16 June 2013
Finally, Day 4 arrived. This day was special because it kicked off the first day of our official challenges as Chief Funsters in New South Wales. The lovely members of Destination New South Wales were now traveling with us, full time, and we were assigned explicit challenges for each of the next 4 days. A full day of Sydney high life ahead of us, excitement began to well up. Batteries charged, cards formatted, and teeth brushed; let’s do this.
We drove through a historic area of Sydney called The Rocks. It has this name for a reason as you can see years of age eroded from the rock walls that now hold up modern cars on the roads above. Quaint shops and aged buildings line the streets of the tourist precinct all the way down to Sydney Harbourwhere we were headed. Upon arrival, I saw a scene of romance and what types of moments the Opera House or Harbour Bridge could bring out. I realized that almost everywhere you turn in the Harbour, you see something different, and something unique. The Circular Quay is an area just stacked with visuals and reasons to come back again and again. But, this was just the short walk to our chartered yacht.
Stepping onto the dock, there’s what looks like a million dollar yacht paused and bobbing up and down in the water. It looked like a million bucks because Ghost Elite charter boats carry the likes of Brad Pitt, Lady Gaga, the cast of Gossip Girl …and Chief Funsters? Not quite sure if I’d normally make the cut, but this day, we did. In no way would ever refuse this ride through the harbor! Fresh oysters, shrimp and champagne were the menu items, fit for celebrities. I guess we were for a day as Funsters––quite motivating to fight for another 6 months of that! Nevertheless, my camera was glued to my hands as there is never a shortage of things to see in Sydney Harbour. You could spend hours rearranging the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in different alignments and it never stops being beautiful. One scene will stick out to me forever: a couple enjoying conversation under a tree with the Bridge in the background. If you missed that in the video above, I suggest a second look. This ride really gave me a true feel for the serenity Sydney can offer.
We hopped into a bus to our new accommodation in sydney for the night, The Establishment. Like the QT Hotel, The Establishment was a boutique hotel that offered purposeful design, warm lighting and the smell of incense burning 24/7 in the lobby. Checking into the room again revealed the perks of being a Funster and what luxuries Sydney can afford. After a short break and change, we were off to the Opera House once again, but this time to experience the night.
A man by the name of Ignatius Jones awaited us at the Opera Bar. Ignatius, or “Iggy”, is responsible for the creative direction behind Sydney’s biggest up and coming festival of lights, interactivity and all things art. Talking with Ignatius was an honor, however it quickly became easy going like I knew him for years. We talked about Vidid’s similarity to South by South West in the States, religious and political climates in the Middle East, startup and interactive technology, and finally the social and spiritual complexities of Aboriginal people living in modern Australia. Here’s just an excerpt of the things we discussed:
Being not only colleagues but personal friends with Stephen Page, the choreographer and artistic director of Bangarra Dance Theatre, Ignatius Jones had a very special insight into the workings of what we were about to see. Destination NSW had arranged for us to meet with Stephen before watching the performance of “Blak” at the Sydney Opera House. “This is a view that very few people get to see,” said Ignatius as we walked through backstage access. “We’re in the bowels of the Opera House, the large intestine.” That had me really excited. Ignatius and I talked for another 10 minutes or so before Stephen arrived to tell us about Bangarra and the coming performance. Every ounce of the 25-year struggle he’s seen bridging the gap of Aboriginal people into modern Australian culture can be seen in his work. Stephen spoke with passion about traditional dance, culture and loved being a champion for the people of his background.
The performance itself was amazing. “Intense” is probably the only proper word for it as it was a journey of Aboriginal people finding their roots once again. Blak pounds your chest as the modern and meticulous soundtrack booms forth from the theatre. The dancers were so fluid, almost silent at times as they would move back and forth and even thrash violently during each scene. With no words, Blak was absolutely still one of the most emotional experiences I’ve ever seen in theatre. Stephen’s son played a large role in the performance as well, many times being painted or clothed in a way that represented the heritage of the dancer he was looming around. With no technical dance training, Stephen’s son had an innocent character to his dance but would absolutely explode with movement to tell the story. In all, Blak was an epic piece about finding rest in your roots, or at least attempting to find them again.
Yet, the night was not over. Ignatius Jones is also the creative director for Pacha Sydney, a nightclub that prides itself on sensory overload and complete immersion into the world of themed parties. Taken straight into the backstage, we watched the girls put on extremely detailed costume pieces with the most wild colors and shapes imaginable. Though the club is fun, the backstage vibe was serious as none of these girls were there to joke. Only 20 girls were chosen from an audition of over 300 to perform at the club each week. With 10 bars, 4 levels, and a pool on the roof (with a DJ, of course) Ignatius had to lead us through the club to even know where to go. Watching from a VIP table on the 2nd floor, the show “Insex” started as the girls in their wild insect costumes came out and began to dance. The main burlesque dancer morphed into a cocoon and the entire audience clapped. It was a wild scene, practically a circus. People came to get entertained and did not walk away losing. Neither did we.
Day 4 was a complete rush of art and entertainment. However, an early departure for Port Stephens meant adventure out in the open environment. Stay tuned!