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Girl-ish Productions gets Halifax wet for Pride

Pair has been organizing queer parties since 2005

DYNAMIC DUO. Leigh James Brown and Maggie Haywood are Girlish Productions. Credit: Shannon Webb-Campbell

If Pride is considered gay New Year, then Halifax’s WetSpot party is the prestige cuvée of champagnes. Created by Girl-ish Productions, WetSpot is an event that intends to flood the three floors of the Argyle Bar & Grill with bubbles, balloons and water guns on Jul 26.

It’s hard to imagine that in merely a few days every inch of the bar will be covered in proud, wet partiers. Not to mention three DJs — including DJ Simon Thibault, DJ Ro and DJ Motelette — who are sure to inspire a sweaty dance floor for those not interested in getting soaked.

Girl-ish co-founders Maggie Haywood and Leigh James Brown recently sat down with xtra.ca to talk about why they started organizing queer events.

“We were kind of bitching actually,” says Haywood, casually seated on the Argyle St patio. “We were out for a drink bemoaning the lack of places to go in Halifax. Really we were bitching there wasn’t a place to meet girls.”

“It was actually more a conversation about where do we meet people — and interesting people,” says James Brown. “Sometimes it feels like you know everybody in Halifax. So we were thinking, where do you meet people you haven’t met yet?”

Often people stick to folks who eat, breathe, dress and drink in a similar fashion. James Brown and Haywood were tired of the same-old gay-bar scene. They wanted to expand their horizons, but had nowhere to go beyond the usual rainbow gravy train.

Instead of sitting around complaining, they took matters into their own hands. The result was Goin’ Down at the Khyber held in the spring of 2005. Approximately 75 people showed up, women mostly, and Girl-ish Productions began carving its place in the heart of Halifax.

“There is a pretty strong history of women-only dances in Halifax, which is great if that suits you, but it doesn’t suit everyone,” says Haywood. “It doesn’t suit people who have close male friends, or women who identify as queer but date guys. It doesn’t suit trans guys who feel strongly within the dyke community… We were looking for an alternative that was more inclusive.”

Girl-ish Production certainly lives up to its original mandate, as Haywood and James Brown have thrown over 20 parties with various themes. The emphasis is more on the “ish” rather than the “girl,” as their Halloween and Christmas holiday soirees are famous among both straight and queer party-goers. The Cliks even performed at Booty, their Halloween party, decked out in Captain Morgan moustaches and pirate eye-patches. But it’s during Pride that everyone comes out of the woodwork.

“Pride is like gay New Year, right? Or Christmas, whatever,” says Haywood. “People bring their husbands, girlfriends, whoever. Straight people want to celebrate Pride too.”

“We want to make a comfortable environment for everyone,” adds James Brown, as she brings her Corona to her lips.

“We have lot of bars in the city and each bar has a certain style, and there are a lot of people who don’t do bars but want to go out, meet people and party… It’s completely comfortable and accepting.”