It’s an early Friday evening. I take a seat with the band. There are so many of them. I want to seem cool. I ask as politely as I can “how do you put a giraffe into the fridge?” I look to their faces hoping the ice is broken. I mumble some nonsense about how it’s a basic sociopathic test. Sasha the drummer tells me that he’s brave enough to hack it up and shove all the pieces in wherever they can fit. Are they nervous or is it me? I try again “would you rather eat something you found in a bin or on the ground?” The group members come alive. Eating from the ground is the winner. I start breathing again. The party has begun. Welcome to the Miami Marketta.
After generously sharing their pre-gig moments for a meet and greet, Astrid and the Asteroids head to the stage for a sound check. I grab a cold drink and seat myself outside the Rabbit Radio studio. I try to gauge the vibe. I can’t put my finger on it straight away. It’s unique to my standard Friday evening ventures. I get to the end of my drink. Still unsure.
A friend has come to join me. She is smiling. The MC on stage makes his final announcement. I am almost certain he said fashion parade. I start smiling. The play-list begins. It’s Otis “sitting on the dock of the bay”. I look to the crowds passing back from their march up the centre of Marketta. Food in hand, goody bags filled with tricks and treats. They’re smiling. The light-bulb explodes in my brain. They’re HAPPY! That’s the vibe, it’s happiness.
The next twenty minutes pass in a blink. I’ve been entranced by a fashion parade happening not three feet from the couch I had chosen to fall in to. It’s not the fashion, it’s not the girls, it’s certainly not the friend who is still trying to engage me in conversation. It’s the crowd. They’re just passing by as if nothing out of the ordinary is taking place. I feel as if I’m the only person amongst hundreds having to handle the raging internal dialogue “how f*cking sweet is this!”
The parade finishes with an enthusiastic applause. I resist the urge to stand up and holler at the top of my lungs. “F*ck Yeah Miami!” I look at my friend, she is staring me down like I’m some kind of pervert. “Did you enjoy that?” Her tone stings but I just smile and nod with the judgment. It’s been a long time since I sat in a couch with a drink just to have a parade explode in front of my eyes. I offer to get drinks. It’s time for the band to begin.
On stage there is a keyboard, a trumpet, a handful of guitars and some intimidatingly calm young musicians on the end of them. It’s a pop-tone with a distinguishable finger-print of originality. I feel my foot begin to tap, followed by the accompanying head nodding. My friend giggles and suggests “you’re such a dag.” Perhaps she’s right. I don’t care. I am warm. I am giddy. I came here to work and all of a sudden I’m accidentally having an awesome time. SHIT! Time, I look to my phone. Over an hour has passed. I haven’t done anything. There is an epic party stretching out a hundred metres ahead and I’m sitting on a bloody couch.
I leap to my feet, pen and pad in hand. Time for notes, there is a job to do after all. I ask my friend where to start. She is talking to someone else and politely ignores me. Ah, guess I deserved that. I turn and stare down the belly of this mighty, friendly beast named Marketta. There are so many people, so many stalls. Where do I begin?
I have always enjoyed the sensation of strolling through streets unknown. The urban jungle. Never sure of what is around. This time it’s different. It’s Miami. It’s the Gold Coast. It’s home. Yet I know this feeling, I’m a tourist. This event is so foreign to what I have equated with Gold Coast culture. By day it’s a street filled with every workout and gym franchise known to man. Snuggled peacefully inside, the Rabbit and Cocoon. A silent industrial wonderland with accompanying Shed Café.
Tonight it’s a party. The spaces in this precinct held by small business are now open and alive. Garages transformed into arts and crafts galleries. It’s a maze… Great, I f*cking love mazes. I love the stimulation, the sights, sounds, smells and splendour. I find some t-shirts made out of bamboo, old furniture transformed into a fashionista’s delight and art, art, all ‘round.
After silking through the crowds I come out the far end. The smells which began as a tease now rule the street. I’m not talking about the shitty scent you pick up when you walk too close to a subway store. Real food, real odours and just a hint of my overly excited, mildly perspiring self. What can I say … stimulation makes me sweat.
I know I can’t eat yet. I want to, but the anticipation of what stall is next has quelled my appetite. I’ve got hours ahead to choose and am feeling like I may need to sit down and breathe for a while. This moment of pause is when the angels appeared. Under the halo for ‘House of Health.’ A flyer inviting me in to “experience a specialised massage treatment with a highly qualified massage therapist”. And just because they’re angels, they’re doing it for free.
Certain that I am imagining things, I check with the lovely lady in the service stall. “Um, are you offering to touch me up for free?” It will be an honour and a privilege apparently. My name is pencilled in and all I have to do is show up in half an hour. I check once more. “Do I just come back and then um….” She smiles and guarantees that my night will include some gentle hands on. Or a bit rough, if that’s how I like it.
I am now over-loaded. It’s definitely time to sit down and regather my professional composure. I tuck the notepad under my arm and commence a bee-line for the safety of the couch. Five steps later I am confronted by a stall selling sweets. Before I read any signage I know there is cheesecake. A guttural instinct. I wander up like a gentlemen, doing all I can to hide the glint in my eyes which reveals that I am secretly a hopeless fat bastard. I give my best “excuse me, I was wondering if…” Before I am finished, Shannon ‘The Whoopie Lady’, points to the display case. She knows my secret. “We have a baked tim-tam cheesecake. I will save you a piece if you’d rather wait until the massage ladies have finished with you”. Holy crap, how does she know so much? Have I said anything? I must have. I quickly check my chin for drool. Safe. I say something stupid and we both laugh. OMG, I must sit down.
I find my friend. She is spreading the gospel of Rabbit Radio to the punters. I slump into a seat next to her. Once the gathering around her table moves on I am confronted. “Where did you get those?” I look down. In my hands I have a take-away packet of dumplings. I’d completely lost track on my adventure. In a panic, I try to relive the tale. I’m certain all she heard was cheesecake.
I need to re-load. My friend and I chat through our food. We laugh. The band is still playing. Style and stamina. Very impressive stuff. Clarity returns. I feel like a working professional again. Phone in hand, time shall not slip by this time. I have a massage to attend. A call comes in. My house mate, he has arrived. I have talked up this gig for him in the days prior. He wants to experience the Miami Marketta too. I know he is harder to please. He’s spent seven years travelling the globe. A drifter and the perfect companion for comparing notes. I always fear that the novelty of an event may sway my opinion too easily at times. The truth is, I can spend an hour building a sand-castle on the beach all on my own and feel time has been perfectly spent.
I tell him that it’s great to have made an appearance. However, I declare “entertain yourself because I’ve got massages booked and cheesecake on reserve.” He doesn’t even ask. Just smiles and meanders into the crowd solo. We agree to meet back within the hour. I don’t even feel mildly guilty for having palmed him off. New to the Gold Coast, perhaps some guided company would have been polite. Living together for almost two weeks and not once has he offered to massage me so too f*cking bad.
The band finally takes a break. They don’t even look tired. I just walked two hundred metres and needed a half hour to recover. Go Astrid! You and your asteroids rock!
Fast forward forty minutes. A gentlemen never tells. That is code. If you want to know more about my massage, contact House of Health. I asked Megan about any on-going therapy for an old war injury. Not Vietnam, Palm Beach. An average game of tennis in which I managed to bust, twist or tear something in my shoulder. She humbly declared that they really are THE corrective massage therapists.
As for the cheesecake… get your own. Shannon the Whoopie Lady is waiting for you. I asked if she would make me a cake for an upcoming pretend birthday which I would be attending at home, alone, in the dark. She politely handed me her card and winked. F*ck yeah.
I have put my best foot forward in trying to present for you the opportunity on offer if you visit Hillcrest Pde for the Miami Marketta Extravaganza. Of course, parties like this don’t exist without the tireless dedication and discipline of the behind-the-scenes characters. One such hero, Emma Milikins, was happy to share with me some of her experience in creating the Miami Marketta Events.
I told her of my sweet tooth. Apparently, of a Saturday Night Steed Food Marketta, every week there is a HALL. Not a stall, a whole hall dedicated to gelato, decadent cupcakes and almost anything dipped in chocolate. The crowd I experienced was no fluke either. Consistently the masses attend, only short of capacity if it rains. However, next year there is a canopy planned to cover the centre mall.
Before the night ended, I was reunited with my house mate. Usually devoid of any animated emotion, I was pleased to see he was satisfied. “How often are these on?” was the first question. I told him there were many more to come. Before we exited, I stole a hug from the Amazing Astrid and a final parting gift. Their self-titled album. Boom! I haven’t added a CD to my collection in years.
For locals flocking to the event this summer, be generous with your dollars. Emma informs me that all 25 food stalls of a Saturday evening Steet Food Marketta are small family-owned businesses. Up to 35 community artists share the space of a Friday Marketta. Remember that your dollar bills are your voting cards. Say yes to this close-knit community.
I thought of my house-mate the traveller. I wondered what the tourists would make of this. How to take the inspiration home and create your own Moscow, Maryland or Madrid Marketta. The advice shared by Emma “with a lot of persistence. Then patience with permits, paper work and local councils”. There you have it. A marvellous event which has materialised through the grind and not an overnight miracle.
Thankyou Miami Marketta, I will be back.
If you want to see Andrew at Marketta visit www.miamimarketta.com for upcoming events and market days.