28 Feb 2014

Diving off the Edge of the World

Picture courtesy of Tantrum Youth Arts
I went to see ‘Diving off the Edge of the World,’ by Tantrum Youth Arts, at Newcastle Ocean Baths last Saturday evening. It was a fun and evocative experience where we heard stories about the ‘Map Of The World’ pool, which used to exist in the children’s area of the baths. Armed with our very own passports we followed the performers through different locations at the baths. We were taken to ‘Ghostlandia,’ ‘Postcardia,’ and ‘Memoria.’ There was music, dance, sirens and brave female synchronised swimmers who didn’t flinch at the thought of getting in the water on a particularly windy evening. It was a great night of history and happy memories. The baths, which were lit at night, looked beautiful and the sound of the waves provided a dreamy atmosphere.

It reminded me of how much I like outdoor events during warm (or at least warm enough) evenings. Cities slow down at the end of the day and in the quiet, it's easier to enjoy a show outdoors.

I also love the idea of using historic buildings for performances. In my hometown we have a storytelling marathon, which goes on for a full weekend at the Palacio del Infantado. I have fond memories of a family theatre evening at the Castle of St Barbara in Alicante, Spain. In my last trip home I visited Merida, an old Roman city in the west of Spain, which every year hosts a festival of classic theatre.

Summer evenings are magical. I remember the relief of going out in the evenings during Spanish summer. The middle of the day was too hot to go anywhere and in the evenings the streets would be flooded with people and the singing of grasshoppers.

Routine would change altogether during summer. It was when outdoor cinema would start, where as a child I watched way too many Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, and also saw many shooting stars cross the night sky.

It was also at that time of the year that my neighbourhood would have its own street party, which included two live bands, Thursday to Sunday. People would dance pasodoble, rumbas and a mixture of all-time songs until 2 or 3 am and then the younger band go on stage and play till dawn.

The air smelt differently in the evenings and 'terrazas' would pop up everywhere, full of people keen to have something to eat and drink 'al fresco.’

I probably was up later than Australians would consider acceptable for my age but those summer evenings gave me some of my best childhood memories.