André Proulx is taking advantage of the crowds flocking to Ottawa for Winterlude to put on an event of his own. Called Queerlude, he looks on it as a sort of winter-time, bite-sized version of Pride.
“There are going to be so many people from out of town . . . so I figured there might be a lot of gay people coming,” he says. “And Pride isn’t just one day or one week a year — why can’t we do something in the winter?”
“It’s not scary to go outside in the middle of the winter.”
He is owner of Black Swan Events, an event-planning company based in Ottawa. Open to everyone in the queer community, this is Queerlude’s first year. He hopes to make it an annual event. It currently has no affiliation with Winterlude.
It kicks off on the evening of Friday, Feb 5, with Red Pin Bowling at Bowling McArthur Lanes. Proulx, who got the idea from his experiences in a gay bowling league, says it’ll be a laid-back, social beginning to Queerlude.
The idea is that each alley has one red pin. The machine randomly mixes the red pin in with the others whenever it sets up the deck of pins. If the red pin happens to land in the centre of the deck and somebody gets a strike, that person wins a prize.
The following afternoon is the main event: the Colours of the Rainbow Skate. Participants will get decked out in their most colourful get-ups, grab some flags and maybe a decorated light-weight sleigh, and the do the approximately two-hour skate along the length of the Rideau Canal.
There’ll be an 2.5-metre-wide Pride flag at the head of this merry procession, and Proulx’s costume should be an attention-getter. “I’m going to be performing in the drag show after, so I’ll be on the canal in drag,” he says.
Unfortunately, despite his history with figure skating, he won’t be doing any spins. “Uncle Andy isn’t able to do a lot of that anymore,” he says.
After the skating there’ll be just enough time for everyone to stow their skates and gear before heading over to the Cabatinée Dance Party at The Lookout (though the bar does have a coat check for those who need it) in the evening.
For about five months, Black Swan Events has organized a twice-monthly matinée cabaret (hence, Cabatinée) at The Lookout. The Queerlude edition will include elements of the recurring event — drag acts, live singing and dancing to music by DJ Jungle Jen — but happen at a later time of day.
The performers are Bella Straight, Kashmyr, Ivonna and, of course, Proulx as the fabulous (even though he can’t spin anymore) and sultry Horizon.