The monthly party for indie queers, Closet, celebrates its first birthday this July. Co-promoter Anna Whitelaw chats about the fun... and the controversy
Anna, you were involved in creating the Closet parties – what was the motivation behind the parties, and what’s the ethos of Closet?
Closet actually began in 2009. I met my co-promoter Mason Browne through a mutual friend. We had this idea to start a queer party. So we found a nightclub, put up some posters and handed out some flyers. We expected a few hundred people to turn up to the first one – mostly our friends. In the end 1200 people showed up, and we had a queue down three flights of stairs and around the block. That's how it began. We ran the party for 18 months, but then Mason moved back to Sydney, so we put it on hiatus. Last July, we re-launched it as a monthly party on in Fitzroy. And it's been going strong ever since.
The idea behind Closet was really to create a party my friends would want to go to. I had lots of gay male friends, and straight friends, and I got sick of going out in a scene that was completely segregated. We wanted to create a space for all gays, lesbians and their friends to mix. The name Closet is a little tongue-in-cheek obviously, but it is also something that all LGBT identify with. After all, we’ve all spent some time in there.
The parties – or at least the promotional posters – have had their fair share of criticism and controversy. Is that a good thing, a bad thing, or a bit of both?
Well, Oscar Wilde said the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about, but truthfully our posters are just a bit of fun. We copped flack when a straight talkback radio Neil Mitchell host took offence to one of our posters featuring a famous Australian swimmer. So we put Neil on the poster instead and invited him along. In our view, it was a storm in a teacup. If someone thinks a celebrity is gay, and they aren’t – who cares? We don’t think being gay is something to be ashamed of. We think it’s fabulous. That’s what Closet is about – creating a place where LGBT people can be themselves.
What’s the crowd and atmosphere like at a typical Closet party – if there is such a thing?
Closet is a very mixed crowd – gay boys with beards, femmes, butch girls, you name it. It's friendly, fun and unpretentious. And the music is more diverse than your usual gay bar; from disco to deep house, hip hop to pop.
What’s planned for Closet’s first birthday bash?
I'm hoping Neil Mitchell shows up.
And is there anything else planned to come out of the Closet in the future?
We’ve got a new party in the pipeline, but my lips are sealed for now.
Resident Closet DJ Roy Da Loy lists his top five dancefloor fillers
1. ‘212’ – Azealia Banks
Full of attitood and, ahem, frequent very coarse language, sexual references and adult themes, this 2011 rap track certainly gets the feet stomping.
2. ‘Good Life’ – Inner City
A classic early house track from 1989, it’s not heard much these days, but is full of good memories and great rhythm.
3. ‘100 Per Cent Pure Love’ – Crystal Waters
It’s hard to believe this song was first released in 1994 – still sounds fresh and eminently danceable today.
4. ‘You Gonna Want Me’ – Tiga
Funky white boys and guest vocalist Jake Shears tear up the floor with this 2005 track. Yes, Jake, we all want you…
5. ‘How Will I Know’ – Whitney Houston
Take a 1985 camp dance classic from the dead pop diva, add some irony and a dash of tribute, and you’ve got a rockin’ dance floor. Of course.