SYDNEY: The Dykes on Bikes are revved up for their annual charity soiree, The Black & White Ball, writes Serkan Ozturk.
In 2013, the Dykes on Bikes will be celebrating a quarter of a century of leading the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade. The noise of the engines, the smell of petrol, the display of leather and the shine and gleam of their motorbikes as rabid crowds rev them on have become for many one of the defining symbols of the annual procession celebrating queer culture. But as spokeswoman Lyn Doherty tells SX in the lead up to the group’s always eagerly-anticipated Black & White Ball, there’s much more to the Dykes on Bikes.
“You don’t have to be big, butch, leather-wearing, tattooed and pierced with missing teeth [to be part of Dykes on Bikes],” she says laughing. “I’m five foot tall. Until recently I was riding a 250 Honda CB and I go to the Black & White Ball in high heels and a dress.”
Since forming in the late 1980s, the community group now counts over 200 women as card-carrying members, as well as a large number of associate members and other supporters.
“We have some straight people, boys, people who don’t have a motorcycle license,” Doherty says.
The presence of the group has also led to chapters in Victoria and Queensland while in recent years it has even inspired other Mardi Gras marchers with a Dykes on Pushbikes group spotted at this year’s parade.
But although it is the Mardi Gras Parade with which they are most associated with, being a member of the Dykes on Bikes is actually a year-round affair. There’s February’s Ms Sydney Leather competition, the Bike and Tattoo Show, an Anzac Day ride, October’s Pink Ribbon Ride as well as the Snowy Ride and Sydney Toy Ride in the final few weeks of the year.
However it is the Black & White Ball this Saturday night at the Jets Sports Club in Tempe that is undoubtedly the highlight of the Dykes on Bikes social calendar.
“The Bike and Tattoo Show is, in truth, more of a Dykes on Bike thing because we’re talking about our motorcycles,” Doherty says. “We’re getting everybody to show off their tattoos and piercings. All of the things you expect from Dykes on Bikes.
“Whereas the Black & White Ball is us turning that on its head. It’s us dressed up to the nines. It gives us a chance to really put on a frock and dress the way that you wouldn’t normally think to see a dyke on a bike.”
With a line-up headed by motorcycle-riding DJ Sandi Hotrod, drag queen Prada Clutch as well as drag kings Rusty Gates, Victor O’Toole, Randy Dicksin and Neddy Mercury, Doherty says there will also be time given to some up and coming acts, including performers Sheryl Sharkie, Joanna Lee and Nicole Keipert.
And it’s an event which Doherty is keen to point out has something for everybody.
“It’s not just a girls’ event. [The Black & White Ball] is open to the entire community. Some of our favourite drag queens come along. We’ll have some boys there that love us and like us. It’s an event for the gay community put on by Dykes on Bikes.”
The night will also see Dykes on Bikes publicly thanking their supporters as well as charities such as the NSW Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service which they support throughout the year. Doherty tells SX such community spirit is as important to the group as are their motorcycles.
A few months ago, Dykes on Bikes in conjunction with Club Five Dock, announced the first recipient of its ‘Ride Scholarship’ to help young same-sex attracted women to get their motorcycle licence.
“Young Bekky Skivington got the scholarship this year and she’s already done her Stay Upright course, and she’s got her Learner’s,” Doherty says.
From new riders fresh off their ‘training wheels’ to experienced riders, Doherty says they all retain a similar outlook on what it is that draws them to a motorbike and keeps them on top.
“It’s a powerful sight seeing a whole bunch of women on motorcycles. It’s not us pushing prams and everything else. It’s us doing what is generally considered a very male-orientated occupation,” she says.
“As the saying goes: ‘Four wheels moves the body, two wheels moves the soul’.”
Posted on SX Online August 7th, 2012: http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/news/news-2/8126-from-bikes-to-the-ball.html