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12 Aug 2002

a nation celebrates

Fridae's self-professed fashion critic, Alvin Tan, brings readers an on-the-scene coverage of Nation02 and explains why the party may be over but the cause for celebration has just begun.

Preparing for Nation02 was not an easy task.

As many of Fridae's loyal readers would know, yours truly belongs to the languorous sort who would rather spend my nights refining my answers to the latest Cosmo quiz than doing the party circuit. Still, this reporter is ever willing to do anything (as long as it's legal) in the name of research, and as any committed researcher would tell you, good research always involves preparation and participation.

With that in mind, I decided to beat the crowd and hit the weights early on the day of the party - only to find Orchard California Gym packed from exercise stations to exercise stations with queens on creatine. Resembling the backstage at a Ms. Universe Contest, the atmosphere was truly genial as contingents of gym bunnies from Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and even Honolulu greeted each other in a profusion of languages across a mind-numbing range of affected accents.

Deciding that another moment in the gym would prove more disorientating than a marathon ride on the Twirling Teacups at the local funfair, I decided to augment my physique not with weight-lifting but with a temporary tattoo - only to have my acid-tongued mother ask why I chose to have a starving stingray with a serious case of diarrhoea tattooed on my back.

Undeterred by parental negativity, I was determined to make an Entrance at this year's Nation02. That night, dressed in full party regalia (re: a skimpy pair of fetching red surfer shorts that David Hasselhorf would kill for and nothing else), I stepped out of my room only to be greeted by a string of Indonesian exclamations from my usually reticent maid who then ran off to notify all the other maids in the neighbourhood to drop their chores and come have a look at yours truly ("Young master going to gay partee no wear shirt! Young master got tattoo and flamingo legs! Come see! Come see!").

Making our quick escape, my partner and I made a detour to pick up Van Darkholme and his manager Jason at their hotel, before proceeding to Sentosa (although I had to pull over a couple of times for hyperventilation every time I snuck a peep at Van through my rearview mirror).

Unfortunately, the lack of signage at Sentosa meant that my navigationally-challenged partner and myself (together with our guests) had to waste precious time stumbling through the dark and climbing over numerous barricades (oh, the ignominy!) before being informed by an amused security personnel that we were at the wrong end of the party venue and that the main entrance was located behind the Ferry Terminal.

Thankfully, despite our physical exertions, we made it to the party venue with nary a hair out of place. And at the entrance, I discovered that being a staff of Fridae (albeit an overworked and underpaid one) does have its perks as my party posse were ushered pass the snaking queue of ready-to-rave queens who shot us looks that would freeze a troll at ten paces.
Thousands of "air kisses" and lies of the "You're looking fabulous!" kind later, we made our way to the first party venue where the brilliant DJ Mark Alsop from Sydney was spinning an infectious batch of handbag anthems in front of a projected psychedelic screen that screams Nation02.

My partner and I joined numerous others on the green lawn and boogied to Mark's set for an hour before proceeding to the main party venue. The scene that greeted us was the modern day version of Caligula meets Nero in Sodom. Definitely not for the faint-hearted. As far as the eyes can see, waves after waves of topless well-oiled torsos (laying to rest the rumor that sun-tan lotion was sold out all over Singapore) throbbed to the heady mix of beats provided by guest DJ Luke Leal from Sydney.

The choice of Sentosa's musical fountains for the main party venue was an inspired one. With the majestic twirling fountains providing the backdrop, the effect was simply magnificent.

With every shift of the wind, sweat-drenched party-goers found themselves doused with a fine mist of cooling water (never mind if the water has never been changed since the fountains started operations eons ago).

The infectious party atmosphere was heightened by the breath-taking laser display by Entertainment Media Group (which to many was worth the price of the ticket alone) and of course, by the raucous party-goers whose costume notions are a testament to architect Mies Van Der Rohe's notion that less is more. In fact, quite a handful of the crowd turned up in blush-inducing outfits that Ms Mariah never-appear-in-public-in-clothes-with-more-material-than-a-pocket Carey would be proud of.

There were groups of brave gay men in their in-your-face white and red trunks, the gang with hotpants slung so dangerously low that they almost reached the knees, and the lonely beefcake who frolicked through the crowd wrapped in a flimsy Roman toga and a coronet of olive-leaves. And then there was sex-god Van Darkholme and his tighter-than-tight leather outfit which has the uncanny effect of raising more than just eyebrows.

Surrounded by the sight of writhing celestial bodies, I had to exercise great discretion as my eyes resisted the urge to rove and linger over each curvature and bulge for fear of being pulled onto Geraldo by my partner and slapped with a caption under my face that reads "Unfaithful Gay Man Suffers From Uncontrollable Urges."

Alas, to rectify the rumour that all gay men have impeccable fashion sense, there were a number of fashion tragiculas who unfortunately, were guilty of a serious lapse of judgment when it came to pulling together a devastating Nation02 outfit.
Leading the pack would be the fashion travesty at the entrance with the Sophie Ellis Baxtor-like skin tone who violated many a fashion don'ts by combining a pair of butch red speedos with a sheer buttoned-up lace top accentuated with floral appliqus not seen on these fair shores since the Filipino Fair last hit town.

Proving true the axiom that gay men don't have to wait for Halloween to wear something truly "frightening", another reveler turned up in a pink striped suit looking as if a pink taffeta pimple had exploded on his neck. (Incidentally, the outfit won the "Best Costume" award - so what do I know?).

Then there is the group of delectable men who committed fashion hara-kiri by turning up en masse looking like escaped geishas with their flowing see-through organza cloaks teamed with samurai-inspired pants and ornate white fans as accessories.

Having said that, the outfit most deserving of praise surely belongs to the reveler who turned up covered from head to toe in what looked like black Saran Wrap (all the better to lock in the freshness!) decorated with running green lights and looking like Changi Airport's runway come to life. However inappropriate the outfit may be (given the Anthurium withering heat and humidity), it did inject a sense of humor and fun into the party proceedings.

While some fashion choices for the night were indeed questionable, what was unquestionable was the fact that everyone - gay, lesbian, transsexual and even heterosexual - was there to have a good time and party the night away. And a good time they certainly had judging by the number of smiles and hugs that were going around.

As I surveyed the mass of throbbing bodies in front of me, what struck me most was the almost palpable sense of community and togetherness. United in revelry, the scene that was unveiling before me was truly amazing - sexy transsexuals with overdeveloped Adam's apples were dancing and laughing with topless gay men, butch lesbians were holding hands and chatting away with young gay twinkies, and heterosexual couples were just hanging out and chilling with their gay friends.

For that one night, I realize that it was indeed possible not only to check one's inhibitions (and clothes) at the door but also to leave behind one's attitude.

For that one night, I realize that it was possible for the GLBT community in Singapore and across Asia to come together and party without prejudice.

And for that one night, I realize, and I hope you do too, how close we all came to becoming one true nation at Nation02.


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