SPW ain’t got nothin’ on the Hyde Street festivities

No joke.

Yes, Spring Party Weekend can be rather legendary. But there is nothing like one street with two thousand (at least?) kids entirely covered in blue body paint and resembling Smurfs, or in speedo underpants with the word “Cops” on the butt; music blasting from houses dressed like Oktoberfest or hippy hostels; and pavement so sticky your have to pry your feet from it. And of course, sun doesn’t  hurt, either.

I’d been forewarned to avoid Hyde Street. It’s a sloppy, messy, pukey mess, they all say. It’s all freshers and second years, they say. But it’s a cultural phenomenon that must be witnessed, so Maria and I decided to go.

Around 12 (7 hours after the thing had even started), we left the safety of our flat and embarked on a journey to Hyde Street, only about five minutes away. We could hear it as soon as we got close, but we saw signs of its being as soon as we walked out our door. People dressed in minimal clothing or in cow onsies or in pirate costumes walked in packs down to Hyde Street.

We got to the street, and immediately we were asked, “Where are you costumes??” by hoards of drunk kids.

“We didn’t know where to get them!” we responded, embarrassed about the banality of our clothing.

We walked further down the street, careful not to step in puddles of spilt beer or vomit. I saw a number of people I knew from my study group and some from just around, but most of them probably won’t remember seeing me.

We got to the end of the street and turned around. “I feel so boring!” said Maria.

“Me too,” I said. “Do you wanna–”

“Yeah. And I have cider.”

Back to Leith Street we went, trying to brainstorm costumes on the way.

“Where do we even get them?” I asked.

The funny thing about alcohol is that makes people who’d never talk to you actually talk to you. Our neighbors were on their front lawn getting ready to go to Hyde Street when we walked back.

“Where are your costumes??” They asked us, obviously offended.

“We don’t have any. Where do you get them?”

“Just look in your closet, be anything! There’s a list of themes on the Facebook page.”

“Ok, sweet.”

“See you there, maybe!”

Maria and I went back home. “Facebook!” we both said, as we rushed to our computers to check the list of themes.

“We could be geeks… that might be easy,” I suggested halfheartedly. “Or Fresh Prince?”

“I like Oktoberfest,” said Maria.

“Oh, what about zoo? I was a bat for Halloween this year, that was easy.”

“Ok, yes, let’s do that,” she agreed. So Julianne lent her a cat hat, and I cut out cardboard ears and taped them to a headband. We used eyeliner to make whiskers. And we were off!

We fit in much better the second time around. It was far more crowded than it had been even two hours earlier, and people were drinking on roofs. Beer cans had accumulated and lined the street, and there was an occasional butt grab. A couple of randos wanted to take pictures with us. Maria was looking for a friend she’d met in her travel month before school started, but he never showed, so we walked up and down the street four times before going back. On the way, we saw criers, pukers, and those who were so gone they may as well have dropped dead right there. As we exited the premises, she suggested we sit and wait for ten more minutes, just in case. So we sat on the ledge of a building. As we sat, two very visibly intoxicated boys came up to us.

“Ladies,” they slurred, “you are both soooo hot. What are your names?”

Maria and I looked at each other, laughed, and played along. After a while, they left, and another guy approached us. He seemed a little less intoxicated, but drunk nonetheless. As we talked to him, a guy from behind a stand lay down on the street, steps away from passing out. Some other guys surrounded him and looked for his ID. I don’t know what happened later, but I’ll assume he was fine.

When our suitor turned away to talk to an alleged friend, Maria and I decided to quickly make our way back to the safety of home.

Here’s a quote from a website: “An estimated 4000 students were in the north Dunedin street at the peak of the party and at 3pm police closed the packed street to stop anyone else entering. At least one roof collapsed under the weight of revellers and there were reports of several injuries.”

What a shit show. But what an awesome shit show.

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