Queer dance riot

Vazaleen promises smutty art and music for fags, dykes and straights

Camp-art creator and cultural provocateur Will Munro is ready to unleash his notorious Vazaleen party on Ottawa.

Munro has spent the last five years injecting life into Toronto club culture with the Vazaleen and Peroxide parties – both regularly filling clubs to overflowing.

The Vazaleen party was a huge success when it was held in Montreal in March. Munro says it’s now Ottawa’s turn.

Munro says the eclectic event attracts a “wildly mixed-up crowd” of fags, dykes, drag queens, straight kids – and everything in between.

Dubbed a “queer dance riot” Vazaleen Ottawa promises dirty videos and smutty art – both local and national- as well as a DJ performance by Munro himself.

It takes about five seconds of conversation with Munro to tap into the singular exuberance that has come to characterize Vazaleen. Consider Munro’s self-confessed objectives when he launched the project.

“It’s was about trying to create alternative queer spaces in the city,” Munro enthuses. “Trying to create venues that happen outside the confines of the gay village. Trying to create a space with a mixed crowd. Trying to create an event that was really as much about the music, and about live performing: bands, drag queens, drag kings and queer performers.”

So what do performance-focussed dance parties held in straight rock and roll clubs have to do with queerness? Well, in part at least, Munro is trying to reclaim rock and roll’s queer history.

“There is this crazy queer content, queer connections and influence on pop musical culture going on,” explains Munro. “If you just look under a lot of the rugs of rock and roll history, you start noticing that that queer presence is everywhere. In most genres influenced by rock and roll, it’s there.”

Munro notes that the glam of David Bowie or New Wave is where the influence is most noticeable, but look at punk rock and the queer presence and influence is just as rich.

Munro admits to being in a glam phase himself, when the Vazaleen idea first struck him, but the influences aren’t limited to that.

Interestingly, it was the thriving punk rock community surrounding the now defunct 5 Arlington music venue that first brought Munro to Ottawa. In high school and college Munro would often make the trek up from Toronto to see shows at the venue. And it was a like-minded friend from Munro’s 5 Arlington days who first suggested bringing the Vazaleen party to Ottawa.

Is Ottawa ready for Vazaleen? Munro hopes so. His event in Montreal attracted the same mix of people he has come to expect in Toronto. Hopefully that will translate to Ottawa, he says.

“People should expect a good time. They should expect a smaller thing than what happens in Toronto. They are going to get more of the dance party element that’s involved with Vazaleen. I would assume that they would probably expect as much of a diverse and mixed-up crowd.”



9pm. Fri, Sep 10.

SAW, 67 Nicholas St.

Tickets: $7 at the door.

Read More About:
Culture, Power, Activism, Ottawa, Arts

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