It’s the first year in DC that I stay until late spring in June. And I feel obliged to check out Capital Pride.
I skip all the parties and the parade. Unfortunately, I missed the Equality March due to time conflict with my regular Sunday gym class. (Obviously, that’s my priority.) The only event I go is the Festival.
But I stay there for about two hours because the heat and humidity is just too unbearable. Although I find some similarities and differences with Sydney Mardi Gras, it is too much to dig deep into it. Besides, the event doesn’t really engage to stay until my volunteer shift starts at 7.30 pm. So, I just log on the volunteer portal and cancel it. They could live without me.
It’s the first LGBT celebration since I left Sydney. My takeaway is that I have moved on. It doesn’t get me excited and having fun with discovering and sharing it like I took photos of Fair Day event for the first time ten years ago.
In fact, I have been over this scene for a long time. My last engagement with Mardi Gras was in 2010 when I got a rooftop spot to shoot the whole parade. However, I consider my early works on LGBT exposed myself to the world and I am grateful for that. That could be the main reason for my feeling of obligation for the Pride this year.
I thought I would dodge the cold weather this winter. When I landed in the city, it was snowing just a tiny bit. That was pretty much about it in February. Until March a snow storm hit the northeast mid March. Unlike last year, DC was far south of the storm centre.
Even so, the warm weather in February triggered some of the flowers to bud. Those whom was tricked got damaged. Magnolia, for instance, was the first to come out and went brown in the cold snap.
That included almost half of the cherry blossoms. However, some late bloomers caught up to fill in.
Apparently, I went to Tidal Basin, exactly the same date as last year. It gave a good comparison to this year’s visitors.
One of my definite to-do lists when I was back in Bangkok last December was to pay respect to the late King. The main reason wasn’t for the sake of myself paying the respect but to see the people and their activities around it.
Totally, it took about six hours that day to eventually get into the Grand Palace for ten minutes to pay the homage to HM’s body. Most of that time was just a wait in Sanam Luang, outside the Grand Palace. That would be enough for me to get a glimpse of the mourning environment.
Over the years, I have developed a fondness of craft beer. It could not be possible to resist exploring Australian brew when I got down there.
My drink list wasn’t as long as food craving mission. The very first beer I got had to be Coopers pale ale at the Bank Hotel, one of my favourite spots to watch the world flowing by. Coopers and James Squire were the two established breweries I was longing for. There were also my new-found favourite local craft beer, especially Young Henrys from Newtown. Shame that I didn’t get a chance to visit their bar.
That was simply because my the pub time was in the regular one, Kelly’s on King. And another one that I went more often this trip was the Townie, where I stopped for variety of Young Henrys and to write travel journals.
It was good to see that Kelly’s, the Townie, and Warren View Hotel still had as the same vibe as when I left the city. Most of others in the local has changed. The Duke and Newtown Hotel became so hipster. The Sando was renamed to Newtown Social Club even tough it got the same spirit.
Closer to Sydney’s CBD, Lansdowne Hotel is gone. The Clare Hotel turned posh. However, Stonewall Hotel on Oxford Street were still the same gay bar. And fortunately, Brighton Up Bar were as a dive bar as I hoped it would be.
Although the pub wasn’t my usual spot because of the location but it always have a special place in my heart. It was where I started transitioning works. One day in winter 2007, I randomly sat down there to write a script for Anywhere Chairs while sipping beer. Since then, I found pubs have been my preferred choice of writing environment.
These materials were actually pivotal for my creative works. They transitioned me from photography into making videos. It started from a short film about abandoned chairs, then ambient videos on a red sofa. When I got into COFA, broken TVs were used for a looped video assignment. And it concluded with video installation about torn mattresses.
No one would care how they got there or how they would end but they were so intriguing to me that I needed to exercise my imagination to tell their stories. Having explored them again reminded me how beauty could be discovered from discarded lives on the streets.
On another aspect, I was thinking of doing urban landscape comparison between my old photography and the latest visit. But there was no concrete plan for it and I enjoyed drifting in the streets and back lanes. However, I got a chance to do only one properly.