opinion & features
A new kind of party is coming to Winnipeg from Toronto for this year’s Pride, hosted by Toronto artist and DJ Lauren Hortie and Winnipeg’s own Hannah Godfrey. Godfrey recently launched her queer dance night “PegGay-Licious” as DJ MonkeySparrow with fellow artist DJ Stagpanther. This June, they’re inviting Hortie to bring her “Steers & Queers” party to our city.
“I wanted to do this because firstly, I like music. Secondly, I like to dance. Thirdly, I like to make other people dance,” says Godfrey. “Fourthly, I love the queers, breeders, don’t-label-me’s, lesbians, trans, benders, straights, homos, gays.”
Godfrey, who is the programming co-ordinator at aceart inc. (an artist-run centre in the Exchange) always wanted to throw a queer party but only recently found the encouragement to do it. “The important things about parties are people having a good time and a collective experience together. It’s a part of community and community being confirmed.”
Hortie is a self-taught artist and a fixture in the queer scene in Toronto. Godfrey was instrumental in bringing Hortie to exhibit at aceart for last year’s Pride, an opening turned dance party Hortie dj-ed for under the name DJ Sigourney Beaver. Godfrey knew about Hortie’s “Steers & Queers” parties from when she was in Toronto in 2007 and was excited to bring her to Winnipeg. Hortie brought collaborator Andrew Li aka Man Chyna to do a strip-hop boylesque number.
Steers & Queers has a culture all its own in Toronto – with its country imagery and reputation for great parties. “They’re electric,” Godfrey says. “They’re really, really fun. There’s nothing going to be happening at Pride like that. People are going to love its novelty and uniqueness. It’s not just going to be a good party but it’s also an opportunity to bring another aspect of queer culture from another city.”
Steers & Queers will be travelling to other Canadian cities as well. It will be at Saw Gallery in Ottawa, as well as travelling to Montreal. The music is, in Godfrey’s own words, “rocking hip-hop booty music”. “That’s the kind of stuff that really makes me want to dance. What gets played at some other events is not always the kind of stuff that gets me in the butt.”
The event will also include a cabaret, with Man Chyna as the headliner. Other acts include Winnipeg burlesque artist Lizzy La La, performance artist Ian Mozdzen, as well as singer Kerri Latimer – who will be performing covers of Anne Murray songs.
“At the end of the day, all these things – whether it’s putting on a dance party, telling stories, aceart – it all comes from a place of love,” Godfrey says thoughtfully with a furrowed brow. “It’s not like a rainbow, though rainbows can be quite nice … Maybe more like a Slurpee. Slushy, with all the colours running together.”
She and DJ Stagpanther will also be hosting a recurring music listening event, “The Intrepid Portfolio” named after a local legend – Sir William Stephenson – who was one of the men that inspired the character of James Bond. The first installment of “The Intrepid Portfolio” was held at Parlour Coffee on Main Street. “The name is a nod to local culture. It’s from Winnipeg and you’re on a mission to find interesting music from different places. From the past, the present,” she says and pauses, “from the future.”
Godfrey’s previous cultural contributions have included a cassette exchange club and the book/cassette “Dear Peggy,” a collection of Winnipeg folklore. Her quirkiness and charm come through in the work she’s created and helped exhibit in the city after moving here three and a half years ago. Her first trip to Canada was for an art residency in Toronto. She returned home to the U.K. after her visa expired and organized a festival of Toronto art in Bristol. While looking for a job in Canada, the posting for a job aceart came up in a city she’d never heard of and came to love.
“I’m very excited by the art in Winnipeg,” Godfrey says . “I want to make the gallery a place where people want to come out and take a risk. Because ace is free – as all artist centres are – people can afford to take that risk. I love seeing people’s work and love being able to help disseminate it. I love people’s imaginations and want people to love ace’s imagination.”
Though her most recent work, “Dear Peggy”, has a very minimal, poetic feel – Godfrey wanted a slightly different aesthetic for the PegGay-licious parties. “My nature is not squeaky clean. PegGay-licious is just trashy enough for me without being depraved,” says Godfrey.
When asked what her definition of depraved, Godfrey smiles, a little mischievously. “There was one event I was playing music at. People ended up fucking in adjacent rooms. There were people in the bathroom fucking. I like to think it was my set that did it.”
For details on the venue for of the event, please check the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/events/296637480405791/. You can view Lauren Hortie’s work at http://www.laurenhortie.com/ and Andrew Li at http://www.facebook.com/man.chyna
– Katrina Caudle is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer