Last Friday, Goodgod Smallclub temporarily occupied the Sydney Opera House, re-named Goodgod Minceteria. The showcase was a part of Red Bull Music Academy presents: the studio take-over, a part of Vivid LIVE, and an annual event for any Goodgod fan in Sydney. Featuring insanely good DJs, drag queens, disco balls and dungeons, it was a spectacular night!
We arrive at the venue at about 10pm, lining up at the ticket booths and handing in our coats as if we are attending a fancy orchestra. Walking through the doors and down a turret of stairs, we turn left and emerge into a huge, hazy concert hall. The stage is decorated with a faux stone castle and the roof adorned with disco balls and laser lights: it is a ballroom in a dungeon.
On the stage, a gloriously fat man waltzes around wearing sunglasses (I later found out that he is one half of Melbourne duo, Zanzibar Chanel.) The smallish crowd is still slightly awkward, probably because we’re used to the small, semi-illuminated space of Goodgod Danceteria – not an elaborate ballroom. Perhaps it was because the singer is not really engaging with the crowd. His singing is muffled and lost in the big space, and he seems to be a bit lost in his own dancing, as if he’d be doing pretty much the same thing if the crowd wasn’t there.
We hang out for a bit and eventually decide to get a few drinks and wait for the next act to start. That’s the nicest thing about Goodgod relocating to the Opera House; popping out for some fresh air doesn’t entail standing around some dingy laneway off Liverpool Street, but sitting at the tables of Opera Bar looking out at the harbour. Now don’t get me wrong, I have some fantastic (if not slightly hazy) memories of that lane, but it’s no harbourview.
We walk back in to catch the last part of Zanzibar Chanel, who seemed to have finally captivated their crowd, which is much bigger in numbers now. Their beats were actually awesome, really smooth and cruisy.
Zanzibar Chanel play their last song, and exited as more and more people poured into the room.
This is where the night really begins.
New York artists Dosha Devastation and Cunty Crawford feature as House of Ladosha, later joined by Sydney via Seoul duo Victoria Kimand Slé Feat Bhenji Rå. A team of magnificent dancers dressed in drag join the DJs, working the stage like nobody’s business. They making us all feel incredibly inadequate with our own inept dance moves. There is a wonderful sense of New York glamour, as well as acceptance and decadence.
As the night goes on things become a little more… hedonistic, shall we say. At one point I am in the bathroom, and a lady tells me she’s going to steal me and my friend. She says her boyfriend will be shocked that she’s stolen a two new friends, and she will say “I found them in the bathroom!” She grabs my friend’s hand and takes us to meet this boyfriend, who looks just as confused as us. We make our escape when we walk back into the crowd, sprinting for the bar to hide behind a big pole. Later in the night another girl seems to make a beeline towards me out of the smoke, appearing right beside me like some kind of magical fairy. She leans towards my ear and whispers, “you are so beautiful” and then drifts away. Needless to say, I’m stoked.
The highlight of the night was probably when they made a catwalk down the centre of the room. Suddenly, the dancers were right next to us, doing crazy gymnastics and back-flips. Gone was the barrier between performers and crowd. We’re all just dancing together, having a fab time.
The problem I always have with Vivid Live is that it turns what could be a really provocative demonstration of our best Australian talent, into something that is necessarily child-friendly and tourist-friendly. GoodGod Minceteria was a wonderful exception. It’s not trying to be safe, accessible or universally acceptable. Not only was the music fucking incredible, but it was a fearless, glamorous event, creating a wonderful feeling of pride in LGBT culture – and in the very heart of Sydney’s most iconic landmark.