I Got Baked and Went to the Hello Kitty Symphony Orchestra. It Changed My Life.

I’m sitting in a concert hall full of children watching people dance and sing in full body suits to “Fur Elise”. And to top it all off, I’m absolutely cooked.
Adele Luamanuvae
Sydney, AU

Hello Kitty. The it-girl. The star of the Sanrio world. Mother.

Hello Kitty

The queen herself

She was all I wanted to be when I was little. Her red bow placed upon her cat ears gave her charm. Her playful giggles and sickly-sweet voice gave her warmth. Her blue overalls gave her youth. She was every young girl’s best friend.

And some childhood fixations never die. 

Even now at 24, I think of Hello Kitty as that bitch. And that could be said for the rest of the Sanrio characters too. She’s a relic of nostalgia that keeps your youthful spirit alive, spending every day dancing, singing and being cute, all while wearing delightful, colourful dresses and super hot platform shoes. She was my Britney Spears. My Mariah Carey. My superstar.


This infatuation is shared by many who grew up in the early 2000s – Hello Kitty’s prime. She was an unassuming fictional character with an iconic look – one that appeared on water bottles, handbags, clothing, stickers and lamps. She became a symbol of divine sisterhood. 

So, naturally, when I saw the advertisement for a live Hello Kitty Symphony Orchestra, I knew I had to go. What would it entail? I wasn’t sure. Do I even listen to classical music? Not at all.

But I had to go. And I had to go stoned. Obviously.

Accompanied by two friends, we ventured down a dingy alleyway and smoked three joints together, washing it all down with a can of Pals. Immediately after arriving at the venue, just north of Sydney’s CBD, it became abundantly clear that I was not the target audience for this event. Much of the lobby was filled with excited children running around in their best get-ups as their parents trailed behind. 

The table of overpriced Sanrio merch to the right of the concert hall doors was bustling with animated concertgoers, eager to get their hands on an expensive assortment of stickers, books, purses and plushies. While these parents came with their wallets stacked, ready to splurge on some exclusive Hello Kitty merch for their kids, I had to shamefully apologise twice for my card declining over a $30 headband. Cozzie livs, you know.

Hello Kitty merch table

My entire paycheck on one table

We entered the concert hall and found our seats conveniently located in the middle of the third row. Everyone on our row was already there and waiting for the overture. 


At once, an onset of performance anxiety and the high from the joints we all just smoked kicked in. Our act of “blending in” completely vanished as we shuffled our way through to our seats, blocking the view of the children behind us. Nothing feels more sobering than the crushing staredown of at least a hundred children. 

Lesson learned here: don’t fuck with kids and their Hello Kitty.

The lights dimmed and our first performer, Miss Ribbon, was welcomed to the stage. Miss Ribbon’s duty throughout was to encourage audience engagement, including call and response, inviting everyone to dance and sing along. Not only was she there as guidance, she also played instruments, sang, ran across the stage dressed as a bull, acted, went through several other costume changes and didn’t even look to be breaking a sweat. I was in awe at her dedication to the craft. This was her Broadway debut. She deserves a raise.

Miss Ribbon took us through a series of exercises identifying rhythm and timing in order to conduct the orchestra as they played. My arms were given a good 75-minute workout. For someone who isn’t a functioning smoker, this was fucking hell. I don’t think I’ve held my arms up for this long since Wii Sports came out. 

Nevertheless, the thought of being part of something so drastically important kept me fighting. If Hello Kitty and the Ribbon Kingdom needed a conductor, a conductor is what they were gonna get. I was determined to put my entire body on the line for this orchestra. And that is exactly what I did.

Hello Kitty and My Melody playing the triangle

My Melody & Hello Kitty carrying the performance. Women are so powerful.

Hello Kitty and fellow Sanrio characters Dear Daniel, XO and My Melody pranced around the stage for an hour and a half while the orchestra behind them played classical bangers from Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Bizet. The concert hall was filled with children reciting Do Re Mi, clapping and stomping their feet to the beat of the music.

Not to go full-stoner, but I could feel the vibration of every sound ripple throughout my body. 

Happy gal

Me on the brink of tears

At one point, the string section of the orchestra performed a classical piece by plucking the strings of their instruments with their fingers. I felt like I was watching an Andre Rieu TV special. It was unbelievable.

Live orchestra

They slayed!!!

There were multiple moments in the night where I thought to myself, “what the fuck is going on right now?’ ‘Is this really happening?’

With every My Melody dress-twirl, XO fist-raise and Hello Kitty giggle, I was keenly reminded that yes – this is really happening. I’m sitting in a concert hall full of children watching people dance and sing in full body suits to “Fur Elise”. And to top it all off, I’m absolutely cooked. Life is crazy.

But apart from the fact that my emotional connection to the music and performance was heightened, I genuinely felt a part of my inner-child heal by the end of the night. 

I gave every musical number a stern “bravo, brava” and a hefty round of applause. I wooed, cheered, laughed, sang and danced. I definitely pissed off the mother and child sitting next to me, but all in the name of free-spiritedness. I’m also entirely certain I out-stanned a room of alleged Hello Kitty stans. 

Would I do it all again? Absolutely. 

Maybe next time on acid. 

Adele is the Junior Writer & Producer for VICE AU/NZ. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter here.

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