Do you feel that invisible net that exists during a tournament? Like the Chart in The L Word, everybody is connected, but by love of polo, not lesbianism. You have the divine knowledge of where everyone is and what everyone is doing; days blend seamlessly into each other to form one overwhelming super day? You feel it until your rig is disassembled and you’ve stumbled back into a reality, most often signified by a sleazy airport. That’s my tourno experience, at least.
“Oi, Virginia!!!” She swung her head around vigorously, though already 200m in the distance on her bike. Sweet polo faith implored her and her smiley red-headed companion to immediately head back along Boundary road in search of where the voice had sprung. We found each other (sounds emo, but it felt pretty great) and the weekend had begun.
‘Aftermath’ was the theme of the tournament, being after Worlds and for the fun of dressing like zombies. And blood, right Kiki? HOT. The zombies that Will Smith defeats in ‘I Am Legend’ are babes, super dudes. An apt theme for us kids on bikes: fearsome and fearless, no stranger to feeling deathly after a night of intense living, often moving in packs, hungry, and violent.
Some of us took a literal approach to the theme and decided to be zombies. Wednesday at The End, where ‘casual beers’ turned into litres of unidentifiable liquid at Down Under bar. Thursday at Archive and Ric’s where indie beats were drenched in overpriced cider. Friday at Dan’s where an electric dancing orgy could be compared with an inextinguishable fire. By 9am Saturday we were the real deal.
We played a bit of polo on Friday in amongst the set-up. “We” meaning everyone but Morgan who was pre-occupied shot-gunning his way to organ-failure. Morgan got the party started and Dan hosted its continuation in his East Brisbane backyard, complete with projections, grunge couches, a DJ stall and under-house nooks. The only thing that was missing was a classy goon-in-the-bath-with-a-hose-through-the-floor-boards system. The shenanigans were of a high-school party standard, the dance moves were of no standard at all; Ollie’s striptease was characterised by whipping innocent bystanders with items recently removed from his bod, Scottie rocked the boy-band pelvic thrust and my own personal style involved laughing so hard that I spat beer on people. Kiki’s attempts to extricate the Heal Street family (Scottie, myself and Seeber) for several hours were fruitless. Soz. Crazy, uncontrollable strangers from across the country united in flagrant disregard for government alcohol consumption recommendations and a love for our golden sport – it was enough to make this beer-filled gal cry.
On Saturday, the sun rose far earlier than desired and enthusiasm was slightly muted. From all corners and altitudes of Brisbane galloped possies of bike poloists towards Musgrave park for a 9am start. It was a sight to behold: the familiar maze of wheels/frames/mallets/bottles, bodies of a polo ilk roosting on the hill around the courts, cupcakes with skilfully crafted decorations by Kat and Jenna (don’t step on a penis!) and sturdy, serious-looking barriers, in part funded by the amazing support of local Councillor Helen Abrahams. Again, it was enough to make this beer-filled gal cry.
For me, the hardest thing was standing on the side feigning nonchalance, I was as fearful of the court as Bruce Bogtrotter of the Trunchbull. With a moments notice you’d be summoned to hurl your body, bike and mallet over the sleepers, slot easily into play and make your team proud and if you bombed you were called off. As a less experienced polo player (but a skilled playa) I had a chance to soak up some goal-guarding advice from the sides and every back-pat was dearly appreciated. The subbing was interesting with a tight hole down one end of court one and a gaping hole down the other end. Court two had one hole to share, which made for nice inter-team high fives and sharing of fluids.
The BBQ on day one was amazing – veggie burgers made by Kiki’s mum and meat thangs for the meat-men and women. Saturday night we resumed hangs at the Boundary Hotel (well, some of us did, others were far too tired and stinky), and after many glasses of beer and a glass of Ollie’s blood later, we decided to head home (read: were kicked out) in order to recharge for Sunday.
The second day of the tournament brought detached fingers, ears and open wounds, both real and silicon. There were also skewers with tofu and unidentifiable meat for eating. There was a lot of hugging and smooshing of fake blood. Tipene won best costume; though he looked more like Justin Bieber than a zombie, we all decided he needed a prize for being so desirable.
The Musgrave Diggers won – my team, suck it! We defeated Tipene’s team. The final was incredibly enjoyable; the crowd was loud, the reffing top notch and Morgan was a part of some amazing crashes, but always got back on the horse. I heard someone say that Dom’s playing was world-class and that some of the passing between the Brisbane lads was particularly smooth, I remember having some really lovely conversations about people improving and specific strengths of players, but in all honesty that chunky and nourishing weekend (like Heinz soup) is a little blurry now.
Other ale-hazed memories:
- I saw heaps of nipple.
- Coloured team shirts plus tourney shirts were amazing and Kiki is a wizard for pulling it off.
- Kiki looked even more babin’ as she walked around partaking in serious organisey stuff.
- Ollie’s astute observations of players ‘bringing sexy back’ is one that I’d like to see continue.
- Mace made a RIDICK trophy, probably the best polo trophy in existence.
- Ali looked real fine on the reffing seat.
- Morgan’s bike has a speakerphone attachment. WTF. Best idea maybe ever?
- Skid comps on Sunday (non-poo variety).
- Erin’s impassioned sideline commentary resembling a father at their son’s soccer game (who might get banned from coming back).
- The bottlo was REALLY close.
- Erin’s similarly vibrant play, causing a few of us to crush on her (namely me).
A small crew of us were delayed scouring the grass for rubbish pre-Pear chillouts Sunday night (I was searching for free hats, lights, underwear), though once settled, we had a rashlike presence on the area. Tipene was a hellman on the decks, we even manipulated the furniture into a layout more conducive to booty popping (can’t remember exact tune when this occurred but it was probs Miley, or Azaelia Banks).
Please invite us back again Brisbane. We love you.
By Gemma Baxter
Photographs by Erica Jean, Rob Moss and Kristine Kenins