by Cassandra Wunsch

There’s a feeling on the mainland that Tasmanians might be a little funny, maybe slightly backward, even a touch superstitious. Like the global myth about Aussies sucking down Fosters when we’re at home, it’s a myth we’re happy to let you run with. But don’t think for one minute that Friday the 13th has the power to crimp our style!

MONA FOMA - Street Party
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Huge crowd gathered: Hobart MONA FOMA party

MONA FOMA Street Party

MONA FOMA (Museum of Old and New Art – Festival of Music and Art) is an annual event in Hobart and we kick it off like only Hobart can. An eclectic street party stocked to brimming with hippies, kids, old people, suited corporate types and flashy dressed young women! Most festivals or gatherings draw to themselves a specific type, a subculture who share an intrinsic knowledge of what’s going on and how to behave… the street party isn’t like that.

MONA FOMA - Street Party Hobart
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Museum of Old and New Art: Festival of Music and Art

At 6pm the official business began, and the crowd was so diverse as to be indescribable. Around the stage sat small family groups on picnic blankets, while behind them stood older patrons with small plastic cups of beer or wine (available from the vendors at the event). The entertainment was just as varied.

When I arrived, a gentleman with a heavy German accent (the Dad Horse Experience) was singing a rather dirty little song about the sins he had committed, for which he would like forgiveness. It was just a little too early, with everyone still a touch too dignified, for his sing-along to take off.

MONA FOMA - Dad Horse Experience
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Lord Heal my Soul, Dad Horse Experience: MONA FOMA

Make Some Noise!

Later, a gentleman playing what looked like a triangle of opaque plastic caused the elderly ladies to my left some distress. The sound made by this thing was beyond compare, to the point where the only way I can convey it to you is with a short recording (included below). That’s not a low quality recording either, that’s the sound we actually heard at the MONA FOMA Street Party.

MONA FOMA - Playing the Triangle
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MONA FOMA street party musician

eMDee: All the Way from NT

Without a doubt my favourite performance was from eMDee, who had travelled from the Northern Territory to rock out with an unusual combination of drums and didgeridoo! Like the crowd, eMDee’s sound was a wild composition that somehow managed to work, no matter how much you might think it shouldn’t. Within a few songs, an impromptu dance-floor had been cleared down the front and peopled with groovers from fifteen to fifty.

As the sun started to set, and children were bundled off for bedtime, the dance-floor slowly grew until eMDee had the entire place moving. The front man did express some surprise at the turnout, saying he didn’t realise there were this many people in Hobart!

MONA FOMA - eMDee
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eMDee plays to the excited street crowd: MONA FOMA

Brian Ritchie

In the words of event curator Brian Ritchie, “The world is catching on. Research indicates that so-called mainlanders and other foreigners flock to Tasmania in increasing numbers to experience this thing.” A sentiment proved by the presence of Tuba Skinny in the line-up. The band travelled all the way from New Orleans to perform to an enraptured MONA FOMA audience in Hobart.

MONA FOMA - Tuba Skinny
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Tuba Skinny: secured by MONA FOMA curator Brian Ritchie

Jimmys Skate and Street Party

This kind of an event ripples out into the city, keeping everyone up past their usual bedtime. Across the way on Elizabeth Street, Jimmys Skate and Street held a show for local artists capitalising on the foot traffic, and defectors from the lengthy lines for MONA FOMA entry after 8pm.

MONA FOMA - Jimmys Skate & Street
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Jimmys Skate & Street: their own street party

With the party kicking on until 11pm, and lines spiralling out from three separate entrances, it was inevitable that the revelry spilled out into the street. Only here in Tasmania could police block off major sections of a capital city and not cause a fuss. Good natured party goers were dancing on the pavement outside the event, clearly still enjoying themselves and feeling a sense of involvement.

MONA FOMA - Hobart Street Party
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Genuine street party in Hobart:  MONA FOMA

More MONA FOMA

For anyone who missed the party, there’s plenty more to keep you busy over the next two weeks. Some highlights include the Museum itself, which is open 10am to 6pm; a BalletLab to watch, and for the more adventurous, a naked tour of the gallery where the tour guide, and the tourists have to get their kit off before being allowed in (adults only).

Cassandra Wunsch is a third-year journalism student at Open Universities Australia. She lives in Hobart with her husband Florian and daughter Taliesin, and would like to continue to write full-time when she graduates. Her personal blog is www.10percentinspired.com

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