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May 16, 2021

A magic happening at Aquarius Ball

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Mic Conway, former frontman for Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, which performed at the 1973 Aquarius Festival, is back as a special guest at the ball.
Mic Conway, former frontman for Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, which performed at the 1973 Aquarius Festival, is back as a special guest at the ball.

It’s been billed as Nimbin’s gala event of the decade and Aquarius and Beyond organisers are hoping this weekend’s full moon brings out all that is wonderful about hippiedom’s birthplace in Australia.

The Aquarius Masquerade Ball this Saturday night at Nimbin Hall will celebrate the Aquarius Festival’s 40th anniversary as only Nimbin can.

The entertainment is set and the veterans of the Aquarian movement are setting out for Nimbin from all points of the compass, proverbial and real.

Blue Skies Dance Orchestra is re-forming, 37 years after its last gig, especially to provide the dance music.

Fronted by Smiling Ruth Miller, Blue Skies was the first band entertaining Nimbin dwellers after the 1973 Aquarius Festival, making magic at Blue Knob and other country-hall dances. Their joyous and danceable music, based mainly on 1920s to 1940s swing jazz and blues, was much loved by all around the area.

The eight-piece band will include six of the seven original members, who have been gathered together from four different states.

Mic Conway will be the special guest star. Mic’s band, Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, performed at the Aquarius Festival in 1973. Former Nimbin guitarist and member of Blue Skies, Mick Diggles, will accompany him.

Other performers include celebrated Irish singer Maireid Sullivan, who was responsible for much of the community liaison prior to the 1973 festival, and Aquarius Festival minstrel, Paul Joseph, while Andrea Soler, Renee English, The Silly Sisters, The Tap Bitches and Tribal Monsoon complete the lineup.

Many of the original festival organisers, including Johnny Allen and Graeme Dunstan, will be in town for the Aquarius Ball, which comes at the end of a month that’s been jam-packed with events.

Food will be served by the Radical Faeries, there’s a secure cloak area to leave bags and coats, prizes for the best costumes, and opportunities to be professionally photographed in your masquerade ball gown or fancy-dress attire.

Gaia Films will be documenting the whole event and producing a DVD that can be ordered for $20, with half the proceeds going to the Nimbin Aquarius Foundation, and ABC Open will be pursuing a parallel project.

Organisers said the idea was to recreate the exuberant 1970s fancy-dress vibe and ‘bring a lot of colour and pizzazz to this celebration’.

‘You can wear ball gowns, masquerade attire, any sort of costume or fancy dress, or if fancy dress is not your thing, how about outrageous, colourful or just something nice that will put you into a celebratory mood,’ one organiser said.

Southern Cross University’s Dr Rob Garbutt said a number of Aquarius and Beyond associated projects were also in the pipeline that people could assist with, specifically the Then and Now photographic project.

‘If you have a photograph of yourself in 1973 (even at the Aquarius Festival, if you were there) and would like to bring it along we’d love to take a photo of you with your photo, as well as document a story of the photo you bring,’ he said.

‘We are also documenting memorabilia and photographs from the festival, so if you have items of interest please bring them along also.’

He added that Nimbin can get pretty chilly in May so partygoers were advised to rug up.

Tickets for the ball are $30 and must be pre-purchased at Nimbin Artists’ Gallery (open seven days 10am–5pm) or Caddies Coffee and Tea in Lismore. For more info visit www.echonetdaily. net.au/aquarius, and for the festival program see www.sassevents.scu.edu.au/aquarius. Organisers can be contacted at aqua[email protected]






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