourne are following a similar timeline of having things go down in the dark alt scene for a while (for Melbourne the big one was DV8 closing in 2014) and recovering over the last couple of years. The only difference really being Melbourne has more events on and more frequently than we do. Its clear both cities are going to get better from here and I would love to see more crossover between us.
So... you are probably wondering what did Aytakk actually play. Here it is. I think I'm missing a track (I didn't write it down at the time) but here is the set I played and the setlist.
I look forward to doing another trip to Melbourne in the future. DJing or not I'd like to go about once a year if possible. I know due to life circumstances it can't be more. But more importantly we have work to do here in Adelaide to make them want to come to us.
-Aytakk has been active in the goth scene since the mid 90s both online and in real life. He firmly believes in the old line "if you don't get the joke, you are the joke". As well as this he produces music for a couple of music projects: Corpulence On The Catwalk (goth/darkwave/coldwave) and Hypnophile (aggrotech/power noise). He is also a club DJ and nemesis of DJ Jelly.