Since arriving in Brisbane, and no longer being able to spend my free time scuba diving as I did every few days whilst living in Cebu (more about this in another post), I looked around for some other free time activity that would be amusing and might bring me into contact with other friendly souls. Oh, and not cost me a load of money too – important when you are an old retired geezer like me.
Happily one day a friend took us to the Brisbane Jazz Club one evening, and apart from enjoying the music, I discovered that one could work there as a volunteer – what is commonly called a “Volly” here in Australia.
So I promptly signed on as a volunteer, without having the slightest idea what the work of a volunteer actually consisted of.
Well, I discovered this pretty quickly when Rita, the dauntingly efficient President of the club gave me her training course.
Rita is a lady who takes the way the club and its staff present themselves very seriously, so I was initiated into the correct way to set up the tables – Cold water bottle to the left of the Table number card, glasses, upside down to the left of the bottle, and in line with it… and so on.
What the work actually consists of is setting up the room before the club opens, welcoming people to the club, showing them to their tables, telling them where the lavatories are and other useful information, and generally being friendly. And then through the evening ensuring that they have enough cold water to drink and that they are happy and content. And then at the end of the evening, clearing everything away and setting it up for the following evening’s crew. Basically a sort of glorified waiter.
All in all this can be about 5 hours work, in a very crowded and noisy club, so it is actually bloody hard work – what is called Hard Yakka here in Oz. But enjoyable by and large.
Can be strange too………………
At time the work has it, um… odd side shall I say? In my time there, I have had to help a seriously paraplegic old man to go to the lavatory, up to and including wiping his bum for him – very reminiscent of doing this for my grandsons… For some reason he needed to go to the lavatory quite a few times during the evening.. Oh well…
I have also had to help carry totally drunk women out of the club – carrying them bodily with another volunteer helping, and shoveling them into their taxis…
Explaining in my very bad mandarin, somewhat better French and fluent Dutch how the place works to tourists with very limited English to their names.
It is an odd thing – maybe a sign of the times, but we seem to get an inordinate number of groups of youngish women, who seem determined to get drunk, and then come on to anyone in trousers.. All reasonably gentle, but strange nonetheless.
As there are about 60 of us volunteers, we generally each work a couple of evenings a month in groups of three. I somehow seem to manage to work about once or twice a week, so I am something of a landmark in the joint. Which is fine with me, as I enjoy most of the bands that play there, and most of the other good folk who work there as well. Generally an enjoyable way to pass a few evenings each month.
And the music?
Well, this is a club that is not dedicated to any particular school of jazz, so we get every sort of band ranging from Big bands, who make one hell of a racket in that relatively small room, through trios and quintets to soloists – Modern Jazz, Free form jazz, blues, dixie, you name it, if it is jazz it gets played there at some point in the year.
Personally my favourite is a festival they have there every year, called Oz Manouche, which is a celebration of the type of gypsy jazz that Django Reinhardt used to play.. Driving rhythms on guitars and violins… great stuff, and so much energy too. Love it! Actually my favourite part of this festival are the jam sessions that take place outside the club on the deck overlooking the river… there we put up a biggish marquee and as many as 20 musicians of all sorts gather there and happily jam away all evening with each other, this is superb to listen to.. And all so generous too..
Basically a great place, good music, delicious food and drink, and work that I enjoy enormously…
So, where is the club and who is playing there?
Follow this link for all of that info: BJC
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If you visit the club, do drop by and share your thoughts about it with us here, always good to know what other folk feel about things.