Big Gay Day @ the Wickham

Friday, March 10, 2006

This was a review of Big Gay Day - a Brisbane gay pride and dance music event that I covered for a music magazine a few years ago. I kind of like it.


An inflated condom floating over 11,000 outstretched hands, a slamming bass line slowly fading into white noise nothingness, two barefooted trannies sitting cross legged next to me on the roof of an old and dilapidated pub. Quiet descending across the crowd, not just the fade out of white noise but actual quiet... Utter insanity. But more on that later.

For those of you who have been under a rock, Big Gay Day is Brisbane's biggest, gayest day. A summer street party and charity fundraiser in those streets behind the Wickham that anybody with a valley PO box knows so well. BGD may not be mardi gras, but its still a great (Faaaabulous?) day out. This year's line-up, headlined by Special Guests the Rogue Traders (and Marcia Hines!) and some great local talent (DJ Duo the Double-up Bears playing 'The Bears Upstairs') screamed un-missable from the word go.

You don't need to be gay to really enjoy Big Gay Day. The music is always quality, if a little eclectic. Even if you can't bring yourself to listen to (or laugh at) the lesbian folk pop, you can always head into the bar and check out the Dj's inside, or get a few drunken photo's of yourself with the trannies. No matter what your sexual preference, Big Gay Day never fails to be an experience to remember.

We wandered over about 2 for our first view and some daytime photos. The guy at the gate told us that they'd already had about 5,000 people through the gates. There was already a reasonable crowd in the dance spaces, outside and inside and the tail-gaters were already getting settled in in the car park. We headed up with the tail-gaters to get some down shots, standing between A big dirty Ute with a plush pink interior and princess stamped on the seat covers and a couple with a baby strapped to Dad's back (tilted so the little tyke could see the trannies) we watched as two guys competed at handstand dancing competitions, showing all the signatures of a background in capoeira before they ended up collapsed on top of each other on the pavement laughing.

The heat drove us back to a friend’s apartment at McWhirters for a few hours before we decided it had cooled down enough to head back. The entry line up stretched from the eastern front corner of the Wickham back up past the post office and it wasn't in a hurry to move anywhere. God bless those press passes. Directly in front of us on the way in was a rather cute girl with her phone number on one shoulder and a running tally of hook-ups on the other shoulder (separated by gender). We took a photo, I'll text her if I can read her number and find out what the tally ended up at, watch the gallery for that. We saw a few people who'd come with a similar tactic as we wandered around. It was a constant wiggle to get anywhere - the space and the crowd (we heard 11,000 a bit later on, I'm still trying to get someone official to give me the actual numbers) just didn't match up. There were at least 150 people up in the car park looking down, half of them with bracelets on showing that they'd paid to get in, but had to head for higher ground above the sea of people. We were constantly pressed between daddy bears in leather and trannies in 5-inch heels. A girl(?) in a policewoman's outfit with giant stiletto’s and a well worn truncheon posed with her tranny partner for us before we headed inside.

Some more wiggling got us to the balcony. Like every one else we were just trying to spot our friends in the crowd. We just had the advantage of zoom lenses in the ridiculous game of Where’s Wally. We were constantly stopped by drunk or gurning camera whores who were begging to show off. The trannies were the only ones to show us their tits though, so disappointed.

Our passes said VIP, and we could see a VIP area over behind the DJ booth, so we wiggled over there from the bar, after half an hour of sweaty pressing we found out that no media were allowed into that particular VIP area, but if we headed back to the bar there was a balcony we could get to that was VIP only. After another half hour wiggling to get back, an emergency vodka stop at the bar and another 20 minutes of wiggling, a climb up some death defying stairs, some directions that involved going down the stairs, up the stairs, around the corner, down the stairs, through the little grungy laundry thing, past the machinery and around to the left, we eventually found it. Oh my god.

Above the crowd and too the right, we had an almost unobstructed view of the stage (ok, except for a light pole and speakers) and almost nobody else persevered to find the balcony. Chatting to the trannies we found out that it’s a staff only area usually and nobody else really knew about it. We had a shoebox-sized balcony for the most part to ourselves with one or two other bar staff or trannies on a smoke break for company. Apart from a few excursions (Slack photographer made me go every time!) to the bar for more Vodka, we didn't move until about 10. We sat and watched the beautiful people, and the drunks and the gurners, the make out sessions in the crowd, and a few people who were moving past 'making out' as such. The energy was spectacular. And I even got to use the bathroom with only one person in front of me in the line.

When Marcia hit the stage, the crowd insanity was impressive. And Mega-Drag and DJ Ish's bloody awesome set kept the crowd at an impressive fever pitch for well over an hour. And then we come back to where this story started. An inflated condom floating over 11,000 out stretched hands, sudden silence and the boom of mass insanity as Rogue Traders hit the stage.

It was madness. Take it from someone who spends the majority of Big Day Out at the front of the main stage mosh, the crowd was loosing its shit on an industrial scale as Rogue Traders absolutely destroyed the house. The photographer and I both agreed that we would absolutely fuck Natalie Bassingthwaighte (Natalie if you're reading this, email us!), my god she sang her gorgeous little bum off. The boys weren't half bad.

In all seriousness, I've been a big rogue traders fan for a while, even before they got Natalie involved, I was a big fan of the boy's work, especially their live performances. Seeing them play around the traps a few times had definitely put them well up there on my 'favourite artists' list, and Sunday night's performance certainly did not disappoint.

I do however feel a little sorry for the poor DJ that had to follow them. Watching the crowd pour out of the venue like they'd run out of booze had to be disinheriting. About then we ducked inside to catch a little of the double up bears, before running away from the leather daddies who wanted to make me into a glove puppet and home to fall down. Overall an officially top shelf evening. I just wish there was some way they could make the venue a little roomier for next years party. I’d really like to have enough room to get my camera up to my face somewhere other then the VIP balcony next time.


jess said...

I'm starting up a special savings account. "Get my ass to Australia. Soon."