Vancouver Pride

Okay, so the latest, and hopefully last, update on the dreadful bedbugs situation is...and I don't want to jinx it but...I think they're finally gone!!

After over a month of torture and three false alarms, it seems the lil buggers have finally been exterminated for good as we have both been bite-free for ten days now. "Hi, my name's Rachel and I'm a bedbug victim"!

I honestly wouldn't wish that scourge on my worst enemy, it's terribly disconcerting to have something biting you in bed at night! You imagine them crawling up your pjs and in your hair and, if you think watching bugs on TV makes you squirm, imagine them under your pillow! They kept biting me on the wrist whenever I put my hand under there (for the cooler side of the pillow!), but the pest people are coming back for the final time tomorrow (fingers crossed!) to get rid of their droppings...lovely!!

And today is the first proper rainy day we've experienced in Van. It's odd, we associate it with sunshine and beaches now as it's been like that since we arrived three months ago, but apparently this is the usual. It's practically Ireland all over again except that bit warmer!! Still, I must admit in my best Irish accent that, "Ach sure I don't mind a bitta rain." If anything I welcomed some precipitation after all those dry months as I'm just not used to it! Furthermore, I was quickly running out of summer gear to wear but now I'm back in my trusty jeans again...result!

Last weekend was Vancouver's Gay Pride Parade '09 and can I just start by saying that, boy, do those gays know how to party!

As we overlook Davie Street - our beloved "gaybourhood" - we were right in the middle of the hullabaloo of it and got to see all the spectacles the city has to offer!

It began last Monday when I was working from home...at about twelve midday this loud pounding noise started from outside so I got up to investigate...and there was a makeshift beach set up outside one of the main gay clubs on Davie Street directly in front of our apartment, complete with DJ decks, beach balls, a BBQ and of course a whole host of dancing queens!!

Feverish techno was being pumped from two giant speakers either side of the decks and suddenly a flamboyant queen jumped onto the stage in six inch heels, hollering into the mic for "the girls" to get up on stage with him...and they did...for hours...and hours...all week.

This same routine happened ev every day for pretty much the next five days - peace until noon and then complete mayhem from 12pm to 12am - and by then it was not fun anymore. I have quite a demanding job and I'm only learning the ropes so, as much as I like a daytime party and random drinking, when you're trying to concentrate it's hard to listen to Kylie's Greatest Hits on repeat every waking moment!

I know I sound like such a granny and a huge party pooper but I'm not. I love having fun...just at appropriate times! You could say regimented times (I'm sure my boyfriend would agree!) but in my book the fact that it's a Tuesday during Pride is not a valid reason to max out your speakers.

The problem is that I can't close the balcony door as I need some fresh air circulating (this also happens to be the same week that there's a massive heatwave in Vancouver, breaking all records in history!) and putting the fan two inches from my face does not do the trick. I'd say the poor revellers were simply baking - I did hear a few of the MCs complaining about their make-up melting off - so I imagine it was wigs to the ground (those things are HOT!) and pleasanteries out the door as everyone got down on the floor!

However, I must admit that by the third day I'd become rather used to the booming drones and actually came to find it strangely comforting from my holed up, scorching apartment...it reminded me of a wee buzzing bee at my ear and it served to keep me amused!

And, I'm not afraid of my Bridget Jones side to admit that, yes, but there were quite a few songs I jumped up off the couch to dance to manically in the living-room on my own, and it made quite a nice change to my normal, mundane, weekday work mornings!!

Friday night was the real beginning of the madness - the Davie Street party. Since we live there, we thought we might get involved and thought it would be a 'community meeting' opportunity so to speak, so off we popped after a few quick drinks to make ourselves seen!

The street was cordoned off with railings along the sides and a DJ, food stalls and drinks down the middle, at $7 a head. $7 to walk along the street we walk on every day of the week?? Sure, sign me up!!

Turns out we were the only folk not dressed in full drag, and the only heterosexual couple for miles!

We queued (or "lined up" as you guys say, another minute difference between the two cultures that causes disproportionate confusion when thrown into a conversation!)for forty minutes while one of the most outrageous queens singled my boyfriend out, chatted him up and even got in a cheeky grope of his bottom before we were turned away as it was "full"...wait, so we're not allowed in by those who have come out, is this some twisted joke?! Talk about being on the margins of society - pretty poetic I suppose!

Saturday night we decided to really get in the swing of things and dressed up in all our finery for our friend Paddy's birthday, and also in hommage to all the madness of the weekend.

Hm...so...NO-ONE else got dressed up on the streets of Vancouver -- and I mean no-one -- not even the queens from the night before, so we were met with some strange stares amidst the crowds but we didn't let that stop us, especially after a few sups of Dutch courage!

Our motley crew varied from a Hula girl to an Indian, Freddie Mercury to Dog the Bounty Hunter, the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz to John McEnroe - tennis racket 'n' all!! We took the city by storm, drank too much booze and looked very dishevelled by the end of the night!

Then, like the party troopers that we are, we were up again early Sunday morning for the Pride Parade at noon. It was quite warm, we were quite hungover so we gobbled down a hotdog, rehydrated and naively thought we'd be home in an hour...but we forgot how much the gays know how to put on a show! Fast forward three hours later, minus two of the group we lost in the melee, there was still truck after truck of semi-naked men passing up on Beach Avenue, gyrating to the music! Not that I'm complaining of course, I was nearly drunk on all the six packs I saw, but without the calories!! Luckily, I was wearing butterfly wings (when in Rome!) which inadvertently protected my fair freckled Irish skin from the burning sun, while the lady directly across the road us on the parade route also thought ahead, bringing a purple umbrella with her...to cover her entirely naked body!

She had huge Gary Glitter style purple boots on, purple nipple tassles, and nothing else except for what God gave her! It was an odd sight for a Sunday morning - not something I'm used to - but it made me smile.

Only at Pride, eh?!

Monday morning and the fake sand was all gone, the beach balls deflated, and the sun umbrellas (s'umbrellas?!) chucked in the bin for another year! Davie Street returned to its normal laidback chic, the coffee shops bustled once again, the myriad fruit shops and bakeries re-opened, the droning music stopped and the drag queens hung up their wigs, at least for one weekend!

Again, we felt lucky to have been a part of this wonderful event, and honoured to share it with our proud neighbours. Here's to the 32nd Gay Pride in Vancouver in t-minus 364 days...and, who knows, maybe they'll even let us in this time!

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