Home » Power Ball, Toronto

Power Ball, Toronto

While VoCA is in Europe, we asked contributor Bill Clarke to report back from this year’s Power Plant Gallery fundraiser, the Power Ball to see how it compared to the AGO’s fundraiser, Massive Party (see VoCA’s report HERE.)

To start, we must say that the PB ad campaign was fantastic:


Here is Mr. Clarke’s “Letter from the Ball”.

Dear VoCA,

I hope that you are having an amazing time in Europe. I am currently sitting on my balcony with a big glass of pomegranate-blueberry juice, detoxing from last night’s Power Ball revelries. Bl’arrgh…my kidneys!

This was my first Power Ball, and I’ll say right upfront that I had a good time. People definitely make
the party, and the crowd at the Power Ball was diverse, very friendly and obviously out for a good
time. It was so crowded that you had no choice but to say a few words to the fashionably attired person
standing next to you and, for the most part, people were attitude-free.

A note to all the straight guys out there: if you want women to talk to you, pin a flower on your jacket. I was sporting a big pink gerbia and I had ladies coming up to me all night sniffing it or asking if they could have it for their hair. Who knew that a flower could be such a conversation starter!

I’m sure that you are dying to know who was there, so I’ll get right to that. I must admit that I’m the sort of person who recognizes names more so than faces, but I spotted artists Michael Snow and John Scott. The lovely Stephen Andrews (who insisted that I open a few more buttons on my vest and shirt for my own comfort; it was swelteringly hot) and John Greyson were there.

Paulette Philips was charming in polka dots, Catherine Dean in a cool plasticized linen skirt, Derek Sullivan looking boyishly foxy as always, Benny Nemerofsky-Ramsay, who successfully dodged my camera, Derek Mainella, whose word of the night was “studly”, and Andrew Harwood and Keith Cole sashaying around in deliciously trashy drag.

Curators Ann Macdonald from the Doris McCarthy Gallery and Michelle Jacques from
the AGO. Artforum contributor Dan Adler and OCAD Director Sara Diamond. A slew of dealers, including Katherine Mulherin, Georgia Scherman, Clint Roenisch, Wil Kucey, Paul Petro, Daniel Faria and Michael Klein. Art consultant Robin Anthony. Shinan Govani taking notes for his own column. I even recognized an actor from Degrassi: The Next Generation!

There were burlesque shows. I guess this is where the night’s theme, Decadence, was supposed to come into play, but I’m really over burlesque. Some people seemed to be enjoying it (i.e., the young, drunk
businessmen snapping photos on their camera phones) but, really, there’s nothing particularly cutting-edge about these shows anymore unless you’re, like, a Mennonite or something. The ladies (there were no male dancers, and why is that always the case?) gamely gave their all, but it wasn’t anything I haven’t seen dozens of times before.

The “electro-funk hip-hop” trio Let’s Go to War took to the stage around 10:00 pm. They got off to a bit of a shaky start. The lead singer tried to get the crowd engaged in a bit of audience participation before
they’d even played one song. You can’t be doing that with Toronto audiences, which are notoriously stingy with their adoration until you’ve done something that shows you’re worthy. When his shout-outs for a call-and-response met with, well, no response, the group’s front man changed tactics and quickly busted out the rhymes. Before long, the crowd was moving and, in the end, they seemed to get a really good reception. Artist Kelly Mark is, I think, the band’s newest number one fan. She gave the lead singer one of her Everything is Interesting pins, and she doesn’t give those out to just anyone.

Apparently, there was also some visual art.

I’m sorry to say that it didn’t really register, though you can’t fault the artists. A crowded, noisy party isn’t the place to view art. I mean, I think that Jade Rude’s mirrors in the shapes of picture frames are really lovely but a young woman with a tray of scrumptious cupcakes diverted my attention. Performance art really is best suited to such an environment. Dean Baldwin’s mini-bar was, unsurprisingly, a huge hit with the crowd, and Jess Dobkin’s human mirror ball was fun, though I expected her to be trussed up and hanging from the ceiling.

Instead, she was dressed in a mirror-covered silver body suit, standing on a high pedestal and turning
herself in a circle. Artist Anitra Hamilton asked me whether I was “discoppointed” by this, giving me a
brilliant new word that I’m going to use in the future, for sure!

The rest of the evening was spent dancing up a storm. Sometimes I felt like I was at a bizzaro office party, but that didn’t stop me from shaking what my momma gave me for an hour. I am amazed at what people will dance to when you’ve poured enough booze into them. Did DJ Barbi really end the night by playing “The Right Stuff” by New Kids on the Block?

Speaking of pouring booze into people, why did the bar close at 1:00 am?! I expected that the night would have lasted until typical bar hours. All of us at the bar were a bit peeved when the last drink of the night was handed to the guy in front us but, given how I’m feeling at the moment, I probably didn’t really need that last V&T anyway.

All-in-all, however, I give a thumbs-up to the organizers of this year’s Power Ball. I look forward
to you being there next year, VoCA, so we can get down on the dance floor together.

Decadently yours,

4 Responses to “Power Ball, Toronto”

  1. Craig says:

    Bill! If I’d known that you were going to PB, I would have joined you!

    A great review, for sure. You deserve a regular gig covering society events – your writing has the right touch.

  2. Hill says:

    Wow, that sounds like a great party! Next time, try to get them to suspend the disco ball. Just make sure that she’s not afraid of heights!

    And by the way Bill, you were wearing a gerbera, not a gerbia. Men, geesh!

  3. Bill says:

    I was informed by the Power Plant that they had to close the bar at 1:00 a.m. because that’s as late into the evening they, as a normally non-licensed venue, can serve alcohol because of liquor board licensing restrictions or something. So, “boo!” to the liquor board rather than the Power Plant for robbing me of my last drink!
    Gerbera…got it. I’ll remember that!

  4. Andrea says:

    Still, woulda probably been a better party if you coulda partied later into the night…no?

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