ART, MUSIC

A Ball, A Shindig, A Hoedown, Nah, Better, It’s The People’s Prom

(Unused promotional piece written for the 2005 People’s Prom)

“There’s nothing happening. This city sucks.”

Ho-hum.

How long have people been knocking Van’s night life? It’s old now people. You got no reason to whine like the spoiled westcoast babies you are when there’s amazing shit being organized by your peers.

Check it out: it’s called the People’s Prom and it’s gonna knock your knee-high socks off. Has it been so long since you’ve had a good boogie that you can’t even do the side-to-side shuffle that was so hot in Grade 6? Are you too much of a whiner you don’t have anybody to obligingly take you on a date, even on February 14? Well, pookums, you can solve these problems and more when you take yourself to the People’s Prom on this Valentine’s Day.

It’s the fifth anniversary of this revolutionary spin on a traditionally embarrassing and chaperoned event, and this year’s shaping up to be the best. So says original conceptualist Sara Rozelle. In 2000, fellow activists and herself needed funds to participate in the protests at Montreal’s G20 meetings. A night of dress-up, dancing and camaraderie became the means by which to get there. The night was such a success, Sara recalls, that the People’s Trust Fund was born.

In a city with an incredible variety of educated and concerned individuals who not only want to change things for the better but are actively doing so there is squat for help. Rather than leave them in the dust of collapsed hearts, people like Sara and her friends are providing a helping hand and making it hella fun in the process. The idea is to raise funds for local activist groups by recreating your prom during a night where everyone is welcome (not just the popular kids – fuck ‘em), and do it on the holiday most likely to induce irrepressible vomiting.

“We are reclaiming Valentine’s Day,” she says with enthusiasm. Rather than succumb to “the consumer society’s need to prop up sales after Christmas,” Sara and the folks who organize the People’s Prom want to celebrate romance and fun. Any money spent at this year’s locale, the Grandview Legion on the Drive, will go to local activists, not Hallmark. Your ticket ain’t for some crap overpriced “romantic” restaurant, no; this year, your meager $5 ticket price will go to “non-profit organizations for use in direct action against the two Campbells.”

Rachel Rees, another organizer, believes the Prom is “a perfect melding of local activism and fun times.” Heck, where else in this city could you sweat it out to five dj’s with a few hundred hot boys and girls in frilly dresses and cummerbunds, all the while knowing when the time is right you will find yourselves together in The Chopper Booth, equipped with adjoining bike seats, perfect for the kisses to begin? If you aren’t ready for that kind of commitment, there’s the standby marvel: the Kissing Booth, which is just what it sounds like. No, I’m not making this shit up. The People’s Prom is going to rock. Prom queen and kings will be crowned, there’s even going to be a freaking piñata. Hopping the Legion will be.

The last few years have sold out, as both Sara and Rachel were excited to point out. “It’s cheap so it’s accessible,” Rachel notes. Sara adds, “People get into character when they are encouraged to dress as flamboyant as possible.” Rachel retorts, “The crazier the outfit, the more accepted you’ll be.” This free and wild atmosphere, Sara cheers, causes “people (to) dance who may not normally.” I tell you, the girls were bouncing off the walls about this thing.

I figure I’ve got it: The People’s Prom is about fun. It’s about mingling, dancing, grooving in a way you thought would always throw your back out. It’s about love, the kind that doesn’t dare use the word. There may even be a few surprise embraces, the kind that make your night, not make you need a scrub-down. New friends are made on nights like these.

Damn fool, I’m getting caught up in Rachel and Sara’s vibe. Let’s take it down a notch and give me something to leave the people with. Their answer: “The People’s Prom itself is a piece of creative resistance; our hope is it will inspire other activists and artists to throw events, fundraisers and not be stopped by barriers they may see.”

That’s what I’m talking about. Sticking it to the man with a red carnation in one hand, your friends in the other and some jive-a-jive-jive-jiving feet carrying you through a night’s full of fun-loving (emphasis on “loving”) songs.

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