This year’s MCQP theme proves to be controversial


bollywood_production_controversy_mcqpThe theme for the 2016 MCQP costume party has been revealed, and not everyone’s happy about it.

On Saturday, the theme was announced as “Thousands of extras to star in MCQP’s A Bollywood Production”. It was first made public at a jam-packed Halloween party at the Dragon Room in Cape Town.

“This year’s MCQP will be a spectacle like no other; a royal Bollywood Production of dancers, singers, colours, saris, harams and so much more,” said MCQP Director Ian McMahon.

“It will conjure up characters from Bollywood, Bombay and Kolkata. So picture your very own eastern event as we celebrate everything that is the fantastic Eastern celebrations of colour, flair and vibrance.”

The event, taking place on Saturday, 17 December from 2pm, will for the first time, be held at the ZipZap Circus Dome in the Foreshore.

As to the question of what one should wear to the Bollywood Production party, McMahon replied: “The brighter, the better! Don’t be afraid to wear a bold colour – that will help you fit in with the eastern guests who’ll be dressed in vibrant colours and eye-catching jewellery. If you don’t have a sari or lengha, don’t worry – a jewel-tone dress with a shawl will be perfect.”

The theme, however, has been met with outrage on social media, with some asserting that it is another example of cultural appropriation or misappropriation; the adoption or use of elements of a culture by members of another dominant culture.

“This is beyond offensive,” wrote Mohamed Mollagee on Facebook. “You are explicitly reducing people through your white privileged lens with this ‘thousands of extras’ narrative. Indian culture is a not a fucking circus for white gay men to ruthlessly appropriate and wear as costume.”

Tim Lester commented: Are you kidding me? My partner is Indian. I’m extremely disappointed… turning someone’s culture and history into a party for jollers. What planet do you even live on? This is possibly one of the most oblivious, uninformed decisions MCQP has ever made.”

Others have called for the theme to be changed and even for the party to be boycotted.

This practice of cultural appropriation has become increasingly contentious, especially when it comes to the use of national or cultural costumes or symbols for the purposes of “fancy dress”. This week, Hollywood star Hilary Duff and her boyfriend were forced to apologise after they dressed as a pilgrim and a Native American for Halloween.

Now in its 23rd year, MCQP was launched as a primarily gay or “queer” event. It has since become an annual Cape Town institution. It is said to be Africa’s biggest and longest running costume party.

UPDATE: MCQP has since responded to the furore. Below is the full statement:


MCQP’s Theme “A Bollywood Production”, which was announced this week for the 2016 event, pays homage to the multibillion dollar Indian based movie production scene. So says Ian McMahon, Director of MCQP. He adds: “This is the second movie based theme, having hosted ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ in 2008. MCQP is a costume party and takes ideas and inspiration from all over the world that sets the theme for the annual costumed event in December. This theme is just another celebration of cinematic success and excellence, not intended to be anything more.”

In coming up with this year’s theme, the producers were mindful to enlist the help of Indian wedding organiser and Cape Town Drag Queen Lola Fine in order to “ensure that we stay on the right side of Bollywood and steer away from any religious Hindi component. Our intent is that our theme does not touch close to the religious aspects”.

Says Lola Fine: “Rest assured, nothing at this year’s event will be offensive to anyone, no matter what their own personal cultural background is. It’s going to be beautiful celebration, and as we are known as the Rainbow Nation, the colourful theme of Bollywood is a perfect fit! I was consulted by MCQP and am excited to be involved in this whole production.”

Bollywood is the popular Indian film industry, based in Mumbai (Bombay) and has given rise to hundreds of Eastern Movies and spawned a sub-culture that has swept the world and has created many world famous stars such as Shah Rukh Khan better known as SRK. Referred to in the media as the “King of Bollywood” or “King Khan”, he has appeared in more than 80 Bollywood films, and in terms of audience size and income, he has been described as one of the most successful film stars in the world.

Similar to the 2016 MCQP theme, many cities all over the world host similar events annually, celebrating the colourful Indian film industry.

Previous MCQP themes paid have homage to Sport Culture in The Locker Room Project. Other themes have included: Secret Garden; Twinkly Sea; Shopping Trolley Project; Safari Camp; Heavenly Bodies; Toy box; Farm Fresh; The Wedding; Kitsch Kitchen; Jungle Fever; It’s a Circus; Comic Strip; Matric dance; Lights, Camera, Action!; The ToolBox Project; Flower Power; Maid in China!; Fairy Tale Fantasy; Space Cowboys; Royal Navy and Candyland.

“Now in its 23rd year, MCQP was launched as a primarily gay or ‘queer’ event. It has since become an annual Cape Town institution, attended by thousands of enthusiasts of all cultures, races and sexual orientation – celebrating a fun event together in a united way as people accepting each other for who they are. It is Africa’s biggest and longest running costume party and we always aim to be all inclusive,” concludes McMahon.

The event, taking place on Saturday, 17 December from 2pm, will for the first time, be held at the ZipZap Circus Dome in the Foreshore.

Early bird discounted tickets for MCQP 2016 are available at

For more information, visit

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Latest Comments
  1. Thomie
    Reply -
  2. White Man Says
    Reply -
  3. Ash
    Reply -
  4. Niki Bechus
    Reply -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend