Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gat Party!

Recently a friend had to write a Sociology essay on subcultures and dancing (fun!) and decided to do her research at a Gat Party (literally meaning Ass Party or Hole Party depending on how polite you feel).

This event is a bit of a local gay and lesbian phenomenon, something we’ve only heard of. From what I understood it is an event where same-sex couples and friends go to langarm, kind of like a barn dance. It always sounded a bit trashy and quite tacky so of course I felt the need to get my own gat over to one at some point. So when she decided to drag us along for support and research purposes I was not about to say no thanks.

The parties are held every first, second and last Saturday of a month in a hall on the grounds of the Theo Marais Park Rugby Club (yes you read correctly) out in Milnerton. There is a small entrance fee and drinks can be bought at the bar (silly cheap) OR you can bring your own! What many groups of friends do is book a table ahead of time, take baskets or coolers with drinks and make a big night of it. I felt a bit left out not having a table of our own.

Entering the hall instantly took me back to the school dances of my youth- individual groups dancing in circles in the middle and couples going at it in a wider circle around them with the rest of the crowds hanging out on the perimeters of the hall. My first instinct was to run for the doors. Instead we opted to stay for a beer and join the crowds on the dance floor.

I have to admit to expect the atmosphere to be a bit bitchy and, well, terribly trashy. I was pleased to discover that there was not nastiness and snide side-eye going around and the crowds was a curious mix of the hip and trendy, odd hair from the northern suburbs, middle-aged ones, leather daddies, power lesbians, transsexuals and drag queens and a couple seriously sucking face the whole night long on the dance floor. The d├ęcor included a disco ball and some flashy lights while every now and then a strobe light would get turned on. And a smoke machine of course.

It was the high school dances of my youth, without the bitchiness.

We stayed for a couple of songs, bumped into some friends, and enjoyed the fun mood of the Gat Party. I must admit to being pleasantly impressed.

On the way home the car was buzzing with discussions on subcultures, which I sat quietly through as I was not blessed with a case of the intellectuals. But I did do some thinking about the whole event. These parties were born out of people’s need to create a space where they could feel comfortable enjoying the kind of social dances where they did not have to conform to the hetero-normative expectations of how it should be like. I know I am saying this a lot, but it really was exactly like a high school dance, but one where I felt completely comfortable, and I think this is part of why it is so successful.

We’re thinking of going again. But next time we are booking a table. It’s what the cool kids do.


* Apologies for the quality of the pictures, my camera is not doing so well in the dark. Some of the pictures were taken by Christel.
** After doing some further research I was disappointed to discover it was not named for anybody’s ass but because the original event was hosted nearby some quarry hole.
*** The parties take place three times a month; music seriously is to everybody’s taste (which is somewhat confusing to my rhythm). Check out there Facebook page for more info.

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

Hey, I'm sure I saw a documentary on this party (or parties like this) as part of the London Gay & Lesbian Film Festival a couple of years ago! All the people they spoke to basically said that the fact that they were gay did not mean they did not still want to go to sokkies and langarm as this is the culture that they grew up in...

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