Even a few blocks away, my plus one and I could hear the thumping jazz tunes of The Lagerphones playing at the New Orleans Street Party. As a part of Melbourne Music Week, Dodds Street in Southbank was transformed to resemble the iconic street party scene of Lousiana’s New Orleans.
From the music and food to the coloured beads band members threw from the stage (I donned purple beads all night) the spirit of New Orleans was alive in Melbourne. Food trucks dotted the edges of the street, displaying a diverse selection. I treated myself to a woodfired Margarita from the Soul Kitchen Woodfired Pizza Truck, but I wish I could have sampled everything, from Señor Churro to Gumbo Kitchen (gumbo being the famous Southern Louisiana stew).
A huge stage up the back, big enough to accommodate six- and seven-piece bands, managed to drag people away from the food for a boogie. We all milled around on the asphalt enjoying marvellous instrumental numbers from The Lagerphones, sexy soulful sounds from The Furbellows, while Adam Rudegeair’s Bayou Tapestry eased us into nightfall.
I was kicking myself for never taking dance lessons. Filling a space in front of the stage, couples twirled and spun, dancing some marvellously choreographed numbers in time to the music. I wanted to believe these were spontaneous dances — musical theatre style — but I have a sneaking suspicion we were treated to this performance by the VCA’s dance program.
Despite the brief spit of rain during the night (luckily I came prepared with an umbrella big enough for three people), the New Orleans Street Party was a flawless night of fun. My only criticism? Not enough free beads!
Tom Bensley is a freelance writer in Melbourne who reviews anything he attends, watches or reads. It’s a compulsion, really. Follow him @TomAliceBensley