Last night saw The Spinning Room’s last appearance at ET’s in Prahran. I’ve only been going to The Spinning Room in recent months, but I’ve found such a hugely supportive community there and had such a good time that this “last night” announcement was met with sadness. ET’s is shutting down, and The Spinning Room is going with it. Having been run in Melbourne for the last 10 years, this was an important night.
As usual, The Spinning Room’s first half was an open mic. Usually these attract 10 readers or so… Last night’s open mic had a record 22 readers. It wasn’t just readers who showed up, either. The room was packed to capacity, with people peering around door frames and crouched under bars to get in on it. The open mic was packed with awesome talent – John Mckelvie’s quiet, understated intensity blew me away, as well as Randall Stephens and Alex Scott’s high-energy bounce-fest. Geoff Lemon, Steve Smart, Jessica Alice, and close friends of mine, Jo Day and Benjamin Solah… And I managed to get on the open mic list before they ran out of room. SUCH good company to be in!
The second half of the evening was dedicated to “The Best of ’10”; sets by Amy Bodossian and Santo Cazzati. I’d never seen Amy before, but had heard glorious (yet vague…) things from friends.
Amy Bodossian has a six-year old inside of her busting to get out. She twirls and spins and plays with her hair, she laughs and shakes with so much energy that the only place left for it to come out is through her hands. And her smile. She’s not all six year old though. While some of her poetry touches on themes of childhood, she also talks about “misadventures with men” and the nature of being an artist.
Santo… Oh wow. I’d seen Santo host the final evening of the 2010 Overload Poetry Festival, and had seen him read a short piece at a previous Spinning Room. But to appreciate what Santo does, you need to see a full set.
Santo Cazzati’s performance is a cross between a race-caller and an orchestra conductor spastic with passion. His whole body keeps time. He doesn’t pause for his entire set. I can’t tell you how long the set was – time just didn’t exist while I was listening to him. A discussion of themes almost wouldn’t work with Santo… There were times where I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. But I felt it. When my audience neighbour turned to me and beamed “GENIUS!”, I had nothing more to say. That, quite simply, is what Santo Cazzati is.
The future of The Spinning Room seems uncertain – while founder Jon Garrett promises that “this is not the end”, a more sombre email from resigning co-host Anthony O’Sullivan sounded a bit doubtful.
I truly do hope that The Spinning Room finds a venue for 2011 and the future, and it’s an amazing event which never fails to entertain, enlighten, and inspire me. A massive hats-off to those behind the scenes who make it all happen; amazing stuff, which I hope to see more of soon.
The evening was also filmed for Red Lobster, the channel 31 poetry show. Keep an eye out for that episode… While you know, deep down, that you should have been at ET’s last night, you probably wouldn’t have fit in the room anyway. So you can watch the best bits on Red Lobster.