Working for the Weekend with Dani Vachon and Emily Bach of Bonkers Games

By Emily Blatta

VANCOUVER – Best buds and business collaborators Dani Vachon and Emily Bach were once two strangers dabbling in music, nerding-out over theatre and working hard for a chance to design album covers for local Vancouver musicians. Vachon got her start working in music at Sam the Record Man back in the day, but a serendipitous connection would eventually inspire her to kick-start her own career in live show and event planning. Vachon helped produce the very first Arcade Fire shows in Vancouver while working with Sealed With A Kiss productions, and once sang backup for Broken Social Scene to a sold out Commodore. In 2009, Vachon helped open Guilt & Co. and now runs her own business, Bonkers, an event and entertainment company that provides jumbo-sized games for adult parties. Imagine playing a giant game of Jenga at your office Christmas party, or Twister at your sister’s stuffy second wedding.

Vachon’s business partner in crime, Bach’s life started out as a blur of sheet music and string quartets, collecting vintage clothes and hanging out with “freaks” at punk shows. She moved to Vancouver almost a decade ago, where she now jams–sheet free–with her instrumental rock band Dirty Spells. One spontaneous whiskey-swilling night in Bach’s apartment found her and Vachon’s worlds collide when they landed on a passion project centred on nostalgia, and connecting weirdos through the love of parties.

Bonkers now offers Tickle Trunks, which are rentable costume-party kits. According to Bach they are designed to bring even the shyest of nerds out of their shells. And for all you other weirdos, if swilling whiskey as the sun comes up isn’t awesome enough, we’re told that doing it in a blue wig dressed as Colonel Mustard is even better. Vachon and Bach swear by it anyway. We caught up with the duo to find more about what makes Bonkers bonkers.

BeatRoute: Where did you get the idea for Tickle Trunks?
Emily Bach: I’ve collected vintage and weird clothing since high school. The crowd that I hung out with in those days were called “The Freaks” (charming, right?). We wore thrift store clothes and went to punk shows. Flash forward 20 years, I still have a fondness for the strange and unusual. When my former roommate Laurel’s grandma gave her an old, metal trunk, we piled all of our funny clothes into one spot, and whenever we found ourselves at home and drinking, dressing up became part of the fun. Dani spent many a night knee-deep in our tickle trunk, and she had the vision to bring this hilarity to the masses.

BR: Each trunk has a theme, right? What sort of themes are we talking about here?
EB: We have three trunks at this time. Who Dunnit: A Clue Themed Tickle Trunk. This has complete costumes for all of the main characters you’d expect to see in a game of Clue. The costumes are various sizes, but it’s way funnier if it doesn’t fit properly.
Blast From the Past: A 60’s & 70’s Trunk. This trunk has various vintage items from an era I would have loved to be alive for. It’s very mix and match, very obsolete fabrics. We’ve even included a lava lamp and a fibre optic lamp to set the vibe.
Tight and Bright Under Black Lights. Everything is obnoxiously colourful, many things are stretchy, and if you’re going to a warehouse rave in 1995 this is the kit for you. We’re also building Spotify playlists that work with the theme of each trunk!

BR: What kind of music do you two like to listen to while you work?
DV: I love new music and I am a sucker for mellow indie folk and/or electronic with sweet vocals. My favourite Vancouver locals are Bob Moses, Dralms, Brasstronaut, Eric Campbell & The Dirt, Youngblood, and Dirty Spells.
EB: Instrumental, minimalist or classical.

BR: What is the most important thing to keep in mind when planning a party?
DV: It depends on the size. If we’re just talking a small house party, then snacks, bevs, entertainment and good tunes is all you need.
EB: For me, playlist. Definitely also go off-map, but when everyone blanks on a great new record, it’s great to have a prepared playlist to defer to. Otherwise you’ll get stuck in a YouTube downward spiral.

BR: What is the most rewarding part about your job?
DV: I love working on my own schedule. And it’s really rewarding to get to work with Emily and have lots of laughs about silly costumes. And doing the photo shoots and video shoots doesn’t feel like work at all.
EB: I love curating these trunks! Thrifting for hours, and stumbling upon increasingly ridiculous ideas (like combover wigs, or patent silver high tops). My favourite moment was when I realized that Mrs. White wears shorts.

BR: You’ve got Giant Jenga, Connect Four and Yahtzee, what’s next for the Bonkers team?
DV: In game land, I must say I really want to get a man-sized operation table. They’re really, really expensive though. And a huge battleship would be amazing. As for Tickle Trunks… sky’s the limit! We have some future theme ideas including ’80s, onesies, ugly Christmas sweaters and a sci-fi trunk.
EB: I want to try giant Twister!! Dani, can we have a very serious business meeting where we play giant Twister? And I want to start building cyborg limbs for the sci-fi trunk (I know a guy).

For more information about Bonkers and how to rent one of their giant games or tickle trunks check out


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