If you've lived in Sydney longer than a year, chances are you avoid The Rocks district like the infectious plague that once ravaged its colonial residents. Or, at least, I did - while the sandstone buildings, cobbled streets and the reinvigorated Museum of Contemporary Art have their charms, the weekend crowds, the bland tourist-trap shops and the exorbitant pricing of pretty much everything rendered it irrelevant to me, especially with the blossoming of Walsh Bay, a little further up Hickson Road.

But last Friday night, after years, I was lured back for The Rocks Village Bizarre.

With no expectations, I wound my way through the backstreets, stopping upon a silent disco, a busted-up bicycle that looked as if it had collided with a flower patch, and, of all things, a late-night outdoors aerobic class. A warren of white rabbit-faced people pushed past, following a trail of white footprints to an unmarked bar for bunnies only. A woman waited on a corner, blindfolded, for her very literal Blind Date, a one-on-one tour of the historic area, tailored to her star sign, favourite colour and food, a short sightseeing trip with exactly no sight.

Not only were the streets laced with wacky performers and mystified punters, above in one of the suites at the Holiday Inn Old Sydney, Uta Uber Kool Ja actress Georgina Symes's rock-star alter ego was starting her debaucherous twice-an-evening after-party. A tragicomic rock'n'roll character study with an ''impromptu fashion parade'', and one of the few ticketed events in an otherwise free festival, the show will likely sell out early, judging from its previous iterations in Melbourne and Adelaide's fringe festivals, and is ''very much adults only''.

I have to admit, by this stage I was charmed. A weird veil has fallen over The Rocks, and though it's a little corny, the warm evening air felt magical. It's a perfect fit for the city, even if it's just another symptom of Sydney trying to Melbournise itself. But if Melbournising ourselves means more quirky, unexpected, family-friendly entertainment without being too broad, and, most importantly, free festivals cropping up in the middle of the city (especially as there grows a rising wave of criticism on social media against ''inaccessibly priced'' major Sydney arts festivals), well, please, Melbourne me up.

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