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Cultural Festival: Celebration Centre, Phantasia, Gayla!

A wide-angle shot of the crowd and open air Plaza of Nations, including the Plaza Stage.

The Plaza of Nations, including the Plaza Stage, at Celebration Centre.

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 Centre

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.

View this video with a transcript: “The Plaza Stage at Celebration Centre”

In the evening the plaza was transformed into the largest disco in the city, with a capacity of 2000 people.

A crowded disco evening at Celebration Centre's Plaza of Nations.

A disco night at Celebration Centre’s Plaza of Nations.

“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.

Enterprise Hall
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.

View video with a transcript: “Celebration ’90 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. 

The Phantasia! crowd dances to a musical performance by the band Two Way (Linda Lujan, Ricky Mann with special guests Joy Greenspoon and Bruce Tilden) at the Commodore Ballroom.

The band Two Way entertains the Phantasia! crowd.

International Mr. Leather and Empress XIX of The Dogwood Monarchist Society in the Dream Sequence, Act III of Phantasia! at the Commodore Ballroom.

Phantasia! dignitaries International Mr. Leather and The Dogwood Monarchist Society Empress XIX.

Rusty Ryan and Company perform at the Fantasy Ball, Commodore Ballroom.

Rusty Ryan and Company (including members of Toronto’s The Imposters and Miss Gay Vancouver Sushi Bar) perform “Cell Block Tango”.

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. 

Exterior shot of the Orpheum Theatre on Vancouver's Granville Mall and the Gayla! audience on a sunny summer evening.

The audience mingles outside the Orpheum Theatre for Gayla!

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.

View this video with a transcript: “Gayla! A Celebration of Women’s Culture”

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.

View this video with a transcript: “Ferron: It Won’t Take Long”