The Nimbin MardiGrass is an annual rally & celebration in the tiny village of Nimbin in northern NSW, Australia.
Beginning in 1993, MardiGrass is held to protest the drug laws, educate people on the various uses of cannabis (medicinal, industrial, recreational & spiritual) and to celebrate the culture that has grown here over the last 47 years.
Our mission is to bring about change with as much fun as possible.
Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great Drug War?
In 1993, the year of the initial MardiGrass, the May gathering became the centrepiece of a ritual empowerment process for a community whose Aquarian dreams of a better way of life, and their clarion calls in defence of the environment had been met in the only way the conservative local ruling classes knew how- “bring out the Drug Laws”. These laws were originally based on racist and cultural bias. Hysterical (and false) claims of lurid threats to societal wellbeing provided those in authority with the big stick they considered necessary to keep the uppity minorities in line.
Unless you were here then you can’t imagine how fearful the local people were of the pre-Royal Commission on Police Corruption cowboys who masqueraded as law enforcers. And how liberating that first Mardi Grass was in cultivating personal pride as well as minimising the fear of pre-dawn raids, random (and illegal) searches, regular intimidation and that crushing sense of a province facing conquest. But times have changed and new challenges now face us. An alarming magnitude and complexity of social problems jostle for our attention and act to increase cynicism, scepticism, despair and rage. Within all that though, the Drug Laws remain as emblematic of the “old days” and of bad laws generally. In many ways, MardiGrass is now more relevant than it ever was 27 years ago.
Nowhere else in Australia has there been such a determined, consistent and enduring campaign to bring about change to these discriminatory drug laws. But now we need your help. In great numbers.
Sunday May 3rd is the epicentre of the PROTEST. Only a massive turn out of singing, dancing, celebrating, colourful and creative people will be noted by those in authority and the media. It’s not a spectator activity. Its standing up and (like the schoolkids in the USA) saying loud and clear: “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. It’s time for change!”
Come with your friends, use a designated driver, bring masks and costumes, drums, bells, and a joyful heart. Post the GOOD NEWS on social media. Be here for the spiritual and cultural experience, because that’s what it is. For yourselves, for your children and for your grandchildren.
It is only TOGETHER that we can build a strong caring compassionate kind and respectful world. We’d love to share that experience with you. Gandhi supposedly said “You may well be a minority of one but the truth always remains the truth”. He also said we “must become the change we want to see in the world’. I’m with you Mohandes. “Je suis MardiGrass”. Wanna join me there?
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 MardiGrass 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 MardiGrass every year until prohibition’s end.
The next year, 1994, the May Day “Let It Grow!” MardiGrass 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.