Pride Parade 101: Your guide to enjoying the queer festivities
Whether you're marching in the Gay Pride Parade or cheering the queers from the sidelines, you'll want a good strategy for making the most out of LGBT's big day.
Photograph: Jolie Ruben
You'd better believe that Pride March vets have well-worn approaches when it comes to dealing with the million-plus spectators and 500,000 participants that will pack the route. So newbies, take note: Whether you plan to be a street walker or a curb squatter, you're best off heeding our practiced advice.
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Choose your real estate wisely
The March steps off from 36th Street and Fifth Avenue at noon. If you're marching, get there nice and early—by 11am at least—to find your group and to ensure a comfy, prominent spot on your float. If you just like to watch, think about what kind of experience you'd like to have and position yourself accordingly. A day of shopping with the march as a fun background soundtrack? Stay in the 30s. Lots of elbow room and a festive but mellow vibe? Check out the 20s, and even the high teens. You'll find belly-of-the-beast mayhem just north and west of Washington Square Park, and along 8th and Christopher Streets to the river. Get to your spot by noon and you'll most likely be able to snag a lamppost, mailbox or nice patch of sidewalk—or at least a nice bit of a police barricade to lean against. Bring your own chair if you must (it's at least a five-hour affair, after all), but know that crowds might squeeze it out of existence by mid-afternoon.
Pack a bag
Whether you're marching or watching, make like a good scout and be prepared! Charring your torso to crimson is sure to ruin your night of bumping and grinding, whether you're heading to the pier dance or your favorite club, so bring some sunblock. You might even want to work a hat or parasol into your getup. Dehydration won't help, either, so save the booze till nightfall and instead take nips of the bottle of water you'll have with you. Finally, if you've got yourself wedged into a good spot, you'll be unwise to leave it to forage for food, no matter how light-headed you feel. Do yourself a favor and bring some snacks—protein bars, fruit, even a PB&J sandwich. Then, when you're really ready to take a break, refer to our restaurant guide for advice on where to belly up for beers and grub.
Have a post-march plan
The last Sunday in June is notoriously hectic, and it's never a good idea to just wing it when it comes to leaving the scene. If it's the Dance on the Pier or the women's Rapture on the River you're after, do yourself a favor and buy your tickets in advance; you'll not only save money, you'll ensure entry, as these events tend to sell out. And if you'd rather hit your favorite bar or club, choose a couple spots before even setting out that day by thumbing through Time Out New York's magazine or online event listings, which will be filled with up-to-date Pride events. You're likely to be delirious from the sun, the noise and the crowds, which will make it hard to come to a decision once the march winds down and the party really gets started.