Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras
The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras showed
the rest of the world what it meant to come of age as the iconic event returned
for its 30th anniversary this year. The 3 week festival kicked off on Saturday
9 February with a commemorative tree planting ceremony in Centennial Park
and culminated in the world famous parade along Oxford Street on Saturday 1 March. All
people around the world were invited to take part in the celebrations and join
the parade under the theme of ‘Brave New Worlds’. The theme encourages a
reflective look at how far Mardi Gras has come over the past three decades, as
well as a look to the future where we, as homosexuals, continue to strive for
equality and acceptance.
Marcus Bourget, the Mardi Gras Chairman said; “Mardi Gras’
30th anniversary is a milestone that would have looked like a distant reality
to Mardi Gras founders. Thirty years on and we continue to draw motivation by
looking back at the hard work and dedication of thousands of volunteers that
have helped bring Mardi Gras this far and will continue to inspire us in the
The 2008 arts, sports and cultural festival, infamous parade
and party saw a wealth of international and national performers and visitors.
Multiple Grammy, Emmy and American Music Award winner Cyndi Lauper, Grammy Award-winner,
English-born, Australian-raised pop singer, songwriter and actress Olivia
Newton-John. 2001 Grammy winning DJ
Hex Hector and internationally acclaimed stand up comic Margaret Cho were just some of the
talent headlining the 30th anniversary celebrations.
The ever-popular Fair Day was on Sunday 17 February
and attracted more than 60,000 people as it does every year. For many, the ‘big
gay picnic day in the park’ is the highlight of the season with its relaxed
atmosphere, live entertainment and food and shopping stalls offering something
for everyone. Sydney’s
campest pooch paradise ‘Doggywood’ is also a popular event at Fair Day, along
with ‘Kidszone’ and the funky ‘Lounge Tent’ for those who want to boogie!
Another big piece of news this
year was that Harbour Party which is Sydney’s most glamorous dance event was, for
the first time ever, produced by Mardi Gras themselves. The ever popular sunset
party overlooking the Opera House and Harbour Bridge
at Mrs Macquarie’s Point was called “Sol Y Luna” and held on Sunday 24
To conclude the three week festival, the spectacular Mardi
Gras Parade, watched by almost 300,000 people each year, wound its way along Sydney’s gay iconic Oxford Street
wowing people from all over the world with the stunning costumes and floats.
The Parade comes to a halt at Moore
Park where the sold out (over 15,000 people) dance
party kicked off; the official Mardi Gras Party at Fox Studios.
Brimming with social and cultural benefits, Mardi Gras has
contributing to Sydney’s reputation as a global
city and brings thousands of international and interstate visitors who inject
more than $46 million to the New
South Wales economy. Mardi Gras is a celebration of
pride and diversity that delivers its messages with humour and pizzazz – the
festival brings all members of the gay and lesbian community together and is
loved and enjoyed by all people from across Australia and the world.
Mardi Gras Parade…
The parade is a celebration of pride,
diversity and acceptance and showcases the city of Sydney in all its colour, creativity and joy
105 floats and thousands of
participants danced and celebrated their way towards a “Brave New World” along Sydney’s iconic Oxford street,
marking the 30th Anniversary a unique Australian tradition that’s
famous around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people clug to every building
and lamp post along the 1.6 kilometre route to watch the glitz and glamour that
the annual Mardi Gras Parade delivers and show their support for the movement
towards full equality.
The Chief of Parade is one of the
most anticipated posts of the Mardi Gras Parade, with past representation from
actor Rupert Everett in 2007 and opera singer Deborah Cheetham in 2006. This year,
international comic sensation Margaret Cho lead the parade after wowing Australian crowds
the following week with the World Premiere of her show – “Beautiful”.
Accompanying the Chief of Parade
was the Sydney
couple Craig Gee and Shane Brennen, who where brutally beaten in a homophobic
attack last year and returned to Oxford
Street for the first time. This time, a train of
floats 6 kilometers long who wore their hearts on their sleeves in support of
craig, shane and other victims of homophobic violence.
The stars of this years parade
featured a diverse mix of Australian and international participants with floats
from Tasmania, Auckland,
Perth, Brisbane, Canberra and even San
Francisco. For many involved, it’s the perfect
opportunity to make a political point and reminisce on the years gone by; for
others it’s a chance to revel in the extravagant floats and vibrant atmosphere.
For many, the excitement was their
first Mardi Gras experience. Among them, 100 revs who are marching as an open
apology to gays and lesbians for their treatment by Christian church, as well
as the Australian Defence Force.
Key floats in this years parade also
included the iconic Dykes on Bikes who kicked off the parade in their usual
fanfare followed by Boys on Bikes, an ode controversial Britney Spears and Australia’s own
Ben Cousins and sexy surf lifesavers flying the red and yellow flags.
Thirty years after a momentous
time in the gay and lesbian history, the fight for acceptance and equality is
still going. The original participants in the original Parade, affectionately
called the 78er’s, were also present as the lead float in this years Parade,
marching once again for greater equality as they did thirty years ago.
More info at www.MardiGras.org.au
Mardi Gras Party…
Four spectacular dance worlds and over 20 DJs all created an explosive end to the 30th anniversary
celebrations for Mardi Gras 2008 “Brave New Worlds”. DJs flew in from across
the planet, coming from New York, London, Barcelona, Berlin and Auckland
to spin alongside the local Australian DJs. Mardi Gras transformed The Royal
Hall of Industries at Fox Studios into a glittering “Discotarium”. Spinning
universal past, present and future dance anthems, dance remix sensation Hex Hector (New York)
was joined by Paul Goodyear (Barcelona).
Paul now has residencies in Amsterdam, London and San
Francisco and has played at Mardi Gras parties since
1991. “After playing many Mardi Gras parties and being part of the scene for
the last 23 years, I can’t wait to showcase and remix some of the big Gay Icons of the last 30
years. You’ll be able to dance with Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Sylvester, George
Michael, Eartha Kitt and me. Expect grand from Mizz Goodyear!” Building from
its success at “Zirkus” Sleaze Ball, the Hordern Pavillion was trance-formed
into “Neon Fusion” - an eruption of lasers, uplifting and vocal trance with DJ
Marty flying in from Auckland
to take over the decks. Marty is a regular at New
Zealand’s Salvation and Hero parties and was spinning in Sydney for the first time.
For the 30th anniversary the Dome returned to its traditional tribal and
animalistic roots becoming “Zootopia”. Jack Chang, sailing down from London, was joined by local-boy Mike Kelly now based in Berlin. Jack is well
known on the European leather and tribal scene with residencies at Greenkomm,
Love Muscle, Fist (London)
and many others. Jack and Mike recently played the main floor sets for the
hugely successful Hustlaball in Berlin.
Mike Kelly, well known in the Sydney local
scene, has also built an impressive residency list in Europe, including
Greenkomm in Cologne, Naughty in Brussels and Insatiable in Madrid.
Recommended Sydney web sites: