Tauranga waterfront the site for Hurricane Party

By Rosie Dawson-Hewes

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Becks Chambers.
Becks Chambers.

The National Jazz Festival is using its annual Hurricane Party on Easter Saturday to test a possible new concert venue on the city's waterfront.

Festival director Becks Chambers, pictured, said a large marquee would be erected on the grassed waterfront space on The Strand to host the Hurricane Party.

"This year we wanted to try the waterfront out as a new venue for concerts," Ms Chambers said.

"We thought we'll try it out first off with the Hurricane Party down on the waterfront.

"It'll be a really nice, new venue for Tauranga to see how the space is used and utilised for a concert," Ms Chambers said.

The marquee would hold about 900 people, she said.

"I don't think anybody's had a concert on the waterfront before, so it will be really interesting to see if that's a space that we can use in future for a bigger international act," she said.

Ms Chambers hoped that by using the Jazz Fest as a test run, other event organisers would be inspired to use the space as well.

"I think the more of us that see how it works, the better really, because we want to get lots of feedback to make it good in the future," Ms Chambers said.

The Hurricane Party was created six years ago and was held in a different venue each year.

"It stems back, historically, from New Orleans. They used to have a hurricane party when there was a hurricane and it used to be in a different venue," she said.

The Hurricane Party was aimed at a younger audience, so dancing was an important aspect which could be limited in the city's other venues, Ms Chambers said.

"Obviously at Baycourt, with it being a seated venue, it doesn't matter how funky the music is it's a bit hard to get up and have a dance, whereas this venue that we're creating, we're making a huge dancefloor," she said.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said he was supportive of holding events on the waterfront.

"We're in the process of setting up the waterfront as an events space. We didn't put a lot of clutter in it that would prevent stages being set up," he said.

"I'm sure it [the Hurricane Party] will be a success and that other event organisers can move forward with other events.

"Anything that brings people into the CBD will be good."

Mr Crosby said it was an opportunity for people to see what downtown Tauranga had to offer and "hopefully they'll come back".

"It's a great meeting place and it will be a great event place."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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