Cape Town Pride happened on Saturday and as expected it was a blast.
The parade started at the Gallows Hill Traffic Department and ended with Mardi Gras – a celebration of all the individuality, creativity and diversity that Cape Town has to offer.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Before hitting the streets of Cape Town we got into the Pride spirit with a pre-drink.
Naturally, our drink of choice was a G&T with the limited edition Fitch & Leedes Pink Tonic, rebranded in honour of Cape Town Pride.
Because life is too short for bad drinks, especially when you have a three-kilometre walk ahead of you.
On to the Parade, where the Cape Town queer community and allies showed up and turned it out:
We also spoke to Spinsista Mitzi (below), one of the performers who entertained at Mardi Gras after the march, about his experiences of Pride over the years.
Carrie: Can you tell me a bit about your background? How Did you become Spinsista Mitzi?
Mitzi: I finished high school back in 1992. In 1993, I was literally forced into military training; at that time it was still mandatory. I initially and obviously did not want to go, but I ended up meeting my first real group of gay men and made some good friends. Our basic training happened in Pretoria and afterwards, for the remainder of our term, we all had to choose a line of work/ duty. I decided on going into the kitchen as this was really the only other thing I knew well enough to do.
We all went our own direction and so the group kinda split up. I came down to the Cape again – Wynberg! After a couple of months, after some further training etc., some of the group members joined up again. In Wynberg we had our own rooms and open base; which meant we could come and go as we pleased – so long we were punctual for duty. We ended up out on the town almost every night! It was tough, working and partying non-stop!! But it so much fun! We were young, hungry and almost carefree.
At this same time, I got to meet a whole lot of new people. Gays, business owners, prostitutes, the works. So upon completion of my military service, I basically walked straight into my first job. I was a barman at a place called Tangiers. Eventually, we needed bigger premises as the place was pumping every night. Martin, the owner, found the perfect spot on the main road, linking the CBD to Green Point and Sea Point. He insisted on calling it The Bronx Bar. I was given the title of the head barman.
It was great. We started doing drag shows – working right around the clock. During the day we’d rehearse the shows; at night we’d perform and afterwards jump back behind the bar to serve the drinks. Most times we would even go out afterwards. Or we’d have some private party elsewhere. I briefly got thrown into a managerial position, which I absolutely loathed. Counting somebody else’s money? Banking, being stuck in the office, getting ‘tudes and eye rolls from other staff members.
M: We had loads of live singers, bands and entertainers and I would take it upon myself to, at their intervals, jump into the booth to basically keep the vibe going (although it was really just pressing play on a CD player). The next thing I was handed a milk crate of records, the club was full and I was told to play. I’ve always loved music and I used to play my parents’ records when I was really little, but I never considered being a DJ at all. But I did it. I mean, I didn’t know about beat mixing etc. So I really just did as I felt. Nobody seemed to have minded. The music played, the people danced. I got attention from many of the DJs around and everyone gave me some invaluable tips and advice.
Mitzi was the name I was given by an older fellow bar girl, and Spinsista (with a -Ta!!) was added by the marketing manager when things took off. And that’s basically how I got into that. I’d like to think ‘right place, right time’.
I mean I jumped right in at the beginning of the 1996 rave culture. I was there, baby!!!
C: This isn’t your first time DJing at Pride. Can you tell me about previous years?
M: I guess Pride for me, from a business point of view, takes on a whole other meaning, which I don’t necessarily want to get into now. I have played several Pride parties in Cape Town over the years – and a few (1997, 2001, 2004) up in JHB. My style of music, especially where Pride is concerned is Classic. Unlike other DJs I am not interested in playing the latest, freshest tunes I can find. That is boring, missing the point I think.
I’d much rather go for the classic retrospective pride set. Big Room Vocals, Divas belting out their Power Anthems, Uplifting Dance, old School – the stuff that everyone knows and what makes us all feel good inside.
M: The parades are great fun. Although Cape Town marches aren’t really all that big, you are bound to run into someone from a good few years ago. You also get to meet loads of new people. It’s a great party and way of connecting and networking with others who share your same (sexual) identity. But Pride is actually also a reminder of those lost due to homophobia/ hate crimes and illness such as HIV etc. Pride means we stand up for our beliefs and ourselves, saying that we will not be silenced. And we will not go away. We are here, we are Queer! And you need to get used to it!
M: We are fortunate enough to now live in a time where HIV is more manageable. It is no longer a death sentence, so with daily meds and a good friendship/ support structure, one can live a very happy and healthy lifestyle.
Pride to me is a celebration of life, of self.
C: How has Pride changed over the years?
M: I guess as with everything in life, that which is different from the views of your own, you will always find a group of people scared of what they don’t know and understand. Stigma! But we live in a country and a time where it is more acceptable to be gay, out and open. There are still many countries around the world where it is considered a sin and illegal to be openly gay. People being tortured even murdered for being their true authentic self. I guess we have it a little easier here.
But the fight is far from over. It is ongoing. If you see someone being bashed or unfairly treated, Stand Up! Call authorities. Say something. Because if you don’t then you actually take the side of that oppressor. Gay Pride to me means FIGHTING BACK!!
C: What was the inspiration for your look this year?
M: I was asked to represent one of the newer venues in town, The Social Bar. Between Hot House and Social, I have played a number of sets since November last year. Social is a great space. A relaxed, lounge environment catering for a more sophisticated crowd. After work drinks, cocktails and daily specials; music that is uplifting and easy on the ear. You can have a convo with the person sitting next to you. There is an outdoor terrace overlooking the Waterfront. It is simplistic and stylish. And so, naturally, I thought this is it. This is my theme. I got some printed fabric and the whole nine yards! I found myself a dressmaker – Dominic Evans of the Tailor Shop, as to me there are few things as good as a well-fitted garment, designed and made for you! Thank you, Dom! X
So I guess for me this year, less would hopefully be more. Simple, elegant, classy – just like the Social Bar. Thank you, Steve!! X
Here are a selection of more pictures from the march and Mardi Gras:
After the parade, everyone communed at Mardi Gras, where there was an endless supply of food, drink and good music. There was also free HIV testing and a number of booths promoting safe sex awareness, and advertising services for the LGBTIA+ community like the Pride Shelter.
Before we finish, a final word from Spinsista Mitzi:
Pride to me means to stand up and to claim your right and existence in your society, in this world. You have to be able to stand up and say: This is Me. And that you cannot change to adjust to the next person’s needs or ideas of who you should be. Pride is a way of celebrating self-acceptance, to say that your approval is not needed. Pride to me is about self-love and self-care.
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