Here & Now with S Sorrensen - Nov 12
She has hair like a movie star from the forties – long, wavy, brown hair with curls that bounce about her shoulders as she bounces about the stage. The guitar she holds is a three-quarter size job which she plays to great effect without being a virtuoso. Her face is a beam of light that burns you when it turns in your direction. Her teeth flash. She could stand on a hill and rival Byron’s lighthouse.
Normally she performs with another woman as part of a duo. The other woman is a guitar virtuoso but tonight, here on the stage of the Nimbin School of Arts, the pretty woman is doing it solo. And her performance is sending shivers through me.
Though she is petite (c’est Francais pour small) she looms large in that room. Her voice is so tightly packed with emotion it leaks the lyrics out rather than pours. But when she throws back her head and that package bursts open, her voice is a bird which flies so high in its moment of freedom I fear that lack of oxygen may well bring it down. But no, after soaring to a pitch that has the dogs in Tuntable pricking their ears, it glides down to Earth again leaving only a feathery reverberation snared on a rafter above us.
The capacity audience at this Blue Moon Cabaret is captivated. Men hoot; women ululate; everybody claps. In the excitement a bottle hits the ground outside a window to the side of the hall. Outside that window, looking in, is gathered a group of people who didn’t pay to see the show. Their money is invested in bottles wrapped in brown paper bags. (Bottles in brown paper bags make me smile. When drunks wander about with a bottle ‘hidden’ in a brown paper bag, do they think that people don’t know what’s going on? “Oh, look at that bloke. I wonder if that’s pineapple juice he’s sipping from that bottle in a brown paper bag.”)
Someone from inside grabs a broom to clean up the smashed bottle. But the bottle, though now in many pieces, is still in its brown paper bag, and its owner lifts it sadly from the ground, nursing the dead package lovingly in his nicotine-stained hands.
His mates commiserate by anxiously swigging from their own bottles in brown paper bags, clutching them that little bit tighter.
No-one minds that these people see the show for free. There is no panic as the bottle drops. This is Nimbin.
Funny town, Nimbin.
Met a Melbourne bloke just the other day who’d been to Nimbin for the first time. He told me he didn’t like it. I shrugged my shoulders. I told him the thing about Nimbin is that it doesn’t care what people reckon – not even the people who live there – Nimbin just does its own thing. It’s not house-trained. It’s wild, naughty, forgets to clean its teeth and hits you up for a dollar.
The woman bows to the crowd which ramps up the applause.
Every act tonight has been an act of love. The cabaret is a showcase of Nimbin love.
The bloke with the broken bottle cheers through the window and swigs from a mate’s bottle in a brown paper bag. (The mate keeps holding it though.)
Though this little town in the sacred hills can sometimes give you the shits, other times, like tonight, Nimbin really turns it on. The village sings up the love spirits and the whole world hears.