Celebration ’90’s Cultural Festival was an ambitious public program occurring at multiple venues over the week of the Games. It was significantly larger than anything previous Gay Games had undertaken.
Celebration ’90 took over one of the city’s best known venues, The Plaza of Nations entertainment complex, for the duration of the Games. It was transformed into Celebration Centre, “the heart of the Gay Games festivities”.
Plaza of Nations & Plaza Stage
This open-air plaza connects B.C. Place with the north shore of False Creek and the Vancouver Sea Wall. Free during the day and publicly accessible it gave the curious public an opportunity to experience the spirit of the Games.
The outdoor Plaza Stage featured musicians, comedians, dancers, street performers, and special concerts by the Festival Chorus.
In the evening the plaza was transformed into the largest disco in the city, with a capacity of 2000 people.
“Women All Night Long”, a special evening aimed at the women’s community but open to all, was held there. It included performances by Seattle’s Venus Envy, Toronto singer/activist, Faith Nolan, and comedian Robin Tyler. This event was produced and funded solely by women. An extraordinary $10,000 was raised from 80 women in 20 minutes at a fundraiser hosted by Tyler.
Adjoining the Plaza was Enterprise Hall, another vibrant gathering space for Games participants and the public. It had a food fair, beer and wine garden, and the Artisan Market.
The Artisan Market was the first of its kind for the Gay Games. International vendors sold a variety of merchandise including photography, stained glass, jewelry, clothing, visual art, chain mail, leather goods, and even tattoos.
Phantasia! at the Commodore Ballroom
Phantasia! International Fantasy Ball was the largest official event for the drag and leather community at Celebration ’90. This three-act extravaganza featured Canadian drag artists Bill Monroe, Jay Dee René, and Rusty Ryan who shared M.C. duties. They performed alongside colleagues Big Wigs, Sandy St. Peters, Myria LeNoir and Imelda Mae.
Act III featured a dream sequence and ceremonial procession of local and visiting dignitaries and monarchs. Each introduction was prefaced with a voice proclaiming “Here cometh the Dreamer” (after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech). Dignitaries included local and International Mr. Drummer, Leather title-holders, Empress and Emperors of the Dogwood Monarchist Society; Mr. and Miss Gay Vancouver, and Chief and Princess of The Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society Two-Spirit.
The band Two Way got the Commodore Ballroom’s horsehair-sprung dance floor bouncing.
Gayla! at the Orpheum Theatre
Gayla! A Celebration of Women’s Culture took place at the Orpheum Theatre on August 10th.
Mistress of Ceremonies was American fumerist (feminist-humourist), Kate Clinton. Performers included local favourites: Heidi Archibald and The Blatant Blues Band, and the Japanese-Canadian drum ensemble collective, Katari Taiko. Betty, a trio of New York sisters (described as “the Marx brothers on acid”) performed a cabaret-style set.
Vancouver legend, Ferron, closed out the show. A much-loved and respected singer-songwriter, Ferron inspired a generation of women through her music and her support of the lesbian community.