Curator Series: Char Loro

Photo by Sam Steele

Photo by Sam Steele


As we gear up for the season ahead, Vancouver writer Alli Hayes brings us closer to the magic that is Public Disco. Each event is carefully curated and this year we are excited to have Char Loro, Larisa Sanders, and Ralph Escamillan involved to help co-curate our Laneway Series programming. Alli dives in to how these creatives think and what sparked their interest in public space and the arts. Our first laneway curator introduction features Master of Ceremonies, event producer, experience designer, and dancing queen, Char Loro.

Loro, founder of Shape Shifter Studio, fills her time up quickly these days. The emcee, and one of the main organizers for Vancouver Street Dance Festival, and all around spark of artistic joy, has been helping to carve out a new era in Vancouver. Art is the mantra. Char had the opportunity to speak at TEDxEmilyCarrU this past season, focusing on ‘How Street Dance Culture Builds Community’. This creative passion has shown Loro and VSDF what this vibrant city is made of. She keeps her visions fresh with a conscious ethic of traveling to the cities she has found a piece of home within. When Char isn’t helping curate musicians and DJ’s at events, she is helping her peers with designing spaces, art directing creative shoots, and soaking in local art (wherever she goes).  

Public Disco Laneway Series curators: Char Loro, Nick Collinet, Larisa Sanders, and Ralph Escamillan photographed by Sam Steele.

Public Disco Laneway Series curators: Char Loro, Nick Collinet, Larisa Sanders, and Ralph Escamillan photographed by Sam Steele.

Hayes - Public Disco aims to be a safe and inclusive space. Patrons are encouraged to dress in fun, creative outfits that best represent their individual style - in other words, dress to express! If you could describe yourself as a disco outfit, what best describes your style?

Loro - To me, this is a question impossible and somewhat silly to answer, as it is an extremely visual and tactile experience - “me” as a “disco outfit”. Instead, I shall use a bunch of adjectives and clues to provoke intrigue, and leave you stargazing and stupefied in my magic glitter dust.

  1. My outfit is never the same.

  2. Sparkly, bejeweled, furry soft, sequined, floral and tropical. Sometimes I look like I got blasted with a glitter gun… like, 5 years ago and it never came off.

  3. Always Sneakers. How else can one dance to the ultimate fullest? I can’t dance in anything else.

  4. Always magic mic in hand disguised as a bouquet of flowers. Listen for the ominous voice keeping the dance floor going.

  5. Houdini Cazimi on the mic. Keepin’ the vibes right. Rockin your body tight. All day and allllllllll night.

Hayes - Collaboration is key to exploring and expanding the arts community. It builds strong networks, inspires and strengthens artists, and provides further opportunity for artist development. What does collaboration in the arts community mean to you?

Loro - Collaboration means creating the space for multi-faceted creatives coming together, and being given the freedom to contribute what they do best! It’s about listening, being inspired by each other’s ideas, sparking and spurring each other on to build a new collective vision better than what any one individual could conceive.

In the arts community, to me, this means bringing all the different elements and micro-communities together in order to cross-pollinate and create a multi-dimensional experience. This looks like dancers, DJ’s, musicians, visual artists, designers, thinkers, innovators, and all sorts of creatives - sharing space, time, and exchanging energy; building community around our shared love and appreciation for the arts.

Vancouver Street Dance Festival

Vancouver Street Dance Festival

Hayes - Tell us about a time you discovered something new about yourself through music.

Loro - I feel like I am always discovering something new about myself through music. It’s a symbiotic relationship I have with my love for dancing. If I am not equally nurturing both sides of myself - my passion and appreciation for music and dancing - then I feel uninspired, stagnant and imbalanced on one side or the other. Recently I came back from a trip to Portland to support a local house dance community event, where there were house DJ’s and producers from the Bay Area (near San Francisco) and from D.C. They played original productions as well as an all vinyl house and disco set that had my feet going off for hours. House music is a genre I am only recently starting to dive deep into (coming from roots in hip hop, funk, soul, r&b, and disco).

Hayes - Creativity takes an intense amount of passion, motivation, and inspiration to keep the ‘creative flow’ flowing. What keeps you creatively inspired in Vancouver?

Loro - A few major factors keep me inspired in Vancouver:

  1. The multiple communities that I am part of - the biggest ones being - the street dance community, the local music community, the fashion / visual arts community (in photo, video, and space/set design), and the creative community house that I live in. I am also starting to be more connected to municipal organizations and leaders in the arts & culture sector of Vancouver.

  2. I step out of Vancouver often, and connect with the Pacific Northwest/West coast (like Seattle, Portland, LA, The Bay Area/San Francisco), as well as go across the ocean to the places of my ancestral roots in SE Asia (like the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia). It’s important to see that the world and all the possible realities that exist - what other communities do well and what we can learn from. I bring back all of these insights and inspirations to Vancity every time I step away, and infuse all of this new energy into all the projects/events that I am part of.

  3. I am inspired by the artists that are in this city who are also invested in fostering the growth of art and creativity here - so that we don’t have to move away to larger cities like Toronto and Montréal. I see something very special is happening right now. We have natural beauty, progressive values, a newness and a smallness in our communities - matched with a somewhat turbulent political, social and economic climate that is provoking art to be movements of resistance. I’m talking about the affordable housing crisis, the opioid crisis, building pipelines, the call for more diversity, gender equality, creating safer inclusive spaces, decolonization, and redress with the Indigenous people of this land. All of these factors are the culminating incubator for huge shifts in culture and ways of thinking - producing unprecedented art, music, dance, food and more.

Hayes - Who is an artist that you have been impacted by in a positive way?

Loro - I am very inspired by the visionaries Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell - the creators of the legendary New York disco venue called Studio 54. This place was a whole other universe - a theater transformed into a multi-dimensional disco - they paid so much attention to the details. They even had a floating dance floor that moved people from one side to the other! What?! Go watch the documentary. Studio 54 was a safe haven for people from all walks of life to come together, that otherwise might not ever intersect. These two were also crazy - they managed their money poorly, did too many drugs, and went to jail for tax evasion. All before they were 30 years old. However, the way that they came back from that, and reinvented themselves, is also so inspiring.

Hayes - And finally… can you give us any hints about what we can expect from your Laneway Series collab?!

Loro - I’m pulling up with a squad of amazing dancers who come from the street and club dance community ready to rock the party with me allllll day and into the night !! The DJ’s that Nick and I have chosen are seasoned, diverse, fresh and from various communities. I’m stoked to hear the sounds they will bring and the vibes they’ll provide. Bring your grandmas and your babies - everyone is invited to party with us!

Public Disco Art Smash on Granville Island, photo credit Jared Davis.

Public Disco Art Smash on Granville Island, photo credit Jared Davis.

Catch the 8th Annual Vancouver Street Dance Music Festival happening August 3rd at Robson Square. See you this Saturday at the Laneway Series kick-off party, co-curated by Char Loro!