Queerlesque is looking for a venue for their 2018 show, which will be held in August.
Queerlesque is a queer cabaret show featuring performances from local artists, singers, dancers, drag queens and magicians.
“It’s a burlesque show but we call it more of a queer cabaret show because it celebrates our identity, diversity and the fluidity within our community,” says Iman Kassam, co-producer of Queerlesque.
Queerlesque was founded in 2014 in response to a lack of options and opportunities for performers who identify as gender and sexual minorities in Yellowknife, Kassam says.
“It’s political, it’s sassy, it’s multi-cultural, it’s revolutionary and it’s extravagant,” she says.
“It’s a platform for gender and sexual minorities and their allies to come together and celebrate a form and style of creative expression that is often overlooked or rejected in other performance venues,” says Kassam.
Queerlesque has been going on for five years, and is held at a different venue each year to support as many local businesses and establishments as possible, says Kassam.
“Last year we even did a pop-up nightclub, where we took an abandoned space and turned it into a nightclub,” Kassam says. “It’s a way to show Yellowknifers and other event promoters in town that you can do a lot with spaces if you have time, money and a dedicated group of people.”
This year Queerlesque had a venue booked a year in advance, but the establishment had accidentally double-booked. They only found this out a couple months ago, so they’ve been looking for a space for their 2018 show since February or March, Kassam says.
“So this year is exceptionally unfortunate because we thought we were ahead of the game and we’re not,” says Kassam.
“It happens though, it’s an honest mistake. We’re not upset about it though, we just really hope we can find a space that we love, that works for us, that our community loves, that our performers feel comfortable performing in,” she says.
Because Queerlesque is a volunteer collective which donates all the funds raised by the show, building a new venue from scratch is simply not within their means, Kassam says.
It’s a priority that the performance space is fully accessible, but accessible venues in Yellowknife are few and far between.
“Accessibility is important,” says Kassam. “If you are a store owner or a venue owner and your restaurant isn’t accessible, try and find some ways that you can fix that and remedy that in the near future because for people with different accessibility needs, Yellowknife is a really difficult town to navigate as it is.”
And finding a venue that is both accessible and can also hold a large capacity has proven difficult.
“What we’re looking for is kind of specific but exists everywhere,” says Kassam. “We’re hoping that people that have warehouses or airport hangars or just large open spaces will hear our call, our desperate cry for a new venue and might contact us. ”
Kassam says Yellowknife has plenty of unused spaces in areas like Old Town that could easily be converted into a venue for this year’s show.
“I would love it if the owner of one of those spaces was like ‘hey, take our building for a week and turn it into a club.’ That would be awesome. And we’ll do it, we’ll do it from the ground up. We’ll clean it up, we’ll build a stage, we’ll get the fire marshal in, get our permit from the liquor board and get our insurance. We do this every year so we’re very used to the legalities and the paperwork. It’s just about finding a space. “
Kassam says she wants to see more pop-up events happening in Yellowknife, to show the community that there’s a lot that can be done with unused spaces.
“We have tons of real estate, especially in downtown Yellowknife,” says Kassam. “We just need to put it to good use.”
Despite the difficulties of finding a venue, Kassam says this year’s Queerlesque is off to a great start.
“Rehearsals are going great, we have an awesome cast and crew,” says Kassam.
“We love the creativity that comes to the table.”