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Original crew to mark 20 years since Hero 1

Tue 25 Jan 2011 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

The 1991 Hero Party The original organising committee is getting together in Auckland this weekend to mark 20 years since the first ever Hero Party. Hero 1 happened on Sunday 27 January 1991. On Saturday 29 January the team is getting together at Portside Restaurant for food and memories. Andrew Rumbles and Rex Halliday are organising the get-together, with Rumbles saying while Hero went on to become a festival with parades and other related events which have given the GLBT community a sense of pride, how it started seems to have been forgotten. "I remember how in 1990 my flatmate asked if I would like to get involved in a group that was organizing a dance party with the aim of raising awareness of safe sex messages and to create some pride," he says . "Along I went and then found myself surrounded by a group of fabulous men led by Rex Halliday with a vision of a great event that would build pride and self esteem and also raise funds for AIDS prevention work. We met weekly for several months and got to know each other really well. "The idea seemed huge to 24-year-old me. We found a big shed beside the old railway station. It was cleaned and decorated with a bridge across the tracks and a steam engine turned around by the trust that owned it to form a focal point in a big dance number. I had signed cheques before the party for several thousand dollars to pay for lighting and sound, but only as the evening arrived and there were queues around to Customs Street did we know there would be money to cover them." Rumbles recalls Barrie Dunne choreographed fabulous shows with a phalanx of Madonnas and the star act from Gay Games Body Building medallists Neil Trubhovich and Raymond van den Heuvel. When asked whether Hero has had its day, as many in the community seem to believe, Rumbles points out that in 1991, even the straight world didn't have big dance parties. "The first couple of Hero parties were driven by voluntary passion and energy. It took a huge toll on many people's lives and cannot be sustained on that volunteer basis for too long. Everyone involved in Hero 1, including the committee, each bought a ticket. There were no freebies." Rumbles and Halliday have found eight other original volunteers, who will come along with their respective partners. They are Raymond van den Heuvel, Barrie Dunne, Bruce Petry, Nick Marsh, Steve Lovett, Andrew Douglas, Don Badman and Jack Atherton. Kevin Hague, Charles Otter, Justin McNab ,Uri Khein and Paul Safe wanted to attend along but can't make it. The organisers are paying tribute to John Draper, Neil Trubhovich and Sean McDonough, who have since died. Bruce Kilmister and Scott Johnston are also being honoured for carrying the Hero flag into the future, along with Halliday. Justin McNab is the one person the organisers haven't found. "He was the youngest person on the committee and was often very cautious in speaking up. However he had some good ideas and worked as hard as everyone else to make sure the party was set up and actually happened," says Rumbles, who would love McNab to come along on Saturday.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 25th January 2011 - 6:23pm

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