Urban Culture Conference & Awards 2011

In spite of the “no-fun city” naysayers, Vancouver is a city rich in culture and diversity with unique artists, creators and performers around every corner.
The first annual Urban Culture Conference & Awards (UCC) aims to capitalize on this rich tapestry of arts and culture by gathering them all together for one great weekend this summer!
Awards in categories ranging from music, art and fashion to social media and sports will be voted on by the public via the UCC website making sure this in an inclusive event where we are all welcome to express our tastes and interests.
In addition to the awards show the weekend will include; live performances, sports, sponsor exhibits, guest speakers and seminars.  All bringing together the thoughts, inspiration and recognition of the urban generation.
Keep watching the UCC website for more information, contests, giveaways, secret parties and the award nominees.

Wiggle 17

This Saturday, wiggle your way over to Five-Sixty on Seymour, put your best hair forward as the 17th annual Wiggle celebrate all things The Wig!
Wiggle 17
The House of Venus has put together a wig-tastic line up of performers, artists, models and musicians to entertain and dazzle the audience.
Hosted by Miss Cotton Venus with performances by:

  • Robyn Graves
  • Connie Smudge
  • Carlotta Gurl
  • Burgundy Brixx
  • House of LaDouche
  • Pussy Willow
  • Crystal Precious
  • Vera Way

Soundtrack for the evening from Jef Leppard and visual stimulation by http://www.wayoutwest.tv/

Great prizes, performances and wig sale add to the fun with partial proceeds going to A Loving Spoonful. Doors open at 8pm and the festivities start at 9pm with late night dance party starting at 11pm with DJ’s Adam Dreaddy, Mumbles and Quest.

Grab a ticket and we’ll see you there!

What’s on Wednesday – April 7-9, 2011

Another weekend is coming up! What are you going to do?
Here’s a few choices that I think are pretty cool.

Thursday April 7, 2011
– All-girl Belgian Choir “Scala & Kolacny Brothers” are at Commodore Ballroom Vancouver
– “Riverdance” is burning up the stage in Vancouver at Queen Elizabeth Theatre until April 10th
– Over in Victoria, world fusion band Dehli 2 Dublin are playing at Sugar Nightclub
– George Bernard Shaw’s The Philanderer is at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Stanley Theatre through to April 17

Friday April 8, 2011
– Julio Iglesias is singing ‘to all the girls’ at River Rock Casino in Richmond
– The hilarious Wayne Brady is at Red Robinson Theatre at Boulevard Casino Coquitlam
– “Bright Eyes” bring their indie/folk to Commodore Ballroom
– Get your hip-hop on in two different venues: At Five-Sixty there’s fun and charity with Japan Disaster Relief Benefit with Lighta & Friends and at The Colbalt go for some hip-hop drag queen fun at Hustla,

Saturday April 9, 2011
– “The Knocks” from NYC are playing Lucky Bar in Victoria
– Julio Iglesias gets knickers in a twist in Coquitlam at Boulevard Casino’s Red Robinson Theatre
– There’s good time’s and dancing in Five-Sixty at Progression ft local fave DJ’s Dready, Quest & Jeffrey Michael
– ‘Another Home Invasion‘ continues through April 23rd at Arts Club Theatre Revue Stage

Sunday April 10, 2011
– The beautiful and talented Ellie Goulding is at Venue
– Brit Band Foals are at Commodore Ballroom

Top 10 Theatre (musical/play) Etiquette Do’s & Don’ts

In our continuing series of Top 10 Do’s & Don’ts we come to Theatre, although similar to going to the movies Theatre does have it’s own etiquette so everyone enjoys the show.

1. DO arrive on time, you may not be allowed to enter the auditorium if you’re late.
2. DON’T need to be overdressed, no need to get out your Sunday finest, just dress comfortably, casually and appropriately.
3. DO switch off your mobile phone or at least put it on silent.
4. DON’T not talk or whisper during the performance, it not only disrupts the audience but can distract the performers.
5. DO bring cough drops and tissues so you can preemptively stifle a cough or tickle in your throat or a sneeze.
6. DON’T bring snacks or beverages into the auditorium, you’ll have a chance to nibble and sip during the intermission.
7. DO applaud, laugh and exclaim as appropriate but do not go overboard, the patrons are here to see the performance onstage not the one you’re putting on.
8. DON’T sing along at a musical, save it for karaoke or Sing-Along-Sound of Music. Buy a soundtrack and sing along to your hearts content in the car on the way home.
9. DO bring your child (it’s never to early to expose them to the arts) if the production is appropriate and you think your child can sit quietly and still for over 2 hours.
10. DON’T feel obliged to participate in a standing ovation. Applaud the end of songs, scenes and finale but standing can be reserved for those moments you’re moved by a once in a lifetime performance.

CelticFest Vancouver

Coinciding with Saint Patrick’s Day the annual celebration of Celtic heritage, CelticFest Vancouver brings Celts from all country’s, not just Ireland, to downtown Vancouver. With a wide range of ticketed and free events on offer throughout the downtown core from March 16 – 20, 2011 CelticFest is Western Canada’s largest Celtic Festival.
Dozens of concerts, dances, pub & restaurant specials happen all over the city most of them are free to the public. Check out the schedule to find something nearby and of interest to you!  The Celtic Village & Street Market runs Saturday and Sunday on Granville Street with entertainment, food and vendors sharing the Celtic experience.
The Highlight of the weekend is the CelticFest Parade on Sunday March 20th.  Running from Howe & Drake Streets north to Georgia, ending at Granville & Georgia near the Celtic Village.
Even if there isn’t any Celt in you, head out and get your jig on!

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical

Currently in previews at The Palace Theater on Broadway, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert: The Musical is based on the 1994 movie of the same name.
The a rousing tale of three drag queens discovering themselves as they take a road trip across the Australian outback in the title character…a big pink bus.
While camping is a part of their journey across the country, CAMP is a big part of the show! While not in the traditional Broadway musical style, the show highlights some great choreography and vocals to some of everyone’s favourite pop songs.  Starting off with a rousing rendition of “It’s Raining Men” sung by ‘The Divas’, a threesome of ladies who sing the numbers when drag queens perform & lipsync; “Sempre Libre”, “Shake Your Groove Thing” “MacArthur Park” or “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.  A number of these big production numbers are ‘drag shows’ within the show and feature over the top costumes, in fact there are 320 costumes used in this production. From a movie that won the Oscar for Best Costumes, the musical has a lot to live up to and indeed it does.
Other smaller numbers, like “I Say A Little Prayer”, “Always On My Mind” and “We Belong” help the story along, featuring the vocal talents of the very capable casts.  Leads Will Swenson, Tony Sheldon and Nick Adams have spent the last 12 weeks in Toronto before bringing the production

Leads: Tony Sheldon, Will Swenson, Nick Adams

to Broadway. This trial has given Swenson and Adams time to grow into their roles and I’m sure it helped them get used to the small costumes and very high-heels, Sheldon has played Bernadette in every production since the show debuted in Sydney in 2006 so was already ‘wearing’ the role like a dress.
Familiar music, outstanding sets and costumes along with a good story make Priscilla Queen Of The Desert a feel good, dancing in your seat, sing-along (but please don’t) rousing good time!
If you get the chance to see it when it in previews or when opens on Broadway March 20th, or even in London’s West End, you will have a smile across your face when you leave.

48Hrs In The Big Apple

Recently, my friend May & I had an opportunity to make a quick getaway to New York City.  After our recent daytrip to LA for The Ellen Show, she applied for a variety of other talk shows that we thought might make good excuses for excursions and adventures.  This time she got tickets to The Martha Stewart Show in NYC.  While we could have done this as a day trip too we decided that we’d stay overnight and have an extra day in the big city.
The timing of the Cathay Pacific flights from YVR to JFK are perfect for a quick getaway as being red-eyes, they maximize your time in the city.  We headed out on Sunday night at 10pm PST and arrived in NYC at a bright an early 6am local time (if you are able to sleep on the plane, which I rarely do, it’s even better).  Luckily we both have NEXUS so can speed through customs and were out on our way immediately.  Taking public transit from JFK to midtown Manhattan is easy, in less than an hour we were off the subway at Penn Station and walked the four blocks to the Fairfield Inn Manhattan/Chelsea which was super convenient located in the Flower District on the edge of Chelsea and Midtown.

Flower shops line 28th Street

  Being so early we expected to just leave our bags and then head back out to the city but happily the room was ready and they allowed us to have the complimentary breakfast too. Bonus!!
After a quick change, shower and bite we were recharged and ready to go.
This was only May’s second trip to the Big Apple and my 4th so we pooled our experiences to show each other parts of the town that we’ve found and liked. First we headed uptown to Columbus Circle and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the lobby lounge has one of the best views in the city. Located on the 35th floor and open to non-guests it’s a great spot to take in a (reasonably priced for NYC) refreshment and enjoy an amazing view of Central Park. 

Central Park from the Mandarin Oriental Lobby Lounge

After a pot of tea and some star spotting…Ian Somerhalder of The Vampire Diaries was having breakfast at the next table…we were back on our adventure.
Walking along Central Park towards The Plaza Hotel and Fifth Avenue, we tried for some more star spotting as Gossip Girl was filming in The Plaza but just saw a big group of extras and none of the cast. Wandering down Fifth Avenue browsing in the boutiques and shops we ended up at Rockerfeller Center, we’d both done it before

Skating Rink at Rockerfeller Centre

and we’d highly recommend visiting the Top Of The Rock and taking in the amazing views from the roof the the Center. We stopped in at the nearby branch of the famed Magnolia Bakery for some mid-morning sustenance. Then over to Times Square for the true tourist experience and the amazing hustle and bustle.  While there we checked at the box office of The Palace Theater to enquire about tickets for that evening’s preview of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, we’d seen discounted tickets on Travelzoo and luckily the box office was able to honour the discount and save us the $9.50 Ticketmaster service fee!

Marquee at The Palace Theater

It was now midday so we thought we’d venture into a new area of town and headed downtown to the FI-DI (Financial District) to check out Wall Street,

In the Fi-Di

I’d told May a few times about Stone (Pearl) Street and what a great place it is too hang out…in the summer it’s better as the street is filled with tables and all the restaurants serve in the street. In the frigid winter everyone is indoors.
From the FI-DI it was a short walk over to Century 21 for some discount shopping, if you don’t know about it check it out next visit…it’s madness!
After a few purchases we meandered through SOHO and into the West Village for more boutique browsing and bargain purchases at Uniqlo and Marc Jacobs.  All the while on our ventures the sights, sounds and smells of the city filled our senses, people watching is a major sport in a city like New York.
While roaming the West Village a friend emailed to say he had us on the guest list to check out a band showcase at the Mercury Lounge at 7pm. Since it’s an iconic venue we jumped a the chance but it was already 5pm so we needed to hurry back to the hotel to drop off our shopping and again refresh for the rest of the evening’s adventure.  Catching a taxi to the Mercury was a classic New York moment, from standing in the street to hail it to the ‘edge of your seat’ drive through heavy traffic to the lower east side.

Noxshi at Mercury Lounge

The band Noxshi, was late coming on so we only got to catch a couple of songs of their showcase but still interesting and entertaining even in that small of a dose.
The next taxi was again a thrill ride as it raced it’s way up the east side to get to Times Square, but the driver made up twice the distance we’d gone earlier in less than half the time.
Getting to The Palace Theatre with time to spare we found our seats for Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.  Still just in previews the

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

musical, based on the 1994 movie of the same name, is an amazing spectacle: over-the-top costumes, outstanding vocals and choreography plus a big pink bus onstage…what more could you ask for?
After a great time at the show we met another friend at Junior’s in Times Square, famed for it’s cheesecake, we had to try a slice! Yum! Besides the tasty food and good company, people watching was the order of business as all walks of life cross through the Time’s Square area.
Finally after lingering at Junior’s for a couple hours we made a quick trip into Times Square for a ‘tourist’ pic under the lights

Alex, May & Jay in Times Square

 and a quick jaunt into the massive Forever 21 branch so I could get a second opinion on a jacket…shopping never sleeps either!
Back to the hotel for a little shut-eye, morning came too soon as we quickly packed up again after breakfast and then made our way a couple blocks to the Chelsea Studios for The Martha Stewart Show taping.
An incredibly organized experience (would you expect any less from Martha?!), even waiting for the show was an experience. 

Martha Stewart

Well known stand-up comic, Joey Kola, is the warm up guy and also tells us what we should expect and what’s expected of us during the show.  Quickly we are whisked into the studio where we are still able to take photographs right up until the taping starts. Martha’s celebrity guests for this live episode were Joan and Melissa Rivers, they were a fun duo for Martha to cook for/with. Other segments of the show were about Allergies and Sensitivities, featuring specialists in these fields.  After the taping we were again allowed to take pictures while Martha answered questions from the audience members. We were quite amazed at how unexpectedly interactive and accommodating Martha was to her audience. We really enjoyed the show, we’d do it again.
After the taping we roamed around the Meatpacking District,

Chelsea Market

through Chelsea Market and the East Village on the way to Union Square.  From there it was a quick subway uptown to Grand Central Terminal and again to sit and people-watch in Times Square before making our way back to the hotel to grab our bags and head out of the city to our flight home from JFK.  Overall we packed a whole lot of seeing the city into our 48hour trip, we were worn out but would probably do it again in a heart beat!