Drag queens, sparkles, rainbow crosswalks, leather pants, dykes on bikes, all night parties and Vancouver’s flagship event – all of these things could only mean one thing… PRIDE!
That’s right, the 36th annual Vancouver Pride Festival is one of the most anticipated events of the summer, and we’re already counting down the days and prepping our minds, bodies and souls for the uninhibited celebrations that will arise during this year’s Pride.
Beginning as a protest march in 1978, the Vancouver Pride Festival has evolved into the largest parade in Western Canada, and the 5th largest Pride celebration in the world. What began as a small event in 1981 has now grown into a landmark parade encompassing hundreds of people and city-wide festival attracting over 650,000 people from all four corners of the world to the streets of Vancouver. It is a chance for people to come together to show their support to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and to celebrate acceptance and the freedom to be who you are, no matter your ethnicity, sexuality, size or shape.
This year the Vancouver Pride Parade falls on Sunday, August 3rd. Consisting of over 150 floats the parade will start at 12pm on Robson Street and will make its way through the downtown West End to Sunset beach.
One of Blueprint’s largest nightclubs and the city’s most legendary LGBT nightclub – Celebrities – is in the heart of it all. We caught up with a couple of key Celebrities employees, James Steck, Chief Organizer of Pride Week Events, and Nelson Wong, long time bartender and Assistant Bar Manager at Celebrities to give us the scoop on their experience with Pride week over the years, and what to expect this year!
How long have you been involved in Pride week?
James: It’s been over 22 years for me now and it’s one of my busiest weeks of the year! We always have 6 days of events happening at Celebrities, from kick off parties, to amazing DJs and outrageous shows.
Nelson: I’ve been at Celebrities for over 10 years, and every year it is a marathon week for us! It’s probably more important than Halloween and New Years – so all of the staff prepare well in advance to be in top shape both mentally and physically to help everyone have a crazy, fun week. I love Pride week because it brings everyone together, and the people watching is at an all time high!
How do you think Vancouver’s Pride compares to other cities nationally and globally?
James: Each city is unique in it’s own way. Vancouver’s pride week is western Canada’s largest celebration. In terms of attendance, Toronto and Montreal may be bigger, but in what other city do you get to enjoy a great parade that runs along the Pacific Ocean – it’s absolutely amazing! We are also lucky to have the support we receive from our city officials. Look at last year – the city came out and painted the crosswalk on Davie Street in rainbow colours. Now that crosswalk stays there 365 days a year. So the city really embraces the situation – which is not something you see everywhere.
Nelson: Vancouver pride celebration is diverse, open, accessible and a celebration throughout the whole city – it really places us as a leader in accepting diversity in Canada. Everyone is welcoming and people show up, not just to celebrate the LGBT community but to feel free with who they are no matter what age, sexuality, size or ethnicity you are.
How have you seen Pride evolve over the years?
James: 35 years ago when it started it was more of a march… standing up for rights. Now it’s more of a celebration of acceptance and a big party for everyone to enjoy! We still have rights to fight for, but now it’s more of a celebration of how far we’ve come. Vancouver’s pride week has rapidly evolved over the years, and our city has hosted many LGBT events, including the Gay Games and Inter-pride, really putting Vancouver on the map worldwide and as a big support of the LGBT community.
Nelson: Because of the progress with the LGBT rights movement, the event has gotten way busier. The crowd is much more diverse, people are coming in from everywhere and celebrating and bonding with people from all walks of life. The parties have gotten more exciting and the people watching is much more hilarious.
What is your favourite part about Pride?
James: I love the buzz the week before Pride week – it gets everyone amped up, people are excited, businesses are excited about it, you can just feel it in the air. The parade day on Sunday is always amazing, everyone is decked out in costumes, rainbow colours everywhere, the streets are full and everyone is having a good time.
Nelson: I love the parade – It’s so amazing to see people showcasing what is unique about them, and embracing each other and themselves in so many ways. Everyone shows up and it becomes this beautiful crowd of people.
What events can Vancouverites expect to see out of Celebrities this year?
James: We’ve been planning this year’s events since January, so I’m really excited to say that we’ll be flying in entertainers every day for the week’s festivities – including Kitty Glitter who will be coming all the way from Australia! One thing I can’t stress enough to our guests is to pre-purchase tickets. The last thing you want to be doing is standing in line. Ticket holders are always a priority to get into the club and every nightclub in the village will have a long line up, so plan ahead!
Nelson: Every year we host the marathon even on Sunday following the parade and it’s always the best party of the week. We open early at 2:30PM and the afternoon party is free cover – so if you haven’t experienced the new Celebrities Nightclub yet, you can come down and do so without any hassle at the door!
Start preparing Vancouver – hit the gym and take your vitamins – because Pride week will be here before you know it! Don’t forget to check out Celebrities nightclub which will be hosting 6 packed days of parties, from July 29th until August 3rd. Book your tickets in advance at celebritiesnightclub.com!