Mardi Gras Parade: Here are 14 community floats to look out for in 2016
With over 170 floats and 12,000 marchers, 2016 is set to be one of the biggest, brightest and boldest processions yet. GNN got a sneak peek at some of this year’s colourful entries. In a special preview, we present a selection of floats to look out for at this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.
GAY FOR RUBY ROSE
The Ruby Rose float will be a first at the Mardi Gras Parade and is made up of 20 participants, all paying homage to the ‘Gay for Ruby Rose’ phenomenon. Organisers say in celebrating Ruby Rose, an icon of self-expression and gender diversity, they hope to explore sexual fluidity and sexuality in a light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek way. Keep an eye out for people dressed in white with red caps, aviator sunglasses and donning tattoos designed to look like those Rose herself has. Group members will also be carrying signs made to look like viral social media memes.
THE SUN QUEEN
Being awarded best costume design last year, The Baroness is back with bigger and better costumes than ever before. Taking part alongside The Baroness will be Princess Pad-Thai, Marlena Turn-a-Bull and Senor Este Del Chorizo. Costumes have been in production for over six months with the group saying they hope people will appreciate the detail and workmanship and are entertained by their display. Look out for a red-headed drag queen in 13-inch heels leading the way alongside Pad-Thai with hips over one metre wide.
IT’S A CELEBRATION OF 20 YEARS OF BEARS
This year the Harbour City Bears float will consist of 120 marchers, the biggest the group has ever had in a Mardi Gras parade. DJ Tony Moran will be on board to keep the bears and crowd dancing. The float will also have Mr Harbour City Bears winner Peter Conway and Mr Bear Queensland Kenn Wilson along with President Robb Barwick and long-time supporters like Penny Dee. Harbour City Bears has over 600 members and holds over 150 events each year. This year they’re taking to the parade to celebrate 20 years of service to Sydney’s bear community.
WE’LL BE RIGHT THERE
We’ll Be Right There will have 90 marchers this year made up of gay water polo team, the Sydney Stingers, and its brother clubs in Melbourne and Brisbane. Look out for the shirtless guys in swimmers and water polo caps, all in the theme colours of black and cyan. The Stingers have had a marching float since the turn of the decade, including two accolades for best choreography. The group celebrates club members and their support for each other and community groups like ACON and the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation. The Stingers will also be holding boot camps for those interested in their club in the weeks shortly after Mardi Gras.
PINUPS FOR EQUALITY
With over 45 people in this year’s parade, Retro Equality: Pinups for Equality are not to be missed with a mint green vintage car and vintage-inspired clothing. A variety of outfits from the 1950s and 60s will be on show from swimwear, sleepwear, lingerie, daywear and formal wear. There will also be swing dancers scattered throughout the group. This is the second year Retro Equality will take part in the parade; prior to this the group was mostly an art movement showcasing gay rights and marriage equality through pinup photography.
LET’S GET MARRIED AUSTRALIA
City of Sydney will feature a theme of ‘Let’s Get Married Australia’ this year with up to 100 staff taking part with their friends and family. The participants in this year’s parade will highlight the need to maintain the momentum towards equality using signs to highlight key moments in Sydney’s move towards LGBT rights and marriage equality. This will be Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s 30th year of Mardi Gras participation.
SYDNEY AFL WOMEN: BELIEVE AND ACHIEVE
Sydney AFL Women will be rocking down Oxford Street in rainbow AFL jerseys and socks while dancing loud and proud in a group of 100. There will also be handballs into the crowd and lots of love for everyone. Many of the AFL teams that make up this group have taken part in the parade in previous years but as of last year came together under the one banner. The group said they are hoping to show people how much fun being a part of AFL can be. The group is open to any girl that plays in the Sydney AFL women’s competition, regardless of sexuality.
LET’S INSPIRE YOUR INNER DESIRE
Consisting of 32 dancers and eight helpers, the Shellharbour Shag Harders aim to spread the word of equal rights. This year, their float will incorporate puppets to symbolise controls within society and how the group feels. Look out for a spiral circus wheel on the front of their truck with a vintage circus theme on board. Dancers will be grooving it out to Kylie Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’. This will be the fifth year the group will take part in parade celebrations.
QUEER MUSLIMS: STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS
This year the Queer Muslims group will take to the streets in bright and colourful belly dancing costumes spreading the equality message. One participant will also be playing a Turkish drum for the group to dance along to. The group aims to increase the dialogue between LGBT people and Muslim communities.
Gay Tradies are back for their fifth year. This time over 65 people will be in the float to spread the word that not all tradies are heterosexual. The group will definitely be noticed with an 8-tonne truck that has a 20,000 watt 12-speaker system set up on board. Members will be in fluoro shirts and work boots. Some members will be in tradie drag.
SPEED RACERS: NOTHING CAN STOP US NOW
Dr Mark's Marching Academy come together again this year with over 150 marchers under the theme of Speed Racers, taking part to have fun and celebrate LGBT achievements. The group says crowds are in for a treat with a host of corflute racing cars, each racing for a different cause, and 140 fierce marchers dressed as pit crew. Keep an eye out for chequered flags and racing ribbons. Speed Racers has been running since 1999 and is one of the biggest community floats in the parade. Their aim is to acknowledge what the LGBT community has achieved while at the same time reminding the community the parade is a protest and more still needs to be done.
GAYBY BABY: SAME-SEX FAMILIES TOLD BY THE KIDS
Look out for large sparkling ‘GAYBY BABY’ letters in this float that honours children of rainbow families. Around 30 marches will take part, supported by oversized inflatable families of flamingos, sharks and swans held by the young and old. The float will be made up of the families and friends who star in Gaby Baby, the young people that appear in the photo exhibit Gaybies: We are not a Hypothetical and some participants from Growing Up Gayby, the 2013 television documentary.
DISABILITY UNDER THE MIRROR BALL
Disability Under the Mirror Ball will have one of the biggest parade groups this year made up of 155 participants, consisting of People with Disability Australia members, supporters and affiliates. The group will have lots of dancers in hot pink outfits, huge glitter letters spelling out PWDA and hot pink mirror balls of all shapes and sizes. PWDA have been part of Mardi Gras for a decade now and say the message behind this year’s mirror ball theme is that one’s sexuality and individuality is like one small piece of glass on a giant mirror ball.
THE LATIN AMERICAN LGBTIQ COMMUNITY AND FRIENDS
This group will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in the parade this year with a special theme focusing on people living with HIV/AIDS in Latin America. Their float will have 45 people taking part with participants dressed to a carnival theme and dancing to drumming music from the joint float ‘The Brazilians’. The group say they would like for the world to see beyond the colourful costumes and focus the attention on the difficulties faced by so many living very difficult and uneasy lives due to their sexuality worldwide.
The Mardi Gras Parade is on Saturday, March 5, Oxford and Flinders Streets, Darlinghurst. For more information, visit the Mardi Gras website here