>Meeting and greeting (with bonus zombies)

>This is a bit of a (late) write-up about the Asian Australian (AA) meetup we had on the first May weekend. We haven’t had AA meetups for ages. I think the last official one was in October 2008? That was the last time a formal post was made at asianaustmeetups, anyway. The Oct 2008 get-together was preceded by Rumble Pictures’ Maximum Choppage 2, screened as part of UniMelb’s ‘Asia Week’. I remember writing a report about it on this blog. I thought another one had taken place after that, but I might be mistaken. I know we had one before Owen Leong left for his Japanese jaunt, and there are photos on Indigo Willing’s Facebook that attest to a meetup in St Kilda in July 2008. So, there were two in 2008, none in 2009 (?), and – so far – two in 2010, with another planned for early June when my NZ colleague, Ruth DeSouza, is in town.

The May 2010 Meetup

We met up for the 2nd time by the banks of the Yarra at the Riverland Cafe (under Fed Square). The first time was an impromptu get-together at the beginning of March 2010 that, for me, signalled the beginning of the end of my domestic hermitude (aka maternity leave). It was a step back into work-mode and Asian Australian Studies, even though AA meetups are usually too much fun to be considered ‘work.’ 

One thing I learned when organising the May meetup was the importance of checking for clashes, especially when a large section of your invitees are dead (!) keen to join zombie shuffles and the like. In the end, four of our meetup buddies were part of the decaying horde that took on the Melbourne CBD, with another shuffling off to Williamstown for the literary festival straight afterward (see Tom Cho’s account of it HERE, with photo + bonus Channel 10 footage!). We were privileged to see the foursome in their full zombie regalia. Fake blood and undead make-up doesn’t bother Melbourne barristas at all, we’re pleased to report.

All in all, about ten of us turned up and spent some time in the dwindling autumn sun, chatting and catching up with each other. Because I’ve been sequestered in my own corner of Melbourne for a while, it was exciting and a total hoot to be amongst the AA gang again. This meetup, on the heels of the March one, renewed my enthusiasm for the aa_discuss list, which had been in abeyance for a while (and from which I’d stepped down as mod after about ten years). More on that in another post, hopefully.

Back to the May meetup: It was organised to coincide with having a couple of interstate colleagues around (they were both in town for the Vietnam Inheritance symposium, Monash Uni). It was particularly nice to meet up with Chris at last. It’s always a bit awkward getting people together on the basis of being Asian Australian. Granted, AA meetups are usually populated by folk who are interested in, and create work about, identity and cultural/racial politics, but still…or maybe the awkward is just me?

The meetups seem to happen only in Melbourne these days, which is a bit of a pity. I’m hoping this will change with a bit of nudging, and more free time for certain people.

I feel energised by the AAers I see at these get-togethers, and they’re almost always involved in fab, stimulating stuff. Just at this gathering? Owen was on the verge of launching his solo exhibition, Birthmark, at the Anna Pappas Gallery, Hoa Pham was into her third season of Silence at La Mama, Amadeo Marquez-Perez was about to organise this year’s 15/15 Festival, Indigo was on the cusp of submitting her PhD thesis (UQ) and had been working on Vietnamese adoptee 35th Anniversary of the Vietnam War writing, Dominic Golding was involved with putting together the Chemical Agents exhibition, and Lian Low had just been to circus training before the meetup. My brain was happily full when I left that afternoon, buzzing with ideas for things I’d like to get underway and other people I must catch up with. Let me tell you, it has been a long time since I’ve been excited about work stuff, or interested planning more Asian Australian events. There was even some preliminary talk about possibilities for AAI 4 (the 4th Asian Australian Identities conference, slated for sometime in 2011). I was trying to sit on my hands about it, but…we’ll see.

The next Melbourne AA meetup is on 6 June, and we’re meeting at the Calatrava Cafe at the Crown Complex (approx 1.30-3pm). If you’re in Melbourne, drop by for a chat!

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