Mu­sic makes mood magic

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

SBS news pre­sen­ter Jan­ice Petersen on wild ele­phants, the magic of gospel choirs and the benefits of flex­i­bil­ity.

A few months ago my part­ner Ju­lian and I went to MONA in Ho­bart – it’s like Dis­ney­land for grown-ups. The ac­com­mo­da­tion on site was beau­ti­ful. Each pav­il­ion is named af­ter an Aus­tralian artist and fea­tures a work of theirs. We stayed in Arthur so were lucky enough to live with an Arthur Boyd piece for a cou­ple of nights.

You have to be flex­i­ble and to ease up on your ex­pec­ta­tions. If some­thing catches your eye, go for it. We had a wild night out when I was trav­el­ling with Ju­lian while he was tour­ing Mex­ico with his band, The Pre­sets.

The pro­moter took us to a bar which, of course, had all man­ner of tequila. Then they drove us to what seemed like a sus­pi­ciously quiet, rather scary look­ing part of town as­sur­ing us we would have fun. We ended up in a city square teem­ing with life.

There must have been about 30 mari­achi bands and lots of tiny boot­leg bars. There was singing, danc­ing and buck­et­loads of wild en­ergy burst­ing out of that place. Such an ex­cit­ing and un­pre­dictable night out.

When we were ex­plor­ing a game park in South Africa, we were charged by a ju­ve­nile male ele­phant dur­ing mat­ing sea­son. The size of it was awe-inspiring and ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fy­ing. I’ll never for­get the sight of its ears flap­ping in fury as it stomped to­wards us. For­tu­nately, we were able to re­verse quickly and Dumbo lost in­ter­est.

A Mex­i­can ho­tel called Habita Mon­ter­rey. It was so sleek and mod­ern and had an in­tim­i­dat­ingly cool bar that over­looked the city and soar­ing moun­tain­side. The guests looked like they were about to be pho­tographed for some up­mar­ket life­style mag­a­zine. Not ex­actly a laid-back, com­fort­able vibe but it was great eye candy. Cen­tre, New York City. Ju­lian and I don’t of­ten do touristy things but this was a spon­ta­neous mo­ment. I had a flo­ral ki­mono on and Ju­lian said I looked like a crazy, big bird glid­ing around on the ice. It re­ally feels like a scene from a ro­man­tic film when I look back on it.

I re­mem­ber vis­it­ing a gospel church in Har­lem, New York, where I was ut­terly over­come with emo­tion when the wall of sound hit me from the young singers. It was so pure and pas­sion­ate and the tal­ented young­sters so con­fi­dent and full of hope. I didn’t just wipe a few tears away, it was a full-blown howl. The power of that mo­ment was un­ex­pected and res­onated deeply.

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