A Queer Soiree for the senses: Music, synchronised swimming and exhibitionist basketball

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Pictured: The Beastie Girls splashing in the pool at Queer Soiree. All images taken by Chloe Eve Photography

As a part of Midsumma Festival, Carlton Baths hosted their second sold-out Queer Soiree on Sunday 9 February. Over 400 people attended the inclusive event, which featured live performances from LGBTQIA+ artists, stalls from sport clubs and support services and a special exhibition basketball game hosted by Bushrangers Basketball Victoria.

The afternoon kicked off with a poolside DJ set from Shulah the Sheilah, before the Bushrangers took on the YMCA Victoria basketball team in the stadium. Bushrangers Basketball Victoria is the first official LGBTQIA+ basketball club playing in competitions across Melbourne, Canberra and Auckland. The game played on Sunday showcased Carlton Baths’ new mixed basketball rules that promote inclusion for gender diverse players.

“The atmosphere, feeling of safety and inclusion is never an accident. It takes incredibly hard work, good governance and a determination to get it right. Inclusion is more than a rainbow banner. Alex (the event organiser) and the Y have demonstrated that from day one, and we are very proud to call Carlton Baths home,” said Stella Lesic, Founder of the Bushrangers.

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Pictured: An action shot of the Bushrangers vs YMCA Victoria exhibition basketball game.

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Pictured: The Real Hot Bitches Dance Troup dressed in colourful 80s gear.

Both teams played exceptionally well, however the Bushrangers were up at halftime. The audience in the stadium were treated to an 80s dance performance by the Real Hot Bitches Dance Troup while both teams regrouped and strategized their gameplay for the second half. Although the YMCA picked up their game in the second half and put up a good fight, it was the Bushrangers who won the trophy – a golden basketball.

Meanwhile, performances by The Beastie Girls and The Gaze kept attendees entertained by the pool before The Clams took to the pool to perform a clamtastic water ballet routine. The body-positive routine themed around menstruation and all the emotions that come with it, cleverly combined social commentary with humour, resulting in roaring laughter from the crowd. Memphis LK closed the event with her signature blend of atmospheric club music and purposeful lyrics.

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Pictured: The Clams performing in the pool to a sold-out crowd with props including tampons and red material. 

Apart from enjoy live music and performances, attendees could also swim in the 25m outdoor pool, participate in group fitness classes and seek information and advice from sports clubs and support services.

At the Y, we believe in inclusion and equality for all people, regardless of age, gender, ability, religion or sexuality, and Queer Soiree is a great example of why inclusivity matters.

“I felt so safe and comfortable at the pool, which I usually don’t. I would like to feel this way at every pool, rather than this be the exception. More events like this would be amazing,” commented one attendee.

Alex Jovanovski, Sport and Community Engagement Coordinator at Carlton Baths, organised the event with help from his passionate team.

“The Queer Soiree simply marked an annual celebration of tireless work completed by the Carlton Baths team to provide a safe and inclusive space for all people in our community,” said Alex.

This year’s event topped last year’s attendance and the team at Carlton Baths hope to continue hosting the Queer Soiree as a part of Midsumma Festival.

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