Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: So Farewell Then, UCSA

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  • Bart Janssen,

    Those orange couches with the sloping backs? I was there in the 90s. Why was everything so relentlessly 70s?

    I think they were hand-me-downs from Auckland student union in the early 80's. That still raises the question of where Auckland got them from.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Caroline Anderson,

    I remember the Friday night Steins in the UCSA Building, which we fondly referred to as Studass. You had to buy tickets which you cashed in for beer. Some of the bands were excellent.The burgers from the main café were a special treat when I had a late lecture. The only place you could get a snack late at night was the upper level caf. The toasted cheese sandwiches were delicious after an evening of study in the Library.

    Since Oct 2015 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    It does seem as though UCSA and AUSA were clones. So many of the descriptions match my memories of upper and lower common rooms at Auckland.

    As a side note speaking of "ugly as fuck" buildings, my place of work is being renovated, rumour has it that when plans were broached to the council to change the "look" of the building they responded with "please god yes anything has to be better than what it is now".

    A part of me is sad that we will only have memories of just how bad NZ public works "architecture" was in the 70s ... but only a very small part.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Vivid,

    I remember trawling the queue for Orientation as a 16 year old to find a student who would take me in as their guest. This would have been in 1988. Anyone could buy a ticket but you needed a UCSA member to gain entry, but once you did you could buy alcohol at the bar. There was about four of us that did this every year of high school. We'd spend hours in the week before it started pouring over the band list and plotting our trips up and down the stairs between common rooms. Inside we saw Sneaky Feelings, Look Blue Go Purple, Headless Chickens (with Rupert), Bailter Space, JPSE, Pihead, Go-Betweens,Strangeloves, Bats, Verlaines, Chris Knox, even Sam Hunt. Too many to remember (but never the Gordons). Later on I played at a few, including one gig on the platform over the river where our bass player didn't make it and Paul Kean let me play his (rather iconic) bass guitar.
    In the mid nineties I was a student there. I once asked Paul if there were any jobs going that would net me a free ticket to Superchunk, Buffalo Tom and the 3D's, and he said yeah, ok, you can hang backstage.
    Then I met a girl on the riverbank one day and we ended up dropping out to have a baby.

    Wairarapa • Since May 2015 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish.MacEwan,

    Jane:
    We'll never be able to break the spell

    Timothy:
    The magic will hold us still.

    Jane:
    Sometimes we may pretend to forget

    Timothy:
    But of course we never will.
    Three perfect years -

    Jane:
    Perhaps there'll more?
    Life's only beginning you know

    Timothy:
    Oh yes it's not that I want to stay.
    It's just that I don't want to go.

    Jane:
    We mustn't look back,

    Timothy:
    No we mustn't look back.

    Both:
    Whatever our memories are.
    We? mustn't say these were our happiest days,
    but our happiest days so far.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I can see how a design which put the toilets in the basement of a three-level building might get refused.

    There's a disturbing number of buildings in this world that make you wonder whether architects have to wear adult nappies for life as part of some bizarro initiation ritual into the profession.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Vivid, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    As Pavement sang,"Architecture students are like virgins with an itch they cannot scratch, never build a building till you're 50 what kind of a life is that".

    Wairarapa • Since May 2015 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Toilets also by the LCR and in the Ballroom. Just none RDU-adjacent.

    The foyer toilets also had showers, IIRC.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Lilith __,

    The foyer toilets also had showers, IIRC.

    They did indeed. Very handy for when a mixed-gender group had just "fallen" in the river.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Vivid,

    Later on I played at a few, including one gig on the platform over the river where our bass player didn't make it and Paul Kean let me play his (rather iconic) bass guitar.

    It is what! Made by his own hand, if I recall rightly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Very handy for when a mixed-gender group had just “fallen” in the river.

    South Island rivers can be swift, deep, and treacherous.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Sister Mary Gearchange, in reply to Hebe,

    Ah. I am probably not the Sister Mary you are thinking of. But thank you anyway, just in case I am.

    Since Oct 2015 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart,

    2008: a few bits of the UCSA building in behind the March for Undead Rights

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 161 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Sister Mary Gearchange,

    No mind: you have happily reminded me of the A4 hand-written Goldfish (eagerly sought after on publication days). Sister Mary made an impression: I remembered some of these, particularly SMG revving up at the lights and on an inclined plane.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/funnypolynomial/sets/72157594326861802/

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2895 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment

    Only having two subjects in School Certificate, the joys of attending University eluded me, but I did use the facilities at times...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7886 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Venue: the Skinning Common Room?

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2895 posts Report Reply

  • Howard Edwards,

    Oh boy - so many memories of Studass in the 70s, so few active brain cells ...

    Sitting at a desk in the foyer every year trying to sign people up to the Folk Music Club;

    Folk club meetings in one of the upstairs rooms, including my first (and hopefully last) experience of bagpipes played inside;

    Concerts and plays in the Ngaio Marsh theatre, both in the audience (as a school kid in the 60s and as a student in the 70s) and on stage (anyone remember the Beatles concerts that MUSOC and UCFMC used to put on?);

    The stein evenings that others have mentioned which we used to raise funds for the folk club - being a barman at the beer table and being given a large metal torch and the instructions "swing it aggressively if they run at you all at once" - and concerts in the ballroom;

    The pokey bookshop before it moved across the river into its own building;

    Anyone remember Nigel Wyse? Whatever happened to him?

    Albany • Since Apr 2013 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Howard Edwards,

    Concerts and plays in the Ngaio Marsh theatre, both in the audience (as a school kid in the 60s and as a student in the 70s)

    Seeing as it seems to be OK to go back that far, there was the special meeting in the Ngaio Marsh in 1968 over a motion of no confidence in then student president Paul Grocott. Grocott was seen as insufficiently radical. For example, he refused to condemn the engineers' haka party, which if half the stories were true enjoyed a virtual license to rape during capping week. Anyway he survived the motion, only to be "shot" - with presumably a starting pistol - from somewhere up the back of the audience, followed by the lights being turned off.

    As people left they were presented with a copy of a special edition of Kobold, an upstart rival to Canta, with a front-page "Grocott Assassinated" headline. There were supporting articles with headlines such as "Aesthetics of the Death Wish".

    Innocent times.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I'll just leave this here.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I was sent this last night; the comment comes from the mother of a friend:

    The student union building! Ah such luxury. As a fine arts student in the 1960s and 70s when the Art school prefabs had two toilets and cold water only for 100 students the union was bliss. When Ngaio Marsh directed the first Shakespearian play I worked on the sets in the new theatre and later made masks for Marat Sade.

    As parents we marched on the University's governing body to allow the ballroom to be used as a crèche in the daytime. Mothers weren't meant to get an education and if they must they could bus to the town site with there kids. My son was one of the first crèche members and it cut four hours off my busy day. Not much time to lounge on the 70's furniture but did take part in a Jack Body Happening and fenced Australian Uni in the ballroom with the swords.

    The 1975 Commonwealth games used the venue then the Art school across the creek burnt down.

    It was a pleasure to see those tall trees growing and sheltering the area and I don't relish the thought of its becoming a bomb site like the rest of Christchurch. Hopefully a future generation of students will have the opportunity of complaining about the decor and inconvenience of the 2020s building.

    It's all relative.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Emma Hart,

    the Art school prefabs had two toilets and cold water only for 100 students...The 1975 Commonwealth games used the venue then the Art school across the creek burnt down.

    Apart from the Ilam homestead, reserved mainly for art school staff, the School of Fine Arts was housed in a horribly shabby collection of fibrolite hovels. The site is now a green lawn with a couple of oddly obvious artificial hillocks.

    Perhaps it's an indication of past funding priorities that the 1974 Commonwealth Games prefabs were much better built. Relocatable housing from the athletes' village is still doing sterling duty - and came through the quakes largely unscathed - at City Housing's Forfar Courts complex in St Albans.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    If anyone is interested- reminder there's a 'farewell to all that' 10am on Dec 10.
    (Meself - haunted those corridors and sunny rooms for years, sometimes lonely, sometimes with mates. A small gang of far-more-sensible-now friends woke me up on my 20th birthday with a side of roast mutton and a flagon of vodka. By lunchtime we were dancing on the tables in the cafe. It's the only time in my life, I think, I've ever had any desire to dance on a table.)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Nice to see that The Press has followed Emma’s lead with a nostalgia piece – at least they acknowledged this blog as a source of some of it, in their online version…
    but.. not so nice to see…
    ..in today’s print version they fail to acknowledge Public Address / Up Front as the source of some of their printed memories – they just say

    “We asked students past and present to share their memories"

    Alice Ronald and Tess Rooney’s comments are lifted verbatim!
    There’s cheap content and all that
    and then there’s theft…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7886 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Alice Ronald and Tess Rooney’s comments are lifted verbatim!
    There’s cheap content and all that
    and then there’s theft…

    Well. Shit. A couple of days ago I got an email from a Press journo I know, asking if he could put another journalist in touch with me about using some of the stuff from this thread. I said yes, intending to ask commenters whose stuff he wanted for their permission. And that was the last I heard.

    I'm going to assume there's been a miscommunication somewhere. All I can do is apologise to anyone who didn't want their story spread all over their local daily.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Alice Ronald, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Thanks, I'm pretty annoyed that there was no contact - it's not hard to find me on Twitter or something. Work's gonna be fun tomorrow...

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 63 posts Report Reply

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