From Leo at Coachella to Colin Firth on a boat, we’re rounding up the summer

We all know the undeniable vibe of summer. It has inspired poets to ponder for millennia, whether they wonder how “the smell of a barbecue can kindle nostalgia” (Will Smith, the fresh prince) or whether they “sweet times, hot nights, summer will be all right”, rejoice” (Rai Thistlethwayte, Thirsty Merc seasonal librettist).

To help us jump headfirst into summer fun, six of our writers have each picked a piece of pop culture that best sums up the season for them. We can already feel the cool rustling of linen trousers on our legs.

Leonardo DiCaprio dances to MGMT at Coachella

Once you’re no longer a kid, summer loses some of its magical glow. Think about taking six weeks off school to just sit at home doing nothing, sprawled on the floor and watching Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style or these weird episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 Where the cast takes jobs at a beach resort? To quote Jonathan Richman, that summer feeling will haunt you one day in your life.

You get two weeks off these days if you’re lucky? Maybe a road trip to Hyams Beach if you were thinking of booking it back in June? It’s not the same. Therefore, reminders of the transcendent possibilities of summer are important. Enter clip of middle aged Leonardo DiCaprio in a polo shirt and loose pajama shorts losing his mind to MGMTs children 2014 at Coachella.

Knowing that MGMTs children is the song that makes Leo DiCaprio go insane that already puts me in a festive mood. He was about 34 when the track first hit the charts in the summer of 2008, and he’s pretending it was the song he lost his virginity on. And then his dance, a nonchalant shuffle that explodes into a haymaking frenzy in the chorus: I put the song on while making a soup of braised fennel, kale, and chickpeas last night, and I can confirm there’s no other option to dance to this song Leo 100 percent correct.

When the charms of summer seem distant amid the drab routine of yogurt-pendulum-floss, these are the kind of life-affirming prompts we need, like a blast of coconut lotion in your olfactory cortex. It always works for me. Dance, my Hollywood Peter Pan. Dance to MGMTs children. Robert Moran

Balthazar, the demon out Buffy

When I was asked to contribute a piece of pop culture that screams Summer Mood to me, an image immediately came to mind. According to Buffyverse Wikipedia, this image depicts Balthazar, “an obese and ugly demon who lives in a large pool of water and needs to be kept constantly wet.” If I’m honest with you and I would NEVER lie to you – that’s exactly my summer mood. I am Balthazar.

The ladle, please.

The ladle, please.

Not in the way of an evil murderous demon, but in a way that even in summer I am a very angry and sweaty looking fat creature that needs to be kept in a big pool of water with someone constantly scooping water on my body. I’m sure most other people will choose fun songs that get you in the summer mood, or pool scenes from a movie, or a perfume that smells like the ocean — but that’s not the reality of summer for those of us who do do sweat and chafe or get hot. There are some of us who, like the kids, have to stay indoors all the time The others. we exist we are valid When I think about what summer will be like for me, I always think of Balthazar. Now go and get the trowel. Rebecca Shaw

dancing queen scene one Mamma Mia! here we go again

The sparkling opening notes of ABBA’s 1976 hit dancing queen feel like rays of sunshine in any context, whether they’re descending from the sky on a dance floor or illuminating a room at karaoke.

But they’ve never felt more blissful, more transcendent – more like the essence of summer itself – than at the sight of Colin Firth embracing Stellan Skarsgard titanic-Style on the bow of a party boat coming to save the wedding of their love child Mamma Mia! here we go again.

This entire scene, which features a fully choreographed dance number with at least 200 partygoers, is a shot of white-hot serotonin stabbed right into my brain. It’s a long, lazy sip of an ice-cold Pina Colada on a 33-degree day. I don’t think this has been studied, but I do believe in its potential to cure at least one or two non-life threatening diseases.

To be honest I think that about the whole of the Mamma Mia Franchise. These two films are guaranteed to make your day better every time you watch them. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even like musicals.

But there’s something about this particular scene that captures the energy I want to take with me into this (and every) summer. This holiday season, I long to be Colin Firth on a Greek island: bright, triumphant, loved, and—as anyone with their disco moves can see—outrageously silly. Meg Watson

California Games for Commodore 64

When I think of summer I think of seagulls flapping over the bay, blue waves, bikini bottoms and wipe outs – all in gorgeous pixelated 8-bit colour. It’s 1989 and I’m in California, baby. Well, actually I’m sitting next to my brother at a computer desk in a dark corner of my family’s TV room, but in my mind I’m attending that famous (completely non-existent) sporting event, the California Games.

A summer full of halfpipes, surfing and hacky sacks.

A summer full of halfpipes, surfing and hacky sacks.

The sun is shining in high definition outside, but here in front of the Commodore 64 we have everything we need, except maybe vitamin D and cardio fitness. We have corporate sponsors, we have a banging Casiotone soundtrack, and we have the impossible dream of achieving an “axle noise” in Footbag.

So my brother and I spent the holidays doing gnarly flips down the halfpipe in front of the Hollywood sign while taking turns turning on the increasingly sweaty computer controls. On screen it was a cartoon dream of what summer should be like, but that’s not the memory I’m holding on to. No, I remember the other summer dream: those endless, shapeless weeks of school holidays when the whole world was just me and my big brother. Tabitha Carvan

My summer girl scene out Black Books

“I have to find a girlfriend just for the summer until this is over. She will be a summery girl. She will have hair. She will have summer friends who know how to be outside. She’ll play tennis and wear dresses and have bare feet and in the fall I’ll dump her because she’s my summer girl!”

In the perpetually dark, alcoholic and misanthropic world of cult British comedy series Black Books, the concept of summer feels both alien and unrealistic. That’s why the one episode they dedicate to the hot season is the bottom line for me.

Bernard’s desire for a “summer girl” captures the insane longing of summer. There’s this oddly optimistic attitude that everyone gets caught in when summer rolls around, where people believe that just because the sun has turned huge and angry and the sky has turned overwhelmingly blue, they believe they can change their lives for the better and take something else In the New Year, set yourself the goal of being someone other than yourself. This year I will be someone who knows how to be outside, who will be happy and healthy and fit.

Bernard’s Summer Girl is emblematic of that wild desire for summer – that avatar of all that is bright and fresh. She will have hair. But just like our resolutions, we will drop them in the fall and be our normal rat self again. Patrick Lenton

Beach Santa; part dad-bod, part snowsuit, all attitude

You can expect a lot at this time of year: drunk aunts, fresh mangoes and of course Santa Claus. But here in Australia we decided to take a perfectly fine thing from Europe, then dump it with budgie smugglers and let it sit in the sun for too long. Makes him a cultural icon.

Put a beach Santa on a surfboard and we’ll all go crazy; see him running across the beach and we can’t help but smile. He is the personification of Christmas cheer. It might be easier if we, as a nation, collectively acknowledged that embracing a holiday that was specifically created for the opposite weather system might be a bit difficult. “No f*cken way”, we say, “grab Santa’s wool suit and beer comfortably, he’s going to Bondi”. Just like a polar bear swimming between ice caps, Beach Santa is a sobering reminder of global warming and we just can’t get enough of him!

Santa is cooling off at Bondi.

Santa is cooling off at Bondi.Credit:Peter Morris

‘Beach Santa’ has become an annual symbol of Australia’s ability to give something red hot even if it’s silly, a cultural specialty we expect and love in ourselves. Put everyone in red and white fluffy outfits accompanied by a smattering of 45 degree sunlight, somehow it just works. Eliza Reilly

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A cultural guide to going out and making love in the city. Sign up for our Culture Fix newsletter here. From Leo at Coachella to Colin Firth on a boat, we’re rounding up the summer

Jaclyn Diaz

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