In one of the greatest displays of support for New Mardi Gras yet seen, an all-Australian DJ line-up will play for free at this year’s 25th anniversary party on 1 March.

A range of DJs from Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane offered their complimentary services, and party organisers couldn’t be happier.

We’ve been overwhelmed with the level of support shown by these DJs, New Mardi Gras co-chair Michael Woodhouse said.

They will be playing at a different party in 2003 from previous years. The RHI will be a handbagger’s paradise, the Hordern hard, dark and dirty and City Live a space for women and their invited male buddies with eclectic music from Flynn Scully, Neroli and DJ Shigeki.

There’s no provision for a men’s-only space at this stage, New Mardi Gras co-chair Stevie Clayton said.

We’ve tried to be really prudent in our budgeting, and have planned initially for a much smaller party. As tickets sell, we’ll consider opening more venues, Clayton said.

This includes the Dome -“ although upcoming repairs will rule the crowd favourite out as a dance space. If party ticket sales reach 15,000 the Dome will become a designated chill-out area.

A covered outdoor area will include a fourth dancefloor, and highlight up and coming Australian DJs. And the shows will feature one international and several local stars.

Following the police raid of a scenic maze at Pride’s New Year’s Eve Gold party, Clayton said New Mardi Gras is still debating what to do about men’s dark spaces.

As a matter of principle we think that the provision of those sorts of spaces is an important health measure. But at the same time we’re respectful of the licensing laws, she said.

The new-look party follows some suggestions made in a survey of 2002 Mardi Gras partygoers.

The survey revealed few surprises -“ the ratio of men to women at last year’s party was about four to one and most attendees came from Sydney’s inner suburbs. More than 75 percent were aged between 24 and 45 years old with 50 percent of women sliding into the 25- to 34-year age bracket.

While the Star’s letters page has always received complaints about the emerging straightness of the party, just two percent of respondents identified as straight, with 80 percent ticking the gay or homosexual box and 15 percent identifying as lesbian.

More than 65 percent of those straight-identifying attendees were women. And 17 percent of respondents said they earned more than $100,000 per year.

Of the vague options for why people went to the parties, 95 percent said they liked to dance, while 88 percent said they wanted to let go. Just 18 percent listed picking up as an important part of their night. Younger revellers placed more importance on hearing a particular DJ and men were more concerned with picking up.

Co-chairs of New Mardi Gras’ party working group Jock McKeon and Mark Orr have looked at the results and used a long list of suggestions to change the Fox Studios party as we know it.

In an effort to make the party accessible to younger and older people, New Mardi Gras have extended concession tickets to include 1,000 full-time students and Senior’s Card holders, who will be able to buy tickets for $53.50. Standard tickets for this year’s event cost $95 and will go on general sale from Saturday 1 February.

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