Sunday, January 21, 2007

Queue For Lou

People who criticise us at for never having to buy tickets for gigs might be interested to know that I spent the whole of Wednesday night on the cold, hard concrete of Martin Place lining up to buy tickets for the Lou Reed gig which was to take place on the Thursday. It was the first time I have ever queued overnight and it was a thoroughly rewarding, if entirely knackering (it is now Sunday and I still haven't recovered) experience.

I arrived at 9.40pm, expecting to be the first person there, yet there were already 15 people ahead of me (including a Big Issue seller), and therefore I was worried that there weren't going to be enough tickets to go round. However, after 3 nervous hours, a representative from the Sydney Festival kindly came along and told us that we were all safe to get tickets. The mood in the line was joyous.

The night went surprisingly quickly, as my friend Millie and I met a whole bunch of new people, who soon became buddies. There was a great sense of togetherness amongst the 25 people who were there all night. People drank, played cards, strummed on a guitar, created art on the floor in chalk, chatted and generally had a nice time.

At about 2.30am, some jobsworth idiot from the council (with the worst haircut ever, incidentally - a kind of greasy ponytail) came along and took photos of all the chalk drawings, while talking seriously on a mobile. 10 minutes later, there were 3 cleaning vehicles and a whole heap of City Rangers there telling us we all had to move because the streets needed cleaning. It was like we were some threat to society with our small pieces of chalk. Idiots. Anyway, after much fuss they managed to totally drench the pavement, meaning we couldn't sit down for about an hour. Thanks for that. God knows how they reacted when they noticed the washing up liquid in the fountain which caused massive clouds of bubbles to float through the city.

As the morning drew ever-closer, the lack of sleep became more of an issue. I began to feel very sketchy indeed. I started getting my words all mixed up when I spoke, and as the sun rose, I grew pale as a ghost. I started to hallucinate that the Big Issue seller was telling me the same story about Split Enz for the 6th time, but then I realised that I wasn't actually imagining it, and he was telling me the same story again. I can relay it for you, word for word, if you like? No? Ok.

Throughout the whole night, I managed to get a massive 10 minutes sleep between 6.40am and 6.50 am, before getting up and trying to avoid the insipidly irritating girl who was attempting to juggle lemons and do cartwheels. I vowed that if I ended up sitting next to her at the gig, I would walk out or kill myself, whichever was quicker.

By this time, I was delusional, and spent many minutes trying to jump in the air and land at exactly the same time with two of my new, young friends. I don't know why I was doing this, but it became very important to me at the time. Millie was also losing the plot, wandering aimlessly around Martin Place with a vacant look on her face.

However, the end was in sight, and by 8am, spirits were high. By 8.10am, they were even higher, as I had a ticket for the gig in my tired little paw. I felt a real sense of achievement.

All in all, it was a night that I will never forget. The camararderie, the friendliness of strangers. The knowledge that every person that I had spent that long night with would all be merrily headiung to the State Theatre in a few hours to see a person that they were prepared to lay on a pavement all night for. It is a feeling I can barely describe. Awesome.

Words by Rob Townsend

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