Gorilla hits Christchurch

Last updated 11:01 01/08/2013

Every day, walking to work through the labyrinth of traffic-cone riddled streets in the inner city, I found myself with Kiwi band Voom's song King Kong in my head.

Its chorus ''knock me down if you can, I'll get back up again'' always left me feeling positive.

Walking past Cera's office, if I timed it right, I heard the line ''I don't have a wonder plan, I don't have any plan".

The song made me think of Christchurch and the innovative ways our creative community has responded to the devastating earthquake of 2011.

Live music in tents in winter? Art classes in bowling clubs? Put a coin in a washing machine and have a dance in public? No problem.

Every day, someone, usually from elsewhere in New Zealand, says to me sympathetically: ''Poor you living in Christchurch, nothing to do, nowhere to go out.''

Eventually I got fed up with repeatedly explaining that there is a vibrant nightlife in Christchurch and that our community has a new-found post-quake creativity that is joyful to witness.

(NB. Make sure you have sound turned on when watching this video.)

I've tried explaining innovative events like Lux City, or the arrival of our own city superhero, Flatman, but people outside of Christchurch still seem to have an impression that we're all sitting around feeling miserable.

I'm not saying everything here is a bunch of fluffy ducks, but there are so many people doing inspirational things in our creative community that deserve recognition.

Our city fell down or is being pushed down but the creative heart of our community is indestructible.

I decided to make a video, with no budget, in my spare time that showed the joy to be found here.

Naturally, its theme song had to be Voom's King Kong, the song stuck in my head for months.

And, in homage to the sweet guys from Voom who said ''no worries'' when I asked to use their song (thanks, Buzz), I dressed as a gorilla to go out and about exploring nightlife in Christchurch.

Being a gorilla taught me a lot.

  1. Gorilla padding is really heavy and cumbersome. Imagine trying to dance in a giant furry nappy and you're there.
  2. Gorillas make people smile. Through the little eyeholes, everywhere I went I saw people's worried or harassed-looking faces immediately change to huge smiles. Or maybe they were just laughing at me.
  3. Nothing that happens in Christchurch surprises anyone anymore - not even a gorilla dancing in Cathedral Square.
  4. If you're dressed as a gorilla, the phrase most likely to be shouted at you is ''monkey business''.
  5. Be a friendly gorilla, sometimes people will give you bananas.


This random video idea would have just stayed buried in the recesses of my brain were it not for my amazing mate, Rush Jopson, who smilingly risked life and limb videoing this girl gorilla around town.

The phrase he uttered to me most often? ''OK, can you be more gorilla-like now?''

Things got a bit hazardous at the multi-stage Canterbury University event, Winterlude.

People assume anyone in a gorilla suit is a bloke.

Luckily my gorilla-guard, Jess, was there with a well timed ''no tackling the gorilla, mate, this is gorilla journalism''. I had a fantastic time.

A highlight at Winterlude was seeing rapper Tommy Ill's face change on-stage mid-song to laughter as he spotted a gorilla cutting some shapes in the crowd.

And thanks, too, to the nice people at Petticoat Lane costume hire. I'll treasure your phone messages: ''Gorilla, can you let us know when you're coming back to us?''

If you're visiting Christchurch please discover these places*: Dux Live, Darkroom, The Club, Bedford marquee, UCSA Foundry, Baretta, C1, Pallet Pavilion, Gap Filler, Astro Lounge, Dance-O-Mat, Smash Palace, Wunderbar, the Brewery, Winnie Bagoes, the Monday Room, CBD Bar.

* Gorilla sighting not guaranteed.

- The Press


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