When I walked into the Assembly Roxy Theater in Edinburgh, I was first struck by the fact that I’d been there before. It took me a moment, but then I remembered that I had in fact been there. This was a real-life déjà vu moment. It was a few years earlier, the only other time I’d been in Edinburgh—when I was there for the annual New Year’s celebration, Hogmanay. Part of the Hogmanay weekend included an arts festival. I guess that’s a thing for the Scottish city. It doesn’t seem like they can have any sort of event or party without simultaneously running a festival (or five: hello August in Edinburgh with the International, the Fringe, the Art Festival, the International Book Festival and the Royal Military Tattoo).
Regardless, the last time I was at the Assembly Roxy, I saw this contemporary violin performance—an amazing experience that I still remember to this day (a shame I can’t remember the performers’ names or what the event actually was). Sometimes we stumble into these kinds of art events and they stick with us forever. And that’s essentially the idea of the Fringe Festival as well—a way to see new artists, to embrace new types of performers. There’s this freedom and flexibility at the Fringe—it’s what makes the festival so unique and so unbelievably amazing.
I was here for K’rd Strip. The flyer wasn’t very descriptive, but as I soon found out—they were much more than I was expecting. Their performance had been sold to me as a “sexy, contemporary dance group” but they were so much more than that. Their performance, while certainly sexy, also got very political, very provocative and very deep.
The performance tells the story of six queer New Zealanders, celebrating their true stories as well as their myths related to Auckland’s most famous gay street, Karangahape Road. Compelling stories about finding a home, about rejection, excitement, about rape and prostitution. All the vices and the thrills of queer life on this K’rd strip. In the program notes, one of the actors described K’Rd as “infamous, dangerous, mysterious but most of all K’Rd is an experience.”
It felt like a very local, very narrow view—a small insight into the queer lives of these individual experiences from this one street, this one part of Auckland. But that was the beauty of it (besides the beautiful men in leather skirts). Sometimes we go big, looking at the bigger picture, while what we really need to do is look from the bottom up. It’s often easier to understand the world when you look at small, singular experiences, and apply what you learn from that to the grander view.
K’Rd Strip offered both funny & friendly stories, as well as the uncomfortable ones. The contemporary dance choreography offered a way into the worlds of these queer Maori & Kiwi stories, making the stories both understandable and approachable, as difficult as they may have been to hear.