It’s rare to find a festival that doesn’t really feel like a festival, Anna Whitelaw and Mason Browne have managed to find this somewhere in the air, nestled up Lake Mountain, Marysville.
In it’s 2nd year, Gaytimes Festival has firmed it’s footing in the boutique festival category with visitors hailing far east, far west, interstate and even a lone Canadian wandering around. With a cap of around 1000 patrons, the festival, more backyard dance party, feels like that one friend with a family estate that says “you know what will be fun? Lets camp 0n my dads property and set up a stage for live music – I’ll bring the goon bags.”
It really did feel like that, with 999 of your closest friends constructing a pseudo village that believed in limitless self-expression, free love and a line up of music as diverse and eclectic as the audience.
In the mountains of all places, perched in Lake Mountain Alpine Resort, the surrounding allure of the steep gorges lined with ghost white trees created a sense of escape – that the city and commercial and cultural margins the confined these people were long behind them.
It was time to let it all hang out – literally, for some – with gay, straight, trans, intersex, gender binary, all feeling invited to wear and present themselves exactly how they pleased.
We were all there to party anyway, so what does it matter what you wear. As long as that glitter tush was in the moshpit dancing to 80’s classics, regardless of the freezing temperatures, the intention was clear. Have fun. Be Merry. Drink Lots.
The stage saw an amazing suite of performers entertain the crowd – we had an MC wearing only a face of makeup, the Gay times Drag race saw normal civilians have a foot race in makeshift garments, Ali Barter brought some Brunswick bass guitar to the mix – and a sea of denim jackets swinging their fruit alexia in the air, Ngaiire and her band absolutely slammed their set – the vocals on that woman is power house and had the crowd completely elated, Habits were a surprise standout – donned in white bath robes, their dark electronic aesthetic had the audience eerily engaged, The Harpoons brought the smooth funk to the stage – soulful duets between the lead vocalists rang true to the free love movement and was a perfect segue into the sticky, sweaty Locker Room rave.
The Locker Room was where the hoards ended their night, back to back in a dark concrete room lit only by disco lights – it was hard not to feel a little hot under the collar, but again this is where the action was. Reminiscent of Boiler Room set ups, the heavy hitting electronic beats kept the mole rats up until the early hours.
Overall the festival offered an experience like no other. There was no commercial agenda, nor was the lineup pushed down your throat, you chose your own journey. Some sat on the grassy knoll listening to Jimi Trail or Zebulen serenade with acoustic sets, others participated in Tantric rope tying classes, and some people never left their tent – rightly located on ‘Nang Walk’. The pressure was off, the mood was high and you’re purpose was to create your own experience in an environment where that experience avoided judgement or limitations.
Gaytimes – I will definitely return next year. However my guess is the festival may need to upgrade their venue as I have a sneaky suspicion the demand for tickets is only going to escalate. You heard it here first!