I usually spend the better part of my weekend late-mornings still asleep, oblivious to the hustle and bustle of those industrious people who wake up at 8 am for a run at the park, a hearty weekend breakfast with friends or grocery shopping at the market. If I feel productive I might while away the day reading newspapers over a plate of solitary lunch. I spend most of the week engaged with society-at-large, so weekends are the time to switch off and spend quality time with myself.
However, about a fortnight ago my local street put on its annual Sydney Road Street Festival and for some reason, buoyed by a strong sense of community, I decided to go down for a stroll among the throngs of locals and inter-suburb visitors alike. Sydney Road, Brunswick has a special place in my heart for being the unpolished multicultural gem of Melbourne without being self-consciously so. Halal butcheries dot the strip, baklava bakeries are aplenty and Melbourne’s most prominent Italian supermarket is merely a few steps from my place. Having said that, the street festival is like any other flea market, really. You will find, as you would at the Southgate, St Kilda and Camberwell markets, sellers of scarves and shawls, postcards, fridge magnets, artisanal soaps (Melburnians love their soaps!), and up-and-coming buskers looking for their big break.
The highlight of the festival would have to be the acrobatic and low-level BDSM act from a ragtag bunch of street performers who call themselves the Caravan of Dooom. Capitalizing on the edgy, decidedly non-mainstream vibe of Sydney Road, they wear their “anti-circus, anachro-punk” label with pride, and entertain the crowds with sexual innuendos and politically incorrect –but absolutely brilliant- punchlines.
One of their acts involved slicing a cigarette – surely public enemy number one these days – with a thunder cracking whip – definitely the most sexed up instrument of corporal punishment. With judicious references to alcoholism and bondage amidst acrobatic performances with weapons-grade appliances –think kitchen knives, the aforementioned whip, metal chains – these dirty pretty things make sin and public misdemeanour so, so tantalizing.
To view videos of their acts, go here