Monday, January 27, 2014

Auckland celebrates

Today is Anniversary Day for Auckland, when we get to be on holiday again while the rest of the country is at work on a Monday. That would be good enough on its own, but on top of that it's been a beautiful day, and there was so much to do in the city that really everyone was spoiled for choice: Laneway festival for the indie crowd, regatta for the yachties, seafood festival for the foodies, dragon boating for the best-buns brigade, and, for me, the buskers festival. Well, they call it a festival, but it's a pale imitation of the real thing down in Christchurch, where it's truly the World Buskers Festival and people come from all over to take part. It's brilliant.

Auckland just gets a few people afterwards, and to be frank at first I was thinking that this year we'd got the dregs: guy from Venice Beach doing a poor moon walk in an MJ mask and a rather better robot dance, a couple of Italians juggling, a Mexican done up in cling film... all a bit ho-hum, I thought, and was easily distracted by the sight of the dear old Silver Whisper in port, so familiar yet hurtfully out of bounds now (once you've made your home on a Silversea ship, it's hard not to feel they'd welcome you back on board any time). Then there was the new sandy 'beach' set up in Viaduct Harbour with its sun umbrellas and loungers, the siren call of the cronut, and all those people to watch.

But I got sucked back to the buskers, and the last lot were much better: Scooby Circus who was a personable young man from Perth who mainly juggled but had good patter; then Diogo Alvares, a super-cool dude from Brazil who did brilliant magic with cards, rings and ping pong balls and finally pulled off a strait-jacket escape, writhing and wriggling while still managing to look cool, and last of all Funny Bones, a duo from Manchester/Tokyo who did slapstick, mime and juggling and were really funny and original, especially with their 5-metre high creepy kazoo-voiced puppets.

What was also pleasing was how much more in the groove the audience is now, compared with how inhibited they used to be when the festival first started years ago: they cheer and whoop and clap almost like Americans, and when roped in as volunteers are happy to make fools of themselves. I was proud.

Also, proud of local girl Lorde today, from Devonport just across the harbour, who won two Grammys. Excellent!

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