If you think you know exactly what to expect from a Pride party, prepare to be pleasantly surprised. This year, much has been changed, including the party’s venue, size, theme and musical direction.

With a ticket cap of 1,900, this party will be considerably smaller than Pride’s previous efforts but, arguably, this will allow the organisation to present something a bit more boutique and a bit less generic. The venue has moved from the wide open spaces of the Hordern Pavilion to the more intimate surrounds of Stage 11 (the venue formerly and seemingly always to be known as City Live).

Stage 11 will feature two dance spaces -“ one on the ground floor and one on the mezzanine level -“ but both spaces will pump to the progressive house sounds of Ryan Murphy, Mandy Rollins and Roger Z. A third outdoor dance space will serve up a full-frontal-assault of screaming handbag house, courtesy of DJs Justin Scott and David Hiscock (who will once again be taking requests on the night). Kate Monroe will take over the turntables at sunrise and deliver an uplifting vocal house set until close, which comes at the suitably ungodly hour of 8am.

Another point of departure for Pride with this year’s party is in the use of shows. Traditionally, Pride shows have been big, on-stage extravaganzas involving massed posses of community dancers; but for Kooky Karousel, the shows will be more spontaneous and roving, and may happen in the most unexpected places. The entertainment roster includes an eclectic gang of fire-twirlers, jugglers, stilt-walkers and other suitably carnival-esque characters.

Overseeing proceedings will be renowned lesbian comic Shelly Silberman, who’ll don top hat and cane as ringmaster in Stage 11 -“ rechristened the Big Top for the night. Lighting in the venue will be designed by Allan Parkinson, and a spectacular lighting display has been promised for the stroke of midnight.

Party organisers report that tickets to the event are already selling briskly, and specially discounted tickets sold out before the offer expired.

We believe a combination of factors -“ a smaller event, reasonable ticket prices, funky theme, the use of an outside space and a solid DJ line-up -“ are driving ticket sales, Pride co-president Lou-Anne Lind says.

In previous years, the bulk of tickets to the Pride New Year party got sold in the week between Christmas and New Year, but there is no guarantee that that pattern will be repeated this year.

Don’t leave it until the last week to buy a ticket, because you will be disappointed, says one of the party organisers. You’ve been warned!

Pride is looking for volunteers for roaming performances at the party. No experience necessary! All registered performing volunteers will receive free entry. Call the Pride Centre on 9550 6188 for more info.

Tickets to Kooky Karousel cost $89 plus booking fee and are available from The Toolsheds on Oxford Street and King Street. Concession tickets costing $69 are available for purchase only from the Sydney Pride Centre. (Bring your CHCC Card.)

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