Pride Day

Last Sunday was Pride Day in Toronto and Mark and I hosted visiting friends at our houses. Dave Postal, who held the Jack Eichenbaum Memorial Racker Scrabble Tournament this past April at his home in Palm Springs, came to visit me from Thursday night to Dominion Day. He took this photo of George Garcia, Mark, me and himself as we stood on Yonge Street waiting for the parade. George’s partner Jonathan chose, last minute, to mark with a Jewish group. When the group marched past, we were taken aback by the number of security guards flanking them, which, due to the state of affairs in the world today combined with the hoodlums occupying King’s College Circle just blocks away, made the extra protection necessary. By the time Jonathan passed us at Yonge and Grosvenor he left the group and joined us to watch the parade.

The Pride Main Stage at Nathan Phillips Square was presenting a series of big-name dance acts starting at 6 p.m. that Dave and I wanted to see, so we left the parade at 5:00. Since the start of the parade reached us at 2:30, it had already been marching for 2½ hours, which is far too long for a parade that was nowhere near finished. When we got to City Hall around 5:20 I could hear Simone Denny singing. She was supposed to be the second act whose to-the-minute time to go onstage was scheduled to be 6:18.

I was not to pleased with the on-line Pride schedule, as it was difficult to navigate and often contradictory in places. While walking along Church Street on Saturday night I saw a Pride information table and amidst my compliments for the work the committee does, I expressed my frustration in using their guide. I must not have been the only one to say this as the information officer told me others had come up to tell her the same thing.

Dave and I expected to get to Nathan Phillips Square early to see Claudja Barry take the stage at 6 p.m. yet arrived to hear Simone Denny at 5:20. We wondered if we had missed Claudja entirely, but as it turned out, she appeared second on the bill. Simone must have appeared at 5:00 because we only heard two songs and she was done at 5:30. All the singers came out in rapid succession. They all had backing music and vocals and some had dancers appear with them. Claudja Barry lip-synched her biggest disco hits yet sang along to an enhanced vocal track for other material. Ce Ce Peniston followed her, then Thelma Houston, who told the crowd she was 81 years old. All the other on-line references state she is 78. Ultra Naté followed Thelma, although the schedule had her following Ce Ce. I was ecstatic that Ultra performed “If You Could Read My Mind”, using her two background vocalists to take on the duties of the original trio which featured Amber and Jocelyn Enriquez.

The final act in the series of six divas was Carole Pope, who unlike the others actually had a band and they took a short time to set up the stage and tune their instruments. Carole was billed solo, yet performed only some of the material as solo hits yet most as Rough Trade songs. I had seen Carole perform twice before on Pride stages where the first time was billed as a solo performance and she did indeed sing only her own material. The second time was a Rough Trade reunion. Therefore, although this was billed as a Carole Pope performance, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the opening number “All Touch”, a Rough Trade hit. She also did “High School Confidential”, “Shaking the Foundations”, “I Want to Live”, “Crimes of Passion”, (all Rough Trade songs) and “Lesbians in the Forest” and “Transcend” (solo).

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