29 February 2012

Celebrating my Mardi Gras thirty year anniversary!

Well preparations are in full swing for the 34th annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and I’m feeling the good vibe sitting over us – just mine is one of very mixed emotions! 

When I set off to celebrate on Saturday I’ll be doing it for my 30th time. It would have just been unimaginable way back in February 1982 to think us, let alone I, would be continuing to tread the golden mile as a community in our annual celebration of pride.
Everyone remembers their first Mardi Gras: I and my girlfriends had recently left Les Girls and had moved our partying from Kings Cross to Oxford Street; we were part of an exciting crowd to whom the Exchange Hotel and Patches nightclub was the centre of our gayness.

We headed to the Exchange for drinks in preparation for what was the first parade on the now well trodden route of today. Up on the awning the cast of Mixed Company began to appear one at a time, in ten minute intervals, dressed all in white to the hit of the day Billy Idol’s White Wedding. Chris De Bonnafin, Teresa Green and Cindy Pastel, three larger than life theatrical showgirls creating the most wonderful pre parade atmosphere. As the parade began to arrive at the hotel Julie Ashton appeared on the roof and in full spotlight abseiled down the front of the building doing Looking for Trade from Richard O'Brien's (1981) Shock Treatment. The parade just stopped dead in its track – the screaming and cheering deafening – we had arrived to claim our street in celebration.

21 February 2012

The Rainbow Flag the ultimate symbol of ‘Queer Together’

Recently in a review I used the term ‘Queer Together’ and seemed to have hit on something according to the many emails and messages I received. So by way of context: I was at a cocktail party given by a friend of mine of over twenty years and who had recently committed to a new younger partner after being alone for many years since his first partner was lost to HIV/AIDS in the early nineties. Given that’s almost a gay lifetime I was extremely happy for his new state of domestic bliss. 

For the party each of the guys had invited ten significant friends and given their age gap of fifteen years a mixed, diverse and board age group gathered to celebrate. Both the guys are active community supporters, albeit at different periods of time, and conversation turned to this notion of the Sydney LGBTQI having a history of being collaborative and connected with a real sense of gay family. One of the elders regaled everyone with stories around the birth of our coalition organisations during the challenging time of the eighties when many tribes came together as one to celebrate and mourn that dark period. 

I suggested this is something special for Sydney, something still tangible and visible, although we now have more specific tribe collectives and spaces we still have pockets of being ‘Queer Together’.   

15 February 2012

The House of Loose Ends is an exhibition of Sydney ‘Queer Together’

DJ Matt Vaughan by Richard Hedger

A terrace house gallery down the bottom end of Bourke Street in Woolloomooloo is currently the first stop to take your out of town guests if you’re trying to describe to them the heart of our Mardi Gars for the last thirty years. The House of Loose Ends is a photographic exhibition by Richard Hedger inspired by the Loose Ends club night but captures a whole lot more of queer Sydney heart!

For the greater part of my long community association many OS friends have told me how lucky we are here in Sydney that all queer tribes come together as one, sometimes we use the family word, and not just in February. Certainly through the 80’s and 90’s that aspect of our community was more evident, and whilst we seem to have more specific tribe choices now, thankfully I still find enough pockets of ‘queer together’ to maintain that notion.

One of these pockets is the Loose Ends dance floor, home to a whole lot of fun in the underground of Sydney's queer scene for the last 5 years. Bringing together a truly mixed crowd and a fiercely eclectic mix of sounds, Sunday nights at Phoenix shaken and stirred by DJ Matt Vaughan – another must do experience for everyone who shares this ‘queer together’ inclination.

5 February 2012

My Seven Wonders of the Sydney Mardi Gras Festival 2012!

As another great Sydney Festival fades it’s time to plot and plan what you’ll be off to see in the Sydney Mardi Gras Festival for 2012. In between the partying, the Film Festival and the Festival Bar you should get out and experience some of the fabulous shows that make these three weeks in February all ours!

It can be daunting just trying to find out what you options are so just to help you out I’ve scanned the Guide’s, the websites and the gay rags – called and consulted my sister showgirls for all the latest street gossip, and come up with my Seven Wonders for you to consider. 

1 February 2012

Jurassic Lounge at the Australian Museum 31 Jan 12

Jurassic Lounge is like walking onto the set of the next Night at the Museum movie, so much energy and fun, I was half expecting to see Ben Stiller at any moment. I went along with a group of friends to this little gem of an after work outing on the opening night of its third season.

Every Tuesday night, after the Museum closes to the general public, Sydney’s best emerging artists, musicians and performers take over the galleries and exhibition spaces. With a drink in hand you’re free to explore the whole museum; it sure was a bigger experience than I had imagined.

The theme for the evening was Chinese New Year and as we strolled into the Skeleton Hall we found uber-talented artist Brett Chan live painting a papier mâché dragon to the sound of some lovely laid back tunes. In the Indigenous Australians space we found a Chinese lantern making workshop, DJ Daniel R Muller and a Jurassic photobooth, all the while taking in the interesting and emotional permanent Indigenous collection.