Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mardi Gras Post-Mortem

Won't go into great detail about Mardi Gras weekend, other than to say it was all fun and games and I didn't lose an eye or any other body part. I decided to volunteer this year since, being a critic of the disastrous MG launch, I felt I had one of two ways to go: continue being an armchair critic, which anyone can be, or do my tiny, pissy bit to make the remainder of MG less horrendous.

The weather was still and balmy - God must have thrown his bone to Fred Nile the weekend before when the Azure harbour party was eventually washed out, but there wasn't a drop to drink on parade night.

The group of volunteers to which I was assigned consisted of (I presume) heterosexual mums from the Central Coast, who varied from not-at-all to far-too-much in the seriousness with which they took their responsibilities. Basically, I was a Floats door bitch on Elizabeth Street, ushering in trucks and utes as they arrived and refusing entry to those not branded with the Precious Yellow Wristband. I then had to check that all my delegated floats were roadworthy, then walk down the parade with a couple of floats ensuring they didn't bunch up next to each other, break down, go in the wrong direction, bust random bad Dannii moves, etc. I somehow ended up between the "bums for drums" (tribal drummers, not homeless junkies) and the "Queer Revolt", the sort of feral broad-left SUG (socialist until graduation) kiddies that even other feral broad-left SUG kiddies fear. Actually, that's probably a little unfair. They behaved themselves quite well, the van driver was pleasant and co-operative and they seemed to be having too much fun to whinge about how "fuk't" everything is, as is their usual cat-call.

As the parade made its way down Oxford Street three male QR paraders seemingly blended together at their hips were incapable of drawing breath from their 3-way pashing - I imagine they thought they were being hot, cutting edge and shocking, but being so hideously unattractive they failed on all 3 counts.

Say what you will about MG - criticise it as out-of-date, passe, tacky, commercial, sold-out, yadda yadda - but march in it, just once, and tell me you don't have a good time. Tell me the screams and laughter of 500,000 (if you ask the MG organisers) or 37 (if you ask the Salt Shakers*) people cheering from behind the barricades doesn't warm even the frostiest heart. Tell me the big grins on toddlers perched on their dads' shoulders as they stare in confused awe at all the colourful boys and girls aren't just the tiniest bit cute.

OK, so it's never going to be like its mid-90s hey-day again. It doesn't need to be. Politically, we've come a long way since then, even though we still have a while to go. Socially, there's not much left with which to shock and outrage the brave punters who attend. The cool homo kids today don't need a big parade of old poofs and dykes to validate their sense of self-esteem. And good luck to them. Doesn't mean there isn't a teenager stuck in, I don't know, Parkes, who's seen MG on Pay-per-View or splashed in the tabloids and been reminded there is a world that can understand he's different and won't condemn him to life as a pariah for it. Years ago when I was struggling with my Big Secret I was lucky enough to watch MG at its peak, usually on the ABC (fuck you very much, Senator Richard Alston), and the hope and inspiration it provided me was unquantifiable.

Anyway, the overall mood of 2006 MG was resurgence, a wake-up call to people to get off their arses and stop complaining, otherwise there might just be no parade at all. The 30 year anniversary in 2008 should help with this, too.

After-party was, well, after-party. Yes, I'm that jaded and cynical breed of queen who reckons if you've been to one 10,000+ Hordern party of shirtless muscle maries with their arses hanging out of their leather Gs, you've been to them all. Having said that, the music in the Hordern Pavillion was especially awesome, mixing in the definitive trance anthems at just the right points. Jimmy Somerville still sounds pretty good live, and his plethora of dancing beauties didn't harm his cause.

One disappointment was New Mardi Gras Chair Marcus Bourget - again - using his opportunity to speak to the masses as an invitation to get laid. More foolish than his off-loading of responsibility for the Launch debacle, speaking as he was as though we all loved him now and had forgiven him for his immediate sins of the past. Still, to his credit, he looks all right in nothing but leather straps. Perhaps, like so many Sydney gay men, he should function just by standing mutely and looking pretty.

A new innovation for me at this particular after-party was having a boy to play with - and I don't mean one I met in the course of the night, as is my usual form. This boy - let's call him "Geoff" - has been on the scene for a while now and appears to be working out disturbingly well. It was a bit of a minor headfuck having to be conscious of and sensitive to Geoff's presence, usually because being single at an MG after-party I can skip around at will from friend/friendship group to friend/friendship group without any long-term expectations. But I felt Geoff deserved more of me - not to mention I actually wanted to spend time with him - so after a shaky start I eventually struck a balance between Geoff Time and Friend Time, and (hopefully) neither was left wanting by the time I eventually got over it and went home (at the Nanna time of 6:30am, no less).

As always, my attendance at non-march/party MG events was woeful, managing only appearances at a few short and feature film events and the Kylie exhibit at the Powerhouse. As I've said for the last three years, I will rectify that next year.

I can strongly recommend volunteering. The organisation of volunteers leaves a bit to be desired - I wasn't informed of my group or essentially my duties until on the day - but once you know what you're doing it's a good opportunity to meet some fun people, help keep the crowd in good spirits and get an excellent vantage point for the parade. Plus a half-price ticket for the after-party.

*I must again ask the person who I can only assume is a QP reader, who keeps using my name and email address when forwarding pro-queer online articles (such as success of this year's MG) to Peter Stokes: I know you mean well, but please, I have no interest in corresponding with Stokes. The man is completely incapable of rational, reasoned discussion of anything and I don't want to waste his time or mine, and I don't care for his sanctimonious, self-righteous "replies" to "my" emails when I haven't actually sent him anything. Cheers.

(Quick aside: Anybody with an interest in the upcoming SA election - and, specifically, the fate of the stalled Relationships Bill that will catch SA up to the rest of the country - may have been disturbed to read about a "deal" brokered between Labor and Family Fist in which the latter would offer preferences in exchance for the former offering a conscience, rather than Causcus-binding, vote on the Bill if/when it's re-introduced into parliament after the election. This was reported in both the 'Tiser and the Oz - neither of which ever guarantees authenticity of a story - but has since been strongly denied by both parties. Unfortunately this doesn't lessen the possibility of a Liberal/Family Fist majority in the Upper House, which would likely stall the Bill indefinitely, but it's nice to see Labor maintain at least a pretence of social justice.)


At 8/3/06 3:12 pm, Blogger JahTeh said...

No pictures of the crowd controlling power mad penguin?

Sincerely hope you are wrong about a Lib/FF majority.

At 8/3/06 3:16 pm, Blogger Sam said...

but being so hideously unattractive they failed on all 3 counts.

HA! See, now wasn't bitching about the superficial aspects of MG ever so much fun?

At 8/3/06 3:19 pm, Blogger Sam said...

I prefer the term "tough love" to "bitching"...

Sorry JT no pics. Digital camera is next on Santa's list.

At 8/3/06 4:22 pm, Blogger j(aded) said...

Bless you volunteers.

I do hope there were no petrol vomit spewers on your route!

At 8/3/06 7:15 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully without sounding like an SMP (smug-married-person) I have to say the parties are an entirely different kettle of fish with a significant other on your arm. At the very least you have someone you can drool "I love you" to whilst tired-and-emotional without them running screaming from the Hordern!

Still - being single obviously has its advantages too! :o) CW

At 9/3/06 11:19 am, Blogger Sam said...

Indeed, j.

*looks(Sam) at no-one in particular...*

At 14/3/06 9:15 am, Blogger J.B. said...

This is the 4th parade and party I have missed. In most part cause I live in a freezing cold place called London. Looking forward to it next year! Thanks for the great post.



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