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Curator Series: Larisa Sanders
 
Photo by Sam Steele

Photo by Sam Steele

 

As we gear up for 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, to help us co-curate the series. Alli dives in to how these creatives think and what sparked their interest in public space and the arts. Our second laneway curator introduction features local powerhouse singer and performer, Larisa Sanders.


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

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


Larisa is a long time musician and co-host of hip-hop freestyle night, The Stew Jams. She will be curating the Public Disco Laneway Cabaret events in July and August. What really surfaced during our conversation was her desire to cultivate long-lasting, positive experiences for people in Vancouver, inspiring individuals through art and music. Through her own musical experiences on and off the stage she recognized the need for music and art as a vehicle for community. The Stew Jams has quickly proven to be an important staple for music in Vancouver, where bands, singers, emcees, and rappers float their creativity in freestyle under one roof.

"It's a different sense of belonging, a different thing that they didn't even know existed. Having this access point where people can tap into all the different niches, all the different realities that exist beyond them, that they could actually exist in, and be fully expressed. Watching, and after coming here and realizing that I wanted to do that, and now seeing it and living it, that's definitely the best thing to watch”, says Sanders.

African Heritage Festival 2018, Larisa seen centre, with Chris Cuoto (left) and Rupert Common (right) .

African Heritage Festival 2018, Larisa seen centre, with Chris Cuoto (left) and Rupert Common (right) .

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?

Sanders - I think I’d be the head scarf in an Afro.

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?

Sanders - For me it’s everything. Connecting with dope people by sharing our skills and expressions and creating something that is bigger than any one of us is for sure my favourite thing to do in this life. And thankfully the byproduct of that work is something that is needed and appreciated so it’s very gratifying and fulfilling. We are helping shape this city’s culture and the only way to do it right is to collaborate.

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

Sanders - When using music as an expression, I’ve had to uncover layers of myself in almost all of my experiences, so the self discovery is kind of constant. Being in that space with others brings in even more discoveries because so much comes up when you are sharing in that vulnerable creative space. So I guess the main discovery came when I was first starting out and I realized that I’m brave for being so wildly uncomfortable at times to continue learning about myself and connecting with others.

Photo by Celine Pinget.

Photo by Celine Pinget.

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

Sanders - Having the most amazing friends who are dedicated to creating culture and art to move this city.


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

Sanders - Sorry to be cheesy but my dad. He’s still doing his thing at 68 and that’s really inspiring to me.


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

Sanders - Same beautiful, inclusive, sparkly Public Disco plus some diverse performances from your local live music community! There will be a little mix of everything, so you’ll be sure to find something new!


Catch The Stew Jams the last Monday of every month at Red Gate Arts Gallery. Mark your calendars for the Public Disco Cabaret, curated by Larisa Sanders, on July 6.



Good Night Out Creates Safer Spaces
 
Photo from Good Night Out Vancouver Facebook.

Photo from Good Night Out Vancouver Facebook.

 

The following article was written by Ashtyn Bevan from Good Night Out Vancouver.


Good Night Out Vancouver is a chapter of an international initiative dedicated to raising awareness about sexual harassment and assault on nights out. We build safer communities by providing nightlife economies with the capacity to respond to and prevent harassment and sexual assault within licensed venues, bars, pubs, festivals and art space. Our vision is to generate a cultural shift in Vancouver's arts, culture and nightlife. Simply put we want safer nights out for all.

The #gnosquad loves Public Disco because it aims to be an inclusive community gathering that brings people together. Diversity thrives at these events and people of all age, genders and backgrounds can connect with one another through music and dance. With Public Disco we know that the safety and comfort of minority groups isn't just used as a selling point but rather is exemplified in the organization and overall ethos of the event.

 
Good Night Out team at Public Disco Laneway Series, June 1. Photo by Brad Buhr.

Good Night Out team at Public Disco Laneway Series, June 1. Photo by Brad Buhr.

 

Challenging Harassment

Music and nightlife can shape society's culture at large, so when there are events that not only promote fun, but also safety it reflects into the day to day of our city life. You cannot ignore that public spaces are full of inequalities, but these community events attempt to erase them. If you do see harassment at any event, there are a few ways to challenge the bad behaviour:

  1. Be Direct: “I think what you are doing is making them uncomfortable, please stop.”

  2. Distract: Burst into song or dance or jump in and ask a bunch of annoying questions

  3. Delay: Check in with them to let them know you saw what went down and make sure they are ok

  4. Delegate: Get a staff member, loud friend or security to help

  5. Dialogue: Talk about harassment more often. It’s not ok that it’s a normal part of a night out!


Party Safer

In addition to challenging inequalities and harassment, Good Night Out also provide tips to party safer.  It’s everyone’s responsibility to party safe, ensuring the safety of themselves and those around them, to ensure events can continue, grow and thrive.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Be chill

  2. Drink water

  3. Get consent

  4. Enjoy the music

  5. Don’t creep our your server

  6. Celebrate diversity

  7. Respect people’s Space

  8. Sing along

  9. Look out for each other

  10. Challenge sexism, racism, homophobia, and other ‘isms’

  11. Make new friends

  12. Pick up pizza

  13. Don’t drive impaired

 
Images provided by Good Night Out Vancouver.

Images provided by Good Night Out Vancouver.

 

A Program at Risk

As part of Good Night Out Vancouver’s platform, we have a dedicated street team for the Granville Entertainment District (GED) which navigates the public realm. We believe that the GED is a vibrant, historical part of the city and that this Project is an effective way for the Vancouver community to come together to revitalize the area. We know that heightened feelings of safety among women and vulnerable populations in the GED increase engagement in the nightlife economy and facilitates a healthy culture of art and entertainment in Vancouver.

Good Night Out Vancouver’s Granville Street Team Project is an innovative, community-based initiative that engages skilled peers in bystander intervention to reduce incidents of gendered harassment in Vancouver's Granville Entertainment District. The Project operates on Friday and Saturday nights between 12:00 am and 3:30 am. They patrol Granville and support more vulnerable, often intoxicated patrons. We help them find their friends, charge their phone, get a cab, have some water, intervene if we see someone potentially making them feel unsafe

Currently our Granville street team is at risk due to under-funding and we are asking community members to help us raise $20,000 to keep the street team on the Granville Strip.

The Street Team has been building community and keeping party-goers safe since September 2018 - but the Project is at risk. A lack of funding means that the Street Team Project is faced with the reality of having to stop all operations, halting all of our harm reduction services in their tracks and leaving women and vulnerable populations with decreased feelings of safety and security on their nights out.

We know you care about your communities safety and well being, and we do too. Let’s work together to keep the Street Team on the Strip so that everyone who visits the Granville Entertainment District this summer is able to enjoy a Good Night Out.

What we stand to lose:

  • A highly visible support team for women and the LGBTQ2 community visiting the GED.

  • A team that is skilled in bystander intervention and conflict resolution to support patron safety on the street and help reduce experiences of harassment.

  • A link between victims of assault and police.

  • Support for your venue security staff and VPD in prioritizing patron and public safety.

  • Support for vulnerable patrons during the 2 A.M. egress from licensed establishments on the weekends.

  • Harm reduction services and overdose prevention responses

Keep Women And Vulnerable Populations Safe And Secure All Summer Long.

Support The Street Team Project Today

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!

Life Between Umbrellas
Photo via VIVA Vancouver

Photo via VIVA Vancouver

Bridging communities through a rain friendly design competition
and showcasing what happens in life in between umbrellas.

Public spaces are something we hold near and dear to our heart at Public Disco.  They give people a place to gather and build communities, which in turn provide a sense of social connectedness and belonging.  Being a part of a community can have positive effects on both our emotional and mental well being. It’s one of the many reasons we do what we do at Public Disco.  So we are thrilled to be partnering with the new design project – Life Between Umbrellas – in an event on May 11th that will help draw awareness to the program and why it’s so badly needed.

Earlier this spring the Vancouver Public Space Network (VPSN), an organization that champions the importance of public space to the liveability of a city, and VIVA Vancouver, a city run program that transforms road spaces into thriving people places, such as the Jim Deva and Bute Robson plazas, have teamed up to create a new design competition to address our rainy city public space challenges.

VIVA Vancouver works with local businesses and community groups to enhance the city’s sense of community by facilitating short and long term public spaces. The Life Between Umbrellas competition aims to do just that, by bringing new rain friendly spaces to the city.

Photo via VIVA Vancouver on Facebook

Photo via VIVA Vancouver on Facebook

Raincity needs more Rain-Friendly spaces

Love it or hate it, rain is part of what makes Vancouver, well… Vancouver.  It’s even a part of our city’s identity, with names such as Raincouver, Raincity, and Wet Coast.  Surrounded by temperate rainforests, rain brings lush flora, endless blossoms, green parks, clean water and fresh air. These are just some of the many reasons we call Vancouver home, and why we love it so much.  But while Vancouver has a number of excellent public spaces, most are ill-equipped to support gathering and other activities in the rain.

In a city like Vancouver, which sees on average the equivalent of five months of rain a year (more than 160 days), it’s easy to get lost in the endless gloomy, grey days. It’s during this time that we tend to get stuck indoors, often alone or with limited activities – it can be an isolating and lonely time. So, while we want to believe the rain doesn’t stop us from much in this great city of ours, the truth is, for the rain we experience we are seriously lacking in appropriate public space which keeps us from connecting with our communities.

 
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The Life Between Umbrellas competition will encourage ideas on ways that improve public spaces and life, reduce social isolation and strengthen our sustainability during our city’s rainy months.  The competition (open to anyone) aims to unite Vancouverites by awarding prizes for designs in three streams: a rain-friendly public space, a rain-friendly design feature or seasonal structure, and a rain-friendly event or celebration.  Find out more about this initiative at www.lifebetweenumbrellas.ca.

There’s more to Vancouver then what meets the eye
While rain may be part of what Vancouver is best known for, it’s just that… one part of the many aspects that make Vancouver, Vancouver.  In fact, Vancouver has a number of thriving arts and culture scenes – from drag to dance to comedy and live music, there are a number of experiences on any given day or night, you just have to know where to find it.

Photo via Continental Breakfast on Facebook

Photo via Continental Breakfast on Facebook

So, while Vancouver may be known as a “pretty”, yet “no fun”, city, we are here to change the perception and bring awareness to all the great things this city has to offer other than the great outdoors.

That’s why, on May 11, we are partnering with VIVA Vancouver to celebrate the Life Between Umbrellas competition.  In true Public Disco fashion, the laid-back social will include music with a dance floor, hooping zone, vendors, food trucks, and a place where Vancouverites can gather as a community and connect.

In addition to our usual fanfare, we are very excited to share that this event will feature an opportunity to meet and chat with several members of our community to learn about their art, community initiatives, events and any other questions you may have.  Connecting the community to local art scenes is core to Public Disco, so we are excited to host Larisa Sanders from the Stew Jams, Chris Reed aka local drag icon Continental Breakfast, Steph Parkes from Public Disco and Char Loro of ShapeShifterStudio and Vancouver Street Dance Festival.

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EVENT DETAILS

  • Date: May 11th, 2019

  • Time: noon to 6pm

  • Where: Cambie and 2nd (under the Cambie St bridge)

  • Things to do:

    • Check out local music, with dancing and a hula hooping zone

    • Connect with a local community arts members!

  • RSVP here.

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