They’re bright, they’re boisterous, they’re dancing through the streets with a ghetto blaster… no, it’s not a scene from an 80s film, it’s The Cassettes, the brainchild of dancer and Cassettes artistic director Marissa Treichel.
For the past two-and-a-half years the Cassettes have been bringing the unexpected to festivals and events with their choreographed 80s-inspired flashmobs.
For Marissa it all started as a bit of a joke when she was planning a performance for The Frock Party, an annual cross-dressing party.
‘The very first thought I had was, hmm, we could wear strap-ons and do a surprise performance… but we didn’t do that. In the end we did a fun flashmob and it went down really well. Everyone was pleased. There was just me and three other people I could talk into doing it!’
Marissa saw the potential from the get go.
‘I thought more parties, more events need to have flashmobs because they are so much fun and it seemed like the whole night became magical because of it.’
Triechel majored in contemporary dance at Deakin Uni, and with 10 years of jazz and tap along with some Butoh Dance training she has always had an interest in ‘perception and altering perceptions through class exercises’.
Now, just a few years on from that first performance, The Cassettes is a going concern, with classes and troupes from Lismore to Byron, to Mullumbimby and Burleigh Heads.
‘Now we have 42 Cassettes,’ says Marissa. ‘There are three groups of 14 Cassettes – and we also have a new Absolute Beginners crew; they do inhouse performance after a 4-week course.
‘Absolute Beginners is great – it’s a joy to dance once a week and it’s a pleasure to enter a studio and sweat and dance and be challenged and listen to Queen for an hour!’
One of the key signatures of The Cassettes is the music of the 1980s.
‘I love how naive and expressive and unadulterated the music is – they didn’t know about cynicism back then because they wouldn’t have let themselves make music like that if they had!
Like Total Eclipse of the Heart! It’s layer and layer of excess, and it’s very emotional as well. These are big hair big emotions!’
With groups of women and men (although the girls do outnumber the guys!) and aged 24–44, many of the participants in the troupes are new mums trying to find their way in the world after the insulating cocoon of child rearing.
Many of these mums are actually very impressive dancers.
‘The funny thing is that all these mums did dance when they were kids, and then they think if they are not a professional they have to stop. You are a good dancer, you have musicality and you might even know what a tondue is!’
The Cassettes will be livening up the Village at Falls Festival 1 and 2 January.
‘I think the Village at Falls is the nicest part of the festival – and it seems to be where all the freaky fun people are. We are going to take part in this wonderful parade on 2 January, which is a really nice way to bring in the genuine colour and art into the festival. Lots of funny people join in as they did last year. We are doing Flash by Queen and Danger Zone, which is the theme song from Top Gun – we all have aviator glasses and camo shirts. It’s the first dance we have done where we get changed live in 30 seconds in front of the crowd. I have recorded the dancers telling me about what they think real heroism is.’
Wild, wacky, and always wonderful, the Cassettes feature at Falls Festival. If you’d like more information about classes and the upcoming auditions for the Cassettes Troupe, go to www.thecassettes.com.au.
For more information about ticketing and programming for Falls go to byron.fallsfestival.com.au. 31 December 2015, 1 and 2 January 2016.