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Mel Greig: What it’s really like in the Birdcage

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Going to the Birdcage on a race day is probably on most of our bucket lists and on Thursday I popped my Birdcage cherry at Oaks Day.

Ever wondered what it’s really like? We see the photos and know it’s glamorous and full of celebrities but how does it all work?

For starters, make sure you do your research. I had no idea there were so many fashion rules for different days. One day it’s all about Black and White . . . another day it’s Bright Colours and on Oaks Day it’s Ladies Day and women are encouraged to embrace a feminine palette with pretty pastels and floral prints.

Source: Mel Greig
Source: Mel Greig

It’s also apparently frowned upon if you show too much boob or too much leg. I wasn’t aware of this until two days before the races which resulted in 3 costume changes. The morning that I flew to Melbourne, my final option arrived and the colour was on point but I had boobs trying to escape and it was too late to change it. So . . . I ended up on the BEST and WORST dressed lists on the news sites.

You enter the Birdcage and there are 10-15 marquees although you don’t have access to all of them. You normally only have the one invite and later in the day, you might get asked into other marquees.

And each marquee is so different, from the atmosphere to the demographic of guests, for example, Lexus is the really fancy marquee – in which Megan Gale was a guest – that has 3 levels overlooking the track along with a sit-down lunch.

Turns out there are actually so many fahion rules for each Spring race day. Source: Mel Greig
Turns out there are actually so many fahion rules for each Spring race day. Source: Mel Greig

Over at GH Mumm you have a full-blown disco, it’s cranking all day and looks like the fun party to be at, Usain Bolt was one of the big stars in there.

Then you’ll walk past a marquee with a demographic of 20-25yr old’s, it felt like schoolies and they appeared to be breaking all the dress-code rules.

I was in the 1 Oliver marquee which was so quirky and fun – when you walked in there was a lady dressed as a champagne fountain handing you a drink!

We had a DJ and stage performers and one of the quirkiest things: tea leaf readings . . . as in, you drink a cup of tea and then flick your cup upside down before a lady then predicts your future through reading the tea leaves. It was just incredible. She found a picture of a bra in my cup made from the leaves and said it was coming off on one of my impending tropical holidays and in six months I’ll realise he’s my soulmate.

Our marquee even offered tea leaf readings. Source: Mel Greig
Our marquee even offered tea leaf readings. Source: Mel Greig

I’ve heard of people previously complaining about the portable toilets in the Birdcage, so I was expecting the stand-alone loos that rock a little bit when you’re inside and make you feel trapped. Although the people that complained must have been fed with a golden spoon when they were younger because these toilets were just like a normal toilet block at the shopping centres.

If you want to do some celeb spotting you need to take a few walks on the path in-between the marquees. This path is just as packed as some of the marquees because it’s where people do their mingling as everyone in the Birdcage has access to the pathways and you often can’t get into each other’s marquees.

We were greeted by a lady dressed as a champagne fountain! Source: Mel Greig
We were greeted by a lady dressed as a champagne fountain! Source: Mel Greig

Side note: using the word marquee doesn’t really work either, when I think of marquee, I picture the white looking tent set up at a wedding. The Birdcage Marquees are solid structures, it’s just like going into a bar.

But the most important thing I discovered in the Birdcage, is you have to keep it classy. There are photographers everywhere and if you have too much champagne and need to be wheeled out in a wheelie bin you will be caught, and you will be on the front page of the papers.

Aside from drinking in moderation and consuming enough water and food, put your drink down and mingle or take a walk to the toilet every hour to keep yourself on track. Wait until you’re out of sight to rip the fascinator out and take your shoes off, don’t be that girl.

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