This past weekend it was time to celebrate Pride as the LGBTIQ Community came together in celebration of who we are, and to remind those who stand against us, we still here and we’re not going anywhere. It was my first Vienna pride event, as last year I was ill and missed the entire thing. Here are my thoughts on the highlight of the day, the Regenbogen parade, or rainbow parade for those who don’t speak Deutsch. I’ll preface these remarks by mentioning I work as a journalist and reviewing things is part of my job.
Now I’ve been lucky enough to travel in my life and attend the odd pride event here and there, with Vancouver, BC’s pride being a real favourite of mine. So good as the Vancouver parade, Vienna had a lot to live up to.
The parade itself starts at the Burgtheater/Rathaus and works its way around the ring that once contained the city walls. A 2pm we were off and running, well walking. From our position just a few hundred meters down the road we could see things starting, maybe. The truth is we had no idea when it all got going until the first walkers passed us, followed by the dykes on bikes. From there, well things got a bit slow, and a little dull. There were gaps in the flow of those marching in the parade, followed by groups of people clumped together, possibly as members of the march, or as members of the public. It was hard to tell. More than a few seemed to be walking with a beer in their hand. Once in a while a float would pass by. While some were themed, the truth was every single one of the large Articulated lorries seemed to contain the same formula of an incredibly loud sound system, some drinks and people dancing on them. One passed up with a ‘Space invader’ theme, though only around four people that we could see actually seemed to have made an effort to dress up. The rest were happily dancing to the incredibly loud music.
Meanwhile in Vancouver…..
The truck would then clear and another gaggle of random people would appear with little to tell what or who they were representing. There were some good shows though, club Kreativ managed to put up a ‘Xena, warrior princess’ themed showing, complete with chariot and costumes, and the diplomats living in Vienna put on a cracking show, handing our rainbow flags of their nations, including the British embassies rainbow Union Jack. However, as the parade wound slowly on, after 45 minutes we were bored and went for lunch at the MQ, which was hosting a nice food festival. We finished lunch and headed back to the ring to catch the last of the parade.
While the parade got boring, pride village was a huge let down. The theory says pride village is a place that the community can come and relax, talk and meet people. In that respect it is. But in order to attract people, and keep them at pride village, and thus spending money, it was a bit M’eh. At a guess I’d say over 90% of the village were local bars setting up to sell to us, the public. Prices were fixed, but that’s expected. What annoyed me was the lack of choice in beer. Specifically and Austrian Beer. Instead, a deal was in place to sell that most Austrian of Beers, Heineken. It’s annoying when James Bond drinks it, and really annoying when I have to. My kingdom for a local Ottakringer please.
While the many, many bars fought over who didn’t want Heineken the most, there were few community help stalls around. I spotted Austrian Trans supportive Tabera sharing a stall with another trans group. While the Aids Hilfe stall was there to raise money and awareness right at the entrance of pride village. For those looking for a retail opportunity, there was Viennese favourites Ampelpärchen rocks. I’ve been eyeing up their range of tee-shirts for awhile and I can’t recommend them enough. However that seemed to be it for those visiting Vienna and in search of a souvenir from Pride.
In the centre of pride village sat the vast stage and an even larger area of empty space. Just after parade finished, I figured a little fun music would be awesome, hell bring in the Schlager, that’s perfect for post 5pm crowd who’ve gotten a little tipsy maybe, plus for the families still wandering around the village, it would be great. No Schlager. Instead, a lone DJ was on stage playing beats that would have really got the party going, at 9.30pm, in Ibiza. A few of the crowd tried to jump around but there was a real lack of atmosphere there for the DJ to build on. Essentially she was in at the wrong time or venue.
With the repetitive beats and samples irking our hearing, we called it a day and headed home, getting in a six pm.
To say it was a bit of a let down would be an understatement. The parade was messy, seemed completely unorganised in places and after awhile, repetitive and dull. What it needed was room for individuals who were marching to be able to stand and showcase who they were, that awesome costume really stand proud. The large lorries need to go and be replaced by better planned and better themed floats that allow the crowds on either side of the road to really see the true pageantry of it all, not a trailer full of drunk dancing people covered by ridiculously loud music. A master of ceremonies would be great, and the event. Should be timed so it can be broadcast on a local Radiostation, with commentary and music simulcast to the crowd.
There needs to be a proper spacing of the people walking and less ‘bunch of drunks joining in’ feel.
For Pride village, the need for there to be more than just bars and bars is imperative. What really surprised me was the amount of space available. Events happen all the time at the Rathaus, and when they do, space is always at a premium. Not so for pride village which had loads of empty space crying out for something special.
With the stage area so around and centre, why not drop in a screen a broadcast the whole parade to pride village, along with that simulcast commentary. During the parade, people may not be able to see, or just prefer to chill away from the ring. Make it a real show, and once its done, bring in the Volksmusik or schlager to get the crowd ready for the evenings performances.
Next year is Europride and Vienna could see up-to 1 Million visitors come to the city to celebrate pride with us. If this years parade and village is to be the grand finale to the month long event, then there’s trouble ahead.This entry was posted in Event