Home' LOTL : Dec 12 Contents Virginia Barret’s earliest dreams involved
being a ballerina, “my aunt made me a
tutu for Christmas when I was ver y young
- all pink satin and tulle and I wore it everywhere.
It seems laughable now, the ballerina dream, if
only because I ’m not that version of a girl!” Today
Barret’s penchant for performance is a far-cry
from the mainstream image of a tutu’d dancer.
In the early 90’s she worked with VNS Matrix, “a
collective of fema le new media artists whose raison
d’etre was to ‘remap cyberspace with a feminist
bent’. We exhibited and lectured all over the world.
My relationship with academia started later, and
after lecturing in media studies at a couple of
universities, I went back and did undergrad in
creative writing. I’m now in my honours year.”
Barrett confesses that “a love of all thing s
experimental” in the realm of dance and
performance has “stayed with me always”. Little
wonder then that she should find herself mixed up
with the folk at Tropical Fruits, where she initially
came on board to “oversee the creation of a trans
chill space for the party.
“It was the first year that Tropical Fruits had
created a space for those who didn’t feel like the
other g endered spaces were for them, and I was
glad to be a part of making that happen,” says
Barret. “Last year the Sex and/or Gender Diverse
space (SGD) was worked on by a bunch of
wonderful trans people from Brisbane, headed up
by the lovely Jade Oscar, and it is coming into its
own, which is great, since there is usually a dearth
of trans-friendly social and cultural spaces.
“I have a histor y of working in events, specifically
LGBTI events. I worked for many years back in
the day for ALSO in Melbourne on the Dock
parties, down at Shed 14. Working in events for the
LGBTI community is one of my areas of expertise,
so it was unsurprising that I found myself working
with Tropical Fruits.”
Barrett describes Tropical Fruits as an “amazing
org anisation” The Northern Rivers social group
located in Lismore is the largest regional LGBTI
org anisation in Australia . “Lismore has been ca lled
a ‘gay and lesbian stronghold’,” comments Barret.
“ Tropical Fruits reflects the incredible diversity
of the region in which it is situated, from youth
to elders, hippies to hipsters... it’s the place many
queers from the city choose to come for their tree
or sea chang e. It’s friendly and it’s family. Many
people who cho ose to live here have a ver y conscious
approach to living with the environment, and there
is a great activist community here working towards
“For me, personal ly this is key. The events
Tropical Fruits create are grassro ots, they are
reflective of the core values of the population, they
are NOT in the city, they are held in one of the
most beautiful natura l environments and heritage
areas in the world, there is bush and there is beach,
they are friendly to all sectors of the community,
they are volunteer-run and they are spectacular!”
With the ‘spectacular ’ in mind, no Tropical
Fruits event is more specatcular than its annual
NYE bash which takes place over several days and
offers much more than your typical dance party.
This year ’s theme is Beyond Atlantis and Barret
says she is lo oking for ward to the many sideshows
and cabaret perfromances.
“I always love the cabaret space. For me, the
sideshows are the place where the unexp ected
happens. This year I ’m loving the Jules Verne
steampunked Burlesque theming , which I think
opens up the space to have a real ‘carnie’ fe el.
Having said that, I ’m nothing if not a dancing
queen, and I’m really excited to exp erience so
many amazing DJs over the course of the par ty.
I love the smaller spaces, so you might find me
on the Nexus dancefloor. I used to dance alot
to Stephen Allkins back in the early Phoenix
days, and his vinyl injection will be my opening
More info : facebook.com/tropicalfruits
lotl.com • Lesbians On The Loose Magazine
Profile | Lifestyle
Virginia Barret’s journey from
performance artist to event
manager to media maestro
lands her at Tropical Fruits.
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