Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Flaunt festival makes a flashy debut

Five highlights from the mostly-outdoor Toronto culture fest at Harbourfront Centre

You’re loud, you’re bold, you stand out in a crowd — subtlety really isn’t your thing. You’re in luck, because the Harbourfront Centre has you covered with Flaunt, a mostly-outdoor festival of fashion, art, dance and lots of in-your-face stuff. New this year, Flaunt is not only queer-focused, but pays attention to intersecting identities — several of its attractions are geared toward queer people of colour. Attendees are invited to not only enjoy the free performances and parties, but to flaunt themselves. There’s even the opportunity to create your own flashy accessories on site. Electro-colour extensions? Yes please. Here are some festival highlights.

Flaunt 101

Class is in session and drag queen Tynomi Banks and her back-up dancers are your teachers. This hour-and-a-half drag performance is designed to get you in the mood to strut, because the next three days are not for wallflowers. For the uninitiated, her performance isn’t only a great festival kick-off, but a crash course in drag culture. “It’s lots of wig changes, costume changes, face, makeup, drama, and it’s fully choreographed,” says Diana Webley, Harbourfront Centre’s senior artistic associate. “If you don’t get [drag], you’ll get it after her show.”

Flaunt It!

Who knew showing off could be so niche? DJ John Caffery and House of Monroe’s TravoyintheFlesh host ballroom events (one each day of the festival) in the style of the film Paris is Burning. Folks compete not only in how well they burn up the runway, but in such categories as hat-ography and hair-ography. “It’s very interactive,” Webley says. “TravoyintheFlesh shows you how to do it — he’ll have pros there — and then encourages the audience to participate as well.”

Flaunt Meets #Baregyal: Bubble Block Party

“If you’re from the Caribbean, ‘bare gal’ means there’s a lot of girls,” Webley says. The recurring dance party for queer women of colour and their allies heads to Flaunt for a daytime outdoor bash. Revellers can dance to dancehall, house and indie soul, or play Twister on one of the 20 mats laid out on the grass. “At the first Bare Gyal party, [Tika Simone] said ‘no wall-huggers. Be free. Express yourself.’” Webley says. “I think we don’t get to hear that enough.”

Flaunt Fabrique Fashion Show

As if a fashion show isn’t a big enough deal, this one has performance art too. It opens with a performance by the ballroom scene divas of House of Nuance. When the collections of six Toronto designers aren’t being paraded up and down the six-metre, open-air runway, four performance artists, including an aerialist (think Cirque du Soleil), will perform fashion show-flavoured pieces: full of poise, design and attitude.

Body Talk

Choreographer Scott Fordham’s party and dance show is one of the festival’s few indoor events for a reason: you shouldn’t let that much sexy out on the street. “It’s going to get heated in the late night,” Webley says. “Because it’s indoors we can do more of, I would say, a sensual expression.” Fordham’s work features more than 20 dancers and surprise appearances by some of the city’s most alluring performers.

Friday, July 24–Sunday, July 26, 2015
Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W, Toronto