Monday, July 03, 2006

Regenbogen Parade in Vienna

(started on 3 July, completed and posted on 11 July)
The Regenbogen Parade ("Rainbow"/Gay Parade) of Vienna was on Saturday, 1 July. The previous week had excellent weather, but the forecast for Saturday was bad-- cloudy and rain. Fortunately there wasn't anything more than a few drops here and there.

Since the more than three years that I have been in Vienna, I have attended all of these, though to varying extents. Saturday's was possibly the maximum time I spent in it and in the subsequent events.

I met Clovis and Michael around 3 pm in front of the Village Cinemas. The parade had just started from the Stadtpark. Although this is a couple of minutes from my place, I have never seen the actual beginning. This year we just about missed it. It started at exactly 3 pm, and there was a slight misunderstanding about where exactly Clovis & Michael and I would meet, so by the time we found each other and made it to Stubentor where the Stadtpark ends, it had already started.

The parade starts at the Stadtpark and goes along the Ring via Swedenplatz, Schottenring, Schottentor, in front of the Rathaus/Burgtheater and the Parliament and ends at the Heldenplatz (or in the courtyard of the Museumsquartier as it did in 2003, my first Gay Parade in Vienna-- actually my first Gay Parade, if I don't count the one in Berlin that we had stumbled upon. [I was visiting Hari in Berlin in 1999 and it just happened that it was the Gay Parade weekend. At that time Hari (or nobody) knew that I was gay, and while we were loitering around Berlin, we stumbled upon a parade that we much later realized was the Gay Pride Parade... I should blog on this at some point.] It was also during the 2003 Regenbogen Parade that I first met Clovis. We had "met" on the internet and had been exchanging emails and had planned to meet up during the parade. However the parade was so noisy, that we couldn't hear each others' phone calls and finally met when the parade ended at the MQ.

We waited for all the floats to pass by and then started walking along with the parade, taking photos, chatting, catching up, meeting friends and acquaintences (mainly Clovis'), eating ice creams and ogling at people. This year I also had the rainbow flag sticking in my bag... and that was nice, because since I don't dress up for the occasion, and my usual attire is very non-gay, an onlooker wouldn't be able to figure out whether I'm just another onlooker or tourist taking photos, or am actually a participant. The flag I bought in Paris was very suitable for the purpose.

After the Parisian parade, this one really looked small, and the floats rather simple. But it was good fun.
The beginning of the parade had a carriage with a Sissi and a Franz-Josef, both in drag-- so a guy was Sissi and a girl Franz-Josef.
There were the usual floats of the the political parties: the Socialists and the Greens-- the latter distributing green balloons. And of course there was a float of HOSI, the organizers of the parade.

The Rosa Lila Villa, a GLBT resource centre in Vienna that also has a great cafe-- Cafe Willendorf; Cafe Berg, another lovely cafe with excellent food; Felixx, a nice bar, & Why Not, a popular or unpopular (depends on your perspective) tiny disco that are jointly owned; and Löwenherz the gay bookshop next door to Cafe Berg-- all had their floats.

There were great costumes as usual.

Body paints, and innovative advertising.
The AIDS-Hilfe distributed free condoms.

There was a float from Salzburg where the guys and girls dressed in Austrian costumes were dancing to traditional music.

And of course there were quite a few cute guys around, on the floats and on the streets.

Clovis and Michael left around 5 pm when we were near the Rathausplatz, as they were yet to do their weekend grocery shopping. Almost immediately afterwards, I saw Marcus and we walked along for the rest of the way. When I was near the Hofburg, Vijay called as he was also near there, and we finally found each other. Daniel didn't want to come as one of his aunts had died and he wasn't in the mood, and usually he keeps away from things like this anyway.

We watched the parade end and went to Heldenplatz where there was a huge crowd and a lot of singing and dancing. We met Josef, a guy I had talked to and met earlier.
Clark had called to ask where I was. It was stupid, because I had contacted most of my gay friends before and tried to see if we could all go to the parade together. I had met Clark on Thursday at the theatre group, but since he stayed back after I left, I didn't get around to discussing it with him, and later forgot to call him. It was a shame because Thomas was working, and so Clark was all alone at the parade. The stupid guy didn't call me earlier either. Well, he went back soon after I met Vijay as he didn't know that there was a lot of post-parade stuff going on in Heldenplatz.
We sms-ed back and forth and I persuaded him (and Thomas) to come to the Heldenplatz, but after an hour.
Vijay wanted to leave, and I went with him to his place because I needed to pee (I didn't realize that there were several temporary toilets in Heldenplatz for the occasion).
So we went to his place, I chatted a bit with Daniel who was watching football and then went back to Heldenplatz, which by now wasn't as crowded anymore.
Clark and Thomas arrived soon, and they were hungry, so we went to Cafe Berg for dinner.

Clark wanted to go clubbing, at WUK, and asking Leo's friends who were also in Berg, we figured that WUK was also the only place one could go for gay clubbing that evening. So after a delcious meal (chicken breast stuffed with pesto) at Cafe Berg (actually it was the first time I ate there) and a few drinks, we walked down to the WUK.

There were two or three parallel events going on-- one of them was the Homooriental that I usually enjoy, with Eastern music (mainly Balkan and Turkish, probably Arabic, rarely Indian/Bollywood), but this was in a small room, and the other more crowded room with what I was told was House music. It was really crowded and hot, nevertheless it was fun.
I even saw straight guys from the institute, Ruben from the lab (I don't think he saw me) and Lionel from the Wagner lab (he saw me, and said hello, but dunno whether he caught on that I might be gay!). Clark and Thomas left at around 2 am, I stayed on for a couple of hours more (yes!).

But yes, I went back alone. Not that there weren't people interested, or interesting people, but I realize that I don't know how to pull.

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