(For our report on the first part of the evening, see our previous post.)

Zapato Negro

Zapato Negro

Our live-blogging at Monday night’s event was thwarted by the wireless internet connection at Club Five Sixty dying, but better late than never, here’s our report on the rest of the evening.

After the speeches finished, the crowds thinned out as many took the opportunity to catch a sneak preview of La Marea in Gastown (We saw it yesterday evening , check the blog tomorrow for a review). We were still in for a treat though as Afro Cuban jazz band Zapato Negro took to the stage and launched into some seductive and infectious grooves, creating a sound that blended funk and Latin vibes and soon made the room feel full again. We couldn’t help but dance in our seats as we feverishly worked to write up our first blog post of the night.

At around nine, organisers announced that two listed performances – Theatre Replacement’s Weetube and The Chop Theatre’s Last Dance Tango Salon would be starting in the adjacent Lounge area. Like a number of theatre, art and online projects in recent years, Weetube takes things which have already been said or written and uses them as performance text. After letting the audience watch a popular Youtube video chosen from a projected playlist, actors create short scenes using the public comments posted under the video on Youtube. For the most part these were very amusing, but laughter turned to uneasy silence as we were quickly reminded that wherever public comments can be posted from behind the relative anonymity of a computer screen, racism, misogyny and homophobia will soon rear their ugly heads.

Weetube

Weetube

If you’re not a fan of audience interaction, prolonged eye contact, or dancing in public then the Last Dance Tango Salon might not be the performance for you. Audience members are invited to dance with one of four performers, while listening to their thoughts being spoken via headphones, backed by stirring tango music. Those who were too nervous to take part looked on, unaware of the stories being told and the secrets being shared in intimate moments between strangers. I was amazed how quickly I lost any inhibitions and awareness of the people watching as I took part, and was drawn into the eye contact, physical contact and breath shared while listening to the story play out. One of the unique things offered by live arts experiences is the moment of connection between performer and spectator – Last Dance gets to the heart of this exchange, distills its essence and delivers it through intense gazes and words whispered in your ears.

The Zolas

The Zolas

In the main room, local indie rock band The Zolas took to the stage, and an appreciative crowd lapped up their witty and catchy tunes, which kept everyone dancing, cheering and full of energy. They deserved a bigger crowd, but with so many shows going on at once it was hard to choose what to watch. However, the crowd grew as the other pieces finished, and the band gave a great performance that left people wanting more.

Vancouver neighbourhoods map

Vancouver neighbourhoods map

Wondering around the multi-level Club Five Sixty throughout the night attendees were treated to a number of additional performances and distractions – flamenco and contemporary dance groups, a contortionist, photographic and video previews of some of the upcoming PuSh shows being projected on the walls, and short acoustic music sets. Those who made their way through the labyrinthine downstairs washrooms were greeted by an interactive map and the invitation to submit a postcard describing the things they loved about their neighborhood. Perhaps more popular however were the two free photo booths in the main room which attracted steady queues of party goers throughout the night. We’re not sure if it was planned but the ability to watch people gleefully posing and examining their photos from the balcony in the upstairs lounge proved completely captivating.

The party went on into the night with a DJ set that filled the dance floor and had everyone forgetting it was Monday evening and we all had to be at work in the morning. It was great to see so many different people in the arts and culture industry together in one happy room. On a final note, it was impossible not to notice that the event was well populated with friendly and helpful volunteers – a reminder that events such as PuSh often rely on the many passionate permanent and temporary residents of the city who give up their time for free to support the arts.

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