The first time I was invited out to party thrown by the ladies at S.T.A.G.E. Vancouver, it was an evening of great food, good people, and free drink tickets that seemed to keep magically appearing in my pocket. When I met up with them again at Terracotta Modern Chinese (52 Alexander St) I was expecting the same, minus the free drink tickets, of course. I wasn’t entirely sure where I was supposed to be going but when I saw the photographer set up in front of a media wall, snapping pics of people as they entered, I figured I’d found the place.
I was met at the curb by Farshad Shafiekhani and his wife Shannon, handshakes and smiles and a very sociable couple to be sure. Farshad is the general manager of C:EHKO Hair Concepts. Located at 1087 Hornby St, the cutting edge salon is celebrating one year of operation tonight.
Once inside I surveyed the three levels of the restaurant. It has an upper seating area, a bar service area, and a lower seating area. Before spending too much time checking out the bar service area, I headed upstairs to chat with some friends and the ladies from S.T.A.G.E.. As the crowd started to file in, I got the feeling that this group was similar to the crowd at the GOtoGAL premier, in that they were stylish and savvy without being dicks about it. Heh…
Situated next to the top of the stairs was a three-tiered cupcake “cake”. Everyone eyed it with longing until one guest calmly broke from the pack, grabbed a cupcake, and ate it. My friend nudged one of our hosts. “That girl just took a cupcake.” The heist was acknowledged with a laugh and my friend was offered a cupcake. Apparently, it’s okay to eat them too. Also circling the room were incredible samplings from Terracotta’s appetizer menu.
The DJ, Trip C, played a subdued mixed and people mingled as a photographer made the rounds inside. Alec and Graham Myrfield of The Stumblers Inn, grabbed seats at the table. It was kind of weird seeing them in a such setting, the people all being a little better behaved than we’re used to (hence me not loitering in the bar area). I haven’t seen the boys in quite some time and when asked where I’ve been lately, I answered, “Gone corporate” with a smile. “Us too, apparently,” Graham replied. Then the other shoe dropped. They’re playing the party.
On my way back from the bar, having finally given in, I was introduced to Steven Rayson from the BC Cancer Foundation. I know by one look at his face that I’ve met him before. I know his face from somewhere but just can’t remember. The fact that I had to put one of my drinks down to shake his hand might be a clue as to why. We chatted for quite a while about fundraising and the Foundation. He’s new to the BC Cancer Foundation having coming from the Food Bank. I thought it was quite remarkable of the gang from C:EHKO to have their anniversary party double as a cancer fundraiser. About ten minutes later, I would find out exactly why that was.
The lower seating area was filled with about 30 items up for silent auction. The items up for bid ranged from things like D+G fragrance gift packages and photo sessions to original art work and Canucks tickets. It’s a pretty good haul and it looked like a lot of people were putting their names down.
I stepped outside and hid across and down the street for a smoke, figuring that parking myself in front of the BC Cancer Foundation’s media wall with a smoke hanging out of my mouth isn’t exactly the image they are trying to convey. While outside, I heard the music stop. When you’re at an event such as this and the music stops, get back inside because you’re about to miss something important.
When I got back into the restaurant, Farshad was addressing the audience. He graciously thanked everyone for coming and thanked the staff at C:EHKO for a wonderful year. He invited his wife, Shannon, to the microphone. She thanked everyone for coming, with a genuine but weak smile. She has dreaded this moment. I could tell just by looking at her. I didn’t know why the event was a cancer fundraiser. She let me know.
Last October, after a 12 year battle with cancer, she lost her father. In an emotionally charged but not depressing speech, she held the room with her words, finishing with: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” You don’t hear too many Winston Churchill quotes at parties like that, but it was perfect.
Al and Graham started their acoustic set with with “Stone”, a song from their 2005, self-titled album. It’s a song about refusing to break, refusing to give in and a fitting way for them to start.
I was really impressed by the evening. I thought the location was a great choice for the event in that the layout and decor lent itself to the type of evening the ladies from S.T.A.G.E. and C:EHKO had envisioned. The mood and atmosphere were perfect to my eye. I know that Kylie and Cait are fully capable of throwing a party where champagne flutes float in the pool and painters, poets, and producers share a chuckle as the starlet of the latest Hollywood blockbuster streaks through the games room… but this wasn’t that party. It was a well executed tribute to a year of hard work and, unfortunately, to a fighter whose last round came too soon.
On my way out the door (I again left early), Kylie stopped me to make sure I got a gift bag. I could tell by her smile and the glint her eye that she was particularly excited about this one. All doubt is removed when she whispers, “It’s better than the last one” in my ear. I quite liked the last one. I kept the Laurell CD and handed the rest out to people on the bus. I did the same with this one and she was right. The people on the bus got a HAUL that night. I did, however, keep The Stumblers Inn CD to give to a friend.
As I walked out of Gastown and into Chinatown that night, crews were wrapping up a film production. As cables were wrapped and barriers taken down, I thought of all the effort it takes to get anything worthwhile done. Then I thought of Kylie and Cait and wondered what their next production would be like.
I walked down Columbia St, headed to the only place in Chinatown I’d be headed to after dark. I was done behaving.