THE PARTY takes its name from the pioneering 1981 warehouse party by The Organisers and tracks the development of the dance party – from early Gay Liberation dances and fundraisers at the Paddington Town Hall to larger productions in warehouses and at the former Sydney Showgrounds. These include the influential Recreational Arts Team (RAT) parties, Mardi Gras, Sleaze Ball, Sweatbox, and Inquisition, alongside alternative party spaces such as Sodom, Fanny Palace, Homo Electus, Ffierce and Sex and Subculture. The exhibition also includes rarely-seen material documenting the early bars and nightclubs Stranded, Patchs and Ruby Reds.
Alongside these events, neighbourhoods were alive with record stores, community radio, and publishing that all contributed to a defining period of social and sexual freedom in Australia.
The exhibition features documentation and ephemera from events and venues alongside work by Australian artists, writers and designers engaging with these histories. This includes an array of original photography and artwork, video documentation and materials that acknowledge the influential contribution of local practitioners and performers. It is supported by an accompanying publication released in March 2024 and public talks and events throughout the exhibition, offering access to a wide range of thinkers, personalities and creatives associated with these histories.
Curated by José Da Silva (Director, UNSW Galleries and Curator, 2024 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art) and Nick Henderson (Curator, National Film and Sound Archive and Volunteer Collection Manager, Australian Queer Archives)