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No, you can’t come to Swirl and Twirl

Annual fundraiser gala sells out for first time ever

Revellers from last year’s Swirl and Twirl, who most likely bought tickets for this year’s event before it sold out.  Credit: Michael J Murka Photography

The twelfth annual Swirl and Twirl is shaping up be the largest in recent years, but you can’t come.

At this food and wine show-style event, attendees enjoy an array of samples, and live entertainment. For 2016, it has the Nick Gummeson Trio performing jazz, and Toto Too Theatre doing songs from its upcoming production of Naked Boys Singing (but clothed — for the full Monty, attend the musical in June).

Principally, it’s a fundraiser in benefit of non-profit, queer community organizations in Ottawa and Gatineau. Over the years, it has raised more than $68,000. This time the recipients will be Capital Rainbow Refuge, Ottawa Senior Pride Network and Ten Oaks Project.

For the second year in a row, it will take place in the large, recently-renovated Horticulture Building in Lansdowne Park. “There was a lot of excitement and interest over this new building, and I think people overwhelmingly gave us positive feedback about it,” says Glenn Crawford, chair of Swirl and Twirl. “So we were thrilled to come back.” The venue’s new patio is finally open too.

It will also feature 34 food and alcohol vendors — up from 22 last year. “Sort of the one criticism or concern people had last time was we sold out of food quite quickly,” he says. “So we really made an effort early on to bring on more vendors.”

But you’ll be stuck at home eating soup or something, because you don’t have a ticket.

That is, unless you managed to snag one early on. For the first time in its existence — and in spite of the massive new venue — Swirl and Twirl has completely sold out. More than that, it sold all of its approximately 450 tickets by May 5, a whole three weeks before the event. “The only thing that kind of puts a little pain in my heart is turning people away,” he says. “I’m building a waiting list, but I know there’s just no space for them.”

Crawford attributes the unprecedented ticket sales not only to the improvements to the event, but to the hard work of the fundraiser’s recipients. The selected organizations are asked to help promote the event, and that includes selling tickets. This year they broke records.

“If this kind of popularity keeps up in the future, we may need to look at changing venues again,” he says. “But it’s a good problem to have.”