11 November 2008

Check out our article in Xtra West!

From Xtra west: http://www.xtra.ca/public/Vancouver/Odd_Ball_lessons-5825.aspx

Odd Ball lessons
COMMUNITY / A dance revolution for a community of queers
Zena Sharman, Michael V Smith, Amber Dawn and Brie Grey-Noble / Vancouver / Thursday, November 06, 2008

'If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution.'

—Emma Goldman

Want to do something revolutionary?

Grab a dance partner, or two or three, without stopping to think about how others might judge your sexual orientation or gender identity.

Step out onto the dance floor. Wrap your arms around each other. It doesn't matter if your palms are sweaty or your rhythm is off. Savour the feeling of your bodies pressing together. Lose yourself in the music.

Though it may not be as newsworthy as a protest march, dancing is an important part of queer history and activism.

The Stonewall Inn, site of the momentous 1969 riot where our people fought back against homophobia, was the only gay bar in New York where dancing was allowed. Imagine what it must have felt like for the men and women who frequented the place to dance cheek-to-cheek with their lovers (which they must've done, even though they were under constant threat of violent police raids).

Almost 40 years later, despite all the significant social progress that we've enjoyed as a queer community, dancing is still a revolutionary act, a way queers take up space, flirt, express joy, show off dance moves, outfits, and bodies of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. It's how we make ourselves visible at bars and proms and wedding receptions. Dancing allows us to look across a crowded dance floor and think, "I am not alone."

We created The Odd Ball as a way to foster this feeling of community.

Back in 2004 we surveyed the parties that made up the Vancouver Pride celebrations. We asked ourselves: Where was the East Van event? The alternative music? Lezzies, fags, genderqueers and breeders all in one room?

Where was the diversity our Stonewall generation had fought so hard for?

The Odd Ball was our answer to these questions. We, Amber Dawn, Brie Grey-Noble, Michael V Smith and Zena Sharman, founded the party four years ago with our then co-organizer Morgan Brayton.

Our goal was to host a low-cost East Vancouver dance party where our fellow odd balls —a diverse community of queers, transfolk, kinksters, artists, activists, allies, and a surprising number of librarians —could feel at home.

In the years since, our annual Pride and Halloween parties boomed, thanks to the support and efforts of our dedicated party-goers, performers, sponsors, community partners, and volunteers.

So what's the recipe for a party that wins hearts and sells out every time?

Invite the best people you know. Include everyone who thinks 'queer' isn't an ugly word. Welcome them in; approach everyone with a generosity you reserve for your friends. Give them permission to be goofy.

Make your partygoers responsible for creating their own fun; give them the venue to do so. Share the party. Make it affordable and accessible. Put it in your neighbourhood. Invite community groups in. Don't expect artists to work for free. Treat your volunteers and performers well (feed them, give them free water, compliment their outfits, help them get laid).

The last Odd Ball —Die, Odd Ball! Die!!! —was held on Oct 31. People keep asking us why we retired such a popular party. The short answer is: we wanted to end on a high note.

The long answer is: a lot can happen in four years. Since founding the party we've started school, finished school, fallen in love, fallen out of love, gotten jobs, quit jobs, moved apartments, and one of us moved cities.

With 400-500 people turning out for a 250-person venue, we either would have had to sacrifice the intimate size of the party or disappoint a host of people by turning them away. We don't want to lose our momentum or passion for The Odd Ball, so we're calling it quits. We're making room for what comes next. (Who's next?)

We're doing it with heavy hearts, because it means the end of an era. The Odd Balls are always some of the most magical (and colourful!) nights of our year.

One Halloween, wearing nothing more than booties and a diaper, Michael V Smith had to bounce a very drunk and very salacious six-and-a-half-foot-tall cowboy out of the urinal.

Zena gets tears in her eyes when she remembers the Pride party where one of her dearest friends, a gay man who felt sad and out of place at a men-only Pride event, had an amazing time at The Odd Ball because it felt like home.

And she feels a bit of cheeky pride when she remembers the barely-out-of-the-closet Odd Ball volunteer who lost his gay virginity in a threesome after another of our parties!

Over the last four years, Amber Dawn has lost three pasties, one hair weave and countless pairs of panties at The Odd Ball; she has also discovered many of her favourite drag identities, including the infamous Horsey Girl. (Ah, the queer universe giveth and the queer universe taketh away!)

Brie, aka DJ Titz McGee, has cued the music for aerialists, stilt walkers, burlesque dancers, drag royalty, and even a troupe of synchronized swimmers.

We The Odd Ball thank everyone who has supported our parties over the years —the folks who waited hours in line (in the most incredible costumes!); the gifted performers who entertained us; the DJs who kept us dancing all night long; the dedicated, self-sacrificing volunteers who helped make the night run smoothly; the partners who donated prizes, advertising and their time; and the WISE Hall for being The Odd Ball's home.

You are our Odd Ball family and we hope that you keep the party's spirit alive in your hearts, in your communities and in your neighbourhoods.

Like the song that closed every Odd Ball says, "Don't stop believing, hold on to the feeling." And never take for granted that pressing your queer body against other queer bodies to the beat of your favourite song is a revolutionary act.

02 November 2008

Thank-you! Thank-you!!!

Dear Odd Balls,

Thank you for making Die, Odd Ball! Die!!! such a huge success! We were thrilled to celebrate our last party with a roomful (and we mean FULL) of spooky, sexy, fun-loving people. You folks were the heart of our parties for the last four years, so thanks a million for sending The Odd Ball off in style.

Special thanks to our hardworking volunteers, our amazing DJs (Mickey Moniker, Buzy B, and Ruggedly Handsome), our talented performers (Elaine and T, Ed and Majik of DKUnited, Isolde N. Barron and the Fag Hag Cabaret, and VaVa Vunderbust), our dedicated community partners (YouthCo and ManCount), our generous sponsors (Rhizome Cafe, Spartacus Athletic, The Kiss Store, and Xtra West), and our party's home, The WISE Hall.

To any partygoers who accidentally left stuff at the party, please contact The WISE Hall about lost and found items. The phone number is 604-254-5858.

We would also like to respond to some concerns raised by partygoers about seeing people in racist costumes at Die, Odd Ball! Die!!! We work hard to create safe, inclusive, accessible, and prejudice-free spaces at our parties. While Hallowe'en is a time to play with identity - to put on a costume and become someone else for an evening - we urge everyone to think twice about 'putting on' a stereotypical racial or ethnic identity (particularly one that isn't your own) as a costume. If you'd like to read more about this idea, check out this thoughtful blog post at Racialicious. Some of us have also found this essay on white privilege to be a helpful reminder of our complicity in everyday racism.

If you have any questions or comments for us, please drop us a line at oddball@michaelvsmith.com. Thanks again to everyone who came together with us to celebrate Die, Odd Ball! Die!!! We hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Team Odd Ball (Amber Dawn, Brie, Michael V., and Zena)

01 November 2008

Did Anyone Meet ManCount at Odd Ball?

Count yourself in! The ManCount survey team is recruiting gay and bisexual men to participate in a new sexual health research project in Vancouver. This anonymous and confidential survey aims to gather important information on HIV, syphilis, and other sexually transmitted infections affecting our community.

Look for the ManCount survey team in bars, bathhouses, clubs, and bookstores around the city for your opportunity to count yourself into this important community health project. In addition, we’ll give you $10 in appreciation for your time and support. For more information, please visit our website at www.mancount.ca.

31 October 2008

It's raining!

Hi Odd Ball party-goers!

You've probably noticed it's raining. Please keep in mind that our line-up outside is, unfortunately not covered. We're going to do our best to accommodate everyone, but please dress for the weather and bring an umbrella. YouthCo are operating our coat cheque by donation and, as always, we'll be handing out treats to you while we wait in line.

Also, we're very excited that there will finally be a satellite bar inside the hall this time! That means less crowded lines for the one bar. Keep your eyes peeled for the WISE Hall satellite bar in addition to the regular bar.

See you tonight! Keep dry, be safe and have fun!

xo Amber Dawn, Brie, Michael and Zena

29 October 2008

Ruggedly Handsome is back again!

Ruggedly Handsome

The only DJ other than Titz McGee to have played music and made you dance at EVERY Odd Ball, DJ Ruggedly Handsome is back to send the Odd Ball off in style. She's a lover of good songs with an affinity for girl bands, think The Slits not the Spice Girls. On occasion she has been known to take her musical cues from her feline companion. This Scorpio is very in touch with her feelings and has been bringing the dance party to your living rooms, bedrooms, libraries, lezzie bars, basements, and community centers since 2004.

Get ready for some hair-raising tunes!

Titz McGee is back for her final Odd Ball! Without a doubt she'll get your zombie feet shufflin' around the dance floor with some ghoulishly ghastful, bloodcurdling sounds.


21 October 2008

Mickey Moniker, back for a second ghoulish year!

Mickey Moniker mostly grew up absorbing American television, back when MTV showed music videos and "New Wave" was still almost "New". He's been DJ'ing in Vancouver for several years now under an assortment of names, specializing in underexposed and forgotten musical nuggets over the "Will & Grace" and Top40 fare.

mickey moniker

Mickey can now be heard spinning an assortment of spacedisco/new wave/italo/electro at 1181's weekly Roboteria nights and at Audio Teabag at DVC. He also spins for the bears & cubs at events like GRIP & Bear Bounce, along with various local fetish nights. You may even remember him from Uncanny nights at Lick, or last year's Halloween edition of the Odd Ball. His favourite Halloween candy is peanut butter cups... left overnight in the fridge.

17 October 2008

Isolde N. Barron strikes again . . .

From Classic Diva to Sea Witch, Isolde N. Barron has both charmed and shocked many Vancouver stages, including For the Girls, Bent, Odd Ball from the Crypt, Uncanny and High School Confidential. Get ready for another eye-popping, jaw-dropping (and perhaps even slightly stomach-turning) number from Isolde N. Barron and her creepy company.

16 October 2008

Taiko with a Dangerous Twist ...

Odd Ballers have loved the live vocal stylings of Crystal Precious and Ryan Hinds - now get ready for the first live taiko drumming at Die Odd Ball Die. Our first stage performance of the (fright) night features taiko with a spooky, sexy twist: T and Elaine Miller.

An internationally recognized teacher, performer and master taiko drummer, T has been doing taiko performances in Vancouver for the past 3 years. Elaine Miller is a performer known for laying down some serious beats. Together they're a spooky duo doing the rhythm method.

15 October 2008

DKUnited and Odd Ball reunited!

Remember the Ambiguously Gay Duo number at Pride Odd Ball? The cuties from DKU are returning to bid Odd Ball a boi-tastic goodbye.

From the DKUnited crew, drag kings Majik and Edward Malaprop will be bringing their talents to the Oddball stage this Halloween. Majik is a hip-hop dancer, choreographer extrordinaire and culinary enthusiast. Edward is a professional nerd currently focusing on a fine arts minor. They both worked on the International Drag KingCommunity Extravaganza (IDKE) Vancouver in 2007 and are board members of its organizing body, the Bent Umbrella Queer Performing Arts Society (bentumbrella.blogspot.com).

11 October 2008

Va Va returns!

She thrilled us last Halloween with her giant, knife-wielding doll number. The mistress of props, the goddess of costumes, and the queen of va-voom, the one the only Va Va Vunderbust is back again for Die Odd Ball Die.

10 October 2008

Special Guest DJ

Beth Allen also known around Vancouver as DJ/MC Buzy B, has been rocking out for 5 years. She started collecting records before she had a record player and loves to get lost in record stores digging threw the dollar record section. Her passion for all types of music can be heard in her sets as she might drop an old school rock tune or maybe some jazz. Her focus lies in Hip Hop, Soul and R&B. She's DJ at The People's Prom, Sistahood Celebration, and is a feature DJ at Toby's Pub.

Odd Ball update!

Die, Odd Ball! Die!!! After four fun-tastic years we're throwing our final party on Halloween night. Featuring... ghoulish go-go dancers, eye-popping performances and our ever-popular costume contest!

Dance to the sounds of Odd Ball faves, including DJ Titz McGee, and special guest Buzy B.

Performances by VaVa Vunderbust, Isolde N. Barron, DKUnited, Elaine Miller and taiko drummer Ronin T.
Come party with us and celebrate Odd Ball's final "scream" at the WISE Hall (1882 Adanac St @ Victoria Drive)

Friday October 31, 2008
10 bucks flat rate. No advance tickets - tix ONLY at the door so come early. Treats for folks waiting in the line-up.
Sorry, no minors.
Limited wheel-chair access through the rear doors: please contact organizers in advance if you have accessibility needs. oddball@michaelvsmith.com

Thanks to XtraWest for being the Odd Ball’s media sponsor. And to our community partners; YouthCo, Rhizome Cafe, The Kiss Store and Spartacus Gym.

28 September 2008

14 August 2008

Wondering about Vancouver's Queer History?

Well then, wander on over to the newly launched Queer History Project. It's an interactive site chockful of resources and information about Vancouver's Queer History. Check it out!

01 August 2008

What is your super power?

Those fabulous folks at Out On Screen have given us a pair of tickets to the screening of Confessions of a Sorta Str8 Drag King on Saturday August 23rd at 7PM. The documentary film features footage of Vancouver's very own Stilettos and Strap-Ons!

Vancouver Queer Film Festival

If you'd like to win these tickets start charging up your super powers now. The Odd Ball team will be choosing the winner of these tickets based on who has the best super power at Super Queer-O Odd Ball on Sunday night.