NICK COLLINET talks to us about Public Disco.
Public Disco (#artoverego) is a touring pop-up party that brings music and dancing to the streets of Vancouver. We made our debut at the 2016 Vancouver Mural Festival.
How did it start?
I've been organizing parties at indoor venues around town through my other project, Groundwerk, for several years. In 2016, I organized a stage at Car Free Day and then got involved with the Oasis Zone at Vancouver Mural Fest. These events inspired me to create a series of city-wide public space parties. In 2017 I got a VIVA Refresh Grant which was the catalyst for putting the concept into action. We produced five editions in the streets, laneways and plazas across Vancouver from Commercial Drive to the West End that same year.
When VMF gave me the opportunity to program an alleyway oasis with music, seating, art and decor. It was this experience that sparked huge aspirations for what I could accomplish in Vancouver. Since first getting involved with the festival, Mural Fest Director of Operations Andrea Curtis has acted as an important mentor for me, providing input and guidance along the way as Public Disco became a reality. Without her guidance I may have frozen up and quit, because doing something new like this isn't easy; there are many roadblocks that often feel insurmountable. Andrea always helps me see past those roadblocks and make it happen.
Since Public Disco started I've been able to meet with a number of other individuals looking to organize public space events in the city. It took no time at all for me to get to a point where I could pay it forward. This is the magic of these kind of things, and the reason why we must keep doing them, keep engaging more artists and promoting the kind of city we want to live in. We can make a difference ourselves, but the difference we make by inspiring others is even more special.
What has the feedback been for your project?
One of the biggest things that stood out was after one of our events, we surveyed attendees and learnt that 90% of attendees that we talked to had met someone new at Public Disco. This really speaks to the reason why I am doing this. People connect on the dance floor. Music and dancing break down barriers to social isolation and encourages us to let loose. It's in these moments where we feel most connected to others. In a city where social isolation is a major problem, anything that brings people together is a really good thing. I think Public Disco has helped people believe that Vancouver IS a fun city. More culture, activity, friendliness — more fun.