First Published: March 2004
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.

Don't Rain On My Parade sang la Streisand, but at this year's Mardi Gras in Sydney unfortunately it did, writes OutUK's Christopher Kelly.
You can measure the success of your Mardi Gras by the length of time it takes to recover. It‘s mid-morning Thursday (EST) and I’ve only now just enough wits about me to turn on the computer. Whether I’ll be able to tap sentences out is another thing. Thoughts are still lost in a fog of vagueness, suggesting my Mardi Gras was pretty wild. Flashback to Saturday afternoon and it wasn’t looking so bright.

The extreme-right-wing evangelical state MP, the Rev Fred Nile, however, was grinning from ear to ear. Every Mardi Gras he and a band of followers fervently pray for rain. This year their prayers had been answered. It was absolutely pissing it down.

And none of this wishy-washy spittle that you get in the UK. We're talking full-on downpour. It was chucking it so hard there were hopes the lead float would be an ark. But while the torrent was flooding Sydney, it wasn’t dampening spirits. Cheesey but true. Come hell or high water (and the level was rising worryingly fast) the parade was on and happening.
But you had to be dressed for the occasion, and it wasn’t a good look. Plastic ponchos ruled the day. Soaked dags lined the route, rainbow umbrellas in hand. Huddled underneath, some 200,000 of us cheering the bedraggled participants on.
130 floats passed us by, from the political, the glamorous and the downright surreal. Standouts - a group of drag queens baring breasts due to wardrobe malfunctions and George W. and Australia’s Little Johnny walking hand in hand screaming to be married. One of the biggest feel-good cheers of the night went out for the Middle East Queers.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to break the world record, soggy onlookers were asked to perform a mass ‘YMCA’. Not easy while holding an umbrella. Dangerous too. St John’s were inundated with injuries. Eye patches became fashion accessories.

To escape the deluge the floats flew by with those on foot following at a Benny Hill pace. By 10:30 the parade was over in double-quick time.

After which, 17,000 revelers heaved into the Hordern Pavilion for the official party. On-the-floor reports hailed the sell-out event a huge success. Good news for organizers, who for the first time in years are calculating a profit.
Those of us without tickets gnashed our teeth and hit the streets. Everywhere seemed to be full with a good time being had by all. People partied on a mix of pills, speed, amyl and ice. A minority, who just won’t be told, conked out on GHB. And so we partied, on and on and on. And then some. (One more never hurts). Many not crashing well into Monday. Heads were sore, brains were fried. Hearts were happy. Was it worth the mental wreckage? Memories are made of this, however vague.
Photos ©2004 OutUK.


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