Magical Fairbridge Festival

On 20th April one of my favourite bands hit my coast. What was supposed to be a couple of wild nights around the city ended up being a five day long groupie adventure.

Their name?

Sex on Toast

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Much as I adore my band aid tales they are mine to cherish. This post isn’t about my honeys, it’s about the magic I discovered in a haunted little place called Fairbridge. I haven’t felt so connected to a hippy haven since my experience at Jungle Love last year.

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The first night I headed down, I was a little behind schedule due to the ridiculous appeal of my little nephew and his snuggles.

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The road was long, windy and dark. The dirt flicked up madly behind my little car and the trees loomed heavy at either side. I’m not going to lie, I was having heard palpitations. I am terrified of ghosts. James pointedly reminded me that they live inside my head the following day, but that didn’t stop me freaking the eff out on the way in.

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I managed to schmooze my way in to the artist camp ground and parked up perfectly a stones throw away from the Backlot stage. This meant each morning I awoke to a gentle acoustic set and fell asleep to heavy bongo beats. It was magnificent. Fairy lights lit the pathways. My favourite thing.

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They had a number of main stages set up around the camp grounds. The largest of which was in the centre, opposite a sweet little makeshift pub.

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Down one end there was a brewery style outdoor setting, next to my second favourite stage, Hoopla. At the far end, where I lived, was Backlot. This was an open air stage with large wooden dance floor below it. This one I dug hard core.

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During the day the centre was filled with every kind of healthy food truck you can think of. I unintentionally turned vegan for three days. My body was loving it!

Indian Mexican fusion?

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Vegan bagels?

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Each day I would wind my way around the markets, drifting from stage to stage, looking at the gorgeous patterns and resisting the urge to buy everything.

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I found a handful of excellent new bands I have been researching ever since.

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At one point I stumbled upon African dance lessons in a back hut shaped like a circus tent.

Later that night I found myself hip wiggling in my element to some stunning Cuban music.

The sense of love and community at Fairbridge was so intoxicating. I was there alone, aside from hanging out with my boys later in the evenings, but I never felt lonely. I would wander, munch, and sit admiring music I would never normally seek out. I discovered a Sicilian folk group, an all lady acapella gang, a wee family strumming out a 60s medley and a a clan of old navy-men singing sweets songs of love and loss on the high seas.

 

One night as I sat perched on the floor at the foot of the stage a young girl next to me turned and introduced herself. I got chatting to her and the girl at the other side of me and before I knew it I had my own groupies when they found out I knew the band. Sharing smiles and passions with strangers has got to be my favourite life experience. We’re all one and the same at the end of the day. I would love to connect with as many people as possible.

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I didn’t make it to all of the venues. Next year, if I can afford coming home from Brissie for it, I will absolutely be back. Knowing my honeys really was a massive highlight though. I do truly love the company of funny, conscious and weird musos. We are very much on the same wavelength. I just lack the skills, but I can make up for it in sick sense of humour and excellent taste.

Thank you Pinjarra for providing such a gem. I may have been the only person there bar performers in my 20s, but the teens, families and golden oldies were fantastic company.

Until next time fellow Bohemians.

Peace, love and Rock and Roll.

Harleigh Q

xo

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Bohemianism and the Art of Love

The last month or so I feel like I’ve been living in a love bubble. I made a choice to come out of my shell again and open my heart to people here in Perth. I looked at myself in the mirror and smiled at the curves, instead of frowning. I decided I wanted to radiate that same warmth I found while driving across America. I wanted my pure adoration of other human beings to paint a smile on my face and it hasn’t left me.

Since I made that choice, I’ve been taking care of my body more; daily yoga and runs, less binging or extreme control when it comes to food and more balance. I’ve taken time to find beautiful music I connect with, I’ve been practicing my piano every day. I’ve found my flair for writing has returned.

I don’t like being vulnerable just as much as the next person, and it can be really hard when you spend a lot of your time in a stressful or negative environment to not let in engulf you. It’s true though, you cannot see the light unless you push through the darkness. 

With my reemerging confidence I’ve managed to connect with the people I care about more too. My nephew finally kicked for me! I have happily and openly conversed with strangers and stayed out until sunrise by myself when my ladies got tired because I wasn’t quite done vibing. I’ve met new friends this way, spent the afternoon at the movies with them or a new coffee shop.

I had a complete epiphany the other day when I stood in the unfamiliar hallway of a new art gallery/coffee shop in Freo, a place I rarely venture. As I waited to greet a friend of a friend who I had barely met before, I didn’t feel nervous. I was completely calm, smiling at the pretty posters on the walls. Of course she turned out to be amazing, but for someone who has had anxiety issues since very young, this was… massive. I have officially pushed myself to the point where I no longer fear the unknown. It’s doable guys. It’s fucking doable.

Tying in to my recent developments, I’ve been doing some research in to exactly what it is I stand for and if there’s a word for the kind of lifestyle I’m living. It’s not very square, but it would be great to meet some others who share the same ideals.

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I have felt like a penniless writer in vintage Montmartre pretty constantly lately; all bright eyed, emotional, open and excited.

Do you believe in freedom, beauty, truth and love?

Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.

Thanks Wikipedia!

As some of you may noticed I’ve been switching my brand up a little, slowly but surely. My end goal is to be the most authentic, free and open human being I can. The ideologies I follow can be summed up perfectly by the above paragraph.

I’d heard of the Bohemian revolution before but it wasn’t until the tender age of 11 that I was truly able to comprehend the amazing things those people stood for and just how much I identified with it.

It’s all thanks to a wee masterpiece called Moulin Rouge.

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Oh man Baz really is my spirit animal.

It’s not a fashion trend; to me it’s a life. It’s a way of being. Penny Lane is a perfect example. She’s a seeker of beauty and truth, an adventurer, a vagabond.

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I am so in love with the idea of love without restraints. Life can be lived without a path in place. We can just make our way down, weaving through obstacles and connecting with people in shared experiences along the way.

I don’t know if I can live my most authentic life in Perth. Not for a while. Adventure always seems to happen away from home, for me. Home represents safety and love and so much happiness, but my wild days are only just beginning.

As dad said to me recently, ‘If you were a 70s kid, you’d be in a cult wouldn’t you?’

Most likely some hippy commune. I like to think it wouldn’t be Manson’s or the COG. I’m quite confident there were many tribes that weren’t quite so fucked.

I never feel more at home than when on the road. Sitting on an aeroplane is the birth of a new story and I always feel so content in that moment. There’s no where else I’d rather be. I’m sure my fellow wanderers are smiling away as they read this.

I’m looking forward to my next feat. Mid May I will be hopping through Singapore and Zurich to the great city of Roma. There I will meet my gorgeous Swiss angel Martina, and we will galavant through the south of Italy for two weeks, ending up in Athens.

I have been fascinated with Greek Mythology since I was a baby nerd (now I’m a big one) so the thought of entering the Parthenon, the temple of the great goddess Athena, takes my breath away.

After my little Eurotrip I’ll be jetting solo to the land of dreams, USA. LA to LA, 54 days, one mad adventure with a whole new Contiki fam. On this loop I’ll be revisiting some old favourites (Dallas, Vegas, Memphis, NOLA, Orlando…) and exploring loads of new places. I get to turn 26 in Quebec City. Bon anniversaire!

I want to try and carry this spirit with me; this openness. It’s so freeing. Suddenly I’m not worrying about people’s opinions of me because I’ve allowed myself to acknowledge that I have achieved a lot, I have so much love around me and, to quote one of my favourite goddesses, Kaitlin: your vibe attracts your tribe! It’s a really hard thing to learn to do, and we all slip sometimes, but I think giving yourself the time and care you need is vital.

Self care looks different to everyone. For me, it’s not weighing myself, not staying in bed the entire day watching Netflix (just most of it), waking up at 5.30am so I have time for my coffee and yoga, and persuing my creative outlets. I need to write, draw, read my comics and books, play my piano, listen to my records, watch some anime.

Do things that make your soul smile. 

Live by the great philosophies of freedom, beauty, truth and love.

I think it’s incredible that we are on the cusp of another revolution. Women are banding together, men are coming to fight with us. People want to know what’s happening in the world, they want positivity and change. I am so proud to be a part of it, right here and now.

I will always try to understand the world around me and question things, without judgement. I care about the people and things around me so much. I’m going to stop thinking that’s a bad thing and fucking embrace it. One more kind human is never a bad thing, and thank you gorgeous friends for also being the kind of people we need in this world; open, honest, fun and fucking woke! You guys rock.

Anyone fancy joining my tribe? Send me a message. I’m always up for a coffee (alcohol) and chats about the universe.

Now, let’s go a little deeper.

Another artist I am so connected with at the moment is Nico Tortorella. My most recent post was about him.

I wanted to explore his methods more by interviewing myself in the style of his incredible podcast, The Love Bomb. I’m honestly obsessed guys. If his cute laugh and amazing poetry doesn’t do it for you I don’t know what will. So here it is:

What was your first experience of love?

Without a doubt the love of my family. Sometimes I feel like we have a bubble around us. I’ve never met a tighter familial unit than ours.

It probably started with moving to Australia. When I was 14, thanks to the incredible hard work and dreams of my parents, we packed up our lovely little home in York, England and flew across the world. We had never been to Australia before. Do you think that’s where my wild side comes from? I’d say definitely. Since I was a wee baba dad had been talking about moving to Australia, and with more of our friends doing it and his trade coming up on the wanted list, the timing was right. It took us two years and a lot of meticulous planning, documenting and typing. I remember getting an AIDS test at the tender age of 13. It’s no easy feat, moving to Aussie land. Immigrant and proud.

Flash forward to us all huddling around a store bought gas fire in a huge rental house that backed on to the golf course. We landed in July 2005. It was cold, even by our northerner standards. The houses here have high ceiling and tile floors. We swam in the pool with the golf balls by day, and put the oven on with the door open at night. We watched Home and Away. Finn died of skin cancer.

In the next six months we went from being a close family to a united front; a tiny clan. We needed each other. Dad tried new work, mum created a new home, Kelsie and I started new schools. Everything was foreign and terrifying. Friends were friends out of convenience, not connection. We were us. My Yorkshire/Geordie twang quickly reflected the Australian dialect around me through regular ridicule and a desire to be understood. Though, if you hear me talking to anyone from home now, it’s still my natural tounge. Aussie is pure acting  😉.

We met our best friends to this day when they moved in across the road. God bless my dad for being such a friendly soul. We moved in to a rental more suited to our needs and got a beautiful Rottweiler named Rio. My baby sister changed school and gained 110% happiness. I moved in to year 10 and met the girls who would heavily influence the woman I am today. Always, there was home. There was mum, dad and Kelsie. My family. La famiglia. The loves of my life. I don’t want to think about the person I would be without them, because they are everything; they always will be. Roots and wings.

Have you ever been in romantic love?

As I have gotten older I have questioned this more and more. My answer is no.

I don’t believe I have ever been in love with another human being in a balanced, true, mutual and romantic capacity. I think young love is an infatuation. Just because you are willing to do anything for someone doesn’t mean you love them; that’s just a giving nature. If you condition yourself in time to love things about someone that you have never liked or enjoyed before, that is loyalty. If someone tries to change you, put you down, control you or place negativity on you in any way, that is not love.

I have loved many, many people since then. I have spent an hour with strangers and fallen in love with their soul. Some people have the most intoxicating spirits. I love people who are passionate, kind and in tune with the world around them. I love people who give a shit. I love people who will have intellectual conversations with me about politics and space. I love people who will say kind things about other people when they aren’t there. I love people with compassion and empathy. I love people who love travel.

Romantic love is incredible, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. The most important love to me is what I share with the people around me, and myself. I struggle with negativity; it’s like a poison that seeps in to the air and chokes the goodness out of a room. That’s why I want to surround myself with souls I connect with. It’s why I love to travel so much. I want an open mind and an open heart. As Nico says, I’m a student of the world.

So you identify as… I love everyone.

What is love?

To me, it’s when you look at someone and the world slows down. Everything else is irrelevant, because this person is here and they are spectacular. I love a lot of people. I think I understand love on a pretty deep level. I believe it’s unconditional. To love someone is to accept them exactly as they are, and enjoy any way in which they grow and change and be proud of them. Always be proud. You have to love someone as a complete being. That is why I completely and wholeheartedly believe that you cannot know real, deep and true love until you honestly love yourself. Beauty isn’t love. Admiration isn’t love. To me, love is when just feeling someone’s presence calms your entire body. If you can smile just knowing they are near, and feel a warmth in your chest when you know they are happy. Absorbing every moment together but appreciating the time apart, because it’s necessary to keep your sense of self strong. In essence, love is the complete appreciation of another human being, just as they are; wanting their happiness, sometimes above your own.

To my fellow Bohemians,

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Harleigh Q

Xoxo