Over the weekend, for the first time since moving to Sydney, I lined up with some friends and thousands of my fellow sydneyites to witness the glamorous and glittering parade of our Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
So how did it go, you might ask?
To be perfectly honest, I was left very underwhelmed by the entire experience. It was basically a three and a half hour session of standing neck-deep in a torrent of people watching semi-bored and half-tired people shuffling by, to the general curiosity of the crowd.
After the initial excitement, titillation and shock value wore off, the procession was... exactly that, a procession. And in this modern Australian society where homosexuality and other associated community is widely accepted, there isn't much that can shock or titillate us anymore.
Less than an hour in, I was glancing at my watch, thinking: "This is good so far. I wonder how many more floats there are left to go?".
By the third hour, I was nodding off to sleep on my feet, not especially advisable, considering I was surrounded by a gaggle of very loud and happily gay men, sipping copious amount of bubbly.
Having said that, there are some excellent moments in the Mardi Gras itself (and some utterly bewildering ones as well), which I will recount below:
Highlight of the Parade: The belle of the ball, the apple of our eyes and patron saint of all that is feathered and sequined - Kylie Minogue's Impossible Princesses was by far the most entertaining and fun inspiring troupe of all.
Lowlight of the Parade: The menage-a-trois between the Australian Labor Party, the Democrats and the Greens. It is fantastic that all of these opposing political parties are supporting the Mardi Gras by sponsoring a float each, yet I fail to see how any electorate can differentiate the political statement and bland policies of these left wing liberal groups?
Most Creative Float: The Silhouette Trojan Horse (pictured below) that is populated by some amorous Greeks, playing hide and seek!!
Most Ridiculously Stupid Float: It is not technically a float really... just a ute, loaded with two speakers and an amp. Driving along with 20 or so nondescript "dancers" trolling behind. WTF?!?
Most Un-Humorous Costume: Opposition leader "Kool Kev" Rudd portrayed as giant cucumber... "Hahaha, kool as a cucumber, getit? Huh, huh, getit?"... No, I don't get it, it just look like a damn silly giant green dild0.
Most "Look at moi, look at moi, I am a pretty ballerina" Costume: This dizzying bloke dressed as a demented disco ball, spinning around and round and round and round and... all by himself, 10 metres from any other performers?!?
- - -
However, the most wild and woolly part of the evening was not happening anywhere near the parade. It happened when I was on my way home after the long exhaustive evening.
Stuck in the bowels of Town Hall train station, waiting for the late running train to arrive in this humidity of Sydney's collective sweat, I was woken up from my boredom by the high-pitched screams of:
"Get him away from the edge! Get him away from the EDGE!!"
I turned around in my sleepy stupor to see a young man in his 20s, standing about three feet away from the platform's edge. He was clearly not of a sober state, shifting his elusive balance from his left side to his right and back to his left. His shirt sleeve soaked in a deep crimson fluid...
A suicide attempt I assumed... so I approached him warily from behind and stood quietly between him and the edge, just a few feet away from him, face-to-face... His right forehead was cut right open, blood streaming down his entire face, soaking his shirt and dripping large amount of it on the platform.
Two other bystanders were doing what I was doing, just trying to squeeze between him and the train tracks, trying to engage him in conversation, asking him to back away from the edge. The Station Master arrived and radioed for backup.
But the gentle rumbling of the rail suggested that the train was closing in on the station and the bloke was still wobbling around on his toes, and none of us three supposed "heroes" want to tempt fate by wrangling a blood soaked man to the ground just a step away from the edge of a certain doom.
Luckily the train slowed down next to the platform without any incident, the Transit Officers arrive en-masse to babysit this bloodied bloke. I step on the train, with the station master shouting out to me: "Thanks mate!"
"No worries!", I shouted back, all in a (Mardi Gras) day's work... ;-)