Monday, August 12, 2013

SNEZ E-News and Blog - Refugees, punch ups and heading home!

Smile for the camera - at Mt Bundy Station, near Darwin
We have 2 more shows before the tour comes to it’s close. It’s gone so quickly, but at the same time, our gigs in Brisbane seem like a life time ago. Our only official show in Darwin was at the Browns Mart Theatre - such a friendly, receptive crowd. There were lots of people in town for the Darwin Festival.

Our next challenge was to entertain at three Darwin refugee detention centres. On arrival for our first one, we were approached by security with a look of bewilderment. Our hippie campervan, loaded from top to bottom with bikes and gear, must have looked a little out of place - he he:)  I said "We’re the entertainment for this afternoon" - and that’s where it all went wrong!

An hour later we’re still waiting outside, no-one had heard of us and our names weren’t on the visitors list.  Luckily, the manager was on our side, she had fallen in love with Freddy and his big ears. We got the go ahead finally and Freddy was allowed to stay in the office with the air con, sitting beside the manager. The first two detention centres were low security, but our biggest hurdle was the language barrier. It was really hard for us to communicate what the songs were about or even just say the basic things like ‘Sing along’. They had a good dance and clapped along and seemed pretty happy. Then suddenly, part way through one of our songs, an officer ran up and called to us in panic "The dog has escaped!" We spun around, still playing of course, just in time to see Freddy turning the corner, heading back to the carpark where our van was, with the Detention Centre's manager chasing after him with her walky talky.

Oats glorious Oats.
Stewart went racing out and I stayed on and played a quiet song.  Stewart found the manager chasing Freddy around the van and all over the carpark in a puff. Finally Freddy was captured and secured in the room and we continued the show. The funny thing is the manager said that the night before she had a dream that they had their first escapee from the centre and he was blue and grey - she didn’t know what it meant then, but she now realized that it was Freddy! So Darwin Detention Centre has had it's first escapee - Freddy!!
This particular detention centre was all families, they separate any single males and put them in another camp. Talking to one of the officers he said that this particular detention centre is probably the show piece of detention centres. Because it’s for families, the children are schooled, they receive clothing and lots of support from the Red Cross. It was quite a nice experience.

But a few nights later we played at a very different detention centre. This one was an all male high security refugee centre. When we got there it was like a prison. High walls, big heavy security doors and very serious guards. Pretty scarey actually. We were escorted into the detention area and were immediately surrounded by about 100 men of different nationalities and ages. As I'm setting up, they were asking questions and wanting to help us set up. One guy asked me "Can you dance like Shakira?" I thought "Uh Oh, what have I got myself into!" I immediately said "No, I can't dance at all, sorry. I'll sing and you can dance like Shakira if you like." That got him off my back haha.

Looking around, there seemed to be no security guards, just me and Stew and our escort. Stewart eventually asked the guy who escorted us "Are there any other guards here". The guard answered "No, just us, but these men are very well behaved" ... and thankfully they were. They had a ball, they were up dancing and singing. They couldn't relate to the words, but they could relate to the rhythms and our sound. One even presented us with flowers from the garden. It was hard work, probably the hardest gig I've ever done. We had to be switched on for the whole time and keep the music pumping out. There was a language barrier once again, but overall an experience that I won't forget.

CHECK OUT THIS INTERVIEW WITH AFTERNOONS WITH MARGO AT ABC - THIS HAS BEEN EDITED TO CUT OUT THE BORING BITS : ) If you don't wanna hear us blabbing on, just go forward towards the end for a new song of ours 'Head Towards Wonderful'.

We're now in Mataranka again which is about 400 km south of Darwin. We have two shows at the homestead here (that we played a couple of weeks ago). Believe it or not, at the end of the first set (last night) while I was singing a ballad, there was a punch up between some grey nomads and it makes me think, we might have been safer at the detention centre than here : ) The flattering thing is that it all started by one of the guys telling the other to shut up because he couldn't hear us sing....

We're on the homestretch ... but not ready to come home yet!

Snez & Stew xx

P.S Sorry no video for this one, couldn't take any footage of this stuff. 

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