OH WHAT A NIGHT: WHITE NIGHT MELBOURNE 2014

Lights, camera and over 300,000 Melbournians. Welcome to White Night Melbourne 2014.

My feet are still sore.

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If you’re not familiar with White Night it’s a city-wide all-night artistic concept inspired by Paris’ Nuit Blanche and taking place in over 20 cities around the world. In 2013 the event debuted in Melbourne and from dusk til dawn lane ways, landmarks, venues and major cultural institutions lit up with exhibitions, lighting installations, film screenings, concerts, multimedia projections, street performances and more.

Basically from 7pm until 7am the city comes alive with awesome light displays and performances and you’re free to wander around and take it all in.
‘Reclaim the night!’ as one enthusiastic performer yelled on Swanston Street.

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That is assuming you can make it through the crowds. I arrived at 8pm and planned to leave around 10pm to go boozin’ but I didn’t leave the city until closer to midnight as it took so damn long to get anywhere.

That’s not to say you should give White Night a miss if you’re not a fan of extremely large crowds. It’s a fantastic event and the city is incredible lit up at night. Most bars, restaurants and cafes are also open dusk til dawn although it can be a little hard to find a seat.

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The city was divided into eleven precincts, each featuring a unique light installation or performance.

  • Northern Lights
  • Lucky Dip
  • J + R&B
  • Shadows
  • Rags To Riches
  • Wonderland
  • The Vortex
  • Midden
  • Alex And The Engineer
  • Tattooed City
  • Outer Limits

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A series of projections titled ‘Tattooed City‘ lit up the exterior of the NGV International.

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One of the highlights in 2013, Flinders Street Station and The Forum were lit up once again for Wonderland.

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You’ll have to excuse my shaky photos, crowds can be a little pushy.

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The Forum transformed into a carnival train!

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Disco balls lit up Flinders Lane. Pretty.

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And a little further down a row of ‘spiky things’. If anyone knows the name of this installation please feel free to enlighten me.

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Bats and ballerinas! An odd combination of images spotted just outside Lord of the Fries.

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Street performers were out in greater numbers than last year and while a welcome addition they did cause some serious pedestrian congestion problems on Swanston Street. It took ten minutes to move five metres – no exaggeration. This guy was doing all kinds of crazy gymnastics tricks. He also lifted some of the blocks and held them above his head expecting a cheer but the audience was all ‘so what? I can lift things too’.

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Live performance art also made an appearance. Bridie Lunney’s performance/sculptural installations in the Queen Victoria Gardens caused some mixed feelings in the crowd.

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By the time we left the artist had moved two pieces of glass, stood behind a tree and was lying down on the sculpture. Some research this morning tells me the performers were “enacting meditative gestures, displacing or replacing objects in a slowed time and echoing the seemingly endless night.”
Judging by the comments of those around me that was lost on most of the crowd but I found it interesting nonetheless. I’d like to see more performance art like this next year although 12 hours is quite a long shift for an artist…

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Spotted in the Queen Victoria Gardens – a documentary about Salvador Dali.  I was a little disappointed with installations in the Gardens after last year’s river based light shows which drew some of the crowds off Princes Bridge. The Gardens would be a great area for more performers and interactive installations.

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We didn’t make it to see everything on my ‘to see’ list, partly because I left it at home but mostly because the crowds were awful in places. The State Library was packed and the line to Purple Rain at RMIT was MENTAL. I have never seen a line that long in my life.

A lot of people had little kids they were carrying around to keep them from being crushed and had me thinking a kids zone could be a good idea. Although I don’t know why you’d bring a tiny infant to an event like this.

After walking kilometres up and down the city and rubbing shoulders with most of Melbourne we called it a night and began the difficult task of trying to find a tram to get home. It was a case of ‘phantom trams’ that rarely appeared.

Thankfully I had these guys for some post-White Night fuel.

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I ❤ 7/11. And yes I did have to queue to get to the till.

In summary – an excellent night although some work on crowd control could be a wise move.

See you in 2015
White Night Melbourne
whitenightmelbourne.com.au

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