Melbourne’s Day

It's cup day in Melbourne. Actually, I think that should be title case: "Cup Day".

CupDay.jpgThat means a number of things. It's a Tuesday that most people have as a day off. They get the day off because of a horse race known as the [insert sponsor name] Melbourne Cup. It's the only public holiday in the state of Victoria between the erroneously titled Queen's Birthday (in June) and Christmas day (in December).

Because it's a public holiday in a day-off lull there are an unusual number of hung over or still drunk people for a Tuesday morning. Then there are the people who go to the races.

The races are an opportunity for people who don't ordinarily engage in such behavior to play dress-ups. The men will wear suits and their newest $30 hipster hat. The women wear a lovely frock with a brand new fascinator stapled to their head. They look so fresh-faced and excited as they try to finish off their first beer or alcopop of the morning before the tram arrives.

These are the people off to Flemington.

I've never been to Flemington for the Melbourne Cup or any other horse race. I'm from the other Melbourne. I'm from the inner-city, to cool to have fun Melbourne. I take Melbourne Cup Day as an opportunity to get work done in the office when everybody else is out.

My understanding is that a lot of people occupy space in the car park at the race track. My understanding is that a lot of people just drink through the day regardless of the sport that seems to be more about gambling than personal achievement.

Despite my apparent disdain for the day and everything it stands for, I absolutely love it. I think it's probably the most Melbourne thing about Melbourne. It's more Melbourne than the AFL Grand Final. It's more Melbourne than art or coffee or comedy. It's more Melbourne than complaining about the decline of live music venues.

Everybody knows that come 8pm the CBD will be filled with 19 year old women holding shoes in their hands while walking away from their vomiting friend. It's become a cliché. The dress-ups will be dressed down. The suits will be crumpled and mud-stained while the celebrators line up to be rejected from another night-club for being to drunk.

These are our traditions. Like any other march, there are the people who take part and the people who prefer to stand on the side and watch. Either way, everybody finds it enjoyable.

The race itself lasts about 3 minutes. The news coverage in the six o'clock bulletin will last at least 8. We'll see men dressed in tuxedos and board shorts thinking they are the most hilarious humans ever. We'll see whatever low-grade international "celebrity" the organisers could shove in a sack and transport over here for the event. We'll see whatever other famous people came because they could organise some kind of tax break.

We know everything that will happen on the day except who will win. People who, 364 days of the year, don't live in the world of horse racing don't really care who wins the cup. The day is more important than the race.

Wednesday is a work day. Tales will be told. Office sweeps prizes will be handed out and work will continue for another four weeks until the Christmas parties start. That's just how we do it in Melbourne.

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