This time I knew exactly where to go. Last time I was in Docklands, it was late and dark and I hadn't been to that end of town before. This time the building was easier to find and it was broad daylight. The problem was it was 38 degrees and I was wearing a dinner suit and the flies from way up north had invited themselves along.
I was a little early and I waited out the front of a building called Peninsula at Pier 14. I was meeting a colleague who had my ticket. Pier 14 is an old warehouse at the bottom of the now-extended La Trobe Street, where that street arches up over the railway yards and dumps the trams and the traffic at the water's edge. Pier 14 sits facing square north, alongside the old Swanston Dock which ten years ago was a festering heap of rats and broken timber beams with no boats tied up, and is now Victoria Harbour with million dollar cruise boats and water that sparkles with money. It's amazing how the view changes when you call a dock a harbour.
I had a dinner suit on because the invitation said 'black tie'. I thought black tie meant black tie, but no. It means anything except black tie. Guests were unfurling out of taxis at the corner of La Trobe and Harbour Drive and they were wearing no ties, fat-striped ties, unbuttoned shirts with flapping gay scarves and pastel T-shirts under white jackets. Event organisers should just drop the male dress specification and tell the women what to wear instead - 'little black dress and heels' - and the men could go right on rocking up in hessian sacks or bermuda shorts or kaftans or Geelong football jumpers. Since they do anyway.
I waited in the intense heat and futilely batted flies away while a few hundred more casual Friday non-black tie variations crawled out of their cabs and sauntered over to the entrance, an enormous original dock warehouse door that looked like it was made from about 150 oak trees. Then my colleague arrived in heels and a gauzy, filmy black thing that she was kind of wearing and kind of not. She gave me my ticket. We went inside.
It was dark.