'Boobs on Bikes' (& 2wks working in Auckland)
Trip Start May 31, 2008
33Trip End Jul 31, 2009
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Well - today was one of those experiences that traveling is all about... experiencing a unique cultural phenomenon. That phenomenon is Auckland's biggest street parade, kind of like a Mardi Gras... except it is a celebration of exhibitionism by those involved in Adult Entertainment called 'Boobs on Bikes. Women, Men, and Transvestites parade down Aucklands Golden Mile (aka Queen Street - my 'hood) on the back of motorbikes and utes with sound systems blaring and a fairly heavy police presence.
All this is organised by Kiwi porn baron Steve Crow, a man who has been fighting a war of words in the press and in the courts with Auckland City Council for a permit for the parade this year. He lost, but went ahead with it anyway. A bunch of women who wanted to protest on the same day, at approximately the same time (well - 5 mins before the real parade) about the link between hardcore pornography and, ahem, rape were themselves granted a permit
Whether I was going to get out of work in time for this spectacle was unclear, being on the late shift I wasn't sure if I could blag it but - in the spirit of the observant traveller (NOT the dirty pervert - HONEST) I sweet talked a few colleagues and managed to wrangle an early lunch. Having dug out and blown the dust off my decent camera I dashed down to Queen Street unsure what to expect. Would it be a few men in raincoats set to expose themselves? Would there be local councilers laid in the road?
All was revealed when I approached, hearing the noise from the crowd. Auckland is in reality a sedate and chilled city, with rarely a bustle even on a Saturday night, but this afternoon Auckland was out EN MASSE! It was quite a buzz seeing people perched like mere cats all over the street - on a bus stop here, out of the office windows there... and a real mix of men and women, old and young (though no pre-pubesants thankfully)...
So - first up were the silent protesters... ambling along looking very polite and somewhat embarrased to be there... bless em. I'm sure they've got their reasons, but I think it's somewhat of a generalisation they're making..
Seeing women on top of cars in the middle of a packed street with their boobs out is initially an odd, cold and somewhat wrong experience... it just doesn't feel right. Then again, the women at the front were just the warm up acts it seemed, not the most stunning ladies, but all the same, it served to get you used to the idea before the main event. As the bikes got more flashy and the engines revved louder the glamour girls at the back strutted their stuff, shaking their chests and encouraging the crowd to cheer them as the more able bodied blokes tended to run along the street with them.
Personally I've never been more enthusiastic about taking shots... well - MAYBE that drive through the Himalayas makes it a close tie, but I felt like a truely dedicated photographer! ;)
As soon as it had kicked off the whirlwind was over as I trotted back to the office. Going back into work a few of the blokes on my floor were peering out of the window... I'm sure boobs don't look as good from the 14th floor but they were keen to try anyway...
This is definately an event which in some ways unites Auckland, in some ways it ignites it, and overall is a unique and most excellent event to make the city stand out amongst other worldwide cities... why they have it in Winter escapes me though?... but I DEFINTATELY can't imagine it happening on Briggate in Leeds in the Winter... or the summer... us Brits are far too conservative to let anything like Boobs on Bikes happen.
A final post-script regarding working in Auckland. Two weeks in I'm settling into Office life very nicely thanks-very-much... it's really similar to my last IT job in a lot of respects but in others it's very different. As with most offices here I'm in a high rise and I seem to be the only one who buycots the lifts ;) , but on the positive side the view across the city is awesome, the people are laid back, the atmosphere is VERY relaxed yet still professional... and - well the biggest difference from anywhere I've worked in the UK is the fact the area of the open plan floor dedicated to breaks / dinner (the spot with the best views) they not only have a free pool table but also have a fridge which you can keep alcohol in! There's lots of different wines and beers in there, many people have got a load of drink in and had a pool championship straight after work - IMAGINE - no need to go down the pub even!??? How VERY civilised I must say! Or, as they say here - 'choice'!
SO - It's all good. Roll on summer (November) when I hope to start surfing, have passed another exam and will probably have to get another job (VISA says you can only work for one employer for 3 months).
Expect my next blog then or thereabouts...