Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is on its way, with one message, create equality! Kicking off Friday 17 February, and running for two weeks until Sunday 5 March 2017, the bumper program of events, exhibitions, music and theatre is an all-inclusive, all-singing, all-dancing celebration of Australia’s LGBTQI community.
2017’s theme is Creating Equality – a poignant message that has been a cornerstone of Mardi Gras’ ethos since its humble beginnings in 1978. Equality means many things, and in 2017 Mardi Gras want to celebrate how far Australia has come in accepting and embracing its LGBTQI communities, and what positive steps there are still to make.
New Creative Director Greg Clarke is thrilled to present the program, “With over 80 events in store, Mardi Gras is going to be one amazing celebration. We’ve got some incredible new events including Koori Gras @ 107 a festival within the festival where people have the opportunity to discover the history of First People’s involvement in Mardi Gras,” said Greg Clarke.
“We’ve collaborated with the Art Gallery of NSW to present a number of special events around the Adman: Warhol before pop exhibition as well as partnering with Frontier Comedy which will see huge international and local comedians alike come together for the Mardi Gras Comedy Festival.”
Of course all the old favourites are back. Fair Day will return with tens of thousands of people coming together for a day in the sun. With over 12,000 party-goers from around the city, across Australia and all over the world the official Mardi Gras Party is our festival’s unmissable extravaganza.
“And the 2017 Party is shaping up to be one of the best yet! And of course the jewel in the crown of Mardi Gras, the Parade will take place on Saturday 4 March and offer a chance for over 200,000 LGBTQI people and their supporters to come together and celebrate the community,” added Clarke.
2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival highlights include:
Festival favourite for all the family, Fair Day is your one stop shop for feathers and faux leather, mojitos and live performance, what’s not to love? On Sunday 19 February, 2017, Fair Day will host 80,000 smiling faces enjoying a free fun filled day out with kindred spirits, including those doggie divas of course. This year Mardi Gras invite you to bring a fabulous shoe to glitter bomb which will then become part of a special SGLMG float in the Parade.
It’s so risqué, but oh boy it pays to be gay at Pool Party! As electric beats waft over the crystal clear waters of an exclusive CBD rooftop pool, let a Long Island cool you off as budgie smugglers raise the heat. A party where less is more, and all those months of primping and preening pay off, but let’s play safe, no running at the pool.
The wrong side of 30 but classier than ever, The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is 39 and ready to shine. Oxford Street, Sydney’s original gay and lesbian district welcomes over 200,000 spectators young and old for a street parade to rival Rio and top Trinidad. As hogs snort and divas dance, over 10,000 dazzling parade entrants will skip, saunter and sashay their way up the iconic drag on Saturday 4 March, 2017. The event is once again supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.
Watch on like a VIP at Parade Sideshow and Diamond Club. At Parade Sideshow you can feed your inner mean girl with sassy chat and controversial conversations from show stopping hosts. This elevated arena truly is the best vantage point as you gaze upon the revelers below. Diamonds really are a girl’s best friend, with live big screens, private facilities, exclusive access only bars, food stalls and primo seating Diamond Club will have you feeling like a real Oxford Street Blue Blood.
Post parade, it’s The Official Mardi Gras Party. Raise the roof with over 12,000 ticket holders at Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter. This Party is a stomper and not for any shrinking violets, with a red hot line-up of performers, local and international DJ’s.
Not filled your dance quota? Laneway is the only way to say Au Revoir to Mardi Gras 2017. A Sydney institution that began with some milk crates and a boom box, this party is intimate and the best way to round off a mammoth Mardi Gras Festival. This one is a sell out event every year, so don’t dawdle, get your tickets while you can.
Koori Gras @ 107
New addition to the program, Koori Gras @ 107 is a week-long festival all of its own, and a look at the First People’s of Mardi Gras. From a special exhibition providing a truly breathtaking glimpse into the shared stories and history for First People’s gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, Sista girl, brothaboy, inter-sexed and queer community to a special one off cabaret night packed with black drag performers and DJ’s.
Throughout the week Black Point will invite strangers to sit, connect with one another before becoming the backdrop for a communal “feed” and open mic night on Saturday 25 February. Koori Gras @ 107 is produced by Moogahlin Performing Arts in association with 107 Projects, Intimate Spectacle and Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras Comedy Festival
It’s gags and giggles galore with the Mardi Gras Comedy Festival. The festival kicks off with the Mardi Gras Comedy Gala featuring an array of local and international queer and queer friendly comedy talent including America’s most famous Tupperware Lady, the gorgeous Dixie Longate. Then across various Sydney venues, sides will be split with a line-up of International stars such as Ireland’s First Lady Panti Bliss, and Inside Amy Schumer’s raw and riotous Bridget Everett. Home grown laugh merchants Em Rusciano, Joel Creasey, and Rhys Nicholson join in on the fun ready to charm crowds with witty banter and audacious anecdotes. Mardi Gras Comedy Festival is presented in partnership with Frontier Comedy.
If you like a lady who’s good with her hands, we’ve got just the ticket for you. Lesbian folk pop superstars Bluehouse, Hussy Hicks and the unbelievably talented Christie Lee are all performing at Girrlz with Guitarz. Strumming strings and breaking hearts are what these ladies do best, so get your sing-a-long game face on and rock out like a champ Friday, 3 March at Leadbelly, Newtown.
Celebrating Dame Shirley turning 80, Diamonds Are For Trevor is the most fabulous two act show and tour of Shirley’s life complete with flash and frequent diva tantrums. Multi-award winning cabaret darling Trevor Ashley performs hit after hit, accompanied by a stunning 24 piece orchestra. Get ready for big jewels, big hair, big lungs and an even bigger attitude.
Cabaret The Musical will awaken your inner Sally Bowles! This new Australian revival of the 1972 cult classic has all the high kicks and hair flicks you can handle. This production has attitude for days, but isn’t around for long so get your tickets quick mein heir before they all go too-da-loo!
New Theatre presents Douglas Carter-Beane’s bitingly funny tale of sexual ambiguity and immoral values, The Little Dog Laughed – a scathing attack on Hollywood double standards and a moving portrayal of people yearning to connect. Mitchell is an actor, a rising star and firmly in the closet. Diane is his take-no-prisoners agent and awards-night beard. On a business trip to New York, Mitch calls for a rent boy and young hustler Alex turns up. Within days, Mitch is declaring he’s in love and planning to ‘come out’.
In Difference by Craig Bary and his exceptional artistic team express the debate surrounding marriage equality through graceful yet powerful choreography with glimmers of passionate and tender narrative. In short a fascinating look at the human psyche and the pursuit for connection.
Visual Arts, Film and Design
A visionary and an icon, Adman: Warhol before Pop takes us back in time, pre-pop, pre-mad men. Adman is a rare opportunity to encounter the formative years of one of the world’s most influential artists, providing deeper insight into the making of an icon, but hold on there’s more. Queer Art After Hours is a free pop-up at the Art Gallery of NSW, celebrating Warhol and Mardi Gras with some of the most outrageous and ostentatious performers in town.
Knitting is for nanas, crocheting is so on fleek. The Australian Design Centre presents Chili Philly: Crochet Social – the brainchild of Melbourne based artist Phil Ferguson. Now insta-famous because of his wearable art, Ferguson’s hot dogs could soon be on the catwalks of Milan darlings. The adults only ‘Cocktails and Crochet’ night lets enthusiasts mingle and talk patterns, whilst kiddies workshops will see even little ones dip their toe in the dark arts of crocheting.
For all you queer cinephiles, Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival is your excuse to ditch the gym and grab that jumbo bucket of popcorn. Whether you love a good tear jerker, or laughing so hard your tinder date bounces before the credits roll, this year’s program is a homage to all things rom-coms, drama, and thrillers.
A platform for all members of the LGBTQI tribe, My People | My Tribe #barenakedtruth is an amazing community art project that endeavours to create a platform where LGBTQI community member’s secrets, vulnerabilities and ambitions are laid bare. The project has been woven into the Mardi Gras creative and hopes to foster growth and understanding of LGBTQI communities around the world.
YES! & I Remember House are back. YES! is described as IRH’s younger sister, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! IRH is the original hot bed of electric-house beats and one of Sydney’s best known day dance parties. Both soirees are held at the Ivy Complex and will play host to local and international DJ’s. These parties pack a massive Mardi Gras punch so if you bruise like a peach best be careful possum.
PlanetDwellers’ Mardi Gras Sunset Cruise is back on Tuesday 28 February. Grab a bunch of friends for a very Mardi Gras take on a must-do Sydney experience. Watch the sunset as you cruise the sparkling waters of Sydney’s world famous Harbour, soaking in the stunning views from the rooftop deck of the luxury boat, and discover a new perspective on one of the world’s most beautiful harbour cities.
Papa Party – the world famous gay party that rocks cities to within an inch of their speedos is in Sydney. If top class performances, amazing energy and international DJ’s spinning tune after tune isn’t enough, maybe an escort home by Superman or the Hulk will seal the deal.
We wouldn’t wear your whites to this party, because you’re going to go home Extra Dirty. Growing a rep for itself as one of the coolest leather and fetish parties around, Extra Dirty is not only for the seasoned pros but for all those who fancy some fun.
If Oxford Street took human form she would be called Oxtravaganza. This colourful community event will be broadcast by Mardi Gras partners Gay Radio and BBR, and is full of free events, localised art happenings, street stalls and even a window dressing competition. Let local musicians serenade you as you rub shoulders with drag royalty perusing the wares of Sydney’s LGBTQI subcultures in the historic gay precinct. All proceeds are donated to the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation so dig deep guys and dolls.
Marrickville we hope you like a handful, because Welcome to Breastiville is coming to town. A celebration of LBQ women, with photo booths and complimentary mammograms and dashings of live music from bands Bluehouse and That Red Head. Presented by fabulous sponsors ACON, BreastScreen NSW and The Cancer Institute of NSW to name but a few, this community initiative is one breast friendly event you won’t want to miss out on.
Sports and Outdoor Events
Sporty spice or purely a spectator, An Evening with Greg Louganis & Other Sporting Greats will have you brimming with sporting admiration. Having been the subject of two books and three docos, Greg sits down for a candid chat on his life as an Olympian and the thrills and spills he encountered as a LGBT sports super star.
The most stylish run in Sydney, the Little Black Dress Run takes over Centennial Parklands on Sunday 26 February 2017. Rock your frock for the 3km run/walk in the name of charity. The event has become a “must do” for the Mardi Gras season, so frock up and stretch out those hamstrings and strap on those heels.
“This February we welcome you to Sydney, which sparkles a little bit brighter every year during Mardi Gras,” says Terese Casu, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO. “Our festival resonates around the world, as we welcome LGBTQI visitors and friends from all over Australia and every corner of the globe. We’re very excited to present an eclectic program of events for all ages designed to bring us together in celebration.”
The 2017 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras runs 17 February to 5 March. For more information, visit: www.mardigras.org.au for details.
Image: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade – photo by Hamid Mousa