Summer Camp Festival – Queen Diva Big Freedia On Pride And Performing

UPDATE: (24 January, 2022) Summer Camp Festival has been postponed due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Dreams of dancing to your favourite music in the sun at a music festival may have started to feel like a distant memory thanks to the uncertainty of the last few years, but Summer Camp Festival is making all of our festival dancing dreams come true again, as it heads to three major Australian cities: Darwin, Sydney and Melbourne.

Big Freedia - Image © Nelson Cosey

Along for the ride to make sure the party gets turned all the way up to 100 is the Queen Diva and bounce music legend herself: Big Freedia. 

Hailing from the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans, Big Freedia has spent the last 20 years cementing herself as a legend of the bounce music scene. She's worked with the best in the biz, including RuPaul, Lady Gaga and Beyonce, and even has her own reality TV show, 'Big Freedia Bounces Back', documenting her journey to superstardom. 

A big fan of Australia, having visited many times before, she could not be more excited to get back on stage and “shake some asses out”.

“I’m mostly excited about getting back to what I love to do and that is entertain and bring music and travel the world. I’m excited to see the fans, of course, first and foremost, and I’m excited to get the energy from the fans and for us to transfer that energy back and forth on stage; and to fill the room with lots of asses and lots of joy!”

Summer Camp Festival is a pioneer event in Australia, being the first ever touring pride festival in the country. Big Freedia explains that she has been blessed to see the growth and change of pride celebrations all around the world every year.

“It’s an amazing thing to see and the effort of those individuals that put it together put forward and the work that they do. It’s becoming a really special thing globally and it’s just great to see. I’ve done some rinky-dink ones, you know, when I first started, and I’ve done some spectacular ones and some in-betweens. As people grow and their budgets grow and the culture for the LGBTQIA+ community keeps coming together, we will continue to see these things grow and progress to a better place.”

Many members of the LGBTQIA+ community are faced with the battle between being their authentic selves and pressure to conform from outside forces. Fortunately, for Big Freedia, once she found who she was, this wasn’t something she worried about for long and she encourages others to take on a similar mindset.

“Once I found myself, there’s no turning back, there’s no toning down. If they don’t like me or accept me, to hell with them! F... ‘em! Ain’t no toning down nothing! Once I got approval from my mama, I didn’t need approval from the world.”

While talent and stage presence is obviously important for young performers looking to make it in the industry, Big Freedia doesn’t want them to forget the business side of things and even makes the argument that it’s almost more important than the music.

She explains that if you love what you do then the music comes naturally and that you still need to handle all the ins and outs of the business that audiences don’t typically see.

“I’m totally involved in all of my artistry, all of my planning, and it is a job. It is a thorough job and you have to be dedicated and you have to open your mind and you have to be versatile and you really have to put the groundwork in, in order for your career to be a success, and that’s what I’m about. I put the full work in. It takes a lot to get to the stage. The stage is the easy part.”

Big Freedia SummerCamp2

Don’t get it twisted though, Big Freedia is far from being all business!

“You just flick the switch when it’s time to get to the stage. It’s like a light switch. Turn it on, and baby, light the party up!”

Joining Big Freedia for Summer Camp Festival is a huge line-up of performers including UK synth-pop act Years & Years, NZ singer-songwriter Ladyhawke, everyone’s favourite Aussie twins The Veronicas and Brisbane pop group Cub Sport, among a plethora of incredible talent.

“I’m excited to see everybody. We all want to come and we all want to collaborate together and have a great time. I don’t know how many I’ll get to see then when I’m performing myself. As performers though, we get to see a few of our friends and collaborators do their thing at certain times so I’m excited because I’ll be there and you know, we’re just gonna party. We all party and I want to see everybody, as many of them as I can.”

Most importantly, Summer Camp Festival, as Australia’s first touring pride festival, represents a step forward for the LGBTQIA+ community and is an opportunity to showcase equality and the true meaning of pride.

Big Freedia says that pride is really just about us treating each other like human beings.

“It’s about us spreading love and joy around the world and through every culture and through every walk of life, connecting with every individual, and that’s what our community is about: spreading good love, good joy, good vibes, bringing people together, making people enjoy life, bringing out the best in people.

“We help lift people up and bring their spirits up. . . We are a big part of what makes this world go around and we give a fierceness and flavour and joy and love and happiness. . . I want it to continue to grow and to also open doors for equality and for people to have respect for each other and for themselves, just know how to handle themselves. When we learn to have respect for each other, the world will be a better place and we can love each other. That’s what it’s about for me.”

Summer Camp Festival has been postponed. More details to come soon. The event was originally set to take place at Darwin Showgrounds (26 February), Centennial Park, Sydney (27 February) and Reunion Park, Melbourne (6 March).


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