“multi-format, interactive, social and slammin’…”(Facebook event)
“a whole new ball game…” (Gilaad Amir in last week’s Craccum)
The hype was immense. A brilliant idea from the mastermind of SHIFT this year exploded into a challenge they created, to up the ante from converted office block to 3 level venue and outdoor area in town. Hearts in our mouths, barely containing ourselves, me and some friends skipped down East Street for the much-awaited party (after slight confusion from directions that didn’t mention this vital street, but it did nothing to dent our happiness).
Turning the corner we were greeted by the sight of guys hollering unkindly at a poor girl draped out of a taxi being sick. Firemen watched over girls bent over the kerb with their head on their knees, or taxis shipped numerous wasted dudes home.
Galatos holds 1000 people, and, sure, SHIFT did grant enough room for people to shake hands. But after abandoning our friends by the door with many other hopefuls (a dangled carrot of promised tickets going on sale at 1am) and seeing the disproportionate amount of space everywhere, especially the virtually empty dance floor, as we walked in, we couldn’t help but wonder if the stern entry-system was a bit too harsh.
I was initially unimpressed. Stereotypes stared me in the face: clean shaven aspiring rock stars hogged guitar hero, dreamy brunette painted sexy imagery on the canvas, dreadlocked, pierced and muscular dudes gyrated to the trance music in the outdoor area near the Shisha, I overheard a squeaky voice pipe up “… and now I’m 18 and at University!” However, just like stereotypes, this SHIFT party was so much more than appearances. Looking more intently, you had to notice everyone was bright-eyed and glowing (the neon pens were popular). And it is a rare pleasure, to see so many students together under one roof specifically to rave and be our crazy selves.
No sooner had we started chatting while doodling in the dark room than a friendly fight broke out with rolled up bits of paper and there was a show of manly testosterone in a tug of war with a neon, spirally snake thing.
This only stopped when someone yelled “Shisha!” and we all charged outside. The price of $20 provoked murmurs about the cheaper Turkish café just up the road, but it proved popular, because an hour or so later the outside area was full of terribly young looking kids sitting down, spaced out. Then again, it might have been the freely offered E. I wouldn’t know. I do know, however, there was way too much fun to be had elsewhere, such as fighting for crayon-drawing space on the wall. I was almost disappointed to find a near absence of puerile etchings. A University education eh, who’d have thought it?
I do remember the turning point for me. My vodka-clutching, skeptical stupor was smashed when the DJ downstairs took no prisoners. PHOTO He infused the coffee-table house party with a uniquely stylish and irresistibly energetic bounce. And when he bust out The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields with a twist I never dared hoped for, while I posed like NZ’s Next Top Model in front of the fan (you have to really), the night just got better and better.
Ok, at some point in the night I was with critics harking back to the good old days when it was “just word of mouth and facebook”, and I was noticing the same guys had been on the X boxes for the past 3 hours. But, moments later, the conversation turned to “fuck yeah, this party really picked up!” It really did. Perhaps it had something to do with the inexperienced kids being shipped off at bedtime. Next? Enter the pros.
On the other hand, the quest to find 5 different ribbons to get free Tequila shots was a highlight of SHIFT’s vibe. SHIFT brought me together with a class mate I only otherwise saw from afar, turns out he came by himself and, like us, easily found himself surrounded by cool people wanting to talk, rave, and do Shisha. The randomly multiplying crowd of new people quickly became a wildly imaginative circle of mad dancers on the main dance floor, complete with smoke, lasers, and magical lighting in bright colours.
On Facebook today, SHIFT says: “We had firedancers, free shisha, heaps of different musics, free candy floss, art and HEAPS of awesome people to hang out with.”
Ok, free shisha? Fire dancers? Free candy floss? Where?
But you know what? Even without finding those, I had the awesomest night. It was the “HEAPS” of awesome people that made it. I have SHIFT to thank for meeting “questions and music” Ben, “pansexuality is the most PC sexuality” Tom, “Tequila? Wow” Lyle, “kick your foot and jerk your hips” Elliot, and many others. I may have forgotten new names, but I haven’t forgotten how I met many friendly, funny, talented (the lawn mower?) and nicely hot guys and girls – who weren’t sleazy. Isn’t that amazing? And busting moves became a fantastical show of skill to the daring hybrid of DnB? Trance? Electro? Whatever it was, it magically worked.
It was hard enough to tear myself away at 3:30am, when it was still crazy to the max, and then I hear at 3pm that they were still clearing up and not much sleep was had. Now that, SHIFT, is wild.