Thursday, May 29, 2008

Back in the day.

I've been knee deep in a bit o' nostalgia, from a time back when ads were entertaining. Kids were kitsch. And floor shows were all the rage.

No, please. Indulge me further and I'll explain.

When was the last time you saw an orchestrated (read: really pissy but highly entertaining) kids-dressed-up-as-adults advertisement that was as innocent and damn catchy as this? I dare you to watch this and not get it in your head. I DOUBLE dare you.

I admit to being a little impressed that somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I had managed to stow away most of the words to this little jingle, along with many of the visual cues. How imprinted was I? And how much telly? Oh, the wasted hours of youth.

There was once a time when the mere sound of a particular piece of joyous music would make the heads of me and my little bro spin around from our Playtrak faster than we could say "Hotwheeeeels!!"

That music... was this.

What was not to love for an eight year old? "Work on the wail woad ... Wobcat tractors." I wanted to zoom that flying fox. Mostly, I wanted to ride the mini trams and have a snack aboard Wobbies' snack train - it's always, always been about the snackage for mine and what you can eat when you're out (but goddamn, mum was so organised and would pack salad sandwiches for us bluuuuuurgh).

I wanted it ALL. And I wanted it now.

But let me just set the scene: Wobbies World was not as they claimed so cheerfully in this television advert, an international-style play park. No. Wobbies World, in reality, was about two acres of the most crappily thought-out and expensive (while ironically being very shoddily slapped together) "entertainment" you'd ever come across. It was Melbourne's best answer to an "amusement park" in the 80's. Hell, I was pretty damn unimpressed with Gumbuya Park on the one occasion we finally belly-ached our parents enough to take us. So if we ever actually made it inside Wobbies World, I would have been crying bitter bitter tears of defeat.

How did they make the ad's look so enticing? It was the music. The music drew us in from whichever room we were in and made us stand, arms dangling, eyes glazed over and watching the screen imploringly. Basically, I think we were just desperate for a bit o' entertainment and we saw Wobbies World as "it" (when I say "we", I'm talking my brother and me - I do realise there will be many far more enlightened Melbournians reading who will have been much less keen to visit Wobbies World, but I dare them to look inside themselves and honestly say.... they never wanted to work the helicopter by themselves).

My parents did load us up, as I recall, and drove us all the way there once. When they saw the admission prices (and then discovered it was a fee for each ride - Oh. My. GOD. Can anyone say extortion?), we turned right round and came home. I think it took me a good hour to stop shuddering from the tracks of my tears *sniff*

They followed up their 80's ad's with more edgy, modern music and new vision when this one came out. By this time, I was over it. I was a teenager by then. I'd pouted and put the whole no-go Wobbies World experience behind me. We would see the ad by this time and be all huffy and lofty about how the rides were crap.... all the while a bit jealous that "the kids of today" now got to go in mini spinning helicopters, play mini golf and be asphyxiated in a ball pit.

And not until I uncovered this one did I realise that the fireman staring down the camera and squirting his hose was a little, uh... suggestive? (or is it just me and my need to find fault because I'm embittered that I never actually got to go?)

Now, super-fun happy slide amusement parks aside, who remembers The Swagman? "Melbourne's own". They said it was best. Yes. I suppose they probably would have had to talk themselves up. The closest I got to seeing the floor show at The Swagman was having one of the dancers as my ballet teacher when I was a wee poppet of four years of age.

Come on. Don't sit there and tell me you wouldn't have wanted to go. Not with an inviting, chintzy song like that one.

Melbourne had it aaaaaaall. Back in the day.

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