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Pride began at 11am on Saturday with an entertaining parade of various marchers and floats – who knew Nandos was as passionate about LGBT rights as its Peri Peri chicken? A highlight was, of course, Southampton’s very own gay nightclub The Edge’s float of dancers partying hard on its way along the busy streets, on what proved to be a very enjoyable day.
Huge sound systems playing favourites from Lady Gaga and Madonna accompanied marchers in their array of costumes as they paraded through the streets of Brighton for all to see, creating a positive and highly contagious atmosphere for all involved. Around 1pm the crowds and Police (later criticised by some for their overpowering presence) followed and everyone made their way up to Preston Park, where the entertainment was about to get into full swing.
Faced with very long queues, even for pre-paid tickets, the organisation of the park event entry was questionable, but once inside the party did certainly kick off. On entering, you were first struck by the Girls on Top Pop Tent, with smoke and music blasting out – drawing in a younger crowd all day long, party-goers even queuing to gain access. Once inside, you could see why: featuring the latest songs by female chart toppers and old favourites like the Spice Girls, there were no dancing breaks for the crowd. Whilst it was good to see so many teenagers supporting the event, they were disappointingly let down by diva Alexandra Burke’s last-minute refusal to perform in a tent smaller than Fatboy Slim’s, despite her prior agreement to be placed there.
A slightly older and more varied crowd made their way to the Calabash tent – and didn’t seem to leave all day! With SBTV’s top DJ performing, there really was no other place to be. This tent began as a very small feature for Brighton Pride, and its popularity certainly grew again yesterday. Walking around the park, there was a fantastically inclusive and celebratory atmosphere, with visitors young and old and of all backgrounds participating – some in drag, surprisingly many with their pet dogs (for a more exciting walk than usual) and even more face painted, tattooed, glittered and wearing the LGBT flag in outrageous style.
The Paul Wilde Line Dancing Tent appeared to be less popular, but a huge array of other on-site features such as stalls of magazines, supports groups and cheeky products on sale and a (very scary looking) fun fair attracted attendees all day. G3 magazine stall holder Victoria Smith commented the day was: “A showcase of the community at its finest. Brighton Pride brought excitement and festivities to Preston Park.”
It seemed there was only one place to be towards the end of the day – partying hard to a phenomenal DJ set by Fatboy Slim. In fact, it was so popular the Wild Fruit Tent immediately filled up and attendees were coming out of tents elsewhere, to join the crowd outside watching on a big screen. Whilst the sun set, big tunes were danced to, including Azealia Banks’ 212 and Flo Rida’s Good Feeling cleverly remixed with Etta James, and of course I See You, Baby amongst his other chart-topping classics, which kept the atmosphere buzzing ‘til the end. Then everyone head back into the city centre, in a more drunk and disorderly fashion than the earlier parade.
Pride’s lively, welcoming atmosphere continued on into the night, following a successful event with a true festival-like feel (minus the mud); and if you weren’t there, be sure to make sure you don’t miss out on the fun next year!