A digital archive of the Nimbin MardiGrass this century.
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The First MardiGrass?
In March 1993, when the police made one of their post-summer clean-ups of main street dealers a spontaneous siege of the Nimbin Police Station resulted and the building was pelted with eggs and rolls of toilet paper. This caused some stridently scornful anti-Nimbin media publicity and so Nimbin HEMP, which by now had become the Nimbin HEMP Embassy, decided to hold a public rally to provide ordinary people with the opportunity to express their opposition to the drug laws in a peaceful, festive and non-confrontational atmosphere.
May Day, Saturday May 1st 1993 was designated and so the Mardi Grass was born. Despite a lack of police participation and the stern opposition of the local council who refused us the right to march and use of the local park, over 1,000 people, mainly local, came out in defiance and took part in a powerful ritual of personal and community empowerment. We paraded from the Bush Theatre uptown to the village centre, then on to the Police Station where we danced and wished the police well. To a tumultus percussion beat we returned to the Hall for our rally. The contact high was tangible for days afterwards and we vowed to Mardi Grass every year until prohibition’s end.
The next year, 1994, the May Day “Let It Grow!” Mardi Grass and Drug Law Reform Rally (the official monicker) was held on Sunday May 1st accompanied on the Saturday by a National Conference called “Beyond Prohibition”. This boasted an impressive array of politicians, academics and sundry experts in their chosen fields. The Parade/Rally, along with our annual Harvest Festival Ball and Pot Art Exhibition, became a two day Fiesta.
We were still being officially frowned upon but legal advice had indicated that the Council ban on our use of the park was not legitimate. Despite gloomy forecasts of anarchy in the streets of Nimbin, we went ahead and repeated the previous year’s joyful celebration parade and this year rallied in the park. By now the attendance was so big and the atmosphere so friendly, peaceful and responsible that the authorities were buckling under the strain of keeping face.