After sitting it out last year during the early stages of the pandemic, Dyke March was back on Saturday as thousands of protestors took over Fifth Avenue and exuberantly made their way from Bryant Park to Washington Square Park. As at all of these big first-time-since-COVID events we’re seeing these days, the overall atmosphere was rowdy, joyous, slightly disbelieving, and festive as hell.
“I can’t even describe how happy I am to be back here,” said Rosie of Greenwich Village. “I can’t wait to jump in the fountain again. It’s just amazing to be here again.” And her friend Kiera, who lives in the East Village, said this was her first Dyke March—”I’m so excited! I’m trying to drink it all in, it’s so special.”
Not that this year’s event was apolitical. Dyke March has always been very much about protest, and yesterday’s theme of Black Dyke Power provoked frequent calls to “Abolish the Police” from the participants. In one particularly moving moment, as the march reached 23rd Street everyone fell silent for several minutes, arms in an X above their heads, in honor of Black trans lives lost.
But there was also tons of dancing, hugging, loving, and partying along the way. As is custom, both the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band and the Church Ladies For Choice were on the sidelines to serenade the passing dykes, the latter belting out their classic, “God is a Lesbian.” And the excellent, all-women Brazillian drum line Fogo Azul, led by the indomitable Stacy Kovaks, brought a huge contingent this year, banging out their glorious beats for the entire route.
Dyke March remains an unpermitted event, and the NYPD is not invited, though they do show up. For security, the dykes rely on a cadre of volunteer marshals each year, who block traffic and run crowd control. It’s a role that everyone takes seriously, but there’s no doubt that the marshals also have a lot of fun. And at the end of it all, there’s a dance party in the fountain at Washington Square Park, which this year seemed to have more participants than ever before.
“It feels so inspiring and energetic and full,” said Leah Ottaviano of the day. “We missed it last year out of necessity but it’s just a testament of queer power and queer resiliance that so many people are here today. It’s the most beautiful day of the year and the day of the year I look forward to more than any other, so we’re thrilled to be sharing in all this dyke love.”