Sydney Mardi Gras: Week 103

Sydney Mardi Gras Parade 2013, official photo

I did not take this photo.

I could not see metallic fuchsia tassels caterwauling through the air.

I missed the feathered and bedazzled showgirls and the techno music pumping from their float was muffled by a 7 ft tall x 3 ft wide wall of human bodies.

I was at the Sydney Mardi Gras, I just couldn’t see a thing.

“Barret, I can’t see a thing.”

The parade had begun at Hyde Park before heading down Oxford Street. At a fork in the road, the route veered right towards the Glam Stand at the end of Flinders Street.

Sydney Mardi Gras 2013, photo by Ann Marie Calilhanna

Theoretically such a long route should have had plenty of viewing options, but it didn’t. I had completely underestimated the amount of people who would turn up for the 35th annual parade.

“Well,” Barret decided, “let’s keep moving.”

We passed six feet tall drag queens and vendors selling plastic step ladders and neon glow sticks.  Unlike the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, people weren’t able to drink alcohol along the parade route. It made for less drunken antics, but the glitter pasties were just as abundant and just as sparkly under the streetlamps.

Almost forty minutes later we were at the end of the route. There were still no good spots so we settled on a partially obscured view.

Sydney Mardi Gras 2013, photo by Ann Marie Calilhanna

We had already missed the trumpeting Dykes on Bikes motorcade, but we were just in time for the Harbour City Bears.  They strutted past in jean shorts and suspenders, followed by a group of people in matching T-shirts dancing to Rihanna’s We Found Love in a Hopeless Place.

Although I had only seen a small part of what I had intended to see, the energy and excitement was still infectious. For all the people straddling the sickly sweet trashcans, awkwardly dangling from smooth trees, and precariously balancing on marble ledges, a good view of the parade was worth the discomfort. I agree, but maybe next year I’ll bring my own milk crate to stand on.

About: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

ARQ Sydney: Week 99

ARQ Sydney: photo by

Oh my God!”

A tall slender boy approached. His hair was bleach blond and swept straight off his scalp into a quiff; a throwback to the pompadour.

The lights were dim. Laser beam trajectories pivoted down from the ceiling and ran over us as if we were supermarket goods. I didn’t know this guy so I closed my eyes and kept dancing in the hope that would clear up the confusion.

Oh my God!” He cried again.

He halted right before me with a bewilderingly familiar smile spread across his carefully made-up face. His eyebrows hovered high upon his brow indicating amazement and incredulity.

“J Law!”


“J Law. Jennifer Lawrence. Hunger Games? You look just like J Law!”

I don’t look anything like Jennifer Lawrence.

AH….” he gasped, “HUGS!”

It was a delicate hug, the kind you would give a celebrity after a surgical procedure.

“You know what,” I paused to sip on my rum and coke, “most people tell me I look like Daryl Hannah.”


This boy was clearly younger than me. Barret and I listed a few films from the 80s, the same decade his shirt referenced, but it drew blanks. Finally we mentioned Kill Bill.

“You remember the lady with the one eye patch?”

Oh my God!”  That struck a chord. “HUGS!”

Then I mentioned our group of three was from the US- he received it like a dramatic reveal on Extreme Home Makeover.

“Oh my God. Oh my God!

I really was beginning to feel famous. Too bad the bouncers hadn’t had the same reaction, I would have saved twenty-five dollars. Living in Las Vegas had definitely spoiled me- getting into world-class clubs for free made me very reluctant to pay any entrance fee.

ARQ Sydney bills itself as the only purpose-built entertainment venue in Sydney. Its website also states that it took five years to research and build, which left me feeling a bit cynical. After working in liquor licensing I wondered how much “research” had been simply dedicated to paperwork and impact statements instead of design and upgrading air conditioning systems.

I still hadn’t figured out the purpose for the carpeted foyer which was separated from the dance floor by an annoyingly slow revolving glass door.

Can my friend and I dance with you guys?”

“Of course!”

I will never be a famous actress and ARQ will never be a premier destination, but at that moment it was fun to pretend.

At the very least, I could just dance like I really was talented and famous.

How to get to ARQ Sydney: 16 Flinders Street Darlinghurst NSW

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