public record
<-- previous | next -->


May. 15, 1970

Intermedia Exhibition winds up with sophisticated evening of communal dining and a listless topless dancer


SATURDAY, 6 P.M. The beginning of City Feast. Helen Goodwin's communal eating event to mark the end of the Intermedia Exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Across Vancouver, scores of individual eating feasts—are about to start. Later we're all to gather at the gallery for what Mrs. Goodwin calls a "sophisticated night out." It's an experiment in large group choreography by dancer choreographer, Mrs Goodwin as soon as we begin to participate.

Our guests arrive. It's a small party, relaxed intimate and low key; Francoise Hardy music—and a savory feast; hot Hungarian goulash, garlic bread heaps of salad, mulled wine and grapes in sour cream. We think of other groups around the city, having their own feasts.

A little before 9 p.m. we arrive at the gallery, quite a queue is developing . Everyone has to sign the register — "just in case there is trouble later. Trouble? At the art gallery? Maybe its going to be a more interesting evening than we anticipated.

Inside, a man in evening-dress and a top-hat spins a wheel of fortune. "If your number comes up , you have to do something— sing a song, tell a story, recite a poem. Everybody looses. one of the losers swears at the man in the hat and walks away. One of them sings a song. The rest just scream, quite pointlessly.

We move on. In a small dome in a small room, a small group makes small music. In this light , its hard to tell what they look like or even what sex they might be.

Inside the rough natural-wood duplicate domes, a group is playing bingo. In the same gallery, a folk singing duo gathers a crowd.

In the main gallery inside the large geodesic dome that has been the focal point of the Intermedia Show, a rock group setting up. Scattered around the room are low tables surrounded by foam-rubber mats. No one is sitting on them.

In the next gallery someone has established a bar— beer or hard liqueur 50 cents a time . Business is brisk.

More and more people drift in and walk around aimlessly. The eventual attendance-total will be an estimated 600. Mainly the young art-gallery Intermedia crowd: colorful easy and loose. You can spot the occasional suit and tie among the see-through blouses, the knitted belts, jeans and sweatshirts, but some how it all fits.

The crowd grows. Someone says there are going to be topless dancers. Some one else says there are going to be strippers. Maybe that is why they're expecting a raid.

In the gallery where the bar is, someone starts an impromptu jam session, bongo drums, two people banging a rhythm on chairs, two people improvising nicely on flutes.

A large crowd gathers, clapping and shaking enthusiastically. The impromptu session goes on; the crowd grows.

"The topless has started," someone says . No one takes much notice. A girl in the bottom half of a bikini and strategic sequins wanders listlessly among the crowd "It's not a girl at all — its a man Doug Christmas Says so, says a voice beside me. "Doesn't have the right curves for a man," his companion points out.

Its 10 p.m., and the air is getting thick. Large amounts of beer are being drunk. Many variates of cigarettes are being smoked. If you can stand the herd smell , it's just a big, noisy, very loose after-dinner party, with everyone seeming to enjoy themselves, everyone seems to be happy to be together, everyone very easy, very warm.

At 10:45 p.m., we are promised a belly-dancer in the large geodesic dome. A crowd gathers and waits and waits patiently. The belly-dancer prepares for action — but inexplicably, after a delay of some minuted, she puts her cloak back on and walk away.

The crowd, disappointed, moves into a room with the bar. Loud rock is being played; a topless dancer is shaking away, more or less in time. She is joined by two more. the room is jammed breathlessly full; even so, there are those who try and dance. We are trampled on and back out.

Werner Aellen the director of Intermedia, walks past. A success, Werner? "People seem to like it," he says.
And here is Helen Goodwin in her striking hat. What happened to the Belly-dancer, Helen? "The sound system broke down. These things happen. Why don't you talk to Reveen meanwhile.

Reveen? At the art gallery? But yes there he is, patiently waiting to give us his act after the belly-dance.

The belly-dancer I am assured over my shoulder by James Barber, is half greek, half turkish with the temperament of an active volcano. She is he says the best belly-dancer he has ever seen. His vivid tales of what he has seen her do indicate that she may indeed be worth watching.

But, as we rapidly discover, any connection between the authentic belly-dance and the dance performed by this generously built lady has to be purely coincidental." She's not the one I thought she was," says James, somewhat chagrined.

And now, at 11:30 p.m., it's the turn of hypnotist Reveene. But Reveene at the art gallery we can do without. Gracefully, we retire, heading for home.

On the forecourt of the gallery a fire is blazing. Whats burning? "Its a ritual destruction of the Fotheringham column,"someone says.

And there at the top of the steps, hearing witnesses, is Fotheringham himself. Why aren't you inside, Al? "Reveen drove us out." We nod sympathetically.

Two policemen arrive, attracted by the fire, they are as bewildered by it as everyone else. Their presence brings Werner Aellen rushing from the gallery with a worried look on his face and a large can in his hand. He upends it over the smoldering ashes and slightly more than a cupful of water trickles out. he goes back inside, presumable to get more.

Fotheringham has a quiet word with the police. He explains about Intermedia week, about the domes, about how all the kids have been letting off steam, having a party. The police listen and nod; then, reassured, they leave.

Fotheringham laughs. "Don't blame them," he says. "They weren't to know. This is the art gallery — as far as they knew, the fire could have been part of some sort of primitive fertility rite, couldn't it?"

Well wasn't it?


public record
<-- previous | next -->