As my time in Vancouver is coming to an end, I feel it’s only fitting to start this blog with a reflection on my time spent here in this wonderful city. Growing up in Edmonton, Vancouver became my second home when my father moved here in 1998. Making small trips to visit him, three to four times a year, I fell in love with the city. Mild weather, beaches, and greenery all year round?! What was this place? After high school I spent two years bouncing around from small international trips, to Vancouver, back to Edmonton, and finally one last move to Vancouver in 2008. I have been here close to five years in total now, and I can truthfully say it’s home.
While attending Langara College for my Business Management diploma, I spent the majority of my weekends attending events in the local “underground” scene, as it were. I remember the first hidden party well; a coded set of directions passed from stranger to friend, tentative steps down an East Hastings alleyway, muted basslines leading the way. Suddenly an imposing bouncer type appears from a camouflaged doorway and inquires, “Are you here for the party?”
Why yes sir, I am… and have been ever since. I have been constantly amazed by the party scene in Vancouver. The first ‘crew’ that got me hooked on any type of electronic music was definitely Lighta! . The bass-heavy beats and superior gatherings in dark seedy places.. were not too far off from the punk laced, rock and roll scene I had left in Edmonton. From these parties.. I began to branch out. Embracing every new sound that presented it self. A dancehall night Ting! at the Astoria became my new living room. A place to connect with friends before the weekend; a speaking bulletin board full of inviting events.
I began to realize the importance of the music community in Vancouver. Everything was always brand new, breaking boundaries.. and I was right in the middle of it. I started participating more and more during these events, knowing that I had so much to give back to this community. Over the years I have been proud to attend and participate in events at a variety of underground/private spaces including The Dollhouse (RIP), The Woods, Submerged Studios, W2, The Fall, Open Studios and others. The Sweet Soul Productions and Perception Events have a warm place in my heart due to their creative style and artistic energies, while, ShahDJs, Lighta! and the Integrated Grime Unit always guarantee a raucous dance floor. This name-dropping only goes so far. It would take years to personally thank each welcoming, smiling energy that I encountered at these events. I recognize that these events are not possible without a community approach. From sound techs to bartenders, dancers to deeJays.. endless love.
New Years Eve 2011 was the perfect combination of everything I’ve grown to love in Vancouver. Merely 100 feet away from each other, two massive events occurred. Where else, but a gnarly, seemingly deserted industrial neighbourhood? Impressive sets by Taal Mala, Glitchy & Scratchy, Michael Red, Tank Girl and others, dance performances by Luciterra and Samsara Prema, hundreds of smiling faces, warmth love and freedom. Not to mention the surplus of glitter and costuming.
It may sound like all I’ve done in Vancouver is party the past four years. That may have some truth haha, however, I leave this city one thousand times stronger then when I came. One thousand times more inspired, with the support and love of a beautiful community that reaches far and wide along the West Coast. Imagination, creativity, music and performance have become a way of life for me, and I have Vancouver to thank for it.
“[Magic] is happening around us all the time, and if we look hard enough we can see it shining through almost anything, even if we have to squint. It’s up to us if we stay awake watching it or fall asleep lulled by it. It’s up to us to trust that it’s real, and if we do, a whole world opens for us to live in.”
*Throughout my blog I will constantly refer to a collection of short stories called Off the Map. You can read more about it under my Travel – Inspiration section.