Words and photos by Jenni Mazaraki
The night started sloppily.
A girl was already crying on the tram, comforted by her friends, even though the night was young. A young man licked the tram pole he was holding onto from top to bottom in a display of drunken bravado to his mates.
Another drunken boy approached Emma and pleaded, “Can I try on your glasses?”
It was only 10pm on a Saturday night. White Night.
Fiona talked about the 15 year olds at the other end of the tram. “They’re in their 20’s, Fiona,” said Emma. We looked at each other and laughed.
We travelled from Westgarth on the number 86 tram to immerse ourselves into the illuminated darkness of the White Night festival on Saturday 18 February.
We started in the Carlton Gardens precinct with its ghostly steampunk flame organ known as the Pyrophone Juggernaut, throwing flames and smoke into the night air. The Nebulous kinetic sculpture mesmerised all who stood around it, watching its slow, graceful movements.
Music travelled through the gardens, lulling the crowd into a gentle, harmonious group. People were happy, cooperative, smiling and transfixed by the sensory combination of light, darkness and sound. The drunkeness of the early part of the night was nowhere to be seen.
I couldn’t stop looking at the Sonic Light Bubble. It responded to touch. It changed colours, moving with the pressure from the crowd on one side, instinctively communicating to people on the other side of the bubble.
Fiona had heard about an installation involving possums and we finally saw them as we were leaving the gardens – fake little furry critters with glowing red eyes perched in the trees above. Devil possums.
A singer performed in an intimate area inside the Melbourne Museum. The exhibition buildings were illuminated against the clouded sky. Glowing cubes hung from an archetypal shaped oak tree in a family tree display of changing faces. A girl carried her cat in a portable backpack cat carrier and then got him out to go for walk on his leash. I noticed he wore a glow-in-the-dark collar.
Strangers were chatting happily as we walked from one place to another. It was before midnight and there was still more to see.