5 Can’t-Miss Vancouver Pride Events
Pinq editor Steven Schelling's guide to Pride.
August 3, 2017
This year marks the 39th annual Vancouver Pride Parade. Or does it?
Like any family, Vancouver’s LGBTTIQQ2S community—that’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning and two-spirit—has its share of disagreements. One of the longest-running stemming from when, exactly, the first official march through the West End took place. Was it 1978? 1979? 1980? Or was it in 1981 at the first-ever Gay Unity Week?
Luckily, we’ve never let record-keeping get in the way of a fabulous party, which is probably why we’ve been arguing about this point for nearly four decades.
This year’s latest contretemps forced the Vancouver Pride Society to navigate between the demands of a zealous Black Lives Matter movement (and their supporters) and a baffled Vancouver Police Department (and their supporters). Predictably, the final result—that police will march in the Pride Parade, but not in uniform—has left neither side particularly happy.
Luckily, we’ve never let hot-button issues get in the way of a fabulous party, which is probably why we’ll be arguing over police inclusion levels for the next four decades.
And, just like any family, we come together for Pride, a.k.a. “Gay Christmas.” It’s a chance to celebrate how far we’ve come in terms of equality while still acknowledging how far we have yet to go. And, no matter who you are, you’re welcome to join us!
In that spirit of inclusiveness and conviviality, here are our picks for Pride Week events:
This annual outdoor street party shuts down Davie Street between Burrard and Bute, turning the main drag of the “Gaybourhood” into an all-ages dance party with DJs, drag shows and live performances. Sidewalk service from the local watering holes as well as an onsite beer garden will keep the night well lubricated.
When: Friday, August 4 (6 p.m. to 11 p.m.)
Where: Davie Street
Admission: $5 Pride Pass, available online
Guaranteed to get you in the party mood, this eight-member local funk band gets horn-y for its fourth annual Pride Concert at the Commodore Ballroom in front of thousands, with special guests What It Is! and the queen of Canadian soul, Dawn Pemberton.
When: Friday, August 4 (8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.)
Where: Commodore Ballroom (868 Granville Street)
Tickets: $30, available online
This annual, by-donation community pancake breakfast honours one of the founders of the Vancouver Pride Society, the inimitable Terry Wallace, at the newly minted Jim Deva Plaza. Breakfast is by donation and all funds benefit the Vancouver Pride Society.
When: Saturday, August 5 (8 a.m. to 10 a.m.)
Where: Jim Deva Plaza
Admission: By donation
The Dyke March takes place in the traditional lesbian stronghold of Commercial Drive and is a much smaller, more intimate and more political event than the big parade that follows the next day. Case in point: last year’s Grand Marshals were Black Lives Matter. This year it’s Sex Workers United Against Violence. Following the parade, a wonderful family-friendly festival takes place in Grandview Park featuring live entertainment and food vendors in a relaxed atmosphere.
When: Saturday, August 5 (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Where: McSpadden Park and along Commercial Drive to Grandview Park
This is what you’ve all been waiting for! The main event takes place at noon sharp when the Dykes on Bikes ride their choppers along the parade route. Prime viewing spots: the corner of Robson and Denman with your hostess, the Unstoppable Conni Smudge and at Davie and Denman where former Empress of Vancouver, Joan-E has been riding the mic for 18 years. Follow the last float along Pacific Boulevard to the Festival Grounds at Sunset Beach.
When: Sunday, August 6 (12 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
Where: Parade route starts at Robson and Thurlow, runs along Denman and ends at Pacific and Thurlow. Festival takes place at Sunset Beach.