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TRAVEL The Magic Men relax in the Absolut Pussycat Lounge at Throb Nightclub.

God Bless Mother Nature WITH ITS NATURAL BEAUTIES AND THE ASIA PACIFIC OUTGAMES COMING IN MAY, TIM WARRINGTON HEADED TO DARWIN TO CHECK OUT THE LAY OF THE LAND. Handbrake: check. Mirrors: check. Ignition: “IT’S RAINING MEN, HALLELUJAH! IT’S RAINING MEN, AMEN.” It’s a fitting anthem for Darwin during the wet season, but I mute the stereo in my hire car and drive the 13kms from the airport to the Hilton in silence. I need to concentrate. It’s raining. A lot. Immediately my thoughts drift to UK Independence Party Councillor David Silvester who blamed the recent flooding on same-sex marriage. By Silvester’s stretch of logic, there must be something pretty gay going on in Darwin. I’m here to investigate. It’s my fifth time to Darwin but my first during the monsoonal months. Rumour has it that Throb Nightclub opened a new lounge. Could this be to blame for the excessive moistness? Or perhaps it’s the OutGames being held in Darwin this May? It couldn’t possibly be the 5,000 American troops allegedly soon to be stationed here. But first, beer. I head to Darwin’s main drag, Mitchell Street, to quench. Take your pick; there are plenty of watering holes. The strip also has a ton of travel agents, handy for planning trips to Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, and Katherine Gorge, which you absolutely mustdos when you’re in the Northern Territory. Every time I visit Darwin, I bump into someone from Ireland. Perhaps it’s the laidback 72 DNA

attitude and fondness for a bevy or two that draws them. Tonight is no different. Siobhan is from Kilkenny. We collide at Monsoons Restaurant over pale ale. When I tell her I work for DNA she launches into the “pile of stuff ” monologue from The Devil Wears Prada. As I press her to the collective DNA bosom, she asks me how long it took me to drive. I

Many of Throb’s patrons seem straight until they’re… not. Mon Cheri seems nonplussed,

We have a very mixed crowd and that’s the way we like it.

explain that in Australia we have airplanes, so she unbuttons her top and shows me her flotation devices. Any excuse. She’s had a boob job and, apparently, sharing is caring. I decline the invitation to motorboat her breasts and flee before she exposes her emergency exits. (If you were to drive from Sydney to Darwin it would take about 48 hours nonstop. Add another six hours for wee breaks and scraping local fauna off your windscreen.) Later, dinner with friends at Char Restaurant on the Esplanade. According to the cab driver, most eateries on the foreshore are closed due to flooding and storm damage. But Char is open and a decidedly polished, regal affair with a troupe of highly professional waiters who glide about effortlessly, topping up my Leconfield Cabernet Sauvignon. Paired with Beef Wellington and chased with an Irish Coffee, it’s heaven. As soon as I arrive at Throb Nightclub, I’m whisked upstairs for a drink in the new Absolut Pussycat Lounge. Throb’s ever-smiling Executive Manager, James Emery, and his partner, Miss Vogue Magazine, are both keen to show off the sexy new space for private functions. In the style of a luxuriant Vegas lounge with plush furnishings, groovy art and crystal chandeliers, it’s a chic addition to the Darwin nightspot.


FUN AND OUTGAMES Throb nightclub was opened 15 years ago by Mark Marcelis, Tim Palmer and Karen Dunham. The trio understood the needs of the LGBTI community in the Northern Territory and sought to open a venue that was not only safe and fun, but somewhere for the entertainment industry to showcase talent in drag, dance and song. Make your way to Throb on Friday and Saturday nights for the 11.30pm show. Stick around for the naughtier encore performance. The lounge is available for private functions between 10pm and 11.30pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Choose between Pussycats and/ or Tomcats as your wait staff. You’ll find Throb at 1/64 Smith Street, Darwin.

I grab a pew with Mon Cheri, Throb’s compère, and share Councillor Silvester’s meteorological theory. Her reply, “how bloody ridiculous” sums it up nicely. I mention that on my visits here I’ve often wondered whether Throb’s patrons are straight or gay. Many seem straight until they’re… not. Mon Cheri seems nonplussed, “We have a very mixed crowd and that’s the way we like it. I’ve heard people say, ‘I wonder if he’s gay’ or ‘do you think she’s straight?’ Who cares? We’re not here to label or judge. Come to Throb. Have fun. Relax. ‘Where you’re free to be’ is our tagline and it’s not a suggestion, it’s a promise.” The show begins and it’s amazing… but what happens in Darwin stays in Darwin, so you’ll have to go and see for yourself.

Following the success of the first Asia Pacific OutGames in Melbourne in 2008 and the second in Wellington in 2011, the third games will be held in Darwin this year. The OutGames brings together almost 2,000 GLBTI athletes and supporters from around the world for a celebration of sport, culture and human rights. It’s expected to generate upwards of two million dollars for the local economy. The sports lineup is diverse, with everything from dancesport to dragon boating. Activities with a strong following in the gay and lesbian communities like badminton, roller derby and tennis are also included. The Darwin OutGames runs from May 10-16 and includes opening and closing ceremonies, a human rights forum, parties and Fair Day. Go to DNA 73