- When 14 Jan - 23 Apr 2023
Cnr Oxford St & Greens Rd Paddington NSW 2021
WED TO FRI 10AM–5PM; SAT TO SUN 12–5PM
+61 2 8936 0888
UNSW Galleries and Sydney WorldPride present THE PARTY, a landmark exhibition celebrating LGBTQI+ party culture in Sydney from 1973 to 2002.
THE PARTY takes its name from the pioneering 1981 warehouse party by The Organisers and tracks the development of the dance party – from early Gay Liberation dances and fundraisers at the Paddington Town Hall to larger productions in warehouses and at the former Sydney Showgrounds. These include the influential Recreational Arts Team (RAT) parties, Mardi Gras, Sleaze Ball, Sweatbox, and Inquisition, alongside alternative party spaces such as Sodom, Fanny Palace, Homo Eclectus, and Sex and Subculture. The exhibition also includes rarely-seen material documenting the early bars and nightclubs Stranded, Patchs and Ruby Reds.
Alongside these events, neighbourhoods were alive with record stores, community radio, and publishing that all contributed to a defining period of social and sexual freedom in Australia.
The exhibition features documentation and ephemera from events and venues alongside work by Australian artists, writers and designers engaging with these histories. This includes an array of original photography and artwork, video documentation and materials that acknowledge the influential contribution of local practitioners and performers.
THE PARTY features works by and contributions from:
Feminist Media Afront
Fiona Kelly McGregor
Recreational Arts Team
SenVoodoo (AñA Wojak & Fiona Kelly Mcgregor)
Sodom / Homo Eclectus
Curated by José Da Silva (Director, UNSW Galleries and Curator, 2024 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art) and Nick Henderson (Curator and Volunteer Collection Manager, Australian Queer Archives)
THE PARTY has been made possible with the support of Sydney WorldPride and the Australian Queer Archives. Public programs supported by City of Sydney, Museums and Galleries of NSW, and Woollahra Municipal Council.
This series of public programs brings together artists, designers, historians, archivists, cultural thinkers, and party goers. Together they discuss a range of topics including radical lesbian sexuality and visibility, drag histories, club cultures and subcultures, graphics and lighting design, community photography archives, and forgotten trans histories.
The program’s title comes from the celebrated 1980s performance group featuring Cindy Pastel, Julie Ashton, Ginger Benson and Polly Petrie, who performed at venues such as Patchs, The Exchange Hotel and The Albury Hotel.
A New Scene, A New Era: Photographing Queer Communities
12pm Saturday 4 March 2023
Mazz Image, C.Moore Hardy and Jamie James join Angela Bailey for a conversation on their unique contributions to the Sydney's LGBTQI+ social photography.
The ‘Drag Queen’ Scene: Christine Dean & Shane Jenek
2pm Saturday 18 March 2023
Christine Dean and Shane Jenek (aka Courtney Act) discuss the differences between drag performance, gender fluidity, and trans identities.
Radical Sex & The Party Scene
2pm Saturday 25 March 2023
Barry Charles (aka Troughman), Fiona Kelly McGregor, Lisa Salmon, and Kane Race consider the role of nightlife and party culture in Sydney’s sexual and cultural liberation.
Behind the Decks: Sydney Club Cultures
6pm Thursday 6 April 2023
DJ Gemma, Sveta, and Lexie Bradfield explore the pivotal role of music and DJing in shaping Sydney's club cultures.
The Golden Age of Parties: From Design to Production
2pm Saturday 15 April 2023
Peter Elfes, Tim Gruchy, Victor Li, David Wilkins, and Gill Minervini reflect on the golden age of parties and the pioneering designers and creatives behind them.
(In)formal Archives: Preserving Queer Histories
2pm Saturday 22 April 2023
Nick Henderson and Robert Lake provide insight into the archival material and ephemera loaned for the exhibition.
Jamie James: Artist Talk
3pm Saturday 22 April 2023
Jamie James discusses their photographic practice and documenting Sydney's queer performance culture over the last thirty years.
Queer Today, Gone Tomorrow: Walking Tours
11am Sunday 26 March, 16 April & 23 April 2023
Christine Dean leads a series of walking tours uncovering the hidden histories of the parties, nightlife, and club cultures that have shaped Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ community.
QUEER READING GROUP SYDNEY
Hosted by journalist Benjamin Riley, Queer Reading Group Sydney meets monthly to offer a place for conversations on queer writing. Together the group discusses short-form texts from radical pamphlets and zines to articles and essays.
Going to THE PARTY
6pm Wednesday 15 February 2023
Reading: Jonathan Bollen’s ‘Sexing the Dance at Sleaze Ball’ (1996), and Fiona McGregor’s ‘Where Your Cabaret Comes From’ (2021)
Sydney and THE PARTY
6pm Wednesday 15 March 2023
Reading: Kane Race’s ‘Queer chemistry’, from The Gay Science: Intimate Experiments with the Problem of HIV (2017), Bridget Haire’s ‘Mardi Gras’, from Queer City: Gay and Lesbian Politics in Sydney (2001), and Clive Faro’s ‘On Queer Street’, from Street Scene: A History of Oxford Street (2000).
Remembering THE PARTY
6pm Wednesday 5 April 2023
Reading: Fiona McGregor’s ‘Looking for Lanny K’, from Buried Not Dead (2021), Kerryn Drysdale’s ‘Scene Stories’, from Intimate Investments in Drag King Cultures (2019), and Kane Race’s ‘The Death of the Dance Party’ (2003).
Banner and Tile Image: Cayte Latta, Patchs dance floor c.1983, reprinted 2022. Courtesy of The Estate of Cayte Latta and Australian Queer Archive, Melbourne