If Whistler WinterPRIDE Week's massive roster of DJs seems packed with familiar names that's because it is — on purpose.
Entering into its 21st year, the event has long calculated that visitors largely travel from outside the Vancouver area and Sea to Sky corridor. As a result, organizers want to offer a strong sample of local talent to visitors.
"We're pretty international," says Dean Nelson, CEO and executive producer at Alpenglow Productions, which organizes the annual ski week. "Over 25 per cent of our guests come from overseas, places like the U.K., Australia, Europe. The biggest market is the U.S. (with) 40 per cent... Since so many are coming from abroad it gives them an opportunity to hear some of our local talent, which is really important."
Whistler's own DJ Foxy Moron and DJ Kori K will spin at après ski parties, along with sets by Mixmaster Fab, Peacefrog and whole host of others from Vancouver throughout the festivities Feb. 3 – 10.
For the Snowball, Pride Week's finale event Feb. 9, organizers are bringing in Paul Goodyear, a DJ from San Francisco by way of Sydney who combines Latin music, disco and tech house for his headlining sets. "The lighting and sound system we're getting this year are going to be phenomenal," Nelson says of the party. "They transport that ballroom into super club that comes once a year."
As for the rest of the long list of DJs, Nelson says organizers conduct some hard-hitting research in the months leading up to their event. "There's a bit of a consultation process we use with some of our community," he says. "We ask for some ideas for who should be shortlisted. We go to a lot of different events around the world, watch different DJs and how they respond to the crowd and how the crowd responds to the DJs. We get a good sense of if it's going to be a good fit for the festival. Happy, uplifting (music) is very important for us."
Another big entertainment event this year is the return of the fashion show, which organizers abandoned in 2009 after realizing it was labour intensive and too expensive to host. "Looking at our guest comments, a lot of people requested the fashion show," Nelson says. "We thought we would tie in the show with the Mr. Gay Canada finale. They'll be working the catwalk.... We take a loss on it, but it's something we wanted to do for the community and it's a great way to showcase the Mr. Gay Canada delegates."
The show is slated for Feb. 7, with performances by Chad Michaels, who won RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars, actress/model/dancer Iona Whipp and an appearance by celebrity judge and actor Charlie David (Dante's Cove).
Much of the other entertainment is the same as past years, in part because of funding restrictions, Nelson adds. Organizers were hoping to get a piece of the Resort Municipality of Whistler's Festivals, Events and Animation funds, but had to pare back plans when it didn't come through. "It was disappointing for sure, but the municipality is investing in an economic impact study. So that's a positive thing that came out of it," he adds.
Still, he's hopeful they will receive a municipal boost in years to come. Ticket sales for this year's events have been encouraging. "Looking at the trend of advance ticket sales, it's tracking very strong," he says. "The hotels are going to be very busy."