In the past few years Hand In Hand has been marketed in a variety of down and dirty ways, from All Fired Up (1999) to Sweat (2000) to Lust In Space (2001). These are pretty hot and heavy themes but in 2002, ACON is returning to a more playful era (as did Pride for its New Year’s Eve Superheroes party).

Perhaps this party, which smacks of playfulness and cheekiness, is for a party for punters who would like to feel, just a little bit pre-September 11.

I hadn’t thought of it like that, muses David Wilkins, Hand In Hand producer, but I guess you might have a point. This is a very -˜up’ theme.

Wilkins is quick to add however, that Playground (subtitled what games do you play) is a party for adults. This will definitely be a party where parental supervision is not recommended, Wilkins warns. People can obviously share their toys and games, but as everyone knows, the real secret to good play is using your imagination.

Wilkins is a veteran of the Hand In Hand experience. He co-produced parties for ACON with Richard Weiss for five years and has been working on them as an ACON employee since 1999.

While the DJs are a good mix of heavy favourites and girlie fabulousness, the overall theme of Hand In Hand for 2002 is one of unadulterated kookiness. And as usual, there’ll be a run of glorious shows, which are this year being directed by Gary Leeson (he of the Mardi Gras Marching Groups fame) and Wilkins himself.

Essentially, it’s about a shit-hot party with great music and lights, Wilkins says. We think the DJ line-up is fucking hot. You have to make sure that you put on a DJ line-up that has a wealth of experience. People should expect a steamy cruisy wild musical ride!

There are two venues to choose from -“ the Hordern Pavilion and the Dome -“ and DJs Alex Taylor, Luke Leal, Paul Goodyear (in the Hordern) and Annabelle Gaspar and Richard Weiss (in the Dome) will be spinning platters for punters. It’s a great team and one which has served ACON well in the past.

Wilkins says that the Hand In Hand experience will combine a touch of the fun and silly in the Dome together with the hard pumping action of the Hordern Pavilion. Think the Playboy mansion/sleazy Hugh Hefner from the 70s meets Killer Clowns From Outer Space, he confides. The atmosphere will be pretty ribald.

He adds that the playboy imagery from the 70s will find its zenith in the Dome. There’s a huge tunnel going to though to the Dome where you’ll find wonderful funky groovy space music, he says. There’ll be funky chairs and a great chill out area.

Wilkins told the Star that he didn’t believe other parties had real chill out spaces. But at Hand In Hand, because it is winter, we have to make sure people are warm and comfortable, he pointed out. You can sit and talk and gossip. It’s also a concession to people who really do want to regress back to childhood. You’ll be able to go into a playpen area and play around with three or four of Sydney’s drag queens -“ working in shifts -“ to play Twister or do other naughty stuff.

They’ll be up for anything, adds Wilkins, warming to his theme. If you walk into the funpen area, it’s at your own risk!

But surely being in the dead of winter does put the brakes on somewhat. How do party planners deal with chilly weather and the dead zone between Mardi Gras and Sleaze?

It is true that we’ve been reviewing the Hand In Hand situation, Wilkins admits. In fact, it’s fair to say we’re reviewing the future of the party. Sydney perceives itself as a summer party town. It cranks itself up to Sleaze Ball and settles down after Mardi Gras. We’re stuck in the middle of winter so it’s really hard to get people thinking of partying at this time of year.

But a lot of people think of Hand In Hand as their favourite party of the year, Wilkins continues. We also hope that the theme, the DJs and everything else will inspire people to come along and help ACON as well as have a good time.

Wilkins asserts that Hand In Hand is not just important to ACON but also to a whole range of community groups. Last year, ACON gave out over $23,000 in grants for 18 community organisations from Lust In Space. In recent years, over $100,000 in community disbursements have been distributed to various projects and in this, its 11th year, ACON is counting on the community to make Playground yet another successful and fun party.

The party’s success, says ACON president Adrian Lovney, means we are able to donate a proportion of the funds raised to community organisations with limited access to government funds.

 

Tickets for Hand In Hand ($75/$40 concession from ACON only, plus booking fee) are on sale from ACON and at the Toolsheds at Taylor Square and 81 Oxford Street Darlinghurst, or phone 9266 4800 or visit www.ticketek.com.au.

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