Best of Vancouver 2012 contributors' picks: Activities & Events
For the Georgia Straight’s 17th annual Best of Vancouver issue, our editorial team has spent months on the lookout for good deeds, weird urban details, and various howlers to highlight. Here’s our contributors’ picks for Best of Vancouver 2012.
Best place to get a beer buzz while knitting
Booze makes everything better, right? Knitting is no exception. Thanks to Knit Social, a knit-centric event company in Vancouver, finding a place to get knitty and tipsy has never been easier. From organizing knitting retreats to staging fibre festivals, cofounders Amanda Milne and Fiona McLean make sure you get your fibre and, um, firewater fill. Don’t miss their upcoming festival, Knit City, the first of its kind in Vancouver, on October 13 and 14 at the Croatian Cultural Centre.
Best Pride Parade moment
This year’s Pride march included a wonderfully emotional tribute to grand marshal David Holtzman, who died suddenly of a heart attack in Palm Springs. Signs by his friends and family declared that “David was a fighter”, “David was an uncle”, “David was a lover”, and “David was a prankster” to show his many sides. One of the signs even joked about his dancing. In his roles as director of operations with Out on Screen, executive director of A Loving Spoonful, and development director of Friends for Life, Holtzman left a lasting legacy. When the Holtzman contingent held up a giant photograph of him during the parade, it conveyed what a giant he was in our community.
Best Vancouver Folk Festival moment
Vancouver musician Dan Mangan is known for his tendency to bring his show into the audience. A particularly memorable demonstration of this came when the singer closed an evening of Vancouver Folk Music Festival performances at Jericho Beach Park this summer. As the trademark paper-lantern parade snaked its way through the crowd, Mangan strode out to the middle of the crowd with a stepladder hoisted over his head. He then proceeded to serenade the audience with “So Much for Everyone”. The sound of hundreds singing “ooh-oooh” as Mangan stood surrounded by audience members of all ages, lit by a lone lantern, was enough to give goosebumps. As the local indie folk singer fills increasingly large venues in his hometown, we hope he’ll continue this endearing tradition.
Best place to wear spandex with pride
For those who couldn’t travel to Italy, a small coffee shop in downtown Vancouver was the place to be to cheer on B.C. cyclist Ryder Hesjedal in his bid to win the 2012 Giro d’Italia. Musette Caffè, located at 1262 Burrard Street, opened in March. The cycling-themed café has a back-alley entrance close to the Hornby Street separated bike lane and plenty of prime space for two-wheeled parking. Named after the small food bags that riders carry during races, the café is filled with cycling memorabilia. In May, Musette Caffè became a hub for cycling fans hoping to see Hesjedal claim victory over a field of elite international competitors in the Italian bike race. And they were in luck. While sipping coffee and snacking, fans crowded around television screens watched Hesjedal ride his way into sporting history, becoming the first Canadian ever to win one of the grand cycling tours.
Best street concerts
That’s easy—Khatsahlano! Music + Art Festival. The Kitsilano 4th Avenue Business Association dreamed up this baby for the summer of 2011, lining up two dozen bands on five stages between Vine and Cypress streets. It came back bigger and even better in 2012, with Kathryn Calder, Bend Sinister, Chains of Love, the Zolas, and much more, all performing for free. Kudos to Grant McDonagh at Zulu Records for creating one of the most memorable days of the summer in Vancouver. Best of all, it’s free.
Best place for free outdoor concerts
The North Shore
From downtown Vancouver, head north across the Lions Gate Bridge or Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing for your pick of free outdoor concerts every summer. On Friday nights in North Vancouver, you have your pick of Live in Lynn Valley, at the Lynn Valley Village; Concerts at the Cove, in Deep Cove; and Evenings in Edgemont, in Edgemont Village. There are also the Cates Park Concerts on Saturdays, and Summerfest at Lonsdale Quay takes place in August with Sunday-afternoon concerts. West Vancouver, meanwhile, offers Sunday-evening shows at the foot of 14th Street in its Concerts by the Sea series. Musical styles at all six venues range from Cajun and country to folk and swing. Making these events even more magical is that everyone seems to get up and dance, from the tiniest tots to the most enthusiastic nonagenarians.
Best cleanup crew
This year, the Tzu Chi Foundation Canada worked with Food Waste Recyclers to divert 82 percent of the garbage from Telus TaiwanFest out of the waste stream. That’s pretty impressive when you consider that 16,000 meals were served at the festival’s street banquet along Granville Street during the Labour Day weekend.
Best place to unleash your inner Eddie Torres
Sunday Afternoon Salsa at Robson Square
Every summer, Stephen and Jennifer Dancey of SalsaVancouver.net and the Dancey Ballroom and Dance Studio host these free lessons, along with the help of numerous volunteers and eager newbies. Lessons take place at 3 p.m. on the expanse under Robson Street that is an ice rink in winter. The instruction is followed by demonstrations from some of Vancouver’s hottest dancers: everything from swing and belly dance to rueda and ballroom. The dance floor is open till 7:30 p.m., so people can shake their hips like Shakira; even people who claim they have two left feet are welcome.
Best proof that Vancouver can throw a decent party without pissing off the neighbours
2012 Honda Celebration of Light
On three separate nights this summer, hundreds of thousands of spectators lined 18 kilometres of beaches, staring up at the sky in rapt awe, waiting for 15 minutes of explosions. No one got hurt, not even a plate-glass window. Now, if only the fuckers would take their goddamn trash with them when they go.