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Highlights and highjinks: Mardi Gras

If you’re anything like us, your daily routine consists of working your butt off, catching the tear-jerking monologue at the end of a hospital drama and then heading to bed after a microwave dinner. We think it’s time you stepped out of your comfort zone.

There’s a time and a place to unbutton your buttoned-down world, let your hair out and spew on the sidewalk at 3am, and it’s called the Parade Night at Sydney’s Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. From the cacophonous colours of the costumes to the presence of good-time seekers from around the globe, this is one of those things you’ve got to see and do at least once. It’s your chance to flash-dance in public, sweat stupidity with hoards of steamy sailors, and publically flaunt your bad-ass in that S&M costume sitting lonely at the back of your wardrobe. Since we had run out of Lean Cuisines and Rue Paul episodes to stream off of the internet, we dragged ourselves off the couch and caught up with some friends from around the city to talk about their favorite moments from Parade Night, as well as other Mardi Gras’ memories and misdemeanors, in homage to one of Sydney’s proudest traditions.

Maxi Shield, Drag Queen.

“I’ve got so many favorite memories from Mardi Gras. Seeing my brother in the crowd cheering and waving as I walk in the parade still makes me a little emotional. Leading a show in the Royal Hall of Industries, coming up the scissor lift and being hit with a wall of noise, I almost poop my pants. It’s amazing! But so is just sitting in the shade on Fair Day with close friends, a couple of bottles of wine and a picnic basket. At my first ever Mardi Gras, I was a young round country boy with all my straight friends, and over came a guy from a float to lay a huge wet kiss straight on my lips.....Fabulous!”

Rebecca Victoria, Model.

“My favorite moment from Mardi Gras was when I finished work quite late on the Parade night and wasn’t expecting to go out, and a bunch of girlfriends high-jacked me from work early and put me in a tiny little sailor’s costume. We all walked around in leotards and heels all night. It was a crazy night! We partied for three days afterwards because my friend had a rooftop on Oxford St. My advice for Mardi Gras is to wear what ever you want to but usually wouldn’t because it’s too outrageous. And don’t make any plans to go home, because there are heaps of babes! The gay scene in Sydney can seem a bit mainstream, but at Mardi Gras, everyone comes out and there are so many people that you never knew existed. Everyone comes out to show their pride, and it’s a good for a perve!”

Claire Lancaster, Makeup Artist.

“My personal favorite moment is seeing the streets packed to capacity full of both heterosexual and homosexual people that have come to support gay pride! Last year there were people so desperate to see all of the commotion and fabulous costumes and drag-tastic makeup that they were standing on shifty milk crates! It’s always such an amazing night. My advice to Mardi Gras virgins is to get in and claim your spot early. Go with a positive, open attitude and most importantly, dress up! My favorite thing is to have a fabulous day with my friends, support the parade, and apply outlandish makeup looks for my drag friends. Then we head to Sleazeball!”

Ashleigh Clouser, Freelance Stylist.

“Parade night is the best! Last year we dressed up as naughty French maids and carried a bag that said ‘Baguettes for Faguettes’. Everyone had such a great sense of humour, and we were asked to stop for pictures by tones of people. I think that’s the best part; everyone’s there just to have a good time. Political correctness is forgotten, because we’re all there to just have fun! There are such outrageous costumes everywhere. I just wish Parade night would stop stealing my thunder – it coincides with my birthday!”

After a bit of research, this year’s Parade Night looks to be the most fabulous one yet. The theme Mardi Gras’ History of the World will feature floats that celebrate performers such as Peter Allen and George Michael, as well as 18th century gay pirates and an army of drag queens dressed as Marie Antoinette. Apparently, there’s going to be over nine thousand people in the parade, which, by our quoted model’s standards, means a whole heap of ‘perving,’ and by our standards, means a whole heap of pride.

There are, of course, other events to look forward to at Mardi Gras. We asked party publicist Jeff McBride to share some of the highlights of this year’s events:

“What I love about Mardi Gras is the diversity of all the events. For example, the two things I’m looking forward to this year couldn’t be more different. The first is Queer Thinking: it’s our day of arts/literature discussions with international guests at the Seymour Centre – we’ve got professors, authors, photographers and even porn stars flying in from around the world for a healthy dose of mental stimulation. And then my all time favorite event is the Party. There’s this wonderful surreal feeling inside the Mardi Gras Party – you have about 18,000 of the most friendly, insanely dressed people you’ll ever see in your life dancing all night! And this year we have David Guetta, Carl Cox and some huge surprise guests performing who I’m not allowed to talk about but am so incredibly excited for!”

And if you’re in the mood to support a good cause, there’s the “glittering Dinner” at the Zoo, held on the other side of the harbour at our fair city’s iconic Taronga Zoo, in support of Australian Marriage Equality. Whether we’ll end up with the wildlife or enjoying the nightlife remains to be seen, but either way, we’re pretty excited about this year’s Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras launches today. For a full list of programs and festivities, visit

words: Zac Bayly


February 23, 2010 at 7:54 AM Online Bookshop said...

I've been to Mardi Gras a few times now and it's just a blast. Apart from the politics of gay pride, the event to me represents a theme of fun, adventure and self expression. As a straight female I find it exciting and exotic.

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