Australian Gay Pride: Cheap Thrills

Sydney Mardi Gras.

Barrett Pall at Sydney’s Mardi Gras
Barrett Pall at Sydney’s Mardi Gras

Coming to Australia has been a 20 year dream, and as I conclude my tenth day here I can honestly say it’s been just that, a dream. I’m not entirely sure why I’ve dreamt of coming here for so long, but it’s been a place that has fascinated me forever. The weather, the general attitude, the people have all mesmerized me, and every time I see something new I can feel my mind expanding and my heart growing.

I tried to have as little expectations as possible, but when you’ve fantasized about something for so long it’s kind of hard. With that said, my expectations have been blown away. 

Sydney was the first stop on my month long tour of Australia, and the main attraction was Mardi Gras. It wasn’t my main reason for coming, but my ex, who is Australian, and someone who’s opinion I will always respect, suggested I come for this life experience. Coming over from America for this festival I thought it was similar to our version of Mardi Gras, so when I got here, and two days later found out that it was Australia’s version of Pride, I was super surprised.

Thanks to an amazing group of guys I know from NY, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to join their float, and be in the parade. All my Aussie friends agreed this was something I had to do. What was to come would blow any ideas I had about this festival out of the water, and leave me with an experience I will never forget.

When I signed up to join The Glamcocks float, I thought I was signing up to wave and dance around on a float, but what I would later realize was that I was signing up for so much more. Yes, we had three dance rehearsals to learn legitimate choreography, and yes, this felt like gay bring it on, but what I had actually agreed to was making amazing new friendships with guys I will know forever, and to spreading a message of love as loudly as possible.

This group of amazingly fun and accepting men instantly took me into their family, taught me some fierce moves, and helped me experience Mardi Gras in a way I will never fully be able to describe.

Everything from learning the dance, to meeting before hand to get ready, to partying our butts off before we even walked in the parade was just so magical. 

The holding area for all the different floats partaking in Mardi Gras is a party all on its own, and I couldn’t imagine not experiencing this wild good time with locals and internationals from all over. Meeting so many people, seeing so much diversity, and just feeling the love was overwhelming and something I wish I could share, but it’s truly something you just have to experience for yourself in real life.

I particularly was intrigued with the group next to us in the holding area. The “R U OK” Float was full of gay and straight men and women who truly came to have an amazing time, were covered head-to-toe in gold glitter, and represent something I was beyond impressed by. R U OK is a national day here in Australia that promotes asking your friends and family if they are ok, and is taken very seriously.

America I think we need to take some notes.

Not to get too serious, but this is something I loved, and I’m disappointed we don’t have something like this in the states because mental and emotional health is something we need to be talking about more, especially with today’s political climate.


The main attraction, which we became while walking down Oxford St, was performing our dance to Sia’s “Cheap Thrills.” We were so fired up from all the fun before hand that the second we started our 45 minute “walk,” we were all ready to give the crowd everything we had.

Dancing in a speedo in front of hundreds of thousands of people may sound mortifying to some people, and to be honest I was a bit self-conscious before I got to the parade, but my fellow Glamcocks insisted I wear one, and once I saw how excited everyone was, I just wanted to have fun and dance my heart out. 

And that is exactly what we did.

The 45 minutes flew by as we repeated our choreography over and over, and gave it our all. As we came to the final stopping point, I found myself disappointed that it was over so quickly, and wanted to just keep going. Our energy levels were soaring, and it was clear that everyone in attendance was having a total blast.

However, all good things must come to an end, and while I did end up dancing till 6 am the next morning, I can honestly say there is nothing like dancing in the Mardi Gras Parade.

While we have lots of different celebrations of Pride in the US, there’s something so much more electric about Sydney’s Mardi Gras. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s at night, or that here I’m a foreigner. Whatever the reason is, it just is.

My final day in Sydney was wrapped up by seeing an old friend, her mom, and her local friends. They all loved hearing about my crazy experience, and sharing it only solidified how amazing the whole experience truly was. It was a great way to say good bye to the experience of a lifetime, and an even better way to remember how lucky I am to have such an amazing life full of love, acceptance, and adventure.

I will truly never ever forget all The Glamcocks I danced my heart out with, and this magical day as a whole. It would be impossible to.

I will also never forget the gratitude I felt being able to participate in a celebration that symbolizes everything being just about love. Fire fighters, police officers, straight and gay, young and old, and every race and religion were represented in the parade. It was the ultimate reminder that while I am so lucky, too many people around the world still have to live in fear and hide being authentically themselves.

While Mardi Gras is one big party, it’s what it represents that makes it so important to not only our LGBTQ community, but humanity as a whole. Right now our world is facing a lot of ugliness, challenges, and hatred. In some ways we’re all being forced to look deep inside of ourselves to question what it is that we really stand for, and while I’ve known this for a long time, Mardi Gras only made my desire to stand for love for everyone even stronger.

I came. I saw. And I danced with every ounce of my soul for every person out there, who feels afraid to be their gorgeous, unique, and imperfectly perfect self. May my journey through Mardi Gras be a reminder to anyone and everyone that life is too short not to be yourself, to make new friends, and to do the things that scare you.

If nothing else, I want everyone out there who is doubting themselves and reading this to know there are millions of people out there who support you being whoever you want to be, and know it doesn’t only get better, it gets freaking amazing!