Every year, we host the Queer Formal, a night for you to be yourself, wear whatever you want, and bring whoever you want. You might not have been able to bring a date to your school formal or wear the outfit you wanted to wear, and that’s what the night is all about!
Everyone’s first formal can seem super nerve-wracking, especially if you don’t know many people (or even any at all). HEAPS of people also come by themselves. So to try to help out we’ve put together a guide so you know what to expect on the night.
Before the event begins and as you arrive, there will be adults on the steps leading up to St Kilda Town Hall dressed up as angels. These ‘angels’ are older members of the queer community – they’re there to welcome you to the formal and let you know that you’re awesome. Plus, they’ll most likely be dancing and you don’t want to miss that!
Just inside the entrance of the town hall there is a foyer. This is where the candy bar and photo booth will be, and there will also be a stack of Minus18 resources available. There will also be a cloakroom off to one side so you don’t need to worry about carrying your stuff around all night. All bathrooms for the night are also gender neutral!
The Main Hall
The main hall is big. Really big, and there's likely to be a lot of people. In fact, there’ll be over 500 other young people there, how awesome is that? Each table will seat around ten people, so you can sit with your friends, or you could think of it as nine new friends that you’ll make by the end of the night.
The decorations are always awesome and give the night such a special vibe. Everything on the night is done specifically to make you feel important and special – and that’s because you are. The 500 other young people, they’re all like you, part of the queer community. You belong.
Chill Out Space and Youth Workers
Youth workers are available to chat to you throughout any stage of the night. So if things get loud or you're feeling like you need to take a break you can head to the quiet space located just behind the stage. Look out for people with an orange lanyard if you need help or someone to talk to.
This year, we’ll also have a POC hangout space for POC (People of Colour) to chill out, relax, and talk to each other and get support from our POC youth workers.
The night will begin with an acknowledgment of country, followed by a few guest speakers sharing their stories. This year we have Auslan interpreters for the ceremony and speeches. One of our guest speakers this year is Aretha Brown, a 16 year old queer feminist and indigenous rights activist. We are so excited to have Aretha speak at the formal!
Following the speakers will be some awesome performances from young people, including bands, poetry and DJs! Last year there was a super cute moment when a person organised to get up on stage and sing a song to their partner, who was in tears afterwards, it was absolutely amazing.
We’ve got you covered for food. We’ll have finger food, as well as wood fire pizzas for everyone. Every table will have vegetarian and vegan options – and gluten free available on request.
And for dessert, we’ll be serving vegan brownies! Yum!
After dinner we’ll be kicking things off with our two amazing DJ sets for the rest of the night. Dancing is completely optional so if that’s not your thing there’s no pressure at all. You can hang out and chat with people and make new friends!
It’s going to be an epic night, and whether you’re going with friends, a date, or by yourself, you’re going to meet lots of friendly people and make some close friends by the end of the night.
Here are some people talking about their experiences of the formal last year:
2016 was my first queer formal, and it was amazing. I was really anxious beforehand; I only knew a few people from previous Minus events but not that well.
When I entered the hall I sat at an empty table – that way I didn’t need to approach anyone to awkwardly ask if it was okay to sit there. I was anxious because I knew there would be music and dancing at some point, and I don’t like to dance. There were a few people who asked if I was going to go dance but I didn’t feel like I was being pressured by anyone.
By the end of the night I wasn’t anxious at all, I’d made some cool friends at my table. There was one point in the night where someone got up on stage and played a song for their partner sitting in the audience, and I just felt at home.
I knew that everyone around me either was like me, or at the very least, understood. I was meant to be there, I belonged there. I could just be me with the name I wanted and my pronouns respected. It was such an epic night, and it sounds cliche but I have to say it was definitely an amazing experience that I’ll never forget.
The formal was such a wonderful night. My friends and I arrived and were instantly
blown away by how incredible everything was, the people were lovely, and the area was so inviting.
Despite any initial nervousness we got super excited as soon as the doors opened. We went into the photo booth, got bags full of lollies, danced, sang along loudly to meme-y songs and relaxed and chatted together at the tables.
We separated from each other for a little bit and made lots of new friends on our own. The entire place was filled with friendly and accepting people and you could really be yourself there.
The formal was an incredible experience and I wouldn't have done a single thing differently.
I remember being super excited when I went shopping for my first ever masc formal outfit. I picked some red pants and a top with zebras on it. I brought my girlfriend and two friends from my school went as well.
When I got there everything felt completely unreal, there were angels at the door and positive vibes filled the room. My mum almost didn't let me go after the drama surrounding tickets so I was worried in the time leading up to the formal, but everything looked good, so I relaxed.
We went inside to be greeted by lollies and a tidal wave of excitement. Finding a table is always a worry but I ended up making new friends on the way. I knew a lot of people there from outside of Minus18 but wanted to meet everyone! When you're new to a place I guess that's just how it goes.
The speeches and performances were inspiring and the burgers were sensational. I even ended up hugging everyone on a random table and made one of my closest friends because of that! My personal highlight was definitely the dancing though, my first ever Minus18 event was a dance event so I felt much more at home. I have photos from the photo booth stuck on my wall still and will treasure the memories forever.