By Jessica Brodeur
VANCOUVER — Vancouver’s annual Pride Parade and celebration have been evolving as quickly as society’s views of queer people. The parties are extensive, check your local Pride Guide to know the details of all that’s going on. BeatRoute interviewed Paige Frewer, who moonlights as the drag king performer Ponyboy, who produces the well-loved monthly show and queer dance party Man Up, who will be having their own special celebrations. She had just landed back in Vancouver after a month exploring Germany and even emceeing a part of the Pride events in Berlin. She hit the ground running in Vancouver to prepare for Man Up July, as well as a busy schedule of events for Pride 2014.
“The Friday night at the Cobalt is our usual straight up Man Up party, and this year it’s called Man Up BONAFIDE PRIDE, August 1. The 2nd, we’re doing our third annual El Hangover. It’s a DIY East Van Pool Party at the parking lot of The Cobalt. We bring out a 15-foot adult kiddie pool and I have a staging and decor company sponsoring us that will make a beach section in the parking lot with sand and turf and stuff like that. That’s it for our Pride weekend proper, we have other stuff this summer.” If that’s not enough, Frewer is also organizing the second ever Man Up float in the Pride Parade, thanks to some sponsorships. Besides her own events, Frewer’s top pick for Pride this year is Pussy Liquor’s Unicorn Born party at the Maritime Labour Centre on August 3. She raves, “it’s an all genders, anti-oppression based queer dance party and it always rules.”
The rest of the year Man Up also has an important place in Vancouver’s queer community. Paige elaborates, “We have historically been a queer women’s oriented event, and being a drag king show naturally that’s the bulk of our audience, but with the gender politics of queers everywhere… there’s this increasing milieu of gender ambiguous people, so we have a strong following from the trans community in Vancouver a well. It kind of keeps the lines of who we welcome and who is attracted to our events nicely blurred. We can’t say we’re a women’s event since we are trans positive, and some of our audience can’t identify as being female. We are welcoming to gay men but we aren’t even necessarily a gay party.” Vancouver lacks specifically women’s venue spaces, especially with the closer of Lick, Vancouver’s only lesbian bar, which has led to Man Up and The Cobalt being somewhat deemed the new frontier of off-Davie queer events. “We have a peer support program called the Buddy System, that has sober volunteers monitoring the safety of event guests. It’s harm-reduction based, so they have safer sex/substance use supplies and sealed bottled water, as well as free bus tickets, and occasionally even a couch to crash on, for people who may have had a lot to drink and lost their friends or something.” With safety and community in mind, it’s no wonder that it’s become the forefront of alternative genders, adopted by many as the unofficial queer dance party that offers what Celebrities can’t.
For those stoked not only on the party, but by the idea of putting together a song and dance number and making the transformation into a drag king, there is also Amature Hour. It’s a drop in open-mic type drag event every month for new performers to test out an audience, get feedback, and the audience-voted winner lands themselves a paid gig. For Frewer’s drag transformation secrets, duct tape works better for breast binding rather than those uncomfortable compression vests. Depending on how much of a makeup artist you are, there’s many ways to do facial hair but costume makeup and a little sponge called a stipple sponge dabs on the perfect five o’clock shadow. Other than that, it’s about creative numbers, gender bending costumes and props, and expression through performance – and a safe space to dance your ass off.
Man Up BONAFIDE PRIDE happens Aug. 1 at The Cobalt, and El Hangover Parking Lot Pool Party is Aug 2. outside of The Cobalt, and the 36th annual Pride Parade is Aug. 3 from 12-3 p.m. beginning at Robson and Thurlow.BC, British Columbia, LGBT, Man Up, Pride, Pride events, Pride Parade, Pride Parade Vancouver