The Ottawa Dyke March is gearing up for another year. Taking place the day before the Pride parade, the march is a chance for Ottawa’s dykes to come out in full force. After marching through the Bank Street Village, the parade ends with a community fair in a city park. In previous years it has been Minto or Dundonald, and this year organizers have set their sights on Jack Purcell.
Having Jack Purcell Park as their home base and the site of the community fair has some major advantages for the Dyke March. If organizers also rent a room in the adjacent community centre, the group will have access to kitchen facilities and public washrooms, which will save the cost of renting accessible portable toilets — a major expense for them in the past, organizers say. It will also give them access to a food-prep area for the barbecue they plan to host.
In addition to the park and facilities, the Dyke March also has expenses in the form of sound equipment rentals, honoraria for speakers and performers, food for participants and volunteers, and a city permit for waste collection.
All told, they need about $2,000 for operational costs, of which they already have about $900. Organizers are planning a series of fundraisers to help raise some of that money. The group met Tuesday, May 20, to discuss ideas for a series of fun events that will appeal to Ottawa’s lesbian community.
Among the possible ideas discussed were a board-games night in June that could include a cover charge, a 50/50 draw or silent auction, and a drag king show. Also being considered are a movie night, a karaoke event and a pool night at a local bar.
“We’re . . . trying to put a little bit more focus on having diverse events so it’s not necessarily like all the events are drinking parties,” organizer Sarah Manns says. “[People] can go and do something, and it’s a lot more casual and there’s no pressure. So I think in terms of trying to diversify who we’re reaching out to in our community, having a games night or doing a pool night or having a slow dance, there’s a bit more of a variety there.”
The group has a slow-dance night planned for July 26 at Raw Sugar Café to which they hope to see between 50 and 70 people turn out. A $10 cover charge will get participants a dance card with four sets of 10 slow dances each. A group of designated dancers will be on hand to ensure that nobody is relegated to wallflower status. While the event will be targeted mainly to queer women, organizers say it’s open to everyone.
“Since starting the slow dance a few years ago, it’s always had a really big following of queer women coming out to the events,” says community organizer Luna Allison, who runs the Ottawa slow dance nights. “It feels like a good fit for a fundraiser.”
“I’m just excited by all the activities we’re gonna do,” Dyke March organizer Claudie Larouche adds. “Not only are they going to be fundraisers, but they’re going to be fun as well for us.”