Mardi Gras Our Future, Your Local

Rebecca Varidel
30th Jan 2024

Sydney family owned hospitality group Solotel has had pubs since 1910 and bought the pub in Darlinghurst in 1930. Fast forward a century or so, and Solotel hospitality group is gearing up to celebrate Australia’s vibrant queer community across seven of its key venues - the Abercrombie, Kings Cross Hotel, Darlo Bar, Marly, The Clock, The Bank and GOROS - this Mardi Gras season.

In its second year as Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ exclusive hospitality partner, the group has teamed up with some of Sydney’s most sought-after LGBTQIA+ tastemakers and party institutions to elevate a Mardi Gras program that celebrates individuality, diversity and connection under the theme OUR FUTURE, YOUR LOCAL.

Mardi Gras programming kicks off on 18 February with The Bank’s annual Fair Day party, featuring DJs and drag performances throughout the afternoon. The festivities continue into the night, courtesy of community Bear event WOODY’s taking place upstairs in WAYWARDS. Abercrombie will also host a late-night, multi-space afterparty, with Heaps Gay x GiRLTHING joining forces (with free entry before 5pm).

Each Wednesday during Mardi Gras, resident GOROS queen Milan Swaay will host her renowned karaoke competition Sing It, Betch! She’ll also bring Lip Sync Battles to Kings Cross Hotel on 23 - 24 February, and 1 March. Following Mardi Gras’ ballroom extravaganza Sissy Ball on 24 February, Kings Cross Hotel will host The Aftermath - a late-night, community-led afterparty serving flair, finesse and high drama.

Leading into the big weekend, Abercrombie will host Show Us Ya Tips on 29 February, a sex and body-positive show hosted by The Dollar Bin Darlings that raises money for Sex Workers Outreach Project. On 1 March, Kings Cross Hotel will have a techno takeover with BARBA PARTY: Venus, while Queer House Collective will heat up Abercrombie with DJ sets from Montreal’s Hadaxxh, plus beloved locals including Ata2ud (Melb), Venus Verified (Bris) and Jason Conti (Melb), just to name a few.

The highly-anticipated Parade Night on 2 March, will see GOROS receive the RnB, Afro and hip-hop treatment with a free party from the crew at CLUB THIQUE. After leading the Parade route, one of Australia’s oldest and most renowned LGBTQIA+ clubs Dykes on Bikes will host their afterparty at WAYWARDS, while Abercrombie promises to keep the dance-floor heaving until the early morning, running until 9am with an array of local queer artists and performers.

Solotel’s Mardi Gras program has been curated by two multi-disciplinary queer creatives who play a central role in Sydney’s nightlife scene, understanding the importance of fostering safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ people, particularly those amongst the trans, Black, Indigenous and PoC communities. Xander Khoury, aka Xaddy Silky, is a nightlife artist whose practice has been built around ballroom and community. He is the Father of Kiki House of Silky and the founder of Xaddy’s Door List. A former Londoner, Leslie Tiku (AKA Camp Minister) started out in the local nightlife scene as a club host (club kid style) at some of Sydney’s finest underground raves and queer events, before throwing his own parties and DJing with a mission to express himself through style, collaboration and music.

Robert Squillacioti, Chief Marketing Officer of Solotel says that it’s an honour to be part of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2024. “Solotel has a longstanding connection with the local LGBTQIA+ community through so many of our venues and our incredible team. Being a part of Sydney WorldPride last year was an unforgettable experience and so we’re thrilled to partner with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2024 and provide unique, safe, and fun spaces for the queer community to celebrate."

Solotel venues have provided a safe space for queer people over many years, with the likes of Darlo Bar, Kings Cross Hotel, and The Bank serving as pillars for locals to show up proudly and authentically. Solotel’s Mardi Gras campaign honours this past and the central role its venues play for their surrounding communities while also looking forward to ensuring they continue shaping OUR FUTURE as inclusive and safe spaces for the next generation at YOUR LOCAL. The faces of this campaign are Solotel staff members who belong to the LGBTQIA+ communities, showcasing how they express themselves at work and beyond.

Gil Beckwith, Chief Executive Officer of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras says “Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has been proud to be Sydney’s voice of pride and equality for 46 years, sharing our message of visibility and celebration globally and locally. Our 2024 Mardi Gras theme ‘Our Future’ is an open invitation to play a part in creating a more equal future, and Solotel’s campaign ‘Our Future, Your local’ is the perfect way to connect with our local communities while coming together in celebration. We’re delighted they’ve joined us again as partners in making safe, inclusive spaces and celebrating another year of Sydney’s iconic Mardi Gras."

For full program and ticket information, visit the Solotel website HERE.