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Steamy Tri-Nations ends bear week

Wed 23 Feb 2011 In: Events View at Wayback View at NDHA

Mr Urge Bear 2011 runner-up Freezer Bear, US DJ Rotten Robbie and Arthur, Mr Urge Bear 2011 -Courtesy of Bear New Zealand. Recovering from seamlessly overseeing not one, but two party tents at the Big Gay Out a week before, not to mention a week chocked full of Get It On! Bear New Zealand Week festivities; the boys from Urge Bar flexed their party-producing skills last Saturday night at K Road's 4:20 Bar with the second installment of Tri-Nations, Bear New Zealand Week's pinnacle dance event. Backed by local Bear New Zealand volunteers and joined once again by the global DJ lineup from which the party draws its name, this year's Tri-Nations followed solidly in the footsteps of last December's hugely successful Bearracuda visit as another Antipodal fiesta to remember. We started out the evening at Urge Bar where we had the opportunity to pick up our wristbands prior to the party while enjoying a relatively peaceful catch-up with friends from Melbourne, a town heavily represented during this year's events. The bar was restored from the previous night's madness when Mr. Urge Bear 2011 had been bestowed to Arthur, a 20 year-old beefcake from Christchurch and the reigning Mr. Canterbury Bear. What a night that had been, with the bar overflowing with hi jinx and funds raised for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. But we all know there's no rest for the wicked during these week-long runs, and Tri-Nations was down the block waiting for us to break our sweat and emotional piggy banks on its dance floor. Our growing entourage rolled down the street and up the stairs to the second-story club at about 10:30. Despite the Auckland crowd being more late-night, there was a steady stream coming in behind us and shortly after arriving the bears were enjoying the subtle, early grooves of local opening DJ Mauri. My preferred school of dance music typically holds more vocals early in the night, so Mauri's mastery of fluid yet darker tracks didn't draw us towards the speakers the way it did others and we stayed chatting by the bar until the respectful applause break (and auditory palate cleanser) around midnight announced the second in the Tri-Nation line-up, beloved US bear DJ Rotten Robbie. Avoiding any bias I have for this Napa-based ginger because he paid witness to my Civil Union in Auckland a year ago this Saturday, he's a lovely and engaging man whose passion for a rainbow of musical types bleeds beautifully into his sets. Robbie's cheery sound isn't always the throb one expects from Saturday night club beats, so his peak hour music felt somewhat light after Mauri's sultry opener, which was exasperated by a mistuned sound system that was quickly resolved once realised later in his set. But the hands were up, the smiles were broad, and two hours of bouncing faithfully to Robbie's poppy journey vaulted the mercury in the boxy venue, squeezing sweat to our socks and many onto K Road for urgent breathers as a respite from the sweltering dance floor. Even the decorative flags hanging above the crowd were perspiring. After another opportunity at 2 a.m. to shower our evening's artists with accolades, the DJ trifecta was completed by the emergence of hearty sounds from Sydney's resident spunk, Matt Effect. Still slipping though his early 20's, Matt's been standing about as long as our other DJs have been spinning, but his gift for brash grooves must come from reincarnated maestros. He wasted no time tossing out bold tunes that bumped the smoldering, late-night revelers into the stratos. There was new, cooler blood flowing into the club from other emptying venues, but 45 minutes into what had felt to be the most alluring set of the night we called it quits, hugging our way through our friends and hard-working production team, down to the cigarette smoke-laden street and home from another giddy night in Auckland. Two turns at the Urge boy's 4:20 Bar dance events and I'm hooked on their model. The club's simple layout keeps it easy to steam to the dance floor when your fave track comes on, or skip off for a wee in either restroom that were never too loaded. The bar knows its crowd and keeps it flowing quickly, and the rear lounge area overlooking the bright skyline is an easy and comfy escape. Since the party was a cap to a full Bear Week of events it's a mystery why it felt less attended than last year's stand-alone Bearrucuda, but the bigger worry is the rogue temperature in the club which was blissfully cool in the front and rear but a borderline inferno in-between. Perhaps an infusion of fans to the simple decor will help moderate the entire space, but I guarantee we'll continue to dive into these sweaty, Urge-driven oases whenever they emerge, especially if this triple-bill of international talent raids another Bear Week New Zealand in 2012. This and many other global party reviews by Leif Wauters can be found on SF-based event blog The Juice Box. Leif Wauters - 23rd February 2011    

Credit: Leif Wauters

First published: Wednesday, 23rd February 2011 - 11:38am

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