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Friday, December 08, 2006

What I'll Miss About Perth (3): Friday Nights

Perth at night

One of the biggest annoyances in Perth is the fact that shops are closed before 6pm, while many restaurants would close by 9:30pm, the only thing that seemed to open for 24 hours is McDonald's. Basically, the city of Perth itself feels entirely lifeless once the sun has already set. Can be pretty annoying when one needs to do some emergency shopping, takes a bus to the city, only to realize that most shops are closed.

This violinist usually plays the violin at night by himself

That's why Friday nights were so special to me, that's when all shops in Perth city are opened until 9. That's when the city is filled with life, everywhere's bustling with activities, masses of people walking down the streets, hanging out in the shops, chilling at the cafes, or watching the street performers.

Many times I would just go to the city by myself only to watch how alive Perth city is, to see how, just once a week, night does not feel like night, and everything is illuminated by the lights of buildings or the streets. I would hang out at Borders Perth at nightbookshop, reading a magazine, or a book, or a comic, and then look outside, greeted by the sight of, well, lots of people, a huge contrast to staying late at Borders during any other time of the week, when the streets would be entirely empty when I step out of the shop, nothing but sheer silence. Or maybe, sad music from the violinist who usually plays in front of the empty shops at night.

On Friday nights, not a single place in Perth city felt empty. Insanely long queues at Woolworths supermarket where people do their late grocery shoppings, or the chattering sounds from the patrons of restaurants, bars and cafes, punctuated by clanging sounds, or the hurried footsteps of people heading to the train station, trying to catch a train, in the distance, I hear announcements, and the rumbling of engines.

I'm usually a loner. I don't like groups. But there are times when I love observing people from a distance, total strangers minding their own businesses, going to different places, I like to have some space for myself, but I don't like being entirely alone, just a maintained distance so that I can be more observant, more objective, when I can clear my mind, taking walks, pondering my next move for my film production, while feeling reassured that I wasn't the only one walking, that there are other people walking with me. Of course, we were all heading to different directions, but for that very moment, briefly, our paths would intertwine.

What do I like to do in Friday nights besides walking around in the city, or hanging out in the bookshop? I used to go for movies, but somehow, I ended up preferring to do that in other days, either during weekends or on Tuesdays (when ticket prices are reduced to half), on Friday nights, I just prefer to watch Perth city come to life.

Murray Street at night

Perth mall at night

None of these photos were taken by me, and the closest thing I had in capturing these moments on Fridays nights were, well, the opening credits sequence of my early short film, Forced Labour. Yeah, I'm going to miss the Friday nights in Perth.