Sydney’s bears, cubs, otters and their admirers are combing their fur in preparation for one of the biggest Bear Essentials programs in Sydney’s history.
Bear Essentials 12 – Under Southern Stars is a week-long program jammed with 12 events designed to appeal to the bear and broader community.
Bear Essentials coordinator Murray Mills said the idea of the program was to allow people to be involved in the community and have fun.
“Most Bear clubs around the world have a festival like this – it is a way of Bears getting together,” he said.
“In most countries it runs parallel with the Pride parade, so in Sydney it coincides with Mardi Gras.”
A host of local, interstate and international Bears and their admirers are expected to converge on Sydney next year for the week-long festival which starts on 26 February.
Among the events planned are a Harbear Cruise, Bears Picnic, Wet Furr and the always popular Underbear party.
“Underbear is our most popular event in the calendar because it is so unconventional,” Mills said.
“No-one there is body conscious – there’s just a lot of people dancing around in their underwear having fun.”
And those a little more bashful than others will be pleased to know the term underwear is used quite loosely.
“We’ve seen long johns, jockstraps, footy shorts, jocks and boxers in a variety of kinds over the years,” Mills said.
“There’s been everything from the Calvin Klein underwear to last year’s Bonds.
“The whole idea is you have a room full of men who accept who they are. They accept who they are, not the stereotype, and they are happy to be around other people who accept who they are.”
Mills said there had been numerous highlights in the 12 years Bear Essentials has been running.
“Last year Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore came to our Meet and Greet, which was great,” he said.
“And a few years ago when we held Underbear at Eden nightclub, the bar staff really got into the event. They were spraying us with water from the post-mix tap as we were all dancing around.”
But there is also a serious side to Bear Essentials – and that is the community fundraising.
The Harbear Cruise and Meet and Greet next year will double as a fundraiser for Camp Goodtime, a free respite camp for children and families living with HIV.
BEAR ESSENTIALS LAUNCH PARTY
Sydney’s Harbour City Bears will launch the Bear Essentials 12 – Under Southern Stars event calendar from 8pm on 3 November at Bar Mystique, The Taxi Club.
DJs Charles and Gary Kennedy will provide entertainment on the night, which will also double as the launch of the new Harbour City Bears website, www.hcbears.com.
Tickets for the 2008 Bear Essentials program will be on sale and registration forms for the group will be available.
Entry is free for Harbour City Bears members and $10 for non-members, and ticket numbers are strictly limited.
BEAR ESSENTIALS 12 PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
Meet & Greet
Date: 26 February
Where: Flinders Hotel
Time: 9pm
Cost: Free
Cybear Café
Date: 26 February-2 March
Where: Flinders Hotel
Time: From noon to 6pm
Cost: $3 per hour
Mountain Trip
Date: 27 February
Where: Blue Mountains
Time: 7.30am
Cost: TBA
Underbear
Date: 27 February
Where: Arq
Time: 9pm
Cost: $50 non-members/ $35 members (incl. cloaking)
(Members includes all Australasian Bear Clubs)
Harbear Cruise
Date: 28 February
Where: meet at Man-O-War Steps, Sydney Opera House
Time: 6.30pm
Cost: $95 non-members / $80 members
(Members includes all Australasian Bear Clubs)
Wet Furr
Date: 29 February
Where: Cook + Phillip Aquatic Park
Time: 7pm
Cost: $20 non-members/ $15 members (inc cloaking)
(Members includes all Australasian Bear Clubs)
Bears Picnic
Date: 1 March
Where: Hyde Park
Time: TBA
Cost: $15
Under Southern Stars
Mardi Gras Parade Entry
Date: 1 March
Where: Hyde Park
Time: TBA
Cost: Free
Sauna Party
Date: 2 March
Where: Kingsteam, 38 Oxford St
Time: 3.30pm onwards
Cost: $10 entry with Bear ticket
Bridge Climb
Date: Multiple days over the week
Where: Sydney Harbour Bridge
Time: Multiple times over the week
Cost: From $165
Registration Pack
Cost: $250 with members and earlybird discounts available
Includes: Meet & Greet, Cybear Café, Underbear, Harbear Cruise, Wet Furr, Bears Picnic, Under Southern Stars, T-Shirt, Bear Essentials merchandise, Bear Essentials backpack.
Details and tickets: From November at www.hcbears.com.

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