Social butterfly

By Francesca Emms
Photography by Anna Briggs

Featured in Capital #76
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Vivian Lyngdoh: life of the party and chair of the board

Hailing from the foothills of the Himalayas, Vivian Lyngdoh has lived in New Zealand for the past decade. He says his friends, a network that is “essentially my family”, make Wellington feel like home for him. “We all have similar interests. I think also what feels very Wellington is the constant political conversation we all have, whether it be over coffee or a rave. You never seem to get away from the political chit chat.” One of his stand-out memories of Wellington is the first Cuba Dupa he attended, “the creativity, the family vibes, the dancing, the queerness of it all – I was inspired by it!”


Vivian’s involved in the social life of the capital in a number of ways. He’s the board chair for the Wellington Pride Festival (13–27 March) and a community researcher for CARE (the Centre for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation), a project for the prevention of sexual and family violence in diverse communities. He’s also the founder of a queer events collective, Frills. Vivian explains that Frills is a series of themed events whose attendees are encouraged to dress up “and allow their creativity to explode through their clothing”. Tickets for the next event, themed “Celestial bodies”, sold out within an hour.

Vivian’s a regular at Swimsuit, Customs, Floriditas, Rogue & Vagabond, Rasa, and the veggie markets. His weekends are usually reserved for friends (“a dance is always around the corner for us”), a Sunday walk, and a home-cooked Indian meal. He practices yoga, likes “a good read”, and when he doesn’t want to do anything will “draw the curtains shut and binge-watch Netflix.”


Wearing his tiny sunglasses – “which are completely useless but you know they add to the drama and I love it!” – Vivian loves to walk along Oriental Parade, through Aro Valley, or down Cuba St. “You can never turn a corner and not run into a familiar friendly face.” A dog would make these promenades even more perfect. “OMG! Imagine me with a poodle. I have often pondered what Little-Miss-Thing would be like – sassy hopefully.”

When international borders reopen he’d like to go home to Meghalaya for a visit. “I love going back to see my family in India during Christmas. It’s where I can ground myself, re-connect, and also get a list of chores to do which have been allocated to me since I was seven. And the food!” Interested in his Khasi people’s indigenous practices, Vivian hopes to spend some time with the elders “and re-learn our practices around sustainability, around our stories and our culture and our spirituality.” While he’s “obsessed” with Wellington’s local DJ talent Vivian also listens to songs from back home. His current favourite is Desmond Rimaki Sunn: “He uses our indigenous Khasi instruments and I love that – and thanks to Spotify, I get a piece of home at my home in Pōneke.”

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