Brisbane LGBTI swim team Aqualicious will appear in this year’s Sydney Mardi Gras parade on a colourful float remembering queer history.

The float—‘Let’s get physical: exercise your rights’—will be a fluoro, Olivia Newton-John themed tribute to LGBTI culture that also reflects on the community’s history of persecution.

Aqualicious have invited friends from Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney to collaborate and join together in the spirit of friendship for this year’s parade.

“’Let’s get physical: exercise your rights’ brings together themes of fitness, body diversity, social justice, friendship and humour—all of which are core values of the Aqualicious swim club,” said president Fernando Claro.

“It’s also about embracing GLBTI histories and cultural intersections.”

Parade participants will wear fluoro clothing, body paint and 80s sweatbands, while performing choreography by Queensland-based Grace Crossland to Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Physical’, along with a special mix of tunes sourced by Queensland community group Queer Privilege.

Queer Aboriginal artist Troy-Anthony Baylis has been engaged to design the float.

“I am drawing on a range of influences: Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Physical’, Jane Fonda, Miss Piggy’s Aerobique Exercise Workout Album, and the legacy of Mardi Gras visual pioneers Ron Muncaster, Peter Tully and David McDiarmid to inform the aesthetic”, said Baylis.

Gay icon Olivia Newton-John became an international success in the 1970s, going stratospheric in 1978 with the film musical Grease, the same year as the very first Sydney Mardi Gras.

The music video for her hit ‘Physical’ is notorious for its homoerotic imagery.

As well as celebrating retro fashions, the Aqualicious float will reflect on LGBTI history and the struggles our community has faced, from World War II to modern Australia.

 

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