Hard News by Russell Brown

39

Invasion of the pagan matrons

As I enjoyed the World of WearableArts awards night on Friday, I thought about the extent to which WOW is for, by and about women. More than two thirds of the 33-strong production team, including the event's founders and creative leaders, are women. About the same proportion of the audience on awards night was female. And even the part of the show actually dedicated to men was gay as all get-out.

You could think of it as the anti-Sevens, although both events do feature cross-dressing. But over the nine(!) nights that WOW fills the TSB Arena, I fancy you can spot the difference in central Wellington. There are roaming groups of women – often of a conventionally unfashionable age – having their own sort of good time, with or without the husbands.

"There's no fridge!" wailed one of the party that shipped into the room next to ours at the Quest Wellington. "We have things we need to put in the fridge!"

I couldn't say for certain what the ladies' chiller bags contained, but it would be reasonable to suspect some of it might have gone into a G&T.

"It's all right!" said another team member. "There's a fridge."

I've seen WOW on television before, but that really gives no idea of the scale of the performance, of how much is happening, and of the level of stagecraft at work. I'm not sure if I'd rush back every year, but I feel lucky to have seen it this time.

My personal favourite was this work, Lagarus Ovatus En Masse, by Wellington's Catherine Anderton (who, it turns out, is a friend of a friend). In motion, with the dancer wearing the work gliding mutely across the stage, it had a strangely pagan air:

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Indeed, the whole do had a sense of the pagan carnival about it.

My darling and I, meanwhile, had a fine weekend; much of it within a kilometre radius of a certain part of Cuba Street. Breakfast at Scopa, lunch with my mum at the Matterhorn and an entirely enjoyable bistro dinner with friends at Le Metropolitain. (After last week's outing in Auckland, it's nice to eat in a restaurant that is neither pretentious or too dark to read the menu.)

They've even helpfully moved Quilter's bookshop from the far end of Lambton Quay into the heart of the Cuba quadrant.

"Are you still after odd little political monographs?" said Ross, who was running the shop on Saturday.

Why yes, yes I am. And I'll have that copy of the text of Drugs, Youth and the Law, the J. C. Beaglehole Memorial Lecture for 1972, published on behalf of the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties. I'm sure it will be handy some time.

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Auckland City, meanwhile, has run madly away from its misconceived plan to prescript its hospitality industry and force suburban restaurants to post bouncers at the door. All the fault of council officials, allegedly. The discussion picks up here, where there is also a link to a withering blog post about dealing with the Auckland City Council by Simon Grigg.

And if you missed Media7 on Thursday evening, it's here, with panels on the reporting of the Emission Trading Scheme, and women in politics in the media, and an interview with Phil Smith of Great Southern Film and Television.

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