Sitting perched on stools sipping coffee with a friend outside Luca one afternoon about three years ago, I was suddenly aware he was grinning at something behind me.
Turning I caught a flurry of red hair as a woman sped past pausing briefly to push a flyer into his pocket. She zoomed on down Mount Mainstreet, popping flyers into other people’s bags and pockets, gaily waving and spreading a sense of excitement and vibrancy. Who was she? I seized the flyer and read it.
Little did I know back then but I’d struck the vein of creative gold that runs through the Mount community.
Quietly humming away behind the scenes are musicians, artists, poets and very creative people who love to spend time together enjoying music and just hanging out. It’s a mix of bohemian free-spirit, Kiwi can-do, the joy of life, and a welcoming attitude to all, organically growing and spreading through people who enjoy beachside living and just getting to know each other.
Rachael Rozella Stanway is the brainchild behind the Red Lounge Sessions and one of the pumping hearts at the hub of this arty, friendly subculture. She with the red hair and the red lamp opened her Marine Parade home back in about 2009 for her friends to come and share a house party evening of music around a brazier. The Red Lounge Sessions were born.
“It was really just put on for my friends,” says Rachael.
“My friend Matt found some buskers – English guys – on the street and said I should give them a call and see if they want to come and play at my house. They were an acoustic duo, we had about 30 friends come. We had a DJ play light, mellow music after them, and people got together and mixed and mingled. And I thought ‘there’s something in this’. More people asked ‘I heard about this party you put on, are going to have more?’”
I don’t think she fully realizes the excitement and vibrancy that she brings to this community. A Mount native, she’s been organising house parties since she was 13. She’s now 47. Since 2014, she’s run about 17 gigs, from small home events, to transporting 60 people to Karangahake Gorge for champagne, canapes, and jazz, to holding popular shows at Totara Street for a few hundreds people. She always has at least three performers at each event, all different.
“It’s a complete mishmash. At one show we had a solo performer on acoustic guitar, then a punk band and finished with a DJ.”
She adds life to everyone else’s lives, creating memories that are full of music, people, outdoor braziers, laughter and that old-fashioned word ‘fellowship’.
And she collects oddities which turn up as part of the fabulous stage designs that she creates around performers.
“Well I collect weird things, like massive candelabra,” says Rachael. “And I have a naked reclining mannequin with a vintage butcher’s apron and German gas mask.
“We want people to have an experience, so they are greeted by the organisers and are hugged as they leave.”
She plays hostess well, cruising the crowd making sure everyone is having a good time. It’s all about helping people make connections that go on beyond the Red Lounge Session.
Once you’ve attended a public event you’ll be in the know for the early bird tickets for other, often underground and exclusive events ranging from roaming road tours, to pop-up recording studios and house parties.
The stylish Red Lounge Sessions are a series she developed as director of Rozella Presents, showcasing established and emerging talents. There’s an intimacy that allows regular attendees to catch up while those new to the scene get the opportunity to connect with others.
The next red lounge session is set for Saturday, August 8 at Totora Street. The line-up includes DJ sets, Burlesque and original dance tunes with VJ Naomi Lamb aka The Wanderer, supporting the onstage acts with live visual projections throughout the evening.
Emerging talent Jimmy Fresh is opening the show. An established, talented artist and photographer, hailing from Whakatane, Jimmy Fresh will play an hour set of melodic techno to warm up the dance floor.
Raglan’s Blue Sapphire Electroswing Collective are a flamboyant group including live vocals, DJ and performance artists. Their heavy vintage dance floor tunes combine with sassy burlesque to add a modern twist to speak easy era styling. Their place in the line-up is set to ensure a banging performance, both classy and entertaining, that adds an enticing party atmosphere to yet another Red Lounge Session.
Kong Fooey, from Auckland is a three-piece band with an original fusion of vintage funk, neo soul, hip hop and electronica. Having played alongside some of New Zealand’s leading international acts, Kong Fooey and his crew are ready to set the dance floor alight.
Nelson’s Mamadafunk will close out August’s Red Lounge Session with an eclectic multi-genre DJ set ranging from funky beats to soulful dance floor tunes. Her curated sets portray her infectious sense of fun and humour to create a magical dance session you won’t want to end.
Tickets on sale now from – Eventspronto.co.nz/Rozella
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