Culture: The Informed Fringe-Goer
Every Adelaide man, woman, and dachshund knows that this time of year is infamously hectic. The Adelaide Fringe Festival has well and truly kicked off, with people from the furthest (and sometimes darkest) corners of greater Adelaide and the world flocking to our modest town. Yep, the CBD has turned into a vast smorgasbord of interesting people, all looking for their own unique delights. You, being one of those people, have now got about a month to make the most of it, and enjoy our now vibrant city (councils love that phrase). So, like a mallet to the balls, we’ll get to the point and tell you how you can participate in Adelaide’s busiest time of the year. The Garden Of Unearthly Delights
The Garden (as we locals call it) is for many of us the first thing that comes to mind when we think of when the Adelaide Fringe. Founded in 2000, it’s the epitome of Adelaide’s trademarked slow progress; every year it improves and changes slightly, but looking back over the years it’s always a very gradual evolution. Still, The Garden has a lot going on - boasting probably the most shows, performances, and art of anywhere. This year welcomes two separate food rows (north and south), more rides (if that’s your thing) and just basically more shit to do.
A personal favourite addition to The Garden is Club Lebowski, which not only houses a bunch of excellent beverages, live DJs and tunes, but three tenpin bowling lanes to try your hand at. “Fuck it dude, let’s go bowling.”
The back end of The Garden is for me beginning to feel a little bit like the Royal Show, thanks to a growing number of loud rides and such, in an obvious attempt to lure in the kids and families. I advise that if you’re after a relaxing time, avoid that area and just follow your nose to the massive rack of smoky, charcoal cooked meats.
Enter The Garden just when the sun is setting before the crowds arrive and find a comfy spot on the grass among the fairy lights. Grab a drink from one of the numerous bars and a bite to eat from the countless food stalls, then decide on a show to see. If you like a family friendly atmosphere and being amongst the artsy folk, The Garden of Unearthly Delights is for you.
If you haven’t the time to fight the numbers in The Garden, and you want a more calming atmosphere, Gluttony might be the place for you. Located opposite in Rymill Park, Gluttony is the humble sibling to the Garden, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s not a lot going on. It has seven performance venues (including an octagonal shaped tent with 400 seats), and smaller bars stocking some good local beverages to enjoy, as well as a handful of food stalls on offer. Gluttony shines as a hub that you can enjoy a good conversation and sample excellent fare without having to walk far. You won’t usually be competing with crowds, so it’s a great option for low-key weekends, but can set you up for a great night. Go and see a show no one has heard of, and even if it’s crap, you’ll feel good for doing something Fringey.
Imagine a loose private school kid who throws a damn good party, and you’ve pretty much got the crux of the Royal Croquet Club (RCC). While the East End has a fairly family friendly vibe, the RCC is all about those long nights out.
Surrounded in controversy last year for 'stealing' local business (cry me a river for one month), the RCC remains for another year and has further grown into the superpower it is today, regardless of what you think of it. Home to the biggest open-air performance stage during The Fringe, RCC is the place you go if you want to see some massive musical acts, or just simply get rekt. Oh, and I saw a goat there on Saturday night, further investigation required.
Like that private school kid, the RCC can get a bit messy on weekends, so prepare to get intimate with a hoard of well-dressed punters who can’t seem to understand why they’re being cut off from the bar. If you can ignore all that - it’s actually quite easy to with so much else happening - you can enjoy a brilliant selection of pop up food stalls, excellent music, performance venues, themed bars and a hit of the croquet ball. The addition of the two level Captain's Bar is my pick for a place to drink; overlooking the stage and the main area, it provides an excellent nest to people watch.
RCC is dived into two sides: south of Wakefield Street, and north of it. South end is the quieter side, and is home to not only the Andrés Polenta Kitchen popup MANGIA, MANGIA! (dear God yes), but several big performance tents and more drinks and eats. There’s a lot of seating too, so it’s a good spot for dinner.
The north side is undoubtedly the party side, where numerous bars and the croquet pitches (fields, greens, what do you call them?) are located. Weekends are chaotic at capacity and the lines for entry can be too. But if you want to see, be seen and go where the action is, this is the place to be.
Not for you?
Fair enough if these hubs don’t sound like your cup of cider, there’s a bunch of other things on. Pubs, bars and venues host Fringe shows too; have a look at the guide on the official Adelaide Fringe website. And if that still doesn’t get you wet, then it’s a great time to take advantage of the quietest time of year for bricks and mortar bars. Go on, you’ve probably earned yourself a drink.