SF Spotlight: 2014 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
No sooner have the last vestiges of glitter and feather boas been put away when Sydneysiders start working on their (faux) tan, flashy floats and six-pack abs for the next instalment of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. I mean, it takes effort to look this good, and it just doesn’t happen overnight.
Now in its 36th year, Mardi Gras has come a long way from the first march consisting of several hundred gays, lesbians and supporters that took place on Saturday, June 24 in 1978 and was stopped by police. By 1979, the new Public Assemblies Act meant Sydneysiders no longer needed a permit to demonstrate, and 3,000 marched in an incident-free parade. The post-parade party was added to the mix in 1980 and now the event has expanded into a 3-week festival of fabulousness in the form of theatre and comedy shows, fun runs, cabaret, pool parties, film screenings and art exhibitions.
The festival culminates with the famous annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade where around 10,000 marching boys, dykes on bikes and assorted floats and community groups take to the streets, making their way along Oxford and Flinders Streets. This year, the parade is on Saturday, March 1 from 6:30pm to 10pm. If you’re not marching or shimmying, it’s best to turn up early (BYO milk crate!) to catch all the action and bag yourself a prime spot along the parade route, or opt for paid viewing seats in a grandstand seating (The Flinders Seats). The best vantage points to watch the parade are Taylor Square (where there is also a members-only club complete with viewing platforms, DJs and cocktail bars), outside the Oxford Hotel in Darlinghurst on Oxford Street, or near the end at the junction of Flinders Street and Moore Park Road. There’s also the Glamstand at the corner of Moore Park Road and Anzac Parade.
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is now one of Australia’s biggest tourism drawcards with up to 500,000 watching the parade from all around Australia and overseas. If you’re not in Sydney, you can catch all the glittered, bejewelled and fab action on TV with SBS2 broadcasting the parade on Sunday, March 2 at 8:30pm. Who’ll be topical and parodied this year in the floats? Last year was all Bob Katters, and marriage equality and whistleblower Bradley Manning were hot topics. We’re guessing our changing roster of prime ministers and some popular TV shows will definitely get a look in this year!
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