Still finding glitter on our shoes after fabulous Broome Mardi Gras

It’s been days since I returned from Australia’s most remote Pride celebration in beautiful (and STICKY HOT) Broome. And I’m still finding glitter stuck to the soles of my shoes (and elsewhere).

What a fantastic time! I absolutely loved every minute of my three-day Broome Mardi Gras, not least for a break away from parenting a beautiful but exhausting 2-year-old. I felt like I was 21 again! Hurrah!

I was delighted to be one of 110 passengers aboard the inaugural Bluesky charter flight, organised by Rotary of Crawley in partnership with FIFO airline, Cobham. Mardi Gras celebrations began as soon as we arrived at the airport with delicious food prepared by Ellenbrook-based women’s empowerment and entrepreneurial group Sister Project, and drinks provided by event sponsors. It was only 11.30am but I was ready to get acquainted with the special Pride Tide cocktail – made with gin created especially for Mardi Gras at Broome’s Moontide Distillery (which would become a familiar sight and staple theme throughout the weekend’s festivities).

Night one of our schedule of events was the fabulous Mardi Gras Cabaret, held at the Broome Civic Centre and, for the first time, live streamed to audiences across Australia and the world. Friends of mine who couldn’t get tickets – which apparently sold out in less than an hour – enjoyed the show while sipping Chango beers at Matso’s. The venue itself was electric, with gays and gals dressed up to the nines and getting into the spirit in the outdoor reception area long before the event itself began. Mostly visitors like me from cooler climates, guests were relieved to get in amongst the aircon of the main hall, ahead of the event’s beginning. The formal set-up of big round tables for 10, dripped lights and, soon, a two-course dinner, certainly created a sense of occasion.

What ensued was a fantastically professional, energetic and truly joyful celebration of performance-types dear to Cabaret and to the LGBTIQ community the world-over: tongue-in-cheek humour and spirited drag acts; tantilising pole dancing; mesmerising belly dances and, for the first time, local dancers as young as 6 to kick off the night’s program. *Too much cuteness, lump in throat.* It was fantastic to see familiar faces from the Perth drag scene Donna Kebab, Sassie Cassie and Perri Prism collaborate with local acts Jessica James and Som Ting Wong (who received the night’s only standing ovation) – and my personal favourites: Broome based Pearlesque Belles, who delivered an group burlesque number clad in costumes from The Wizard of Oz (including the flying monkeys!) I was also a huge fan of Perth-based Flynn V’s boylesque performance, Heater (to the insatiable tune of Disclosure’s When a Fire Starts to Burn.) My cup really did runneth over to see such a fantastic showcase of WA performers. The whole thing was HOT (and not just because of the Broome humidity) and the food was delish.

My friends and I spent Saturday exploring the town, including a visit to the markets, and patronising various bars and resorts. (I swear I’m not an alcoholic, just an overworked solo mum in desperate need of a break. Day drinking.) One of my girls who had perhaps had a little more sleep than me headed off out of town to visit the dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point, which she said was spectacular. Note to self: spend more than three days in Broome next time to allow for cultural visits and field trips. In the evening, we were bussed off to the Mangrove Hotel for the weekend’s premier event, the Dance Party. It really was a spectacle to behold – tunes were pumping and costumes were shining. Plus, bubbles! Between lots of dancing, vodka and selfies, I got chatting to some locals and a young couple in particular, who told me they weren’t out in Broome. They still weren’t sure how it would be received. I’d been reflecting on the amazing concept of Broome Pride at various points throughout the weekend – but that conversation really summed it up for me. I absolutely loved the idea that, as an out and proud Perth lesbian, I could positively influence LGBTIQ youth, show them it’s okay to be gay, just by being there. Not just me of course, but we as a community. We partied on in earnest until 3am – and had a great laugh on the packed bus back to the beautiful Kimberley Sands Resort, where we were staying.

We finished up the weekend with the nice and chilled pool party at our place on Sunday.

I’d have loved to go up for longer than the three nights offered as part of the BlueSky package – to enjoy the other events featured as part of the week long festival of LGBTIQ. Some friends who went up earlier made it along to Bingay on Thursday night and Drag Story Hour sounded like fantastic fun. So great to see an event like this held outside of Perth. We’re already planning a bigger and better lesbian contingent for next year. Watch out!

Arran Morton, image: Abby May

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