Friday, March 28, 2014


Wednesday, I told you about the conference - I should say un-conference - I went to last weekend. Today, I want to tell you a little of how this came to be.

You may have heard about TED Talks and the awesome work they do with inspiring attendees. In 2008, a group of friends got the idea to crash the TED event in Monterrey, California. This group wanted to have meaningful interactions with some of the prominent speakers at TED. However, somewhere along the line, this group of individuals realized they could make a bigger impact by holding their own event.

So, in the space of two weeks, these people booked plane tickets, booked a small venue, invited speakers from TED and got advertising. BIL was born.
The magic began to happen with that first event. It was a free, interactive and entertaining experience in which everyone who attends is expected to help out in some way. Not only does that help with the running of BIL but it is a way for the attendee to feel a part of the event and maybe even more connected. I know that I felt - and still feel - a certain amount of pride that I was part of #BIL2014 in Vancouver.

In the seven years since that first BIL event, the un-conference has followed TED, opening the event after TED closes. It is a way that the people who may not be able to afford attending the TED Talks can still be exposed to ideas and maybe even TED speakers.

I don't want to go into which event is better not only because I haven't been to a TED event but also because I am totally in love with the BIL un-conference. I want to hurry up and get wealthy so I can travel the world and volunteer - and speak - at BIL events everywhere. LOL We all have to have our dreams.

There were so many people involved in this event that I can't thank them all. I can't even mention everyone. The cloudy photo above is of a woman who was instrumental in organizing the speakers - and that was a job that enveloped her, I think. Thank you for your help Kristin Piljay, I really appreciate and admire what you did to get this event going smoothly.

Bradley Shende, a Vancouver organizer. Thank you. It is an honour and a privilege to have worked with you on this and I hope to continue in future years.
Me and Derrick. Derrik is a volunteer who was great at greeting people and making them feel welcome. It was almost as if he had a psychic connection and knew what each person needed to feel a part of the event. Thank you Derrik. 

Cody from Texas. One of the founders of BIL and a man of extreme patience! Thank you.
Michael Cummings. Also a founder of BIL and from Texas. He is another sweet guy and I am so honoured to have met him. Thank you.

There are so many other people involved with the event that I can't name them all. I thank all my new friends and hope to continue the 'magic' in the future.

I want to thank the BIL Conference website for the information on the history of the organization.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

To end this entry, I am going to show you numerous photos of people I met at BIL.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Unconference!

Time for something a little different. From March 22 to 23, the BIL Conference, or un-conference, descended on Vancouver. Held at 560 Seymour, this was two days of learning and having our minds opened to other possibilities.

The 'un-conference' is powered by volunteers and there were a lot of us there. People came together and worked hard to help this event go. It was interesting and really didn't feel like work.

When I walked in Friday evening to help with the initial set up, I knew I was in for a unique experience. Something was in the air that night, an excitement concerning what we were going to do. I, for one, felt like I was a part of something great.

The atmosphere Saturday was electric. And it was busy. Speakers were on the main (Alpha) stage one after another and in the smaller room, Beta stage, people gathered in a more informal manner to listen to a speaker.

Here's a list of some of the speakers and their topics:

Joel Solomon - Something About Money
Tammy Lea Meyer - My Voice Matters
Esther Shannon - Decriminalization of Sex Work
Karen Magill - MS is a Gift (Yes, I faced my fear of public speaking and got up on the main stage and talked! I loved it and can't wait to do it again.)
Tzeporah Berman - This Crazy Time: people, pipelines and politics
Mary Gavan - Storytelling - why bother
Cat - Confronting the phobia of death
Anne Marie Fontainha - Change Your Mind -Change Your Life
Don Barker - Innovative Mining Technology
Cathy Browne - My Story as a Blind Photographer
David Joel Hiebert (and his daughter Grace) - Gratefully Going Green (a children's book)
Marc Smith - Turning an Accident into a Career
There was even a decentralized dance party!

So as you can see, there were varied topics and this isn't all of them. I just tried to list a sampling of talks. BIL was also honoured with the appearance of Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman and Jason Webley. 

Sunday was quieter. Not as many volunteers or people but it was still enjoyable. There were many speakers on both stages and it was intriguing. I will admit though that I missed many speakers because I was working in the hallway or with other things around the venue.

As you saw by the list of different speakers, there were many topics and discussions that made a person think. Now, a person may not agree with everything that a speaker says - may even think they are an idiot - but give the speaker kudos for getting up there and facing one of our species greatest fears - public speaking. In fact, some say that the fear of public speaking is greater than that of even death.

Another thing I was impressed with were the people involved. The organizers and the volunteers and the speakers were all so gracious and friendly. I don't think I have been hugged so much in one weekend as I was over those two days. And I am still feeling the warmth and energy of those two days.

I know these photos aren't the usual quality shown on this blog. However, they were taken in a club with my phone. If you have a chance to go to a BIL Conference, do it. It is an experience you won't soon forget. And if you are in the Vancouver area, stay tuned. The un-conference is supposed to be here next year too.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Gary Taylor's Show Lounge

Next week I am going to an event at the Penthouse Nightclub  - a Vancouver landmark and a venue brimming with history. Some of it not so good! The tour is being put on by Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours and I was invited through Facebook by Aaron Chapman, author of Liquor, Lust and the Law. I am looking forward to it and will be sure to bring my camera so I can get lots of photos.

When I went to my dentist and mentioned I was going to this, he - a long time Vancouver resident - mentioned a strip club he and his fellow dental students used to go to. I did a little research and found out some information on Gary Taylor's Show Lounge.
Gary Taylor began his career as a teenaged drummer backing up striptease dancers in the 1950s. He played at venues such as the Smilin' Buddha, New Delhi, Harlem Nocturne and 'girlie show at the Pacific National Exhibition.

Taylor played short gigs at the Penthouse Cabaret, the Zanzibar, and the King of Clubs in the early 70s. Then he opened his own club, Gary Taylor's Show Lounge on Granville Street. Here 'beautiful, innocent-looking women' were hired to strip, accompanied by jazz and blues musicians.

Gary was rumoured to be a smooth, fast-talking man who bet strangers on the street he could get a woman to take her clothes off on his stage. A friend has even joked that Taylor could talk a nun into going on his stage.

I am getting this information from the book Burlesque West by Becki L. Ross and she interviewed Taylor in 2007. Gary says he was at the forefront of a 'pure and innovative' trend to enable women who were 'amateurs' to 'discover themselves' on stage and 'have a lot of fun doing it'. (page 73)

Taylor's method of having small stages for exotic dancers was proving to be a wise move. The Las Vegas style acts with all their pomp and glitter, which were usually held at places such as the Cave, Isy's and the Penthouse became too expensive.

In 1972, nude dancing was legalized in British Columbia but different officials were slow to get on board with that ruling. In Surrey, Mayor Bill Vander Zalm led the charge to ban nude entertainment in neighbourhood pubs and in 1973, the BC Liquor Control Board ruled that all night club entertainers must be accompanied by a three-piece orchestra. This was obviously a back door attempt to circumvent the new law since having to have a three-piece orchestra with all dancers would have made the show too expensive for the common man to attend.

Gary Taylor was charged in November of 1973 with presenting an 'obscene performance' at his show lounge. Taylor and his lawyer, Tony Pantages, re-enacted the 'obscene performance' at the Show lounge with police, the crown prosecutor and Judge McGivern in attendance. Gary Taylor won the case and charges were dismissed against he and five female performers.

Interesting times to be sure. So whatever happened to Gary Taylor? According to his LinkedIn page, Mr. Taylor is still involved in the entertainment business. Now, he manages musical artists and consults with Canadian Music Week, in addition to strategic and creative consulting and such for musical conferences.

The photos you see here were taken from the Vancouver Lookout a couple of weeks ago.

I hope you find beauty around you.