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Category Archives: Hedonism

Review: The Giants – Cineuropa

Posted: August 14, 2021 at 1:00 am

11/08/2021 - Bonifacio Angius returns to the Locarno Film Festival to present his latest, quirky feature film, painting a comical and decadent portrait of masculinity which is on the verge of implosion

Bonifacio Angius and Michele Manca in The Giants

Seven years after the success of Perfidia[+see also: trailerfilmprofile], Italian director Bonifacio Angius has once again been selected for the Locarno Film Festival, on this occasion the International Competition, where he is presenting his latest, surreal and ferociously independent feature film The Giants[+see also: trailerinterview: Bonifacio Angiusfilmprofile], signing his name to the movies direction, screenwriting, photography, editing and production. What distinguishes this most recent work of his is the freedom with which he tells the story, which is full of fury and anger but also tenderness, fragility, irony and dark humour. The Giants is an intense and unsettling film which explores the consequences of wanting (or having) to belong to the hegemonic male grouping, of having to renounce your own weaknesses in the name of privileges which would otherwise lie out of reach.

A get-together between old friends who share an excessive passion for artificial paradises, a deteriorating villa lost in the middle of the countryside, and an insatiable thirst for living in the present and momentarily forgetting the wounds of a past which hangs around their necks like a millstone: this, in short, is the world of The Giants. This diverse group of friends decides to spend what might be their last evening together in an atmosphere of unbridled hedonism: drugs, alcohol and dark, Nietzsche-style, pseudo philosophical discussions; an evening occasionally reminiscent of the bombastic world of La Grande Bouffe by Marco Ferreri (another director who made hegemonic masculinity his primary target) and the razor-sharp wit of Aki Kaurismki; an evening which will see masks fall to reveal real faces (or should we say grimaces) and inner worlds free from the constrictions of a society which values men above all else, real men who are untouchable and cold as ice. The Giants might be described as an ode to impotence; impotence of a social rather than a sexual kind, which drives the characters to reveal their own weaknesses and wounds, potentially for the first and last ever time; impotence which turns into a destructive but also a cathartic strength, no longer seen as a flaw to be cured via excessive doses of blue-coloured pills. With The Giants, Bonifacio Angius seems to want to confront us with a masculinity thats teetering on extinction, having fallen victim to its own sad privileges.

The films five characters, played with zest and realism by a cast of high calibre actors (Stefano Deffenu, Riccardo Bombagi, brothers Michele and Stefano Manca [alias Pino e gli Anticorpi] and the director himself), each have a singular way of approaching life: ignoring it after a first devastating disappointment in love, tackling it with abyss-like levels of anger, only indulging in its artificial side, thinking too much about it, or, contrarily, accepting its flaws. What unites the five friends, in spite of their clear differences (and drug dependency aside), is their inability to find an escape route or any kind of short cut which will allow them to escape the vicious circle of egoism and toxic masculinity. Cooped up in a villa which seems to imprison them within their own hallucinatory delusions, our five anti-heroes are no longer able (perhaps they never were able) of translating their anxiety into words. Instead, they become victims of it, bodies which are slowly consumed by the weight of emotions burning inside of them like a sacred fire. Despite philosophical ravings which sometimes border on pretentious, The Giants is a film which bravely reveals the darker side of giants who have been turned into monsters by society.

The Giants is produced by Il Monello Film (Italy) and is sold worldwide by Coccinelle Film Sales.

(Translated from Italian)

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7 Things We Loved About Gateways Festival 2021 Review – UK Festival Guides

Posted: at 1:00 am

Sorry mate, thats just way too long its felt like forever! Summer 2019 may seem like a decade ago but outdoor music action is back on the cards again and we cannot wait.

Newcomers to the festival scene Gateways took a nice cheeky gamble by not cancelling back in spring time and boy did it pay off. Every punter partied like it would be their last. Every band played like their lives were at stake we were all happy to be back and this is what we loved:

There must have been 30mm of precipitation during Ian Broudie and cos set but nobody cared. The poncho party was in full flow and those with wellies on were clearly very pleased with themselves. After a magical set which culminated with a trio of Sugar Coated Iceberg, The Life of Riley, and Pure, Broudie announced, We have time for one more any requests? Cue Three Lions and at which point Skipton became Bedlam and the festival climaxed.

From Echo Park to Aireville Park Feeder were mint although following Three Lions must have felt like Mission Impossible. Taka Hiroses prominent bass lines had the soaking wet crowd pogo sticking amongst a stunning North Yorkshire backdrop. Treats included Buck Rogers, Tallulah and the timeless lyrics of Im going out for a while, So I can get high with my friends. Feeder were very happy to be back.

Maths always comes into music and the toilet to crowd ratio is more important today than Pythagoras Theorem. I can honestly say that in almost 25 years of festivaling, never has it been so quick and easy to make room for some more lager. Literally zero queues a weak bladder heaven.

The Skipton Building Society award for Best Frontman went to Scouting For Girls Roy Stride. Stride chatted with the crowd freely and had the left half competing with the right half like it was an Olympic event. Killer single Elvis Aint Dead flowed into then out of Elvis Presleys Cant Help Falling In Love then later on the band raised serotonin levels with a majestic cover of Whitneys I Wanna Dance With Somebody. It was pure joy.

Big Stu was single handedly knocking out acoustic anthems whilst attractive females drank gin not a bad combo. Whats the difference between humans and animals? he asked us. This was not a science lesson but a cheeky intro to his rendition of The Bloodhound Gangs Bad Touch. Stu you were class pal. Sorry we had to leave but Razorlight were coming on.

Johnny Borrell and co proper smashed it. Armed with an inventory of anthems, Razorlight knocked out classics such as Stumble and Fall, Golden Touch, In The Morning, Somewhere Else, America, and Before I Fall To Pieces now that is some bag of tricks. They were beautiful and hedonism imploded; at least fifteen minutes of it felt like divine intervention. The only bad thing was it meant the end of the festival or did it...?

Just as you thought it was game over, the festival organisers had one last treat for us all a gunpowder plot that gave Sydney Harbour a run for its money. It was a captivating end to a successful maiden voyage for Gateways Festival. If you didnt think it was a belter then you deserve to wait another two years until your next fest.

Photo by Liam Atkinson

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A Record Number of Restaurants Are Opening in New York City. Sort Of. – Eater NY

Posted: July 25, 2021 at 3:44 pm

The return of restaurants. The season of hedonism. The summer of New York City. Theres no shortage of names for whats unfolding in the once-yurt-laden streets of New York, but Nicole Biscardi thinks there might be room for one more. This is the start of the restaurant renaissance, says Biscardi, a hospitality industry specialist with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

In July 2020, when the five boroughs became an epicenter for coronavirus globally, city officials struggled to document the number of restaurant closings across the city there were just that many. Roughly a year later, the opposite is now true: New York City is experiencing one of its busiest seasons for restaurant openings in over a year. Even if its not all that busy.

Restaurant openings are on the rise again in New York City, but viewed through the lens of pre-pandemic openings data, the renaissance looks more like a slow recovery. People might think restaurants are blowing the doors off, making money hand over fist, opening left and right, but they dont realize how devastated the industry was, Biscardi says. Even though it looks and feels like things are back, theyre still not.

Close to 700 restaurants opened their doors between March and May 2021, according to the latest available data from Yelp, but more than 1,000 opened over that same period in 2019. In May, typically one of the years busiest months for restaurant openings, the number of new openings dropped by 300 restaurants from 2019 to 2021.

Restaurant reservation company Resy estimates that roughly the same number of businesses opened on its platform between April and June 2021 as during that same period in 2019. However, the companys reach has more than doubled in recent years, from roughly 2,000 restaurants in late 2018 to more than 5,000 the following year, suggesting that openings have not kept pace with the companys growth.

Even so, its an encouraging uptick after a year that brought even the citys busiest seasons for restaurant openings to a halt. Over the last year, Biscardi says she has monitored restaurant openings across the city, surveying a caseload of more than 600 businesses grappling with seasonal weather and shifting regulations. In the fall, when indoor dining briefly returned to New York City, there was panic about how vaguely worded state policies would play out in reality, she says. After indoor dining shut down two months later, most of the restaurateurs she spoke with were hysterically crying, unsure if their businesses would make it through the winter.

By spring, coronavirus restrictions had started to loosen, and something became apparent, Biscardi says. Through a year of ups and mostly downs some restaurant owners were holding their breaths, planning new projects, and waiting to debut those that were already in the works before the pandemic. Now well into summer, restaurant openings are firing out like a shotgun, she says.

True, the number of restaurants that opened between March and May 2021 is down compared to 2019, but viewed year-over-year, the number of new food businesses is up by roughly 92 percent, according to data from Yelp. Between March and July, approximately 1,300 additional establishments applied for permits through the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, though that number also includes non-restaurant food businesses and renewals for existing restaurants.

Spring and fall were typically the busiest seasons for restaurant openings in pre-pandemic times, but the latest uptick in numbers is the culmination of a year-long bottleneck, according to Biscardi. Because of how long it can take to plan and open a restaurant, there were a lot of restaurants waiting in the pipeline, she says. When pandemic restrictions on restaurants and bars started to loosen, people that were even sort of ready to go said, Fuck it. Lets do it now.

Such is the case with Hand Hospitality, the hit-making group behind Her Name is Han and Izakaya Mew. Emboldened by the citys reopening, Hand debuted Little Mad in early June, a Korean-American restaurant in Nomad located in the former space of On, from the same group. Hand has plans to expand with a second restaurant next month, a Thai establishment that has been in the works for more than a year but was put on hold due to the pandemic.

The openings were spurred by a feeling that everything is slowly coming back, a spokesperson for the hospitality group tells Eater but also by a fear. If we dont do it now, how much later can we wait? they say.

Hand Hospitality repurposed its restaurant spaces, but elsewhere in New York City, openings are being spurred by fire sale rent deals made earlier in the pandemic, according to Andrew Moger, the founder of local sandwich chain the Melt Shop and real estate development company BCD. The things that are opening now are deals that were made during the pandemic, when rents were being discounted by 30 to 50 percent in some parts of the city, he says. Its not like you sign a lease now and you pop it up the next day. It takes time.

For operators with capital at their disposal earlier in the pandemic, investments are starting to pay off. Blank Street Coffee, which first opened in Williamsburg last August, now has a double-digit lineup of coffee carts and brick-and-mortar cafes under its belt. Founders Issam Freiha and Vinay Menda plan to open 20 additional locations in New York City by the end of the summer, they say, roughly a third of which will be brick-and-mortar.

We were the only bid most times, Menda says of rent deals made at this time last year. We had all the time in the world to decide what we wanted to do.

Those same opportunities are rarer today. Brandon Pena is the founder of Puerto Rican coffee roaster 787 Coffee, which nearly doubled its number of locations this past year from four to 11 by signing leases on cafe spaces that shuttered during the pandemic. He estimates rent prices have increased by roughly 20 percent from this time last year. Theres a lot of restaurants opening and everyones trying to get the best price, says Pena, who has been outbid on three cafe spaces in June alone.

Everything weve looked at, prices are up because they have offers now, he says. They used to not have anyone.

Restaurant spaces may be moving again, but experts say the New York City economy may still be years away from returning to pre-pandemic levels and could be slower to bounce back than other metropolitan areas in the country. Other factors, including the end of the states pause on commercial evictions on September 1 and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund running out, mean that an uptick in restaurant closings could be on the horizon.

Biscardi will be the first to say shes not a fear monger or an expert on citywide economics but as someone whos been on the ground with restaurant and bar owners over the past year, she believes were on the right path back, even if its a long one. Even under perfect circumstances everythings open, regulations are lifted, people want to go out I think were looking at another two to three years from now, she says.

Still, a renaissance is a relative, and Biscardi expects that restaurants and bars will continue to open their doors, especially as New York City inches toward its second busiest season for openings: the fall.

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No fans or sex? Tokyo has tough task trying not to be the first ‘no-fun’ Olympics – Action News Now

Posted: at 3:44 pm

Empty stadiums, no fans, and if you're an athlete it's probably best to avoid having sex in the Olympic Village just to be on the safe side.

No wonder, then, that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has been forced to break with a number of traditions as the global pandemic forces organizers to mastermind a mega-sporting event unlikely any other.

There's quite a checklist of dos and don'ts for athletes, officials, media and volunteers attending the Games, given those Covid-19 countermeasures that have been in put in place to ensure the Olympics are "safe."

Spectators will also be absent from 97% of Olympic competitions, with "virtual cheering" and a screen at events for fans to send in selfies and messages of support to athletes instead.

While opinion polls have consistently highlighted the unpopularity of the Games among the Japanese public, organizers hope the focus will quickly move away from the global pandemic once the serious competition gets underway after Friday's Opening Ceremony.

Nonetheless, questions remain over how Tokyo can hold a massive sporting event and keep volunteers, athletes, officials -- and the Japanese public -- safe from Covid-19.

On Tuesday, a Japanese health expert warned the bubble around the Olympic village had "kind of broken," while Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said organizers weren't ruling out a last-minute cancellation of the Games amid rising Covid-19 cases.

That febrile environment has ensured that Tokyo has a tough task not to be the first 'no-fun' Olympics.

READ: Olympic athletes battle 'long Covid: 'I'm really struggling to exercise still'

The athletes' village at the Olympics Games is typically viewed as a place where thousands of the world's best athletes from more than 200 countries congregate and get to know each other a little bit better, as well as sharing stories and experiences.

It's even developed a reputation for hedonism, with one athlete describing it as "a pretty wild scene" and condom ambassadors on duty at the 2016 Rio Summer Games.

However, at this Games, organizers are asking athletes to dine alone and maintain social distancing from others. In a TikTok video on Wednesday, Australian water polo star Tilly Kearns detailed the team's rigorous health protocols in the village's canteen -- athletes are only allowed 10 minutes to eat their food.

Large numbers of condoms have been given out at the Games since the 1988 Seoul Olympics to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS. This year, organizers are planning to give away about 150,000 condoms -- but only once athletes check out.

Kunihiko Okamoto, vice president of Okamoto Industries, which was asked to supply some of the condoms by Games organizers, said the number of prophylactics was reduced due to the pandemic.

"Before the pandemic, we thought the Olympics are a great opportunity to showcase our products -- it is important to raise more awareness around STDs. But during the pandemic, and given the situation, we feel there are more important things in the world than talking about the importance of condoms," said Okamoto.

READ: Brisbane officially announced as host of 2032 Olympics

As athletes settle into their new accommodation at the Olympic Village, many are testing out what's on offer.

Paul Chelimo, a runner for Team USA, claimed on his Twitter account that the "beds to be installed in Tokyo Olympic Village will be made of cardboard, this is aimed at avoiding intimacy among athletes."

"Beds will be able to withstand the weight of a single person to avoid situations beyond sports," he added.

However, the idea that the beds with cardboard frames would be for "anti-sex" purposes and would collapse under the weight of more than one person was quickly debunked by one Olympic athlete.

Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan posted a video on Twitter of himself jumping up and down several times as he tested out his bed's sturdiness, before claiming: "It's fake! Fake news!"

Tokyo 2020 says the beds will be "turned into recycled paper after the Games."

"We are promoting the use of recycled materials for procured items and construction materials at the Tokyo 2020 Games," the Games' official "Sustainability Pre-Games Report," said.

READ: Six Polish swimmers sent back home from Tokyo following admin error

Despite the Covid-19 protocols, coronavirus cases in Tokyo -- currently under a state of emergency until August 22 -- show no signs of slowing.

Tokyo reported 1,832 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, its highest daily increase since January 16, according to Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

"Without the proper measures in place, it will only take one person to bring in the virus and spread it, especially in places like the athlete village," infectious disease expert Nobuhiko Okabe said at a news conference Friday.

"We have to do what we can to make sure an outbreak doesn't happen, and we really need the cooperation of all the athletes and delegations to make this work," he added.

Olympic organizers have not included any specifics about sex in the playbook outlining Covid-19 countermeasures, though social distancing protocols would make it more challenging.

But Maki Hirayama, a sociologist and expert on sexuality at Meiji University, argued athletes who've been preparing to compete at the Games will likely still be looking for ways to let off steam -- even amid the pandemic.

"(Humans) need a release, and all the top athletes of the Olympics had to focus on their training ... and we cannot live only with concentration; we need a release. Sexual activity can provide (people) the biggest release," she said.

The-CNN-Wire & 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Pat Kane: Amy Winehouse wasn’t lost in the music, she was lost to the music – The National

Posted: at 3:44 pm

YESTERDAY was the 10th anniversary of the death of Amy Winehouse. Ive just sat through another documentary that spins your head and heart around, making you wonder who (and what) was to blame for the singers terrible, sorrowful demise.

But before I re-enter that maelstrom, I am happy to begin in a more grounded place. In the London leg of my life, I do my vocal rehearsal days in a complex called Mill Hill Studios. There is an iconic stencil of Winehouse on the wall outside one of the rooms. Turns out, this was the place she started putting her bands together, and did so till the very end.

It is a lovely, well-kept environment, run by a variety of diamond-hearted geezers. They have their careful, tactful stories about Amy.

One of them tells how, just before her death, she was planning a very stripped back, jazz-tinted album, but as a four piece, drums, vox, bass and keys/guitar, with some sax or clarinet as appropriate. Basically, a step away from the big wall-of-sound production on Back in Black

And the talk is like that: all about musicianship, no psychodrama. As if the most respectful thing to do is to concentrate on the compositions and performances that came from her mouth, fingers, body and soul, for as long as we had her. And as for the rest Well, to be honest, it seems like theres a battle of blame narratives going on. Last nights BBC documentary Reclaiming Amy is primarily narrated by Amys mum, Janice Winehouse-Collins. It explicitly sets out to place the singer in circles of care, whether close family or friends, who were ultimately unable to handle her addictive condition.

Its clearly an attempt to answer the Oscar-winning 2016 documentary Amy. This film indicts the celebrity press, an exploitative and parasitic music business and to some degree her father, Mitch, as among those who failed to properly look after her.

I resist going much deeper into these minefields. It is undoubtedly the case that the absurd shock of her 27-year-old demise, and the size of the talent that was extinguished, sends out a spray of fragments (and protagonists). Kaleidoscopes will shuffle these testimonies around for decades. The potential patterns of responsibility (and evasions of it) are endless.

But the truth is also that Winehouses own art proceeded on the basis of cheeky, flirty but also shocking self-revelation. When her blockbuster album Back To Black came out in 2006, the rise of confessional culture and reality TV content (amplified by social media) was beginning its inexorable rise.

Big Brother was regnant on Channel 4, libido and drunkenness tumbling through each days programming. The music critic Alexis Petridis recently noted that Facebook opened to everyone over thirteen with a valid email address four weeks before Back to Blacks release; Twitters tipping point came five months later.

READ MORE:Runrig documentary There Must Be A Place offers insight into legendary band

So the world was ready for Winehouses artistic candour about her barely held-together lifestyle. (A final zeitgeist point might well be that these frothy jets of hedonism and confessionalism were being fuelled by oceans of credit all to come crashing down in the following 18 months).

But you maybe have to live inside some of her songs for a while, to realise how powerfully she conducts this open-heart surgery. For some of the festival sets were playing this year, Hue And Cry is putting a cover of Back To Black in the full-band songlist, graduating from a piano-vocal version.

Great pop songs can take you to another harsh world, but so beautifully that you can cope being there. What a world in Back To Black. We know, biographically, that Winehouse was in a dangerously co-dependent, half-open relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil, inspiring all of these songs.

The lineaments of that relationship are brutally laid out in the first lines: He left no time to regret/Kept his dick wet/With his same old safe bet. The second verse, like some kind of Camden Town John Donne, uses drug paraphernalia (the penny is a fragment of crack) as a metaphor for their blasted relationship: I love you much, its not enough You love blow and I love puff Life is like a pipe and Im a tiny penny Rolling up the walls inside How can you sing this as a man?

There are precedents. Sinatra was notorious for hanging out at Billie Holliday gigs, imagining himself taking the suffering role in her songs. Though if you shift the lyrics of Back To Black around and rewrite for the male role, the song goes even darker: a story of male power setting the parameters, observing the ruins, even amidst mutual brokenness.

Last nights BBC documentary certainly wants to reclaim Amy from any victim framing. Her excesses and appetites are mostly rendered as intrinsically motivated, not extrinsically triggered. Her closest male schoolfriend recalls her in escapades involving mooning bare bums and raised middle fingers.

Winehouses often tearful coterie speak of her physical fragility, but also her strong willpower, impervious to advice or intervention.

Her parents strongly assert that she was in the grip of addiction, as a disease and condition. They have even set up a foundation to assist the recovery of young addicts. When asked at an interview in her full bee-hived and flick-mascarad splendour about her fears, Amy answers: What am I scared of? Myself.

THOUGH I tend towards Winehouse not being the victim of her circumstances, there are some formative elements which most performers will recognise. The much criticised father, Mitch, himself a wanna-be wedding-band Sinatra working as a cab driver, was clearly a template for his performing daughter.

I enjoyed the limelight, I cant deny it, he says in the BBC doc. But Mitch also reveals that he tried, at the height of his daughters self-destruction, to have Amy sectioned (her charm sent the examining doctors away). The death of a beloved grandmother is also cited as a destabilising influence, as much as the standard explanation of drugs and drink. There was so much more, says her mum Janice. She resonated at a different frequency to anyone else. It often feels like the Amy we know has been lost.

Reclaiming Amy does enough of the necessary job of putting her performances and songwriting front and centre. In retrospect, shes an odd mix: cartoonish in her fashion choices, wriggling awkwardly like a teenager on a school dancefloor, but with a voice that erupts from her like lava, Aretha and Dinah and Ella and god knows who else comprising the flow. Yet the verbal scenes she paints come from bad romance, North-London style.

READ MORE:Pat Kane: Amy Winehouse wasnt lost in the music, she was lost to the music

Its obviously intriguing to envision a less fissile Winehouse, what she would have settled into. Adele-like serenity? One of the saddest moments in the BBC doc is when Amy sees her own future as a mother with a few kids, which her friends tearfully corroborate. One idly imagines that these might have been her next most beloved creations.

But theres a line from Rehab, that spookily defiant megahit about her resistance to all helpers, which I cant forget. Fleeing from the hands of experts and doctors, she trills: Theres nothing you can teach me/That I cant learn from Mr Hathaway. That, I presume, is the soul titan Donny Hathaway, whose covers she often took to entirely new levels in her performances.

Maybe this girl wasnt just lost in music, but lost to music. The business of show supports the flaming arcs of the mercurial and the unique. But often without a net. And often with the net being deliberately evaded. Rest in process, Amy Winehouse.

Reclaiming Amy is available now on BBC iPlayer

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Back to bust out the beats – Otago Daily Times

Posted: at 3:44 pm

James Barrett has spent the last few years making a splash in the venerable techno scene of Berlin. Now in Covid-ravaged 2021, hes escaped to his homeland and is wasting no time in bringing his brand of dark pounding techno to the ravers of Aotearoa. I caught up with James ahead of his return to Otepoti at Negative Space Club this Friday.

You were in Germany through the Covid times, how was that?

It was mostly just being inside for 15 months, especially in the colder months, which was pretty brutal. Sometimes Id realise I hadnt been outside in two or three days, and time becomes something else, so yeah, it was quite awful having to be inside and not being able to see anyone else for that long. Definitely not a good time.

Obviously the club scene in Berlin is legendary. What do you think it is about Berlin which fosters that scene?

A lot of its sort of historical circumstance, right place at the right time, and sort of the right historical events to make that happen, because on one level its about the fact that its still a city where theres kind of like a lot of abandoned space, which young ravers can move into and turn into clubs, so theres this really amazing industrial environment. So one part of it is that past, and especially that Soviet past as well. But a lot of it is kind of political as well, which is tied in with the history too. Berliners have a very keen sense of what freedom means to them and there is that feeling throughout the whole city and it is kind of reflected in a lot of what you get in the clubs as well, you know once youre in there I mean its not quite a free for all, but it is near enough.

Coming back from Berlin to the Aotearoa club scenes, how do they compare?

Its a good question, and yeah its something Ive thought about a lot. You cant deny what Berlin is and it essentially has the best clubs on the planet, really. You know, these giant sort of industrial places of worship for sort of hedonism and dance music and partying. You cant deny that, but theres also a lot to be said in terms of being a participant within it, on both an artistic and professional level. And I think theres a lot to be said for being somewhere with a lot of potential that has a growing scene like Aotearoa, where you can really leave your mark on whats going on and really help to change things. And theres definitely a difference in terms of satisfaction between that and merely slotting into something thats already very established like Berlin, where you do sort of feel more like a mere participant rather than someone that can really help change things. So thats one big thing I noticed.

How have the shows been so far?

So far Ive had a couple of gigs in Christchurch, those have been really great, Ive always had a good time playing down here. I think because its such a drum and bass town, which in of itself can kind of be sonically quite aggressive, and it also has a sort of sonic similarity to a lot of what I do already. I definitely think audiences have always been quite up to what Ive got to offer here. So, yeah, the only shows Ive done so far have been a couple here in Christchurch and one in Wellington Saturday, and that party in Wellington was kind of really special I have to say, the crew that put it on, Practice, theyre a really lovely crew, they really kind of curated every aspect of that party to a perfect extent. It was a very, very diverse crowd, and they just put together a really, really incredible event that was special within New Zealand.

But, yeah, no, the parties that Ive played so far have been really good, Im so happy to finally be at it again.

Negative Space Club, Friday July 30, at XYZ, 142 Princes Street. Tickets $15 from undertheradar.co.nzListen: havenakl.bandcamp.com

- Fraser Thompson

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Everyone was going full pelt: how Giddy Stratospheres captured indies hedonistic 00s – The Guardian

Posted: July 21, 2021 at 12:51 am

If you ever ran for a dawn train after a narcotic all-nighter in 2007 with The Rat by the Walkmen pounding through your liquified brain and a hip flask of breakfast vodka in your pocket, expect flashbacks from the opening moments of Giddy Stratospheres, director Laura Jean Marshs debut film set amid the euphoria, hedonism and tragedy of the 00s indie rock scene.

We were all so young, feeling invincible and wanting it not to end, says Marsh, who put on gigs by bands such as the Horrors and Black Wire at her Dolly Rockers club night, hosted parties for the Mighty Boosh and sang with guitar pop band Screaming Ballerinas before moving on to acting and video directing.

You didnt want to sleep, you just wanted the fun to go on. Before you know it, its day three. I put on the Long Blondes it was one of the most incredible gigs Ive ever been to at [London bar] Nambucca, everyone dancing around on the tables and rolling around in glass and throwing confetti in the air. There was something really special about how everybody knew each other having friends in bands from Leeds or Liverpool or Manchester and coming into town and everyone partying for 24 hours, feeling like you were part of the family.

Based around a fictional gig by the Long Blondes and featuring music from Franz Ferdinand, the Futureheads, the Rapture and the Cribs among others, the film sets out to capture the wired unpredictability of British rocks latest great generational wave within a dark and personal narrative.

I didnt make the film to represent the 00s, explains Marsh, who also stars as wild child Lara. I made a film about two friends. It was a really exciting time, but it was also quite a tough time for a lot of us. Giddy Stratospheres is quite a personal story to me. I lost quite a few friends and I went through some bad times. A lot of it is drawn from my past heartbreaks.

Filming on a shoestring between lockdowns last year was quite a challenge, she says. There were a lot of gaps in crowds with clever camera work to make it look like it was busier.

So how successfully does the film evoke the era? We asked the people who were there.

Kate Jackson: I dont think many people have covered that era yet in film, so we were happy for Laura to use our song title for the name of the film. I really liked it. It did evoke those times really well. It actually made me feel a bit anxious those social interactions in venues when youre wasted gave me the fear. Everyone in Camden at that time would have been in a band. Literally everybody. I wasnt sure whether to say yes to a cameo because Im by no means an actress, but it was fun.

Dorian Cox: Its probably happened to me millions of times, when some girl has tried to bother me when Im getting my guitar out of the venue. That took me back to those Long Blondes times when we were still living in Sheffield and had to get back to work in the morning.

KJ: I was usually driving us back as well, so all the excessive scenes of drug taking, we werent exactly doing that. It was, like, one whisky and coke before the show.

DC: It was a very hedonistic time in London. Everyone just seemed to go full pelt, there was a lot of drink and drugs and no one seemed to think about the endpoint. When youre two pills down its amazing but then the next day real life happens again, and I think its important to get that message across. Im glad Laura didnt make it seem like it was just a scene full of lads in pork pie hats thinking theyre Pete Doherty, too, because its overlooked how arty that scene was to start with. In that immediate post-Strokes time, on one bill you might find someone like the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Ikara Colt, the Parkinsons, all these bands that didnt necessarily have anything in common, just a strong feeling of fun. Like any scene, later on it becomes a bit easier for labels to recognise what sells. Post-Arctic Monkeys, it was easier for labels to think: Its just four guys in Adidas tracksuit tops. I do think everyone felt part of a family in that scene.

KJ: Remember that squat party in Peckham that we ended up playing, in the tile factory?

DC: George Bush Jr one of his daughters turned up with security. Shed obviously heard that indie was cool. There was a lot of crap around then, but then theres a lot of crap around in any scene. There were far more shit Britpop bands than there were good ones. Theres only a handful of genuinely good punk bands. Now is the time for that scene to be reappraised and the good bands to rise to the top.

Jamie Reynolds: The film was great. But its not an easy story to tell. If you were to stand up and tell the story of what happens in the film as a blow-by-blow account, its not a celebration of 2007 more of a depiction of the tragic aspects of it. I felt that was incredibly sad and incredibly brave. It being based in 2007 was in many ways irrelevant: this was a story as old as the hills. It was Rebel Without a Cause. It couldve been a depiction of any music scene since the 1950s, the continuation of the classic rocknroll narrative: one minute its fun, the next minute its fucked. Ive always been quite open about drugs but to see it on screen and for there to be the twist that happens in the film its a fair description of how dark it could get.

Tahita Bulmer: There are some great moments and I definitely enjoyed the twist elements. It had the dirty feel of the mid-00s. There was a kind of sloppiness, people working with what they had in terms of clothes and makeup, and the beginnings of gender non-conformity being mainstream, guys wandering round in lashings of eyeliner and a quarter of a T-shirt held together with safety pins.

The focus on drug-taking, the feeling that it would just be a continual party when our band kicked off that wasnt a reality for us but Andy [Spence, producer] and I were such massive disco freaks and we thought, This scene is the closest thing to disco were ever going to get in terms of the debauchery and hedonism, but also in terms of the creativity as well. The film had a bit of that but it didnt really show the boundless creativity and, because its a low budget thing, it didnt manage to replicate that intense energy that was in London at the time which was so beautiful. As you get older, you realise: that was so rare! Youd have to have had another 40 or 50 people in those gig scenes to give you that sense of the crush and sweatiness. But considering it was filmed in lockdown, I applaud them.

Alfie Jackson: I enjoyed it. At the start, running along to The Rat, thats how I felt at the time. This limitless energy and this amazing music and fashion it just felt like a moment, the same as when Britpop arrived. But its weighted towards the annoying drug-dealing and drug-taking types a little more than I was hoping for. We didnt have Spotify or anything: the first time I heard these tunes was in clubs, on the dancefloors. I was hoping for a bit more of a fun nostalgia trip, super-exciting and happy like the song Giddy Stratospheres is. But at the same time it was good to inject a cautionary tale in there because Rob [Skipper, Holloways guitarist] died, and Ive got a couple of other mates who have never quite been the same, mentally, following their experiences.

Didz Hammond: There are hardly any films that portray live music especially well or accurately. It always comes across as a bit sanitised. Having said that, the drug use and the worldview of all of the characters was spot-on, the costumes were accurate, the behaviour was accurate, the ruthlessness and selfishness were accurate. Some of it was quite difficult to watch: the scenes of misbehaviour are a bit shuddery. Everyone who was in a band in the 00s was kind of making up for lost time. Everyone was about 15 when Britpop was happening and Camden was the centre of the world. By the time we get to 2002-7, youve got a whole generation of kids with guitars wanting to catch up.

Tabitha Denholm: My memory of that era was one of fewer consequences. I remember it in a slightly brighter way. I did wonder: Why is this room so empty? The thing I remember more than anything is singing along with giant groups of sweaty people and them knowing every word. The buoyancy of the musical communion, singing The Rat together or whatever. It was a naughty and badly behaved time but in a very silly way.

Giddy Stratospheres is out now.

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Why Freedom Day is a classic piece of propaganda – The Week UK

Posted: at 12:51 am

Colin Alexander, a political communications lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, on how freedom and liberty have been invoked by propagandists for centuries

The lifting of most Covid legal restrictions on July 19 has been dubbed freedom day by some politicians and journalists. Though not an official designation, thepopularisation of this moment with such a saying closely follows two of my 10 golden rules of propaganda that Ive developed in my years studying the practice. First, appeal to the instincts rather than the reason of the audience, and second, build around a slogan. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.

To this end, the medias regular use of the phrase reflects its compliance with and encouragement of the governments pandemic communications strategy. It is one of these phrases that you cannot quite place where it first emerged but which quickly seeps into public discussion to the point that we all know what it means.

Throughout the pandemic, the British government has utilised a wartime propaganda playbook to deliver public communications about Covid and the purported solutions to it. In these terms, we are now heading for the end of the combat phase of the governments propaganda delivery and the beginning of the post-pandemic or post-war phase.

In this sense, freedom day could be compared to VE Day (Victory in Europe Day, May 8 1945) and ought to be regarded as the latest in a long line of rhetorical associations with the Second World War that have been encouraged over the last 16 months.

References to blitz spirit, the militarisation of language around and heroisation of the NHS and the attention on Second World War veteran Tom Moore as the flagship of British determination and sacrifice are just a few of the ways this history has manifested in Covid Britain.

Concepts like freedom and liberty have been invoked by propagandists since the 16th-century Protestant Reformation and subsequent Enlightenment period. They emerged as influential writers Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill and Isaiah Berlin, to name a few began to philosophise about the rights of the individual.

To this end, the popular use of freedom to describe the end of pandemic restrictions forms part of a populist audience seduction strategy, using emotional rather than rational rhetoric. The medias purpose in using the phrase then is to appear to be on the side of the public. As Harold Lasswell, one of the founding fathers of communications studies, wrote in 1927: the best propaganda is that which is the champion of our dreams.

The philosopher Patrick Nowell-Smith discussed the seductiveness of the propaganda of freedom in his 1954 work Ethics, noting its association with hedonism and its deliciousness within the human mind. He caveats that hedonism is not always about gluttony and self-centredness and is not always carnal.

From the propagandists point of view though, freedom is an effective rhetorical tool because it means whatever the target audience want it to mean. Its utility is that the term is vague but that it resonates with ease when uttered.

One of the most common misconceptions around propaganda is that it always involves the communication of falsehoods to a mass audience and attempts to brainwash evoking shades of North Korea or the Nazis. In the common mind, propaganda is synonymous with the use of dark arts to encourage a target audience to engage in behaviours or to think in ways that they would otherwise not. Undoubtedly, some propaganda does do this.

Propaganda is more complex than this and can also involve truth-telling, however selective or self-interested.

Today, propaganda is all around us. It is undertaken by governments, state institutions, corporations trying to sell us things, media organisations, charities and powerful individuals in advance of their own interests just look at any billionaire philanthropist doing good while paying next to zero tax.

Individual citizens have obtained the means to broadcast for ourselves, particularly via social media platforms, and we too have become propagandists. Influencer is just a more acceptable way of saying propagandist.

Freedom day is not a lie, because restrictions will be lifted. However, the popularisation of it as such (rather than most restrictions lifted day, for example), is part of a strategy (endorsed by government and mainstream media alike) that has wanted the British public to think, act, associate and feel in certain ways since the pandemic began.

Indeed, the best, or most effective, propaganda is that which creates emotional bonds between the target audience and certain people, products, events or concepts. Freedom day has been so-called because the powerful want us to think in certain ways about this day, and to exclude or overlook other aspects of the pandemic that it deems undesirable.

To overwhelm the publics conscience (or to subtly railroad it while making it seem like choices are available) is one of the highest art forms in propaganda. We see this perhaps most clearly within public discussion of the vaccine programme wherein government and media have sought to marginalise more critical views of it.

Calling it freedom day attempts to nullify the public by encouraging us not to scrutinise government and media performance as we should. It reflects an attempt to move the discussion from science, sociology and public health to patriotism and emancipation.

Colin Alexander, Lecturer in Political Communications, Nottingham Trent University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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The Empire: Tears, beers and fancy footwork as one reporter is unleashed at nightclub opening night – Teesside Live

Posted: at 12:51 am

Armed with a negative lateral flow test, wearing my glad rags and having practiced my one-two step in the mirror, I set off to one of Teesside's biggest clubs on Monday evening.

As a 23 year-old, I've had a significant portion of my clubbing career stolen by the pandemic, and so I jumped at the chance to go to The Empire in Middlesbrough for their welcome back party, on the day the government eased most coronavirus restrictions in England.

Although my introduction to Boro's clubbing scene mostly involved spectating the hedonism of others, after 16 months cooped up, I wasn't content with just being a fly on the wall.

Read more: More guests, bridesmaids and dancing finally allowed as Teesside wedding venues lift restrictions

When I arrived at Corporation Road at 8.30pm, a huge line was already snaked around the corner of the building ready for the "sell-out" grand reopening at 9pm.

I felt slightly nervous about the whole experience, but I was told the club had taken extra steps to increase Covid safety, which included setting up new entrances and exits to minimise crowding, as well as the installation of 'Virus Killer' air filtration devices.

Veteran bouncer Brian Kennedy, who has worked at the club for the last 15 years, treated me to a whistle-stop tour of the venue, and I could sense both his apprehension and excitement about getting back to business.

Ive had two jabs, which puts me at some level of ease he told me. It's a really big moment - this will be the first time I've seen the security team since we shut in 2020."

He placed me in prime position to witness the first group of clubbers show their tickets, elatedly grab their wristbands, and hurtle to the dance floor.

One girl broke down in tears as she stepped foot under the lights, and she later told she was overwhelmed in the moment, having visited The Empire every single weekend before the pandemic took hold.

The main room began to populate quickly and while I kept my face covering on, euphoric and mask-less youngsters embraced under the cover of smoke.

It felt truly surreal to watch people singing passionately into one another's faces and to see them standing shoulder to shoulder as they sunk WKDS and alcoholic slushies at an unholy rate.

Queues soon formed five-people-deep around the bars, and owing to the pounding bass from the revamped sound-system, ordering drinks was only possible via very basic hand signals or hoarse shouting.

The Empire building, which used to be a theatre, was brimming with performers on Monday night, as the strobe lights accentuated each hair flick, twerk, finger gun and piece of fancy footwork.

And after an hour of old school classics, bottle debris began building up around the place, with bar staff working frantically to try and keep apace.

Weve got this, we'll be pushing through until 4am said new staff member Bethany Woodyatt, 22. "But Ill be coming back to have a dance when Ive got a day off.

Both she and I had to quickly relearn the art of ducking and weaving between inebriated people, which was challenging after a year of strict-one way systems and the dance floor slowly becoming a wet zone from sloshed beverages.

I found solace from the crowds in the girls bathroom, which as I hoped, was a hive of female empowerment. I was met with a flurry of people complimenting one anothers outfits, gossiping outrageously, and giving sage advice to strangers.

I spoke to 19-year-old Laura Edwards through a thick haze of deodorant-filled air, and she told me she's "staying out till close."

"Its been so long and were out celebrating a friends birthday - they've just turned 18 and they havent been able to club yet, we need to show them a good time".

Heading back into the sauna-like main room, I spotted several ingenious clubbers keeping themselves cool. One group had brought with them paper fans and were waving them in sync with the music, another girl had an electric hand-held air cooler, and one boy had simply opted for two cold cans pressed to his neck.

Due to my own sweaty discomfort, I was less than pleased when a huge figure bumped into me and put his clammy hand on my back.

He was so engrossed in a FaceTime conversation that he'd forgotten all spatial awareness, but he informed me the person on the other end was "having to isolate, and he was talking them through the night", and so I found it in my heart to forgive him.

By 11pm circus-esque performers had spilled out into all three rooms. Organised by the club, this included dancers on stilts and others adorned in glittery costumes with disco balls as heads.

Breaking myself away from the mesmerising sight, I headed to the smoking area where I was met with action worthy of a David Attenborough voice-over. Everywhere I looked there was either shameless flirtation, high-running emotions, or messy necking on.

It was there I was taken under the wing of two wonderful lasses, who in classic smoking-area fashion launched into dramatic stories about their night.

The first, had experienced a "rotten" girl in the club trying it on with her boyfriend, and the second, I quickly learnt, had recently broken up with her "cheating liar of a partner" and needed cheering up.

The pair took me for a boogie, helped me avoid a puddle of sick and also mopped me up when a hammered boy spilt his bottle of beer down my leg.

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Going to a club sober is definitely a feat of endurance, and so after the clock struck 12, I said goodbye to my new friends and slipped into the night.

As I exited the rammed dancefloor, I noticed clubbers sat at nearby bus stops having deep chats, taxis lining the street poised for business, and up ahead the golden arches of McDonalds.

"Nature is healing" I joked to myself.

My night at The Empire was definitely an entertaining and illuminating experience, and one that showed me how easily people can embrace old behaviours and seemingly forget the horrors of the past year, as well as the rising cases of coronavirus happening right now.

And although undoubtedly fun, post-lockdown clubbing did feel like a privilege given that many young people who are clinically vulnerable won't get to experience the same dancefloor-fuelled glee for some time to come.

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COVID-19 Brings Music Ban, Restrictions on Party Island Mykonos – The National Herald

Posted: at 12:51 am

Adding to a night curfew put in place to try to stem the rising tide of COVID-19 because people aren't obeying health measures, music has been prohibited on the wild party island of Mykonos, a prime reason why people go there.

Notorious for tax cheating, hedonism by the super-rich and uninhibited, the island also has see people in mobs along the waterfront, violating safe social distances and adding to the spread of the Coronavirus.

The New Democracy government lured tourists there, those who were supposed to be vaccinated or free of COVID, but hadn't required tourism workers to be inoculated to slow the spread of the disease.

Music had been banned earlier in restaurants and bars across the country because health officials said it would bring people in too close contact but photos from the showed overwhelming masses anyway.

The news agency Reuters said the Civil Protection Ministry said the restrictions, including the curfew, will be in place until July 26 at least as it's still trying to attract tourists and Mykonos is a favored destination.

Greece relies on tourism to bring in as much as 18-20 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 169.67 billion euros ($200.3 billion), which plummeted in 2020 during the pandemic after a run of record years.

Infections have been soaring after being held down, the rise said largely because of so many people refusing to be vaccinated, less than half the country fully inoculated so far.

That led the government to make shots mandatory for health care workers but not tourism workers and as officials said it's not tourists spreading the virus and the dreaded Delta variant.

Restaurants, bars and taverns are also being allowed to let vaccinated and unvaccinated customers mix together with no word from the government's advisory panel of doctors and scientists why that's been so.

We call on the residents, visitors and professionals on our beautiful island to strictly follow the measures so that we can quickly control and contain the spreading of the virus and Mykonos can return to normality, the ministry said.

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