The beginning of the new financial year and the prospect of cash winnings brought dozens (well several) Tongans to the Heilala festival ‘Big Top Tent’ to chance their luck in a local talent show. With 4 judges scrutinising every note, dance routine and each others nail polish and 6 inch heels (whilst updating their Facebook status) was a sight to behold. Soccer mums, and dads, willed on their kids in an attempt to make them become the next Justin Beaver which, given recent media reports, could be easily managed as although the performers were only on stage between 5-8 minutes this was in fact longer in duration than Justin’s Australian tour performances. Everyone was rugged up for the cold. It must have been down to 20 so you can’t blame them really. OMG just spotted someone in front of me wearing Ugg boots! Miss Tonga rocked up wearing a lovely handcrafted crown made out of coconut shells and tin foil. Brought back memories for Sonia of her ’77 reign as Miss Crystal Creek. The anticipation of an extraordinary evening was building, not only for us but also the contestants as we hit 8 pm (a good hour after the official start time) but we believe that it was rumoured that a Simon C someone had landed and was keen to come and exploit (eh… nurture) the winner(s). Miss Tonga performed a sexy hip flinging hula followed by the tattooed fakaleiti (he/she) singing Whitney Huston’s ‘I will always love you’ which sent the crowd off!! The screamed and yelled as she soared to the highest notes. An impromptu dance comp with six under ten blokes was incredible… Two even leapt off the stage to roaring applause.
Next up was ‘4 direction’. Kotoni and I wept from laughter. This is Absolute elation with no holding back by the audience. Two girls doing Bollywood sent the crowd off yet again. Any shake of the booty is met with wild adoration. I’ve never seen audience participation like it… From all ages.
Expecting the unexpected we were treated to some sexy drummers then another tattooed bewigged high-heeled fakaleiti showing lots of flesh and strutting all over the stage. We thought the tent would float away or my eardrums would burst from the tsunami of screaming heads. Amongst all the frivolity good and bad acts were a quartet of old timers playing a traditional song complete with banjo, fiddle, loud shirts and leis. You have to admire the courage of some of the not too polished performers… I know their endless rellies thought they were ‘hot’ … but regardless of talent the generous audience gave everyone all the respect they deserved for having a go.
A truly magical evening and we wandered home near midnight with sore ribs, battered aural passages and twice as many laughter wrinkles but it was all worth the wait. Malo Tongan – another unique and out of the box musical extravaganza that surprised the socks off us!