Melbourne is Australiaís most English city and it knows how to party. Midsumma Festival is the second largest urban queer gathering in Oz, pipped only by the Sydney Mardi Gras. OutUK correspondent Ernie Areldete has been checking out the Melbourne scene.
Melbourne is known for its arts and culture unlike most of Australia. The country's 2nd largest conurbation and home to about 3.2 million people, and it's been voted one of the worldís most liveable cities.
Melbourne has the Midsumma Festival, a three week event where lesbians, gay men and their friends put it out there with community events, theatre, arts, cabaret and a great street fair. For one night of the year Commercial Road in Melbourneís southside gay precinct, is closed to traffic and the lesbian and gay community descends en-masse. The venues along the strip provide entertainment on stages, rooftops, awnings, anything strong enough to withstand a drag queen and a posse of dancing boys.
Thereís bootscooting - a form of line dancing, tattoo competitions, art, street theatre and an awful lot of meeting and greeting going on. And as the evening approaches there's almost no time for rest before itís into the cossy and off to the hottest wildest and most enjoyable parties in the world - many of them staged by a series of designers and directors who lend their creative visions to the party, with brilliant results - the dance party as an art form!
As well as hosting one of the premier parties of the year, Midsumma includes the Pride March, an event attracting over 38,000 people. With over 100 organisations involved, their annual Pride March is a show of solidarity which culminates with an exciting eveningís entertainment on the St Kilda foreshore. Other major events for Midsumma include the carnivale grotesque at Luna Park and the climax event with a wide range of entertainment and exhibitions in the scenic Alexandra Gardens. They even have some naked lube wrestling - if thatís your thing!

Gay Melbourne

The rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney over which really is the nationís premier city is part of Australian lore. The gay and lesbian communities are not ones to shirk their role in the competition. Melbourne may not have the brash attention-grabbing Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras but it certainly has a large and active gay and lesbian community. Melbourneís lesbian and gay population is spread quite evenly across the city so there is not a clearly defined ghetto.

There are a few areas that are particular favourites and where several venues are clustered together with more than a whiff of queer in the air. Commercial Road, Prahran is probably the best-known area handy for those keen to unleash their plastic on Melbourneís famous shopping. Itís just round the corner from Chapel Street, an area which is a must for any fashion conscious gay man.

Collingwood is the another gay and lesbian-dominated area, with the famous Peel Hotel, the Laird (this is Melbourneís leather bar, which holds an annual charity auction ó putting everything you could imagine under the hammer!), many other venues and friendly shops. The bayside suburb of St Kilda has long been a popular area for lesbian and gay men to live in and the growth of venues there reflects this.

Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, is a perfect place to hang out, day or night. You can lounge in cafes sipping exotic coffees and liqueurs as a stream of wondrous nocturnal people passes by. There are also numerous dance parties, many of them all-night events. In addition to the vibrant gay scene, the city is also known for itís excellent shopping, theatre and, of course, great places to eat. A place for all the senses, and for all the people who love to indulge them.

Photos:Gamarada/Australian Tourist Commission/Midsumma

Nights Out in Melbourne


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