Eat Street Bangalow was a resounding success – so much so that if Lisa Hunt, who has been running SummerStage, had been organising it, the cops would have been down there handing out fines like confetti.
The food was great, but the double standard shown by the conspicuously silent Tweed-Byron police left a bad taste.
Last week, the idea of a 500-person concert at Red Devil Park had the police throwing the book at organiser Lisa Hunt, delivering her a financial one-two punch. First she had to fork out for the User Pays policing service prior to the event, then she copped a $5,000 fine afterwards because police spotted concertgoers dancing in contravention of the COVID Safe plan.
Contrast that to the scene at Bangalow on Friday night.
Between 4,000 and 5,000 patrons attended the Bangalow Showgrounds over the four-hour event, with the local FoodWorks selling out of frozen pizza as people gave up and left the crowded crush.
Social distancing? What social distancing? Markers on the ground were invisible under the trampling feet and there wasn’t a QR code to be seen. If you weren’t elbowing your way through a queue, you were staking out a patch of grass big enough to sit down on, 1.5 metres be damned.
Luckily for us all, the chance of COVID-19 circulating with the cutlery was almost non-existent.
None of this is a reflection on the Eat Street organisers, who have clearly hit upon a hugely popular concept, and moved it from the public school to the showgrounds in anticipation of crowd numbers. They can’t control attendees’ behaviour, any more than Lisa Hunt could. Teething problems with crowds and queues just make the festival a victim of its own success.
My finger is firmly pointed at the Tweed-Byron police, who surveyed the scene and told organisers they were happy with the set-up.
Both SummerStage and Eat Street were outdoors. Both attracted rowdy crowds yelling to make themselves heard. Both even featured kids dancing around to the sweet stylings of local musicians. So why the police crackdown on SummerStage, one-tenth of the size of Eat Street? Could it be that the police have it in for any event that carries a whiff of young adult pheromones and loud music? Never…
Personally, I’d feel a lot more COVID Safe on a spontaneous open-air dancefloor than in an endless queue for curry with someone’s toddler chucking a tantrum inches away from my face.
It’s not the first time the double standard’s been on show either. It’s hard to justify the treatment of live music when 28,000 people can pack the Sydney Cricket Ground to watch the Big Bash League final.
And the police wonder why young people want to defund them. It’s time they looked in the mirror.
Find out more about SummerStage this Saturday and other events around the North Coast with the North Coast Gig Guide.