Godfather of the Sydney gay dance scene, Jac Vidgen, has passed away unexpectedly at age 68 at his home in Manila.

The party promoter was best known as part of the team behind the iconic RAT parties of the 1980s and early 1990s, gay-friendly celebrations of fashion and dance that featured innovative live performances and the city’s best DJs.

Vidgen’s massive dance parties changed the face of Sydney’s nightlife and are credited with introducing the performance art of VJing to Australia.

His close friend and fellow party promoter Richard Weiss said he had been inspired by Vidgen.

“Jac Vidgen had a big heart and an open mind,” Weiss said.

“He never lost his sense of wonder, his appreciation of beauty or his desire to be at the very centre of things.”

Weiss said that Vidgen will be remembered for his spirit and the groundbreaking events he organised.

“Jac’s legacy will live on with all who were touched by the riot of colour and sheer joy of a RAT party,” he said.

“I thought he would live forever. I think most people did.

“Jac’s energy is still with us—it cannot not be.”

Others in the industry have also paid tribute to Vidgen.

San Francisco–based DJ Paul Goodyear remembered Vidgen as “one of Australia’s best party promoters and a loving beautiful soul”.

“The few times I worked with him he was a total professional and perfectionist,” said Goodyear.

“Jac had amazing vision and brought us forty wonderful parties between 1983 and 1992.

“Without Jac and his RAT parties we would not have had the incredible party scene in Sydney that we had.

“Jac put us on the map and up there with London and New York and brought out some fabulous gay icons like Grace Jones and Boy George!

“Everyone loved him and his legacy will never be forgotten.”

Vidgen has been honoured with a dance party in his memory in Manila.

Details of an Australian memorial are to come.

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