The thrill of coming home has never changed.
So, back for my second year in Manchester and to say it was even better then last year would be an understatement. I have been refilled with confidence and desire to be the best person I possibly can. Just seeing so many like me and unlike me has warmed my heart and lit my spirit. But it is not about me, its about the transgender community in all its splendour and, well, SPARKLE!
I explained in my post last year what Sparkle is so will not repeat myself. The weekend actually starts mid week with fringe events from the Wednesday onward but I have only sampled the main block of Friday to Sunday. Not much happens on the Friday to be honest, a few people hanging around Sackville Gardens as the stage and stalls are prepared. A meet and greet kind of affair. Great for any newbies or those a little scared of taking those initial steps into the world as themselves or alter egos. Also great for veterans to meet and see those long lost friends of years gone by.
The Saturday the real fun starts and there is everything from musical acts to guest speakers and pageants. I did not catch as many of the acts as I did last year owing to Mr Murray’s Wimbledon final appearance on the Sunday but have tried to capture as much as possible. The music acts I did see were slightly better then last year but there was still the odd one that just seemed amateurish if truth be told. In fairness these acts were played right near the start of each day and did seem to be fillers of sorts to pad the event out. But overall the music was of a decent standard and I found myself wagging my hips while watching all of them.
The park was packed for the live acts despite some terrible weather and constant rain that lasted throughout. The lights were lovely and each act was really giving it their all. There was a lot of variety in the acts and the sets were not too long so things were kept fresh. Everything from regular rock and roll to pop and dance. So hopefully something for everyone.
The sound system seemed better than last year and the staff were much more prepared for technical issues which did spoil some of the acts last time around. Many of the acts that performed I had also seen lat year and it was great to see some of them return. I cannot mention them all but the Tacky Tarts, Soraya Vivien and Jordan Gray stood out for me the most. It is so fantastic that the event organisers can get so many excellent and talented acts together for a weekend and the energy was pumping at times even thought the rain was pouring.
They have guest speakers throughout the weekend and in between the music acts. The few I saw were giving excellent messages of inclusion and diversity. The Mayor of Manchester made an opening welcome speech and there were some rousing words from Hollyoaks’ Annie Wallace. It is important to have these people appear even if just for some words of inspiration and create some visibility for the trans community. They also act as good filler while the hard working stage crew set up the next act. There were speeches from the trustees of the Sparkle charity and some of the event organisers. For some they get annoyed with the speakers and feel it brings down the vibe but I feel they have their place and it is important to recognise the hard work that goes into the event.
During the weekend there are events outside the main park called fringe events. I did not see all that many of these this year but the Gay Gordon’s were back in action with traditional Highland dance outside the ever busy Bar Pop. They were marvellous in getting everyone involved, including families, which really helps to broaden the range of people involved as well spreading awareness. Also the same venue played host to a fabulous Sparkle drag special on Sunday that was not only super funny but the girls looked amazing.
The garden hosting Sparkle is next door to Manchester’s very own gay district, Canal Street. A wonderful wonderland of variety and fun I have seen in very few places in the world. I love it so much and feel like it is home from home now. The array of outfits the girls displayed was simply breathe taking at times and everyone put in so much effort, it felt like Ascot with glam! The whole town was so accommodating and welcoming that you never feel ill at ease or that you’re in the way of the locals. Drinks are cheap and there are plenty of staff on hand to serve, you never wait long for a drink.
Overall this year at Sparkle was just as amazing as any other. Yes the stalls were overbearing at times, but it is important to have the information stands and they do ultimately need money to run it. One stall appearing this year was a charity close to my heart, Mermaids. They are a charity that support trans kids and they set up a children’s area in the park for the first time which was a huge success. One thing I did notice was the lack of families this year, but this would have been down to all the rain no doubt. There was plenty of young people and they seemed happy to speak with us and learn about our lives which was lovely.
Sparkle may not be for everyone but it certainly has its place in our community and you can not deny the fun involved. It is great for first timers and veterans alike and the array of different people is spellbinding. I am not sure how long the novelty will last for me but at the end of the day I can just go out and get hammered in Canal Street. Thank you Manchester, see you next year. x