By JGirl & Manousos
The very nature of blog writing is that it is really quite random. Instead of telling story in a chronological manner, which would certainly lead me to trailing off into long-winded silly stories, I have decided to tackle each part in the order they came to me from Christine. The first being a wrap-up about our Footwerk halfway to Shambhala party here in Kelowna, and then I will explain what the eff Footwerk is all about and how it came to be, and lastly I explain how Manousos and I became “talent” with Fractal Forest.
Footwerk Events’ Halfway to Shambhala party with AnTenNae wrap-up!
The Shambhala-love was strong at Footwerk! Saturday March 5 was a halfway to Shambhala celebration at Oasis Nightclub in Kelowna. Folks arrived as early as possible to get their hands on a ballot to enter into a draw to win a Shambhala 2011 festival ticket courtesy of the festival headquarters! (Shout outs to Britz, Steen, & the office gals). Local favorite Pathogen’s debut performance with Footwerk meant for perfect laid-back grooves as he set the vibe for the night ahead. Nelson’s Dubconscious played an amazing set of reggae-drenched Dubstep and by the time Adam (AnTenNae) took to the decks, Oasis was completely bonkers in a way we had never experienced before. Imagine the unison of swaying heads, smiles, and arms in the air? AnTenNae’s remix of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs unleashed a beast in everyone in the room. Congrats to Shambhala ticket winner Kevin Adams. Records beat that night include: earliest arrival by guests, most engaged dance floor, best vibe overall, and most broken beer bottles from rumbling bass.
“That was solid! It is really nice to see Footwerk steering away from its reputable ‘Kelowna Brostep’ reputation for one night. AnTenNae, Dubconscious, & Pathogen killed it for sure tonight.” – Jesse
Footwerk Events, J&M, & the Kelowna scene
Imagine some 250+ partiers packed into the sweaty back room of a local nightclub. They are dancing & screaming while their favorite DJs play anything gritty and underground like Breaks, Funk, House, Electro, Dubstep, & Drum & Bass. Everyone knows everyone by name and folks wear relaxed clothing, sneakers, layers of earthy tones, ewok hoodies, leg warmers, and hand crafted jewelry reminiscent of summertime festivals. Meanwhile, the mainstream room struggles to see more than a dozen people on the dance floor at any
given time. The first time I saw this was at Splashes Nightclub (now Level) in the winter of 2005. I was told this was the norm for years. We had just moved to Kelowna around that time. We chose the fresh air & beautiful mountains of the Okanagan for a chance to escape Eastern Canada’s urban rat race. We did not expect to find a rich, vibrant scene of underground music. This was when “Higher Ground” was a regular club night hosted by Toddy Rockwell & a team of Shambhala-loving friends whose goal was to keep the magic present the other 11 months of the year. We also discovered the renegade bush party scene where dancing under the stairs is king in summer time.
Fast forward to 2009, and the owners of a couple of downtown Kelowna Nightclubs approached us about starting up an underground DJ concept night. We were told we came highly recommended having spent many years hosting events, fashion & art shows in Kelowna, in the back woods all over BC, and at nightclubs, after hours venues, lounges, and festivals in Montreal. With all that and the success of four years of female-focused Flydjs’ events and lessons, we were the right team for the job.
Footwerk took shape in late summer 2009 at Oasis Nightclub, which at the time was a space that had been sitting dormant for several years. Excision’s “Elevation” saw its start in this club space in 2007. Also, DJ Thistle’s “Frontside Fridays” Drum & Bass nights were hosted there in the late 1990s. Although the club was well overdue for a complete makeover physically, we were confident its appeal as a back-room with mysterious vibes would be strong. Manousos and I were up to the challenge of starting and maintaining an underground regular club night. Inspired by the unity of regular nightclubbing from back East and from the vast musical diversity in our small community, we shaped our first few shows and opened the doors. Within a few shows, Footwerk at Oasis was out-performing the big mainstream room, and folks were happily pouring in every week to catch fresh underground sounds.
“The Footwerk vibes are just unreal. There is nothing like it in Kelowna,” says regular club-goer Curtis Mounsey, “All your friends are there. Even the ones you have yet to meet.”
Footwerk’s formula for success does not rely solely on showcasing DJs; much like Shambhala itself, it comes from the people involved. Ideas, suggestions, creativity, and the execution of events happen due a large team of like-minded friends. We are patrons, DJs, light guys, doormen, bartenders, MCs, designers, artist, vocalists, photographers, dancers, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and you. Footwerk features live art & visuals, themed décor, and lighting accents with things like a huge chandelier, anime on a giant screens, UV reactive sea-themed creatures, stilt walkers in tuxedos, hoola hoops, contact juggling, and similar. These elements keep our guests asking “what will they do next?” The goal is to make sure no two Footwerks look or sound the same.
Hosting events is a labour of passion and takes an army of people and resources to do so. Remarkable contributions from friends make Footwerk strong. Duane (DJ Justin Hale of One Love Sound) provided the foundation for a full professional sound system by selling his pieces to Footwerk just prior to him moving away. He mentioned being torn with letting them go but also saying “I’m just so happy to know my babies are staying in the family.” Footwerk sounds GREAT thanks to Duane. Chris from Clear Images photography approached us this fall to offer his photo skills. He was clear to say he was still learning but he was dedicated and reliable nonetheless. Since then, some 30 plus photo albums have been viewed by thousands of people. Chris’ photo skills are up to par with the best in the business thanks to his diligence and a willing Footwerk playground.
On the music front, locals have had experienced their first gig in a “real nightclub” as they say and some have opened for their favorite major headliners like Malente, Robb G, Nom De Strip, and Aphrodite. This season saw Footwerk step up its game by moving the party into the big room on occasion. The club known as Gotchas faced a major transformation
to become Sapphire Nightclub and Footwerk Events was invited to host the official grand opening. Deep House legend Mark Farina was our guest. Only so often do we get a chance to bring people out of the woodwork for a very special night of music and dancing. From then on, Footwerk has played host to a series of shows in the big room which has highlighted the halfway mark to Shambhala with guests like Nu-Mark, Elite Force, Rico Tubbs, Netsky, and Mat The Alien. Over the past two Footwerk years, many local and out of town DJs are expressing they have had their best career set at Footwerk. Headliners come to Kelowna with expectations of a small city but leave here with an exhilarating surprise. The crowd feels the same way.
Twitter: Footwerk Events
How did JGirl & Manousos become Fractal Forest talent?
At Fractal Forest, “talent” is just another word for “crew” which is another word for “family.” At the local DJ level, being “talent” means much more than simply showing up with your music selections. Working on the Fractal team for weeks leading up to the festivals is critical in absorbing all that goes into making Shambhala a seamless event. 2010 was my fourth year attending and my second volunteering. 2010 was the first time I had been that dirty though, and it was great!
We have known Rich and most of the Fractal crew for years having worked in the scene together in Kelowna for many years. We were regularly invited to spend time on the farm working at Fractal for a few weeks leading up to the show. Those pesky “day jobs” kept us from this opportunity until 2010, when I found myself without a job. In late summer 2010, Manousos found he was jobless too. We were both on EI, which was a bonus, and we got in touch with Shambhala headquarters right away. We were both concerned all spots were full but Rich said he had lots of work to do at Fractal and took us on right away. And he was right! There was a lot of work to do.
Our first week spent on the farm offered a site orientation, meeting the crew, cows, a fuzzy dog, and enjoying amazing home-made cooked meals. We met the people while working that I am still close friends with now. We painted fences, boards, posts, we fixed benches, pushed dirt, moved rocks, helped resurrect the annual pond, planted flowers, ran cables, and pulled out gobs of stinging nettle from the fractal’s surroundings. I had rashes everywhere, dirty, feet, and I had not brushed my hair in a week. It was awesome! Not being tied to a lame office and being outdoors was the greatest feeling. One day when I had my arms covered in dirt and brown paint everywhere, Rich said “Thank you so much for all this. Just remember many local DJs have done what you are doing and there is a lot of work to be done. Keep it up and you will earn yourself a DJ spot if you want. Valuable contributions do not go unrecognized. This is how many local DJs get their start.” After a week, we each earned free admission under the pre-show volunteer plan. We also made a heap of new friends and we had plans to be back on the farm a few days before the festival got going.
When we arrived that Monday, we made ourselves available for raking, placing art, and any last minute things that needed doing. We had already contributed our required hours but I certainly was not about to sit around. When we ran into Rich he had one last minute request for us. He explained he had really big shoes to fill and he felt we were best suited for it. He needed a pair of hands to manage his concession during the festival and knowing we have done this kind of thing before, he thought of us right away. He wanted to be sure we would not have our festival experience “ruined” by work but because we are both well past our party days of sleepless nights and indulgence, keeping busy with a big project was right up our alleys. Things went well and managing concession with a great staff of volunteers. It went so well we are doing it again this year. And we are also honoured to have DJ a set in Fractal this year – so come dance with us!