Plans to create a sex space at last Saturday’s Mardi Gras party were sunk at the eleventh hour by the management of the Fox Entertainment Precinct.

After receiving legal advice, New Mardi Gras proposed creating a designated sex space behind the coat check tent at the party, which would have been officially off the licensed area. The plan was agreed to by the police and Playbill Venue Management (the licensee of the site), but kyboshed by Fox on the Friday before the party.

New Mardi Gras co-chair Michael Woodhouse made a pointed reference to the issue in the co-chairs’ address to the crowd after the 12:30am show at the party. We come together to dance, to drink, to fly and to fuck, he said, to enthusiastic response from the RHI crowd.

We’re aware that a number of patrons come to the party wanting to have sex, Woodhouse told Sydney Star Observer this week. It’s been part of the party experience for many, many years. It’s part of enjoying and celebrating our community. We shouldn’t be ashamed of that.

New Mardi Gras had wanted to create a sex space that was legal, which encouraged safe sex and which did not impact on other patrons, he said.

The only reason it didn’t happen this time was because of a lack of understanding and courage on the part of Fox, said co-chair Stevie Clayton.

In a statement issued to the Star, Fox management said that Playbill Venue Management, who licensed an area from FEP [Fox Entertainment Precinct] for the Mardi Gras party, is specifically prohibited from allowing (sexual) activity under the special licence applying to the event.

The provision of an area outside of the party zone would constitute a breach of Fox’s lease and is therefore not permitted.

But the New Mardi Gras co-chairs expressed confidence in their ability to convince Fox of the public health case for providing safe sex spaces. Sexual activity occurred in several locations during the night on Saturday and this made the job of ACON staffers much more difficult, they said.

We need to be putting on safe events, and we need to work in partnership with Fox to do this, Woodhouse said. He said the police and Playbill Venue Management deserve credit for understanding the reality of these parties.

We clearly think there should be a way to find a solution to the issue of sex at dance parties, Clayton said. We will be talking to Fox and trying to educate them.

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