I jokingly refer to this blog as the "my boring life blog." That's why I don't write in it often enough. I need more topics! Or a more exciting life. But this past weekend my life was anything but boring. From Friday through Sunday, I helped put on the first ever Ladies Rock Camp Vancouver!
Many of the girls camp organizations also run camps for women as fundraisers for the girls camps. Portland, the mothership, runs two a year. Sweetie and I were campers last October. This past weekend, we were on the other side of things, taking up residence at the Waldorf Hotel, an amazing place with lots of rooms and nooks and crannies.
LRC is a lot like GRC except it's compressed into only three days. Just like the girls, the women come in, possibly with no musical experience, meet each other, form bands, learn instruments, write a song together, and by Sunday evening play in a showcase. As much as I enjoyed being a camper last year—and learning to play drums!—it might have been even more amazing to help 15 women to blossom into rock stars. And man, did they ever!
I volunteered to teach guitar. Guitar instruction was in the morning, so I figured I could do my thing and maybe have some afternoon time off. I did manage to get away to do the grocery shopping on Saturday, but mostly I was far more involved than I had expected. And I felt really good about that. I had not wanted to be part of the organizing team. I'm not very organized. But I'm a good worker bee, with occasional logistical insights such as which room each band should practise in to minimize equipment hauling. As well, being married to one of the organizers (Sweetie was volunteer coordinator), and being the family driver, I tended to arrive early and stay late.
I helped set up for instruction. I taught guitar. I helped move equipment after instruction so the bands could practise. I fetched ice and water for the Saturday night karaoke party. I folded programs. I even played tour guide for a couple of older men who had wandered down from the hotel itself with their coconut drinks, curious as to what was going on. I pitched in wherever I was needed. Even though I was exhausted by Sunday night and through most of the day yesterday, I have rarely felt more satisfied.
I was officially a guitar teacher, but my tag read "I can help with any instrument." That took me aback at first, but it's true that I play all of the usual rock instruments at least passably. We joked that I could help with cello and tuba and oboe and glockenspiel too.
The best part about hanging around in the afternoon was that I could sit in on loud band practices. I would run up and down the stairs between the two that were going on at any one time. So while I made sure not to interfere with the band coach, I was there in case any of my students had a question or concern about their instrument or an effects pedal they were using. I listened. I encouraged. And by Sunday afternoon I was sitting back feeling very impressed by what those women were doing. I get emotional about this stuff, and the waterworks started kind of early.
The showcase was amazing! Freed from equipment hauling (mostly), I dressed up a bit. It was celebration time! I was asked to be the band wrangler. I was responsible for making sure the next band was in position and ready to go as the previous band left the stage.
After much nervous anticipation, the bands went on. First up were the Lunettes, who called themselves that because they all wear glasses. They played a really catchy breakup song that had me bopping on the dance floor. So how do you split a couch, a bed, and a goldfish? The second band was called C4PO, which started as "classic four-piece" but morphed into a play on the Star Wars robot character C3PO. Thus, the band's tag line: since they were four, not three, they were "just a little more awesome." And they really were as they rocked hard through a song called "Tiki Bar Menu (Cocktails)" that was taken from the bar menu of the Waldorf. I had no idea that was what they were singing until I saw the lyrics! The third band was Annie in the Zone, named after the singer and the initials of the instrumentalists. They played a wonderful pop song called "Back in the Day." My heart was so full watching them play like pros, with great stage presence! The final camper band was the Star Whackers (if you don't know where that comes from, you aren't keeping up), who did a really different song called "Objectified." It was kind of punk poetry about the objectification of women but done with a really sharp sense of humour. The singer had the crowd in the palm of her hand. I was seriously crying by that time. I was so proud of all of them!
Sweetie was pretty sick with a cold, I wasn't that well either, and I had to get up for work yesterday, so unfortunately we didn't get to see much of Joyce Collingwood or any of White Lung, but it was time for us to wind down. My eyes were leaking for most of the drive home (thankfully I could still see the road). I was sad for it all to end, but really I couldn't have been happier.
Major shout-out to all the organizers, to my fellow volunteers, to those who brought delicious food and snacks, to the Waldorf for hosting us, to other support people like the women who did songwriting and silk-screening and stage craft workshops and those who did hair and makeup for the bands before the show, and most of all to those 15 awesome women. You have no idea how much you gave me.