monique1111When I first moved to Sydney from Melbourne about four years ago I struggled to connect with the place. Sydney seemed a bit too shiny for my liking with its ridiculously beautiful landmarks, beaches and people.

The city felt like a soapie star you wanted to smack in the face.

I missed the grittiness of Melbourne – the weirdos, the crazy art scene and all the dirty queers. I missed my people.

And then I found them. The sneaky buggers were hiding down some dark, industrial street in Marrickville in a warehouse affectionately known as ‘The Rat’.

The Rat, or The Red Rattler if we’re being formal, has been host to my favourite nights out since moving to Syders. I’ve been to everything from a Bollywood transgender beauty pageant to a Smutty Salsa party; from riot girl band nights to annual “alternative” Mardi Gras parties that smash through all that clichéd pink dollar bullshit; I’ve watched banned zombie porn projected onto The Rat’s walls and have even bumped into Canadian electro-punk artist Peaches at a jam-packed Gurlesque night.

Finally I’d found a venue, and a scene, that felt like home.

So much so that my girlfriend and I conjured up our own queer boxing-themed hip hop party where hot boys pole-danced to Eye Of The Tiger and chicks punched the bejesus out of each other on The Red Rattler stage. There aren’t many places in Australia that let shit like that go down.

Love Heart_DE1The Rat is a precious, volunteer-run, not-for-profit performance space that currently needs our help to keep its doors open. The venue was initially set up by five, pioneering local artists who wanted to create a legal, warehouse space to showcase alternative music, art and activism.

They all took on personal debt to realise this dream. Now, two of the original five Rats are moving on to new projects, so the board of directors needs to raise at least $40K so they can purchase that share of the building on behalf of the community so The Rat can keep running independently.

If this doesn’t happen, we risk losing yet another venue that nurtures emerging talent and showcases eclectic non-mainstream music and art.

You can show your support by rocking up to The Rat’s fifth birthday party this Friday May 3rd – or even by chucking some birthday money in a virtual card via their crowd funding campaign.

I hope to be drinking Rat’s Piss – the Rattler’s iconic home brew – and celebrating the grittier side of Sydney art and culture with my fellow queerdos for years on end.


You can follow Monique Schafter on Twitter @MoniqueSchafter

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