Standing on stage at the Great Northern is a man dressed only in a musky tweed jacket and a string of plastic bags. It is possibly unusual that none of us actually expected to see a penis during an event with ‘orgy’ in the title. The man does several flips and a handstand, now completely naked. He dances with the suit jacket, as it trails arms made from strings of plastic bags. The lights go up, editor Sam Cooney steps on stage and attempts to tenuously segue the naked man into reasons why people should buy a copy of the new issue of the Lifted Brow.
I turn to my friend Tim, a festival virgin, and whisper- “Welcome to TiNA.”
There’s something magical about the moment when everyone descends on Newcastle, and the streets fill with laughing hipsters. I’m sorry. That’s a generalisation. Not everyone in attendance would consider themselves a hipster. But the people who don’t  should maybe stop wearing cardigans and floral print dresses and attending conceptual magazine launch orgies.
A launch orgy, in case you’ve never attended one (and missed maybe your only opportunity last night) involves mash-up dancing, readings, laughter and biting insults. It’s most of Australia’s literary community packed into a tiny Hawaiian themed bar, making the air stuffy and hot. The Lit Journal Launch Orgy is the kind of thing that TiNA is made of.
When I talk about TiNA I can’t help mentioning that TiNA isn’t reality. It’s better and bigger and more simple than reality. It’s a place where you can hug people you only see once a year and greet them like old friends. Where you make new friends by accident and without really meaning to.
If this is your first year attending the NYWF, the best advice I can give you is to dive in head first. It might seem like everyone knows everyone, like there’s no room in this orgy for new people. Not true. If you come and say hello we will welcome you will open arms. Just walk up to a random in a floral dress with a program in their hand and ask if they’d like to be friends. Trust me. You’re allowed to. This isn’t real life. 
Head over to the The Press Room to keep up to date with what’s going on. There’s reviews, podacsts, videos, pictures and various other random goodness. Also follow the hashtags #nywf and #pressroom. Or come say hi to us in Staple Manor. 

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year