You don’t need to take a trip down the rabbit hole to experience the ultimate Wonderland, you simply need to visit The Pleasure Garden; an immersive, creative arts and music feast worthy of attracting the Hatter and the March Hare. And I mean that quite literally.
Returning for its second year, festival goers were not disappointed as The Pleasure Garden took over St Kilda’s Catani Gardens on Saturday December 9, boasting a festival similar to that of the infamous Secret Garden Party and Glastonbury Festival.
Throughout the day, the music felt like a wonderful bonus for a happy crowd quite capable of having a good time relaxing amongst friends while unleashing their inner feather fashion diva. With a ‘Birds of Paradise’ dress up theme highly encouraged, there was a sea of impressive outfits that ranged from flouncy and feathery, flamboyant and freaky, to even fancy and frisky – you name it, The Pleasure Garden had it. There was even a couple dressed as eggplants. In a previous interview with festival director Glenn ‘Goose’ McGrath, he explained that the journey to this magical surreal world began the moment you leave your front door – and he couldn’t have been more accurate. My journey in my colourful festival getup went all the way from my door step in Geelong, on the V/Line, through the city and out to St Kilda. I was in my own world and I felt more confident covered in gems and glitter than I ever thought I would.
Within the garden grounds, festival-goers were relaxing on day beds, hula-hooping, blissing out to tunes with the sun setting over the palm trees, to spinning on the teacups and taking a ride on the ferris wheel and even getting down at the House Party stage (which was presented as a small house with a turn table surrounded by couches, a bed and even a dressing table because why the hell not?). Amidst all of the weird and quirky art installations and roving street performers, there were even some lovely ‘birds of paradise’ individuals weaving through the crowd with trays of fresh fruit for all and kind festival staff walking around supplying sunscreen to those lacking in sun smarts.
While there was so much to discover within the garden, I can’t forget to mention the killer musical acts that took to the stage. Coming into the festival as L-Fresh The Lion took over the Aurora stage encouraging the punters to bounce and groove to his good-vibes and smooth hip hop, it was Melbourne’s own Remi who truly got the crowd grooving.
The Conservatory was where I was truly blown away. With a stage that was likened to a forest-ridden abandoned house, the vibe over here was all about slow grooves and fresh beats. Crooked Colours nailed creating a mood with their unique take on indie-electronica that pretty much has the whole crowd hypnotised in the best possible way.
While there’s no denying Montaigne drew in a crowd with her seriously energetic set, it was Fat Freddy’s Drop that seemed to attract the entirety of festival-goers. Pumping out their dub reggae jazz tunes, this seven piece powerhouse was no doubt the highlight of the festival.
A festival vocal and passionate about nurturing community and creating a place where everyone is part of the experience, another inspiring component was the environmental consciousness of the entire festival. With a deposit for reusable plates and cups, and the challenge of collecting 10 cups and returning them to the bar to get a $20 credit, made for the cleanest festival grounds I have ever seen – I know because I had my eye out for those cups (I’m saving for new car, don’t judge me).
Living true to its name, the organisers were successful in creating the ultimate paradise where everyone who was at the festival, was there for a good time. Zero bad attitudes, simply great vibes and a real tribute to the power of love and community… now that’s the type of festival I was glad to go to and one I will definitely be returning to.
Where: Catani Gardens in St Kilda
When: Saturday December 9 2017
Reviewed by Talia Rinaldo
Photos by Duncographic