Ballarat Beat Rockabilly Festival 2015

15 Feb 2015

Content warning, there are some burlesque babes on this blog post, just in case you are viewing from location that would find that sort of imagery inappropriate. Hooray! Boobies!

Ballarat has had this intense cultural surge in the past few years. Not only have a bunch of fantastic eateries, cafes and bars begun springing up, local events aren't just getting big, the city is getting intoxicated by them. For the last four days locals have been saying to one another 'are you going to Rockabilly?'
Check out my post on the 2016 event here.

It's this welcomed event, where everyone will put on whatever rockabilly clothing they have and support the non-ticketed parts of the event in droves. They also swan around the city, driving vintage cars and wearing vintage clothes, bringing bright pops of colour to restaurants and venues that aren't even part of the festival. The Ballarat Beat event organisers approached me a few months ago to see if I would be willing to hang around the festival, take pictures and do some social media posts. Naturally, they couldn't stop me from doing this if they wanted to. The Rockabilly Festival has such a great vibe in the city, you can't avoid it. These are a few shots and stories from my time at the event.

It's not just the locals that get into the event. I met this amazing couple from my old home of Perth!

The main marquee had quite a few crowd drawing events including a poodle parade and the Miss Ballarat Beat pin up contest, which I didn't get to see all of, but it was still loads of fun.

Just to walk the Lydiard St strip is free and it's full of people, so I went on down to see what was happening. Some events in the marquee are free too, but even if there is a band on and you need a ticket to get on the dance floor, you can stand on the side and look in the 'windows' as the bass player charges out onto the dancefloor and stands on his bass. The rest of the band joins him on the floor and then he lays on his bass and slides across the floor. The crowd stands up and cheers as the band finishes. I go and talk to the band, tell them I loved photographing them. They tell me they usually set the drummer on fire.

The crowd in the burlesque is ready to party. They dance in the aisles to songs they know and the holler encouragement to the girls performing.

After I left the burlesque I started wandering down Lydiard St (the whole first northern block is closed for the event and it's full of people, vintage cars and market stalls), I was searching for things to photograph to capture the feel of the festival. Loud music and a bunch of people standing around outside Sebastiaans drew me in that direction. The small crowd outside are all chatting, lit by streetlights and the gold strip lighting of the cafe. I squeeze inside to hear the band. It's first time I have ever seen live music in Sebeastiaan's and it's wild. People are hollering and dancing and the space is cramped and hot and thick with roaring guitar. It's as though the lack of space means you can't escape the vibe and the band thrives on it.

After a little while I step outside to the cooler air and I wait for my family to arrive. It's late and most of the scheduled events are winding down. Out on the road under the traffic lights two women dance together to the sound of the band that's blaring through the door of the cafe. Their skits are twirling in unison. I pull out my camera and try to capture the moment. They spot me watching them and start laughing. 'Twirl for me!' I call out and they oblige until they both have to stop because they're dizzy and out of breath. 

During the day is the best time to capture people dancing, when the dance floor has enough light on it to take photos. I made my way to the dancefloor, walking through the festival to check out the stalls and what people were wearing. With a DJ on constantly in the main marquee there was always someone on the dancefloor. We hung out until the poodle parade started to get some pictures of the dogs. The event was packed. There was so much happening, and I missed out on a few events, too. 

An just because I hung out with her for the whole event, here are a couple more snaps of my spunky sister in a vintage dress that our grandmother bought our mother.

The photos here are only a small sample from the event. You can check out all the shots I took here on Flickr.

If you want to stay in the know for the next Ballarat Beat event, you can find them on Facebook here.

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