Mad Pride is a global mass movement of the users of mental health services, and their allies, that began in Toronto.
It seeks to reclaim terms such as ‘mad’ and ‘nutter’ from misuse. It aims to educate on potential causes of mental distress and the experiences of those who use mental health services but, most of all, it celebrates and stands in solidarity with those who experience distress.
Encouraged by the response to the more creative elements of Liverpool Mental Health Festival, we decided to develop a slightly more left-field event in the spirit of Mad Pride, focusing on a celebration of the creative aspects of madness, of being unique, challenging stigma and surviving.
Liverpool Mad Pride 2018: Circus of the Absurd
This Mad Pride event, our third, took place on Saturday 21st April and was reportedly our best so far! Over 600 people flocked to District for a day of entertainment, live music, cabaret and burlesque. Dozens took part in the hula-hooping workshops from Freefall Aerial Circus and spinning poi workshops from Bring the Fire Project, spilling into the sun-drenched streets. The celebrations culminated after dark with a lantern-lit parade, accompanied by drumming, attracting yet more participants as it wound its way through the Baltic Triangle. The Mad Pride finale included a thrilling performance with fire dancing and drumming, bringing the day to a magical end.
Performers at the event, reflecting this year’s ‘Circus of the Absurd’ theme, included Freefall Circus, The Secret Circus, and headliners Chanel and the Circus – alongside many more great acts. Mamatung, Loose Moose String Band, Beija Flo, The Strumbrellas and Silver Liners raised the roof with their music. Burlesque and cabaret performances from Claire de Lunacy, Cheri Whambam & Zaina Zuzu, Leebo Luby, Jolly Boat, Vendetta Vain, Nana Funk, Teatro Pomodoro’s Undercover Ravers and more, entertained the crowd. The day was hosted with style & panache by Andy Kerr.
Fancy-dress clad attendees also took the opportunity to add their thoughts about their own mental wellbeing to a graffiti wall and these were used by Jodiema to compose a special song for the event which she performed ahead of the parade and which will contribute to ongoing research.
Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive, with 95% of those who responded saying they were very happy with the day.
“I’ve got face-ache from smiling all day!” said one happy punter.
Another added, “I’ve never seen anything as good as this to do with mental health.”
Aligning itself firmly with the movement, Mad Pride: Circus of the Absurd provided a platform for people affected by mental distress to mingle and get creative with other musicians, artists and performers. We were delighted with the response to this event and proud to be part of a movement celebrating creativity, resilience and survivors’ voices. Thanks to all the performers, volunteers and everyone who came along and enjoyed the party!