First published on 16 Jul 2009. Updated on 3 Aug 2009.
Do you remember a time when queer Sydney's most creative and experimental parties and shindigs were held in funky warehouse and factory spaces aimed at nurturing creative communities rather than cashing in on them?
You'd be forgiven for thinking those days are gone, especially as you sip on an $8 schooner at an Oxford Street venue and hear your supposed queer comrades shriek with delight as the latest Katy Perry music video pollutes the dance floor.
Thankfully, the people who share your dismay have put their money where your mouth is. When Penelope Benton, Patsy Black, Teresa Avila, Annette Moore and Meredith Williams felt let down by the performance and party scene around them, they decided to get proactive. The 'rats', as they are now affectionately known, pooled their money, purchased a warehouse space in Marrickville and harnessed the collective talents of a number of like-minded queer creatives. Together they transformed a run-down warehouse into a funky, creative and diversely functional new venue - the Red Rattler Theatre.
"There isn't another collective out there at the moment like us," says Benton. "We are the first group to have set up as a legally licensed, non-profit venue, with a particular focus on being sustainable with renewable energy."
This all-red space is decked out with opulent, mismatched furniture; an art deco bar; and a vaudeville-inspired stage that regularly welcomes live performances by superbly bent talent.
Over the past few months the Red Rattler has hosted some stellar grassroots events including a Queerotic Film Festival, creative art forums and most recently a Queer 80s Prom Night. By providing a platform for some of Sydney's hottest underground performing artists such as Melodiqa and Fancy Piece, this dedicated space is keeping the city's expressive side well nurtured.
While the Red Rattler is owned and run by a queer collective, Penelope points out that it is not a 'new gay venue'. "It's a creative space for social collectives. Things that are a bit bent, slightly kooky and different."
Red Rattler Theatre, 6 Faversham St, Marrickville, 2204. (www.redrattler.org).
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