How To Have A Fabulous First Mardi Gras

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the biggest pride events in the world, and one of the most important days in the calendar for the LGBTQIA+ community.  

With its roots in protest and the importance of queer visibility, the modern Mardi Gras is a multi-day celebration of queer culture, art, music and performance. Partiers travel from all over Australia and the world to take part, and 2020’s looking to be the best year yet.

2020’s festival goes from Friday 14 February until Sunday 1 March (over two weeks of fun!) with the famous parade and party scheduled for Saturday 29 February.

The parade is easily the highlight of Mardi Gras—the floats, the costumes, the performances… It’s fkn amazing. But it can also be pretty intimidating for a first-time partier. How do you make sure your first Mardi Gras is a good one?

Syrup spoke to Kat Dopper, Creative Director for this year’s Mardi Gras plus Founder and Director of Heaps Gay, who gave us her top tips for making the right Mardi Gras moves.

What should I know before my first Mardi Gras?

Dopper: We are a three-week long arts festival and there is literally something for everyone. This season, we’re featuring more than one hundred events over seventeen big days and nights.

We have parties, our Queer Thinking Talks Program, Film Festivals, Cabaret and many free events. My pick is to check out Mardi Gras Festival Hub at The Seymour Centre.

We have some stellar world class shows such as Fuck Fabulous and our opening night show Gender Euphoria which features Australia’s biggest line up of trans and gender diverse voices to ever hit the stage. So much good stuff going on, I feel a little hungover just thinking about it!

What are the most common mistakes attendees make?

D: If you’re coming along to see the spectacular Mardi Gras Parade, make sure you arrive early to secure yourself a good spot! Crowds start flooding in early. There is so much to see this year. 

Also, remember we won’t all be all together like this again (until next year!) so try to learn, discover and make connections with your community. Don’t miss the chance to find new friends, join a club at Fair Day or if you’re an ally, take the opportunity to learn something new. 

What do you wish you knew before going to your first Mardi Gras?

D: I wish someone had told me how bloody sparkly and fantastic and wonderful it would be!

I think I turned up to my first Mardi Gras in jeans and white tee to watch the parade unaware of how much I would fall in love with this community. It’s all about SELF EXPRESSION.

Join the party, be yourself and you won’t turn back.

We know it’s important for straight attendees not to occupy or take over space from queer attendees. What should straight allies know before attending so that they can be effective as allies?

D: At Mardi Gras we’re very inclusive and we know many of our straight allies love to come to our events and support us.

Our best advice is to enjoy meeting a diversity of people, seeing them how they are without making assumptions. Some people will be at Mardi Gras as their true selves for the first time, or taking the first nervous step of being with their partner out in public, so please be respectful of people’s names, pronouns and space. Remember, we love putting on a show, but we’re not zoo animals!

We hope you’ll have an amazing time at Mardi Gras and learn a lot about our LGBTQIA+ communities, acceptance, love, relationships and family when you’re with us. 

Happy Mardi Gras!

Jamie is a journalist, radio presenter, music nerd and shameless sneakerhead. When he's not writing, he's obsessing over the latest hip-hop and Nike releases. Is also baby.

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