Absolutely nothing was going to ruin Keithie’s night at Sydney’s Mardi Gras! Not even one of the faeries breaking from the dance routine, twirling over to Keithie – who by this time was hanging over the railing holding out his hand along with hundreds and thousands of other spectators for the traditional slapping – and planting a big wet kiss smack on Keithie’s lips!
I grabbed Keithie’s clenched fist, which he’d pulled back ready to punch the bloke in the tutu, just in time: “Keithie!” I said angrily. “This is their parade and if they want to wish you a happy Mardi Gras with a kiss, you let ‘em, OK?”
Keithie thought about it for a moment, and then threw his hand back over the barricade just as the next wave of sparkling, mincing dancing boys strutted past.
Our evening had started early. We’d booked at the Holiday Inn in the Cross, which was just a stones throw from Oxford Street the main route for the parade. But we’d bought tickets in the Glamstand which is located on the Surry Hills end of Flinders Street and while on any other day it would have been a 20-minute stroll, we had to wade through hoards of parade goers, who’d come early to get a good spot, to get to our seats in time for the start.
Arriving at the pearly gates of Glamstand felt more like emerging from a snowstorm into Shangri-La! On producing our tickets we found ourselves in something akin to the Easter Show: there were cultural food stalls galore; wine bars and beer kegs, everything but the Ferris Wheel; an exciting world all neatly tucked in behind the bleachers where later we watched the parade.
We each ordered a chilled chardie of some variety, nice but not a patch on Swansea’s award winning wines, and I dragged Keithie over to the face painting tent where he lapped up the attention of two gorgeous lesbians who panted pink and blue love hearts all over his mug. With our faces aligned to the 2013 Mardi Gras theme: “Generations of Love” we topped up our glasses and started to mingle.
Keithie couldn’t get over how friendly gay folk are…everyone we past wished us a happy Mardi Gras! Soon Keithie got into the swing of things and wished everyone he past a ‘Happy Mardi Gras!’ I went off to get us some hot dogs – Keithie wasn’t up for trying anything fancy: he’s a meat and three vege man but will choke back a hot dog if pushed – and when I returned he was deep in a yarn with a couple of queens from New York City telling them all about his sheep and asking if they had sheep in NY. They thought that was pretty funny.
The parade got underway with the Dykes on Bikes. Keithie took a big slug of his wine as at least 100 bikes, thundered past us ridden by some pretty heavy duty leather clad gals and their bare-chested pillion passengers!
“What d’ya reckon about that Keithie?”
“That’s a lot of bikes!” He blushed.
After that the hours just flew by. Keithie got really excited when the NSW Police float passed – he was busting to tell Charlie. We waved and screamed for a good four hours at the SES, Gay Pride, Australian Defence Forces, dancing boys, dancing girls, the Queens, the princesses, the parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays, the socially responsible corporates, the NGOs, the political lobby groups, the trannies, the butches the femmes, the Sydney Lord Mayor and a bunch folk around Keithie’s age called “The 78ers” – the crowd went ballistic over them!
Then suddenly, it was over. We waited in case there was a last minute surprise, like you do when a move has been so good you can’t leave the theatre, but finally we fell in with the slow moving mass of wrung out but elated spectators.
We got back to your hotel in the early hours of the morning after wandering through Kethie’s favourite haunt, Kings Cross, in the hope of spying some of the thugs from Keithie’s favourite TV series underbelly. But Keithie wouldn’t have noticed them even if they stopped him in his path; he just couldn’t stop talking about that Mardi Gras parade!