Tag Archives: festival

Entering Our Van in a Kombi Fest

13 Oct

One morning a few months back Matt slid open the van door to grab some juice out of the fridge just as a middle-aged man was walking by. He saw our set-up and excitedly chatted our ears off about all things Volkswagen and reminisced about his days of living in a van. Matt proceeded to give him a tour as I lay in bed trying to hide that fact that I was only wearing a skimpy tee and some panties. He oo’ed and awed over our queen mattress, the solar panel on the roof and our pull out fridge.

“Have you ever entered in a Kombi fest?,” the man asked and then told us about the annual festivals in NSW where Volkswagen Kombi or Transporter owners get together to do a ‘van’ show and compete for titles like “Best Presented” and “Furthest Traveled.” He was convinced that if we entered we’d win something and told us it was a great place to get ideas and meet other van owners. Since the festivals weren’t coming up for another few months we put it in the back of our minds and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when we were driving down New South Wales’ coast that we remembered to look it up.

We happened to be housesitting in Coffs Harbour, just a few hours north of the annual Old Bar Kombi Fest, which tries to break the record of getting the most Volkswagen vans in one spot, and though we really shouldn’t have, for practical money-related reasons, we made the drive down.

We registered at the very last-minute, drove onto the giant field that early Sunday morning and parked in our assigned spot. Disappointed with how plain our van looked next to the retro brightly colored ones, we knew ours had its beauty on the inside. Admittedly, we weren’t prepared at all – halfway through our drive down we decided to give the van a quick wash and the morning of the event we scrambled to organize all our things so the van looked somewhat presentable. I was so sad that Matt left our ‘love child’, Twiggy, a Bonzi tree that we kept on the dash, in Mackay at his parents’ house. I knew he would have garnered some attention.

We left the van doors open and strolled through the lines of Kombis and Transporters, noting how ours could improve but generally feeling very proud of how functional ours was. People had trailers with beds, pop-tops tents in the roof, tents that attached to the outside and some had sleeping pads in the back, but no one had a queen mattress and they certainly weren’t living in their vans full-time.

When we’d had our fill we walked through the markets, had a beer and some festival food, and listened to the live music. Later that day when they announced the winners we accepted that the van didn’t win because we knew we’d be better prepared next year. And next year, you better believe Twiggy will be on the dash where he belongs.

Tourist in My Backyard: San Diego LGBT Pride Festival

25 Jul

As a California native and proud supporter of LGBT rights,  I can’t believe that with all the wonderful cities in my state holding annual pride festivals I had never been to one. So when my best friend Kat invited me to join her and her fabulous cousin, Austin, for the last day of San Diego’s Pride Weekend, I jumped at the chance.

I didn’t know what to expect. I’d seen festival pictures before where everyone dressed in brightly colored outlandish outfits adorned with wigs, props, fake eyelashes and glitter (think Club Kids of the 90s), so that morning I sifted through my closet and tried to find the most pride-friendly, rainbow-colored garment I could.

I settled on my usual look. I like earth tones, what can I say?

Seth Green and Macaulay Culkin in the Club Kid cult-classic “Party Monster”

I met Kat in Huntington Beach and Austin picked us up on his way from L.A. The electro-dance tunes of Britney Spears and whoever was on the latest top 40 list were bumping and Austin did interpretive dances to their lyrics the whole drive down. I was thrilled: it wasn’t even 11a.m. yet and we had a club in our car.

We decided to skip the Pride Parade and Block Party in Hillcrest and went straight to the W Hotel since Austin knew one of the people throwing the massive pool party. We grabbed our drinks at the bar downstairs and made our way through crowd to the third floor deck that floats in the middle of downtown. There were half-naked gay boys as far as the eye could see,  some in dramatic outfits and others looking like they might still be in the closet.

I was feeling overdressed in my shorts and tank top when a Speedo-wearing cutie tapped me on the shoulder as he walked by and said, “You’re the hottest bitch here.” I blushed and said thank you.  He smirked and walked away.

“I could get used to this,” I said to Kat and Austin, with a beaming smile and a boost to my ego. I reveled in how nice it was to get a compliment from a man with no ulterior motives.

The rest of the day continued in much the same fashion as each person we met greeted us with love and sincerity. Boys gushed to Kat telling her she looked like Lady Gaga and Austin innocently kissed his friends on the lips as they said goodbye.  Even as we left the W Hotel pool party and went bar hopping the theme continued and people saw past your gender or your reputation and accepted you for who you are.

Months after same-sex marriage was legalized in California in 2008, the LGBT community’s landmark victory was taken from them with the passage of Prop 8,  or Prop HATE as we refer to it, which amended the earlier decision and limited marriages between a man and a woman. Even though same-sex marriage licenses issued before Prop 8’s passage were still legally recognized,  equal rights supporters knew we’d taken ten steps backward.

Pride weekends, however, feel like a step in the right direction because they’re filled with love and acceptance. No matter who you are or who you’re into: you’re welcome. All races. All backgrounds. All genders. It was eye-opening to see so many men who might be minorities in their day-to-day lives congregating in a brotherhood that dared them to be free. Pride weekend is not about sexual preferences and “alternative” lifestyles. It’s about celebrating who you are.

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