The sun comes up. You haven’t slept in days. Your arms and neck are covered in hand stamps and temporary tattoos. You’re wearing so many wristbands you look a piece of checked luggage. If you were anywhere else, you’d be carted off to the insane asylum—but you’re not just anywhere, you’re at SXSW and the streets of Austin Texas are littered with a bazillion people who are just as scratchy and hungover as you are. Lucky for your homo ass, there’s a cozy space on the East Side of town in a galaxy far, far away from the heteronorm.
For the past three years, a spectre has haunted SXSW—the spectre of GaybiGayGay, a queer musical extravaganza that takes place every year on the East side of town. GaybiGayGay is about as grass roots as you get: the party takes place in Hazy Fairless’s backyard in a residential neighborhood on a street full of 70’s ranch houses with tin-roof drive ways. The party’s retro family atmosphere creates an uninhibited, laid-back sensibility and good times are easily had by all.
It was my second year bartending and I was slinging beers for queers from a couple of iced kegs stuffed in a cattle waterer. For $10 a cup you could drink all the suds your heart desired. There was face painting by Jimmy and Cindy, a stand selling veggie sammies, and screenprinted merch out the back of an old Dodge Dart.
Nicky Click warmed up the stage around noon with backup dancers and a dynamite costume (which came in the mail two hours before the show and was sewn together at lightning speed by her amazing gay.) Click primed the crowd for a kick-ass line up. The Hot as Shits took no prisoners—rarely does punk rock look and sound so good in the sunny afternoon. They played a killer set per usual, after every song the band’s lead singer always lifts up her skirt to read the set list, which is written in marker on her upper thigh. As the sun went down, Dynasty Handbag and Scream Club came on stage with hopped-up, electronic sets—I was amazed that folks still had the energy to dance.
I must say that for a grassroots festival, GBGG ran smooth as a summer peach this year. Even the four pink Port-a-Johns were clean late into the evening. The crowd filled out to capacity. The music was solid throughout the day and into the night. This goes to show that GBGG has grown into a real success, a true example of believing in something and getting it done right. There were more out-of-towners this year, and one Gay-bi-er asked me how she could get a gig at the party—she said it was the best thing she’d seen all week. Well she certainly wasn’t alone in that sentiment.
We locals wonder and debate how long Hazey Fairless and Silky Shoemaker, our backyard heroes, will be able to host such a blowout party in a backyard on the East Side. So many of us can’t even afford to park closer than a mile to where we work, let alone afford the costly wristbands for the over-inflated “official SXSW” events. The party is growing, and if there is one thing Austinites know for sure it’s that the buzz will only get louder. Can we make it another year without the amenities a venue has to offer? Gee whiz, we hope so.