It’s been a long time coming -¦ but the new and improved Taylor Square is ready for its close-up.

Few would disagree that the Square’s makeover has been painfully distended. Originally scheduled for completion in time for last November’s Gay Games, the $6.7 million project has since then suffered every kind of possible setback: bureaucratic, political, industrial and meteorological.

But after a frustrating 12 months in which Taylor Square was little more than a ruddy great hole in the ground, it’s ready to be reclaimed as public space.

The delays experienced with Taylor Square have been extremely frustrating both for South Sydney Council and the local community, agrees the mayor of South Sydney, Tony Pooley. I apologise to local residents and businesses for the inconvenience caused. However, it is now with much pleasure that I can finally announce the completion of the Taylor Square project.

To celebrate the milestone, and to warm the space, a group of local residents and business-people have banded together to stage a mammoth T party, this Sunday 30 November, from 5pm to 10pm.

While everyone knows and appreciates that Taylor Square is a public space for everyone, it has a unique significance for Sydney’s Gs, Ls, Bs, Ts and Qs (it’s the turning point for our Mardi Gras parade, after all), so it is no surprise that the party’s entertainment roster is dominated by performers from our community.

A stage on Gilligan’s Island will feature a diverse array of acts, including Bob Downe, Michal Nicolas, Vida Las Vegas, Brown Skin and Gaye Abandon, while Kate Monroe and Tim Blanshard will spin the records right round, baby, from a DJ box to be set up on the balcony of Middle Bar. Acclaimed lighting designer Allan Parkinson -“ whose work is well-known to many a Mardi Gras partygoer -“ has come on board to light up the party.

We’ve all donated our time and are doing this because we want to see a square full of vibrancy again, Monroe says. That’s what we want people to bring on the day. We want to put our stamp back on that square, because it really has been a hole for so long.

Laura Burgess from Middlebar agrees.

Ultimately we’re just a bunch of people who live and work in the area, and we’ve seen the Square in a state of disrepair for such a long time, she says. We want to see something really positive come out of the negatives.

To be held on the eve of World AIDS Day, the T party is also billed as a fundraiser for the AIDS Council of New South Wales. (Some of the local businesses are also getting into the charity aspect of the day. Arq nightclub, for example, will be charging $10 at the door for a big Sunday night bash, and 100 percent of proceeds will be passed on to ACON.)

Laura Burgess says part of the reason for the party is to show how Taylor Square can be utilised as a public space.

It’s a great space, and it should be used to its full potential, she says. And who knows -“ if this goes really well, then maybe we can make it an annual festival.

But first things first: reclaiming Taylor Square as a community space. Already, many community members have voiced their opinion on the upgrade -“ and, as always, some people love it and some people don’t.

One thing you can always guarantee in the gay community is that people are always going to have an opinion, stresses Kate Monroe. You can count on that. But it’s finished now; it’s not really about what Council puts there -“ it’s about what we do there.

Well said. It’s time for us to reclaim Taylor Square.

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