he first Hordern dance party, aside from Mardi Gras and Sleaze Ball, was the R.A.T. party on New Year’s Eve 1987. The R.A.T. (Recreation Arts Team) crew had been doing parties at different venues around Sydney from 1983 and had grown in size to be one of the biggest events on the Sydney calendar. The parties were the mastermind of Jac Vidgen and were made up of the inner city crowd, the fashion set and the gay community. By the time they hit the Hordern for CelebRAT '88 NYE in 1987/88, they were a well-established party and a huge attraction and easily sold out the venue.

In 1988, the Hordern began its rise to infamy with the underground gay Black parties hosting an event followed by Mardi Gras’s first ever Winter fundraiser. Later in the year Paul Holden’s Bacchanalia team would host two events within the space of a month going from 2000 to 6000 people. Jacqui O’s f.u.n. parties followed suit in December and when Sweatbox hosted its first event in early 1989, the big four guardians of the venue were established (R.A.T., Bacchanalia, f.u.n. and Sweatbox). R.A.T.’s infamous 1988/89 NYE extravaganza with Grace Jones and her refusal to go on stage due to contractual misunderstandings and the theft of her leather jacket on the night has been forever etched into Hordern folklore.

Miss 3D @ Mardi Gras Birthday party (1989), Hordern Pavillon 


he production of the parties was extraordinary with each house trying to outdo the other with different themed nights, outrageous decor and touring the biggest names of the House Music scene. Headliners included Jungle Brothers, Kraze, Erasure, Bananarama, Adeva and even the Batmobile and gay porn star Jeff Stryker featured at two of the parties. By the end of 1989 every fledgling promoter wanted a slice of the pie thereby ensuring a party at the Hordern nearly every weekend. It was nicknamed Club Hordern.

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