The 74 floods. The destruction of Cloudland. Expo 88. The unveiling of Stephen’s Skyneedle. All epic milestones in the History of Brisbane.
And on Saturday, 14th of September 2019, history was made once again in our fair town with the Battle of Brisbane, the inaugural Common People Dance Eisteddfod.
They came from the four corners of our fair town. From Bardon to the Bay, North Lakes to Southside Toyota and their supporters followed in droves. Over 100 dedicated warriors fought in this true test of champions for pride, glory and the best damn hot-glued, gold spray-painted trophy that 10mins of scavenging at Reverse Garbage could provide.
The battlefield? The Speigeltent. At complete capacity. Desperate punters begging for a chance to see these high-haired gladiators battle it out to the tune of 80’s pop gold.
The warriors? Brisbane’s finest accountants, bartenders, principals and more, aged from 3 to 83, whose finely attuned dance stylings had been honed over weeks and months in abandoned bowls clubs, community halls and backyards.
Their armour? A glorious, vomit-splash of sequins, spandex and glitter, tailor-made by the amazing Amanda Fairbanks. With war paint by local TAFE students and hair higher than a foot-long subway.
It was all Brisbane could want and so, so much more.
The Common People Dance Eisteddfod is the brainchild of local Brissy performance artist Neridah Waters. Despite travelling the world as a performer, and making a living as a professional idiot (her words), she has lived on a healthy diet of late night 80s RAGE countdowns and an obsession for collecting leotards after never having achieved her lifelong dream of performing in the Rock Eisteddfod. This year, something snapped and Neridah decided to create one for herself. And the people flocked to the idea, because nothing bonds and inspires the masses like unfulfilled childhood dreams, unhealthy competitiveness and the community created by hating on those who live on other sides of the river.
Through sheer force of will and an encyclopedic knowledge of 80s choreography, Neridah has created the impossible – the dance off to end all dance offs that citizens from all sides of river and all walks of life could enjoy. Comprising of at least seven choreographed routines, three celebrity judges, over 100 performers and a competition where cheating is encouraged, it became the hottest ticket in town. And before the end of an hour of spandex-full, lip-syncing, bribery, guitar solos, whip-cracking, hill-running, golden cheesey hairography filled goodness, BrisFest had given it the green-light for a round two in 2020.
Just like Brisbane’s other institution Pub Choir has returned singing to the people, The Common People Dance Eisteddfod has brought dance back to the masses. What made it so special was that it included people from all walks of life. All body shapes, ages and talent levels. All 100% committed to bringing back the 80s, destroying their enemies and taking home the greatest trophy known to man. It was one of the most infectiously joyous shows I’ve seen in a long time.
But ultimately, it made everyone in the audience realised that we are a part of the same beautiful city, Bris-Vegas. Home of art full of heart and community, stuck together with the same hot glue, gaff and stubborn will as the trophy won by those dirty cheating Eastsiders.
And we will all be back next year to claim what is rightfully ours. Next time, Northsiders. Next time.
Ads J saw the Common People Dance Eisteddfod on 14 September 2019 and swears he’ll be competing next year. Be there for round two at the 2020 Brisbane Festival, and pledge allegiance to your corner of Brisbane at The Common People Dance Project.
Creative Director/Choreographer | Neridah Waters
Creative Consultant/Sound Operator | Lucas Stibbard
Costume Maker | Amanda Fairbanks
Stage Manager | Persephone Hitzke-Dean
Dancers from | Northside, Southside, Eastside and Westside
Images | Raw Bones