We’re growing wild in anticipation for this year’s Bear Essentials Festival, so it’s time for Star Observer to compile your must-attend events. In its 17th year, the festival – run by Harbour City Bears – is packed with meaty parties and activities. You’ll be coughing up furballs for weeks.
Greet & Grope • Wed Feb 20, 8pm
Bear Essentials 17 kicks off all old school with the return of a fond favourite. The ‘greet and grope’ welcome party has launched bear events world over and it returns to Taylor Square, Sydney, in the very swish surrounds of Gingers, atop the home of Harbour City Bears, the Oxford Hotel. You’ll be in good hands (well lots of good hands, actually) withhost and bear at large Barry Taylor. And DJ Frankie Shin will be providing tunes.
Meet bears and their fans from all around the world at the warmest welcome you could ever expect and the friendliest way to launch Bear Essentials 17 //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Queer Screen Movie Night • Thur Feb 21, 7pm
Harbour City Bears have had many screenings over the years, and in some pretty special places. They’ve cuddled on the cushions at Govindas, gone west to the Riverside Theatres and ventured to the basement of the Oxford. Now they are heading to the Inner West’s Dendy Newtown with some help from Queer Screen, for a screening of Yossi. The film follows Yossi Hoffman, who has become a valued and dedicated cardiologist, often using his work as a way to escape from dealing with his anguished life. He lives alone, still closeted, unable to break through the walls and defenses built around him since the death of his lover. When he travels to the southern city of Eilat, surrounded by sea and sand dunes, he meets a group of young Israeli IDF officers. Among them is Tom; a handsome and self confident openly gay man, who represents a new world, different from the one that shaped Yossi.
Wet Furr • Fri Feb 22, 6.30pm
This pool party has to be the most enduring and most consistently popular of all Bear Essentials events. It would not be Bear Essentials, or indeed Mardi Gras, without a tsunami of bears and their mates hitting the wave pool at Cook & Phillip Park.
Wet Furr brings you a sea of bears in their boardies, daddies in their speedos and cubs in their togs.
On dry land, enjoy a sausage sizzle from the sizzling lads of the Sydney Rangers Football Club with DJ Scottie Lupton on the decks.
Mega Furry Friday • Fri Feb 22, 9pm
How about an après ‘pool party’ party at the furriest, friendliest bar in town? After you’ve washed those bears out of your hair, head up to the Oxford Hotel for a Friday night full of festivities at a very special Harbour City Bear Den Night.
You can booze and cruise over two levels with international circuit favourite Barney Philley in the Main Bar, and local favourite Colin Gaff in the Underground Bar.
There will be go-go bears dancing and plenty of prizes to give away throughout the night.
Bears on Sunday • Fri Feb 22, 9pm
Bears on Sunday gives you the chance to wind down, relax and get to know your mates and new-found friends in a more intimate and engaging atmosphere on the outdoor deck or cosy bistro of the Lord Roberts Hotel.
It becomes particularly popular round Mardi Gras time and is the best way to round off a weekend. With cheap beers at $13 a jug and even cheaper bears at no extra cost, you better leave some room for the Lord Roberts’ excellent pub grub.
Underbear • Wed Feb 27, 8pm
Here’s your opportunity to get your bear on while you’re getting your gear off at Oxford Art Factory.
This sell-out party is the highlight of the bear calendar and the penultimate event of the party season, disregarding that big parade thingy the following weekend.
The attraction is obvious. They’re all in their underwear. Bears in boxers, cubs in briefs, daddies in jocks, all the revellers are near-naked in a roomful of sweaty, sexy men wearing barely more than their birthday suits.
Joining revellers in various states of undress will be a bulging roster of DJs, including Frankie Shin, Ben Drayton, Kam Shafaati, Gerard Long, Matt Effect and superstar producer/ DJ from New York, Vinny Vero.
Play Party • Thur Feb 28, 9pm
You’re bound to be feeling a bit frisky after rubbing shoulders and god knows what else with the Bear Essentials brigade. In the interests of public safety, not to mention, public decency, Harbour City Bears have organised a play party in the dark nether regions of HeadQuarters.
HeadQuarters is well-known to bears as the place to go if you want a little slap and tickle (although the emphasis might be more on the slap). With Sydney’s sexiest DJ George Roussos on board, it’s just a short step from the dungeon to the dance floor.
Four Floors of Fur • Fri Mar 1, 9pm
One of the best kept secrets about Mardi Gras is that the party actually starts the night before. At the Oxford Hotel, all four floors will be taken over by hordes of hairy men and masses of admirers. And Harbour City Bears have made sure that all four floors will be pumping from top to bottom.
The elegant cocktail bar Gingers will host top live entertainment throughout the night while the Polo Lounge will become much needed chill space, thanks to DJ Mark Alsop. On ground floor the Main Bar will reverberate to the sounds of DJs Nathan Mahon and Brett Austin while the revellers will be really getting their bear on in the sweaty surrounds of the Underground Bar with Richard Bolt and DJ Man doing deck duty.
Remember, if you are a Harbour City Bears member, you get priority in the line (and make no mistake, this night is so popular there will be one).
INFO: Full season and ticketing information can be found at bearessentials.com.au