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The Big Gay Out Festival 2005

"I'm bored, I need a really big night out" I said to Nicci, who knows how I need a steady diet of thrills and elation to keep me sunnyside up. "Do you want to come to a festival with me? Finsbury Park, on the 23rd July?"

I sent her the web address of Big Gay Out, the pinnacle of UK's Pride celebrations.

Big Gay Out logo

Having gone to a beach party during Brighton's Gay Pride celebrations last year, we wanted something that was going to even bigger and better.

Moments later I got back my answer.

"I'll book the weekend off tomorrow!"

Finsbury Park is in North London and we started our preparations the night before by primping and preening ourselves over a bottle of wine or four after a shopping expedition. One of the things that is so great about shopping once you've decided your style is that you can pick up plenty of small pieces for so cheap these days if you know where to look. I got hold a beautiful pink bustier and a pair of three quarter length pants for just over £20. Add to that a pair of fashion tights, shoes, bag, cap and jacket courtesy of some well timed sniping on eBay and a see through shiny white shirt I got from my gay uncle and I had a complete outfit for the festival for less than the price of a night out at the pub.

I did also splash out the day before on a trip to the salon to get my hair done. That's one of the reasons that I like to choose stylish clothes that are relatively inexpensive and then funk them up with accessories and an eye for geometry. Because my hair cuts cost! A bomb! And I'm very happy to pay.

I make a point of finding the classiest salon I can and booking only their most senior hair dresser, a Creative Director at minimum. When I turn up, I also often like to give a tip before my hair is cut. This immediately makes the hair dresser want to please you and you can be sure they'll take care. Having suitably prepped them, it's then a lot easier to tell your hair dresser that although you are a guy you want big big hair with razored ends and flicks curling out! Money buys you a lot in life and £91 bought me an amazing cut and colour. I was treated like Princess throughout and my hair dresser Karen and I had a really good chinwag about love and people and whether Anthony on Big Brother is actually bi. I left feeling worth a damn sight more than £91 and very accepted. I'll definitely go back to Karen because paying a good price one can take for granted that they respect you and treat you nicely. A £10 barber isn't paid enough to be nice so I recommend to anyone who wants to have their hair styled en-femme to choose a high end salon and then just be confident. Often when you ask the stylist they'll be able to help you find a style that makes a long face look shorter or that covers high temples or that softens the face and that's easy enough for you to style at home.

Well the wine had a downside. We awoke late as Big Gay Out starts at 1pm and runs till 10.30pm. And London was also suffering from terrorist attacks on the Tube which had disrupted services. So we drove and found out when the organisers said go by Tube they had good reasons. It's really hard to find parking. In fact there just plain isn't any for a long way around. The Tube however is right by the park...

Those of you who do get scared about going out in public will be well reassured by an event like Big Gay Out. There are police all over the place and the organisers have their own security people too. And with somewhere in the region of 25,000 LGBT friendly people there the chances of your being beaten to death for your overly flamboyant dress sense are about as likely as loosing your nipple in a bizarre accident with a fridge. It's very safe.

I also think it's worth mentioning that there are two modes of dressing. The first and most obvious is to try and pass for a woman. If no-one clocks you, you're fine out. Unless you have to talk.

However if you are over 6 foot tall or built like a main battle tank, then passing may not be so easy. Equally some of us have certain features that make that harder, like permanent beard shadow or eye brows like a hairy caterpillar. Not everyone is happy to remove these and so they inhibit our passability. In that case, recourse must be made to dress mode two - be so flamboyant, colourful and exciting that you look like a work of art and a heart of the party. Funnily enough this mode of dressing is also actually a lot more fun too since people will notice you and they'll often want to talk with you. You entertain and make people happy when you do that!

And what a lot of sights there was...

There were at least eight sound systems in the park and 5 major stages. There was the Big Mutha which had Graham Norton in drag presenting bands like the Human League, Girlsaloud, Bananarama, Peter Andre and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. BBC Radio One were there pumping out a stomping beat at their pool party with Judge Jules, Fergie, Dave Pearce, DJ Becks and Lisa Pin Up spinning off dance floor anthems and fresh tunes while a 20ft washing machine spewed foam.

BBC Radio 1 foam party
The BBC Radio One foam party

Sonique and plenty of Radio 1Xtra graced the hot and sweaty Girls World tent complete with pole dancers and the Popstars and Terradome tents similarly had big act line ups.

Goldfrapp

There was also a separate stage graced by none other than Goldfrapp plus support and flying the flag for the transgender community was Kelly La Rock getting hard and dirty on the turntables in the Club Evolution tent. G-A-Y from Astoria likewise had their own sound system and dance floor.

You might have though with a mighty line up like that they'd stop there. Oh no. Faceparty, who organise Big Gay Out really know how to throw a party. Dress me in white, stick a tree up my skirt and call me fairy, oh yes it's true! There were bars all over the park and it flowed constantly. There was also a wide range of foods available catering for all with organic and vegetarian food stands as well as Chinese, Mexican and more hot sausages than an Amsterdam brothel. There was a full market place offering everything from massage to jewelry to sex toys and leather fetish wear. There were great slogan T-Shirts to help you tell your parents like the one that said "I'm not gay but my boyfriend is!". There were also herbal highs and laughing gas. There were wigwams to chill out in and a hi adrenaline funfair. And that's just for starters!

The entertainment line up continued and included a 50ft lesbian who squatted on top of the Girl's World tent and 15ft warthog with lasers in it's eyes. The picture below shows a woman who floated around on a balloon and swooped down to kiss people's drinks.

The balloon woman

There was also a huge caterpillar, about the size of a coach which ran around and generally caused mayhem and confusion:

The Big Gay Out caterpillar

Then there were stilt walkers and huge magic mushrooms, the finalists of Mr Gay UK and other performers. Even the little details were well attended to with plenty of toilets spread around plus a "Toilet World" area and the all important cash machine for after the booze starts to slip down too easily and you just need to spend the rent money on more drink... Their security were friendly and there was a really good atmosphere.

You might have thought that at a Gay Pride festival, you wouldn't need to put in so much effort since the crowd themselves would also be well turned. And believe me they were. Trendy, athletic guys were everywhere and plenty of gorgeous girls, both straight and lesbian filled the park. And there were also about ten TVs if I count myself in too! There were some awesome outfits, here's just a few:

Cute guys
Funky feet and beautiful smiles

Caveman and Zena
Caveman and warrior woman

One of the things you might not have seen if you were there was the backstage area as you needed to be performing there or on the VIP guest list to get in. Thank God I'm a VIP!


Me at the VIP area. The Shadow Lounge is one of the best clubs in Soho, so quite rightly they laid on the festivities for the VIP area

Nicci and I went down there and got proper plastered at the bar which was staffed by sailors. It was also nice because we had our own high class toilets with attendants cleaning them and only short queues.

Nicci with her sailor
Nicci gets her man, the cutest of the bar staff! OK, so we tricked him and just used and abused him because he had a really beautiful smile and the blur is really a measure of how good the Bacardi was backstage but we were loving it like a Happy Meal

There were also performers in this area like Lucifire and the Flaming Doo Dits who were on the Big Mutha stage at 9pm. Why that beautiful transexual in the background looks like she has a banana skin on her head in this shot I don't know because I never did... well as far as I remember which is till about 6pm!:

There were also some really nice human touches like this policeman who was tasked with helping a blind woman around and ended up sitting with her. Naturally he had to do his best to try and look like he wasn't just slacking off and spent the whole time looking cheeky and mildly uncomfortable. Actually the blind lady works for the Metropolitan Police and is tasked with ensuring equality and diversity, a sign of how far they've come. Ah, you've got to love the boys in blue, they're bloody fantastic guys. Put your feet up darling, we work you to death the other 6 days of the week!

Policeman in Big Gay Out VIP area

No, this isn't my new business card, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! The VIP area was well decorated with humorous posters like this:

Blond Monkey Slut

Another nice symbolic moment was the release of a rainbow coloured multitude of balloons that were spread far and wide by the wind. Big Gay Out this year raised over £75,000 for charities, no wonder the GBLT communities are becoming more and more respected:

Rainbow balloons

After getting bevvied in the VIP area we set forth to shake our booty! Night was beginning to fall and there was still lots to see...

Club Evolution tent
Shaking the handbags adorning the ceiling, Kelly La Rock at the Club Evolution tent played real hard dirty dance music

Club Evolution - Lucy Lush and Dani
Lucy Lush is one of Club Evolution's hostesses and is right party girl. That girl has an outlook so bright I had to put my shades on!

Enchanted Forest of David Hasselhoff
All the poppers getting spilt on the floor of Club Evolution was making me too hot and sweaty so we went to the Enchanted Forest of David Hasselhoff. What could be inside it? Would it be an orgy? Scarier, much scarier... a full on shrine to David Hasselhoff!!! We ran before it's evil voodoo could get on us

Dancer
Radio One got the crowd to into some serious self inflicted damage and these people could dance

Lisa Pin Up
Lisa Pin Up as she puts on her cheekiest face and mimes out "Face down, hands up, that's the way we like to f#@k". Chuooooooooooon!

Girls
Yes, they allow straight people in too... Girls love gay parties because they can dance and get drunk without being hassled by sex pests the whole night.

Girl's World
Packed out in Girls World where some serious action was getting it on

Terradome
Was this inside the Terradome? I really can't recollect...

Lasers
Rar! Lasers! It's like the aliens are landing!

Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Did I tell you that this was big?! Thousands stand before the Big Mutha stage as the lasers and spotlights go up in support of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's spectacular finale

Fireworks
Huge fireworks light up North London as Frankie Goes to Hollywood make a universal message. The Power of Love, a force from above, cleaning my soul, make love your goal...

Big Gay Out has it all, it's like a mini Glastonbury but without the dickheads. I was really surprised there were so few TGirls there as I can't think of anywhere safer and I had the time of my life so yah boo sucks with big brass knobs on it to all of you who just moled out at home instead. I only wished it went on later...

Staggering back, we took the night bus and tube home. My "sensible" choice of footwear meant that my feet were now feeling like I was walking barefoot on glass and it was a relief to sit down. Sat on a packed Tube another piece of tranny magic happened. A young Kiwi woman sat down by me with her Maori friend and just started chatting away! I assume that people must think that you're a complete frikkin nutter to be sat in drag, drunk off your face on the Tube on a Saturday night but it's funny, it's like they don't see the barriers that are normally there and so many times I've been out I've been so pleasantly surprised by just how nice people are to you. They want to know who you are and what you're doing, where you've been and where you got your style from. Like I say in my article on your deepest fear, when you let your light shine, you unconsciously give everyone around you permission to shine too. Stop whinging that the world is so hard for transvestites and transexuals, get off your bum and go to Big Gay Out 2006 and you'll never see it the same way ever again, I promise you. It's happy world we live in.

Big Gay Out 2005 Review:

  • Type: London Pride Festival
  • Location: Finsbury Park, North London
  • Entry: Tickets from £28
  • Facilities: Over 50 artists from 80s icons to lords of dance, many stages and sound systems, bars, food, market, entertainments, funfair
  • Plus Points: Part of Pride raising money for charity, amazing atmosphere and line up, thousands of friendly faces, everything you could want to have an incredible party all within one safe, happy park
  • Minus Points: No parking locally. Even though it goes on for over 8 hours there is hardly enough time to see everything
  • Overall Rating: 11 out of 10
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