Melbourne Music Week's Heaps Gay Reverie was a magnetic celebration of the LGBTIQ+ community

Spotlighting important voices that don't always see the light of day.

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Dylan Martin

An event as enduring and spectacular as Melbourne Music Week calls for an energy-filled opening event to sustain punters throughout the nine-day festival – so it was no surprise they enlisted the help of the LGBTIQ+ community. With inflatable fish-netted legs and vaporwave projections filling the room, the Heaps Gay Reverie was a marathon seven-hour extravaganza full of incredible local acts that put themes front-and-centre that would otherwise be left for a smaller spotlight.

Heaps Gay are masters in their craft, having held queer dance parties around the country, and this evening was no different. Indie singer-songwriter Maribelle was the first live act to take to the stage. The evening was perfect for Maribelle, having released her new single 'Down For You' the same day.  The single's indie pop rhythm and chords assembled the crowd and truly kicked off the show.

What followed was a lineup of stellar performers that kept the crowd moving until the early hours of the morning. Art performance duo The Huxleys' inflatable jellyfishesque dance left the room astounded, confused and certainly not envious of the glitter clean-up afterwards. Tanzer's long vibrato phrases mesmerised the audience and kept them on a hook. Dandrogyny strutted their stuff, producing a sensual display that left the crowd wanting the voluptuousness to prolong.

But it was clear the audience was holding out for Kira Puru as the clock ticked over to the next day. Puru was brash and self-deprecating with her show banter, a telltale sign of queer millennial humour.

“I’m feeling extra gay tonight,” Kira declared, “so watch out, bitches.”

What was evident from the first half of the evening was, while the musicians may have identified as queer, they were musicians who just so happened to be queer – artists were here to perform, not parade their gender or sexual identity. Puru has expressed her aversion to being pigeonholed in the past, and rightfully so. Her music was pumped full of a jumping bass line and sexual lyrics, for sure, but ambiguous enough so as not to reveal too much. This was where the drag performers came in. Undoubtedly now a mainstream art form thanks to RuPaul, the history of drag was used as a bridge to keep the audience grounded in the reality that, first and foremost, they were in a queer space.

Melbourne Music Week’s opening night was one day after the anniversary of the postal survey result – a date clearly not lost on the organisers – which for many in the community brings trauma or resentment towards those in power. What mattered just as much as the quality of performances was the symbolism of the occasion.

Melbourne Music Week organisers brought Heaps Gay, a community known to develop safe spaces for queer minorities, to ACMI, a public space, at a prime time. The acts weren’t a tokenistic gesture, nor were they so unusual they alienated an audience unaccustomed to the ways of the gays. The opening night of Melbourne Music Week showcased incredible emerging Aussie talent while also paying respect to a community that continues to feel a wound scabbed over, but not completely ostracised.

Melbourne Music Week continues on into the week and finishes up on Saturday November 24. Check out the huge program and grab your tickets via the MMW website.