Vancouver Art and Leisure's five-day Alternative Pride festival is proudly independent

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      Take a walk along any major shopping street this week, and it’s impossible to miss the windows adorned with rainbow-themed advertising. July and August play host to the annual Pride parade in most cities, and, since the late ‘80s, corporations have wanted to take part in the Pride narrative. Celebrating LGBT folks with messages of inclusivity on their storefronts and billboards, large brands have drawn mixed reactions from those in the community. While some view their involvement as a positive measure of acceptance, others criticize big companies for co-opting an event that began as a protest against the treatment of LGBT people—a persecution that many feel still persists in society.   

      For Vancouver Art and Leisure (VAL), an artist-run organization in the city, it’s important to honour the parade’s radical roots. Hosting its third annual Alternative Pride festival this week from August 1 to August 6, the collective has created a 15-event celebration that features more than 100 artists, and operates independently from big-budget sponsorship.  

      “We do not work with any corporations who exploit queer communities for financial gain,” says Matt Troy, artistic director of Vancouver Art and Leisure (VAL). “We are only funded by you, the people. We provide transgressive, artistic platforms free from corporate approval, government censorship, and restrictive art and culture regulations.”

      VAL’s choice of events and venues are characteristically DIY. Recently moving into a new home base—the Lab—after its previous location was damaged by arson, the organization remains dedicated to putting on parties in overlooked spaces all over the city. Warehouses, breweries, and boats are all sites for the collective’s festival events, with Troy and the team aiming to create new queer-friendly, safe spots for the week.

      “Our spaces have always been contested,” he says. “Our bodies have been legislated. Our culture has been moralized. We hang the Pride flag high and celebrate our version of an independent Alternative Pride.”

      This year will introduce a number of new events to the lineup. Filling the gap created by the cancellation of the Vancouver Pride Society’s annual Davie Street block party, VAL will host its own version of the popular afternoon. Titled Bears in Space, and operating in concert with the San Francisco gathering of the same name, the family-friendly festivities will include trampolines, food trucks, and bouncy castles, and will feature performances from feted local drag queens. The next evening, the Sunset Cruise will prove a fresh addition to the party roster, where 400 revelers will take off on a charter boat to celebrate the last evening of Pride week with international DJs. Events such as Drag Brunch and Pride in Chinatown, meanwhile, create quieter spaces to relax.

      To give back to the community, VAL has partnered with the LOUD foundation. An organization that grants scholarships to future leaders of the Canadian LBGT community, LOUD is hoping to raise $2,000 in donations across the Alternative Pride events.

      The festival passes start at $100, and can be purchased here.


      Alternative Pride event schedule

      Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

      Pride in Chinatown


      Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens (578 Carrall St)

      Price:  $15- Individual Tickets, or Pride Pass. 

      Gender roles play out on stage in this traditional Chinese Opera, which has been modified to feature contemporary Asian Drag. The event will star Rose Butch and Maiden China. Shay Dior hosts.


      Thursday, August 2nd

      Puppyteeth’s Annual Drag Carnival


      Rickshaw Theatre (254 E Hastings St)

      Price: $20 Individual Tickets, or Pride Pass.

      For one night only, drag performers from across the continent will delight and surprise. The event stars PuppyTeeth, Laila McQueen, Rubber Child, Lisa Limbaugh, and others.  


      Friday, August 3rd

      Pride is for Everyone!


      Open Studios (252 East 1st Ave.)

      Price: $25 Advanced Tickets, or Festival Pride Pass

      A pride party for everyone, everybody and every body, this event combines love and dancefloors. Billed as a gathering in a private and safe space to celebrate diversity, the event will celebrate the LGBT community with a massive sound system and state of the art visuals.


      Friday, August 3rd

      Vancouver Make Out Party


      VAL LAB (101 W 6th Ave)

      Price: $25 Advanced Tickets, or Pride Pass

      This make-out party is a rave designed for attendees to share body heat, make some new friends and lovers, and kiss the person they never knew wanted to kiss them back. Performers include Michael The Lion (Soul Clap, Razor-N-Tape, Philadelphia) and Kodemul (Por Detroit, Mexico City), and will be hosted by Continental Breakfast.


      Friday, August 3rd

      Night Supply Pride Qu333r Afterhours


      Secret Warehouse Location

      Price: $20 or Pride Pass

      Night Supply is an elusive afterhours party. This is a private queer space that starts at midnight and goes until sunrise, with high quality techno, custom staging, and exotic visuals.


      Saturday, August 4th

      Drag Brunch at Fayuca


      Fayuca Restaurant (1009 Hamilton Street)

      Price: $10 at the door, or Pride Pass

      On Pride Saturday, revelers can come together for a drag brunch and artisanal cocktails on a stunning Yaletown patio. Attendees will be entertained by international drag artists performing live. The event will feature Posse Es Posse (Mexico City),  Dolce Vida (Seattle), and  Sugar Rush, and will be hosted by Gluttony.   


      Saturday, August 4th

      Bears in Space- Vancouver Pride Street Party


      Red Truck Beer (295 East 1st Ave)

      Price: $15 Advanced Tickets, or Pride Pass

      Prepare for contact as L.A.'s interstellar "Bears In Space" is set to land in Vancouver. Trampolines, food trucks, blow up castles, and beer will be on offer, while international DJs play six hours of non-stop dance.


      Saturday, August 4th

      SPANK! | Lucky #13 | Pride Edition


      The Waldorf Hotel (1489 E Hastings St)

      Price: $30 Advanced Tickets, or Pride Pass

      SPANK! is a notorious pan-sexual multi-area fetish party where anything goes, and all are welcome. The event features specially curated fetish-only zones, and intimate spaces for everyone.


      Saturday, August 4th



      Vancouver Art and Leisure (101 W 6th Ave)

      Price: $25 Advanced Tickets, or Pride Pass

      BODYHEAT is Vancouver's longest running techno-focused queer dance party. The event mixes staging, visual effects, and lighting to create fresh environments to experience electronic music and new media forms.


      Saturday, August 4th

      Jackhammer Qu333r Afterhours


      Secret Warehouse Location

      Price: $20 Advanced Tickets, or Pride Pass

      Jackhammer is an event that features good music, community love, and sex positivity. It is designed as a safe space for all stripes of the LGBT community and allies to come together.


      Sunday, August 5th

      Backdoor Vancouver Pride


      The Waldorf Hotel (1489 E Hastings St)

      $60.00 Advanced Tickets,

      Vancouver's local international party brand, famous for their wild club and warehouse takeovers, returns to Vancouver as part of Alternative Pride. The event will feature five rooms of entertainment with state-of-the-art sound. The custom-curated Pride patio will showcase art cars, exhilarating installations, and multiple places for individuals to leave their inhibitions behind.


      Sunday, August 5th

      The Sunset Cruise


      Marine Dock A (750 Pacific Blvd)

      Price: $75 Advanced Tickets, or Pride Pass + Cruise Option 

      Journey to the horizon on an epic 400-person charter cruise ship. With internationally acclaimed DJs Josh Cheon (Dark Entries, Honey Soundsystem, SF), regularfantasy (Victoria, Vancouver), and DJ D.Dee (Vancouver).


      Sunday, August 5th/ August 6th 

      Por Detroit Qu333r Afterhours


      Secret Warehouse Location

      Price: $20 Advanced Tickets, or Pride Pass

      From the depths of Mexico City's underground to an undisclosed warehouse in Vancouver, Por Detroit brings two DJs spinning late-night tunes.