Another year round and the 37th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade took over Oxford Street last Saturday Night, leaving glitter, happiness and lace-front wigs in its wake. It was my very first time being involved in the experience, so I adorned my inner glitter queen and flew up to Sydney for the closing weekend of the festivities. Here are some of the do’s and don’ts I learnt from being a rookie;
This is a MUST.
This is why one should go.
I wondered down to the parade at around 7:00pm, the parade starting at 7:45, which I quickly found was far too late. As one turns the corner onto Oxford Street, you see thousands of people peering over balconies, standing on podiums, and each other, buying $5 plastic stools from the street vendor. I’d advise anyone to head down at 6:00pm at the latest to secure a good spot.
In saying that, if you have height on your side, as I do, you still get to see a large chunk of the parade.
By golly, it was brilliant. First highlight was purely being amongst it. There is an infectious energy, which takes over you, and you find yourself woohoo-ing at any and every drag queen that walks past you. You make friends with your neighbour, you take photos together, you put glitter in each others hair. For most of us it’s a distraction from our regular lives, and an excuse to have fun for the night. Everyone is smiling and laughing, and you forget how easy it is to do exactly that.
The Parade itself was the pride party. The outfits were all kinds of creativity, stemming from pop culture references, from superheroes to sporting icons, to wearing barely anything at all, to angel wings, to Rastafarian realness, to sequined corsets, tighty-whities and the like. One is constantly enthralled by the experience. Personally, I couldn’t keep my mind from predicting what I was going to see next and I was rarely disappointed.
Each float was decked out in men, women, trans and everything in between. One memorable float was an old-fashioned Viking ship, painted in blue glitter and captained by a Viking queen with one very large beard. That’s not all, as most floats had a hoard of dancers following, with light wands, whistles or fans, dancing to the pop classics booming from the speakers in front of them. With choreographed routines! By the end of the parade I knew almost every lyric to Bruno Mars ‘Uptown Funk’, played on at least 5 different floats. That’s no negative.
As the parade winded down, we made our way back to our hotel to grab our things and headed to the festivities that followed.
The Official After Party
For the purpose of keeping this article PG rated, I won’t mention every dirty detail of the official Mardi Gras after party. However with a lineup of performances from Jessica Mauboy, Courtney Act and Nick Jonas, and sets from Drag Queen DJ Kitty Glitter and YO! M.A.F.I.A, the night went off with a bang. Quite Literally, with the regular occurrence of fireworks throughout the night. The after party being stationed at Moore Park, there were set lists running until 8am in the Horden Pavillion, the RHI, The Hi-Fi, PJ Gallaghers, the Sake Bar, and the Forecourt.
For a beginner, it’s good to review the set times and map before you go. One will learn there are hoards of people to get through and you often get separated from whoever you are with, so it’s important to know where you are going and when.
The Horden Pavillion and the RHI were the largest spaces, amazing light shows, and an incredible sound system. Both venues were packed to the brim with men, and women, with very limited clothing. Like nothing I’d ever seen, having close to 5’000 patrons in each building. It sounds rather confronting, but its the opposite. One should understand this is not a place for modesty, the point of the party is to embrace who you are organically, sexually, and be free from normal societies regulations. If there was one regret of mine, it was wearing too much clothing.
Nick Jonas is worth a mention also, putting on a great show, providing us with some heavier electronic remixes of his smash hit ‘Jealous’, which had everyone I could see singing along and dancing around together.
Before I had bought my tickets, particular Sydney-siders had advised me to skip the after-party, and to opt for the more alternative dance parties such as Heaps Gay or Love Cult. However for those who will be first timers next year I would highly recommend the after party, it was quintessential to my full Mardi Gras experience. Meaning the entire night was a world I was before naïve to, an experience full of firsts, and the huge event at Moore Park was a large chunk of that.
I walk away now with great intent to head back next year and experience it all over again.
However with less clothing and much more glitter.
If you’d like to find out more, visit the official Mardi Gras website here.
All images sourced from gettyimages.com