Arts & Entertainment
1 min

Ottawa’s Swizzles is keen to get you on the water

Bartender behind return of annual cruise confesses passion for boats

Swizzles staff prepares for cruise. Credit: Courtesy Swizzles

JP Rousseau is really, really excited about getting on a boat.

The Swizzles bartender is the man behind the return of the Ottawa bar’s annual Pride boat cruise, which weighs anchor at Ottawa Pride 2016. The cruise stopped several years ago for reasons now apparently lost to the sands of time.

On Thursday, Aug 18, 2016, attendees can take a shuttle bus from the bar to the boat at Jacques Cartier Park,  get on board,  then take the shuttle back to the bar again after a boozy time on the Ottawa River.

Rousseau’s enthusiasm for all things cruise-related  seems to have seeped into every aspect of this event, including the billing, which advertises drinking, entertainment and ridiculousness “on a freakin’ boat.”  

Of course, he has his official reasons for the event. “It’s been kind of hard being a gay bar in Ottawa the last couple years,” he says. “But [Swizzles] is kind of on an upswing, and this is a ‘Thank you’ to the community.”

But anyone with eyes can see that it’s all just a cover for his irresistible urge to be on the water.

Rousseau thinks some of the bar’s success is due to the diverse array of events it hosts. Consequently, the entertainment for the cruise is a sampling of the many things that happen at Swizzles’ various nights — comedy, drag, skill and luck games, karaoke, music courtesy DJ Jungle Jen and more.

“The route, to us, is pretty incidental. We’re just taking the best parts of Swizzles and putting them on a boat,” he says, with a laugh. “If the boat didn’t even leave the dock, we’d have a good time anyways.”

He begrudgingly admits that attendees will have a charming view of the Parliament buildings from the three-floor Capital Cruises boat, before allowing his boat lust to take over again.

“Who needs a view? We’re on a boat,” he blurts out.  

“With sambuca. Sambuca shots are one of the many things we’re puttin’ on a boat,” he adds, before going off,  it can be reasonably assumed, to prepare his jolly cruising outfit.