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The five Melbourne Cup commandments.

Put your hands up if you’re headed to the Melbourne Cup tomorrow!  Keep your hands up if you still haven’t decided what you’re wearing and you’re probably going to be doing an emergency Myer/DJ’s run later today!  I have had my outfit planned for the better part of a week now, and in typical Em fashion, I’m having an eleventh hour freak out that WHAT IF IT ISN’T AMAZING ENOUGH/MAKES ME LOOK FAT/ISN’T ON TREND ANYMORE/SOMEONE ELSE IS WEARING THAT.

Fashion aside, there are things one shalt not do while engaging in the frivolity of Flemington, and while the dress code might be clear, sometimes, the unwritten rules need a little, well, writing down.  Because etiquette.

If you’re trackside-bound tomorrow, here’s my top five rules to live by.  At least for the next 24 hours.  (Then you can go back to a beer swilling, bare foot mess for all I care…) Think of it as the list of things one should definitely not do while celebrating by the track, from someone who learned the hard way…

One.  Thy shalt not be an invite pest.

Remember that time you found that Sass & Bide jacket, on sale, in your size?  Nope.  ME EITHER.

Why?  Because it never happens.  It’s an urban legend, a once-in-a-generation event that happens to one very lucky soul.  It’s rare.

But not as rare as those golden Birdcage tickets to the glittering marquees on Cup Day.

Here’s the thing.  Those sassy PR ladies aren’t just holding the keys to A-list door because they think it’s fun.  They genuinely only have a limited amount, and unless you are either a bona fide celebrity, or a someone with a lotta social media cred, you’re not likely to score one.  They’re allocated one Birdcage pedestrian pass per person – according to their marquee’s capacity.  (What it’s actually supposed to be, not what is actually crammed in by 3pm on the day…)

So don’t pester.  They don’t like it, and your annoying and/or angry emails are only going to achieve a big, black mark next to your name.

If you do want to try your luck?  Preparation is the key.  If you’re eligible for accreditation from the VRC, you can get access to the Birdcage.  From there, email the various PR agencies in charge of the marquee guest lists, and ask to be popped onto the drop in list (a special B-list for those without an invite, but if they’re not at capacity, when you arrive, you should be allowed in).  Just remember to be polite, be prepared for rejection if they are genuinely full, and always, always send a follow up after the big day to say a great big thanks.  Huge.  Massive.  Send flowers.


Two.  Feast like the kings.

The number one reason why folk get ‘Gatsby-roaring’ drunk at the track?  Too much booze.

That’s a given.

But in all that beer drinking frivolity, somehow, we forget to eat.  And I don’t know about you, but drinking on an empty stomach is about the stupidest thing I’ve ever done since cutting off my Barbie’s hair, aged eight – not realising that it wouldn’t actually grow back…

Eat.  Eat anything and everything you can get your hand on.  If you’re on the lawn or The Nursery, bring lots of carby-snacks – cheese, biscuits, corn chips, sandwiches.  And if you’re somewhere where there’s catering (you lucky devil, you), become a ‘yes’ person.  Every time a tray passes you by, you grab something.  No exceptions.  Don’t worry about looking greedy or the fact that no-one else in the marquee appears to be eating – you will be better, sober-er and wiser for it.  Just eat, alright?

Pro tip: hot chips for the cab ride home are the best thing that will happen in your whole wide life.  Not even joking.


Three.  Thy festivities are in honour of horses.  See one.

Truthfully kids, I am guilty of this sin.  I’ve spent entire days, drinking my body weight in champagne in the sun, and haven’t actually stopped swilling long enough to actually remember that, uh, there’s a race going on.

There’s eight in the day, and each one will last five minutes, tops.  I promise you, that you can absolutely spare the time.  And hey, place some bets and get involved.  It adds a spark of excitement to the proceedings.  (And if you’re a complete bookie novice like myself, just pick a few coloured silks you like and strut up to the window announcing that you’d like ‘$10 each way, thanks’, LIKE AN ABSOLUTE PRO.  #NailedIt)

Tomorrow is the Race That Stops a Nation, and while most of us care more about 17th century impressionist art than we do horse racing, it would be completely un-Australian (and not to mention, a little disrespectful) to not pop down the bevvy and cheer like your team is about to win the AFL Grand Final.  Don’t stress if you know absolutely nothing.  Just yell what everyone else around you is yelling and if really stuck a simple ‘C’MON’ a la Layton Hewitt will ensure no-one around you is the wiser.


Four.  Thou shalt not drink and tweet.

One year, shit got a little crazy.  Fuelled by a few too many of some glorious cocktail-y numbers in the Myer Marquee, we left for the after party slightly worse for wear.  Someone ‘tarp-surfed’ on the way back to the bus.  Someone else hung out of the window.  At any rate, there were ‘activities’ that the whole world probably didn’t really need to see, and to this day, I’m ever so thankful that the little remaining part of my brain not under the influence of vodka had the good sense to keep that way away from Instagram.

You might think the ridiculous champagne-induced nonsense that happens circa 4pm is hilarious, but let me stop you right there.  It’s not.  You’re obnoxious and/or annoying.  No-one needs to see it, and I can absolutely promise you that you’ll regret posting it in the morning.

Post a couple of pics of your pretty frock, a few more of you and your crew when you arrive, and then unless you manage a few selfies with J-Hawk, impose a social media blackout and get stuck into that real life socialising stuff instead.


Five.  Thy shoes shalt stay on thy feet for the whole effing day.  No exceptions.

Ladies and gees, I may have a couple of demerit points on my driving licence, but if there was a shoe license, that thing would be so squeaky clean, it would sparkle.  I have a perfect shoe record.  Not once have I removed my shoes in public and yes, the taxi home counts as ‘public’.  I have braved blisters, bruises and once, actual real, legit bleeding, all in the name of fashion.  Those bad boys are not coming off.

Melbourne Cup Carnival is classy event, folks.  And the very definition of tacky?  Stilettos, dangling daintily from perfectly manicured fingers, while their owners trek home bare foot.  Bonus points if you’ve lost your fascinator and/or sporting the black smears of mascara across your cheeks from a drunken fight with your boyfriend.

Don’t be that person.  It’s the quickest way to ensure that you don’t score a spot on the VIP list next year.  It’s a long day.  You’re likely to be swanning around for at least 6 hours, and there’s approximately 3.26 seats per 1000 punters.  Do not, I repeat, do not break in a brand new pair of peep toes on the big day, and make sure that whatever you decide to sport is going to be comfortable enough to make it all the way back to your lounge room.  Wedges are my pick.


Enjoy yourselves, fashionistas.  And may the odds be ever in your favour.

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  • Rachel M
    November 3, 2014

    Ok, so point 2 – I NEVER forget to eat. I don’t know how that could ever happen. Perhaps that is why I am several dress sizes bigger than you.
    Point 5 – BUT MY FEET HURTIES!!!!!!!!

    • Em
      November 3, 2014

      Rach! You can do it! You swapped the bourbon & cokes for vodka, lime & soda – you can do ANYTHING! 🙂

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