If you are looking to buy glitter in Cape Town this week, your chances are thin. You may – just – find some in the vicinity of the stadium, where the last few specks are still wafting through the air in the wake of the storm that is the Mother City Queer Project.
Mother City Queer Project (MCQP) is without a doubt one of the most vibrant and exciting parties to be found on Cape Town’s social calendar. It’s outrageous over-the-top fun and it commemorated its twentieth anniversary this year at Cape Town Stadium. An event draped in glitter, tinsel, music and gorgeous costumes, MCQP began as a costume party to celebrate 1994’s new constitution and has since blossomed into an iconic social event, not only for the LGBT community, but for those who support LGBT rights.
MCQP has one golden rule: no costume, no entrance. A vast amount of effort goes into the costumes, dramatically increasing the event’s vibrancy and excitement. Every year sees the equivalent of two swimming pools’ worth of sequins, glitter and body paint, and this year’s theme, ‘Space Cowboys’, saw sparkling space cadets, intergalactic astronauts, Wild West gunslingers and aliens running rampant. Buzz Lightyears jumped around on the dance floors while blue Na’Vi aliens from Avatar prowled through the stadium. Men in Black agents were on patrol, and a unicorn complete with a sparkly tail and lavender horn could be seen strolling around outside. And they were all nothing short of fabulous.
Music is a core part of the MCQP experience, and the line-up reflects its status as a premier social event, with no less than seven stages showcasing live bands, trance, cabaret, disco and EDM. The Disco stage played old school pop, while popular South African bands such as Al Bairre, Goodluck and Nomadic Orchestra appeared on the Live stage. But the heart of the party was located on the Main stage, which drew the largest crowd. DJs King Size, Dean Fuel and The 2AM’s were immensely popular, sending fast-paced electronic beats pulsing through the crowd well into the early hours of the morning. The Butterbox stage (named for its music brand sponsor) stood above all the others at the very top, featuring artists such as Lady M, Das Kapital, Hyphen and Grime House, who let drum and bass run riot.
On the cabaret stage Lola Fine, Manila von Teeze, Riri Rosenberg and others unleashed their inners divas, strutting their stuff to songs by Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. The performers used every inch of the tiny stage, executing eye-widening moves on sky-high stiletto heels. From back-flips to splits, apparently nothing was impossible.
With several dance floors spread across six levels of the stadium, there was quite a bit of legwork involved, but at least there was little chance of wandering around aimlessly – each guest was handed a booklet on arrival, containing the full line-up, artists’ schedule, and venue map. Unusually for such an event there were also no queues for bathrooms; toilets are one thing the stadium has in abundance, and in the free spirit of MCQP, it’s kind of fun to stand between a drag queen and a half-naked cowboy when checking your make-up in the mirror.
MCQP’s most defining quality is its atmosphere. Gay or straight, black or white, young or old; MCQP has a place for everyone. It evokes a sense of freedom, and celebrates personal and sexual identity. That it’s also a tremendously enjoyable and fabulous party is just the cherry on top.
The Mother City Queer Project took place on 14 December at the Cape Town Stadium.