Midsumma brings a ray of sunshine to Melbourne’s dreary months with the inaugural Midwinta Gala Ball and mini festival
During the summer months, Melbourne’s queer dance card is pretty full with events and festivals, but once winter hits, you're usually all dressed up with nowhere to go. The Midsumma festival board has decided to change that and are presenting the first Mindwinta mini festival.
“Midwinta has been something the board has been discussing for seven years,” says Midsumma chair, Aaron Hockly. “The idea was to create a couple of events in winter. Last year we had a number of artists say they weren’t getting enough people to their events during Midsumma, partly because there are so many events then. So the long-term aim is to move part of the festival to winter, and this is the first stage.”
The main centrepiece is the Gala Ball, a rather lavish and fabulous night at the Grand Hyatt’s opulently kitsch Savoy Ballroom, and it promises to be quite a night.
“We have three tenets,” explains Kate Wickett, chair of the Midwinta sub-committee. “One: to raise awareness of the Midsumma Festival to those who wouldn’t normally attend; two: to have fun in winter and fill that void in the calendar; and three: most importantly, to raise funds and promote our patron program.”
By its nature, the Ball is targeting straight supporters, sponsors and allies as well as a slighter older queer demographic, to show that being gay isn’t just about dance parties and pretty boys and girls. It’s strictly black tie, and a great opportunity to frock or suit up.
And there’s certainly no shortage of attractions, as Wickett and fellow board member Simon Mallia count the ways. Starting with pre-dinner drinks and a brass quartet, the Ball will be hosted by actor and producer Spencer McLaren, and will open with a performance from the Real Hot Bitches '80s dance troupe. The main attraction will be performances from Indigenous soprano Deborah Cheetham, accompanied by her partner, pianist Toni Lalich – “a fortuitous coup, given her recent Queen’s Birthday Officer of the Order of Australia honour”, says Wickett. There’ll also be guest speakers, and a fashion parade coordinated by milliner Kerrie Stanley and stylist Mathieu Salem.
“Tickets are $150, which may not be that affordable for some people,” says Mallia, “but that includes a three-course meal, a five-hour drinks package, and all the entertainment.” There’s also a red carpet arrival, and live auction hosted by Luke Gallagher and Dolly Diamond with big ticket items ranging from alcohol packages to artwork and weekends away. And afterwards, DJ Kista will get the glamour crowd on their feet and dancing before they head off to the after-party down the road at Ms Collins. Of course, everyone involved is donating their time.
Top five Midwinta satellite events
While the Gala Ball is the centrepiece, there are a number of other events included under the Midwinta umbrella. Here are five of them...
Team Melbourne Midwinta Mixer
Pride March Bake Off
When This You See Remember Me