The weekend of 16-18 July saw the 33rd annual Vancouver International Folk Festival. You go for the great music, of course, and this year brought the usual new discoveries: the Peatbog Faeries (Celtic fusion complete with bagpipes), Mauvais Sort (French fast foot-stomping, fiddle-playing folkiness); confirmation of recent interest (Po’ Girl‘s jazzy urban folk with Allison Russell’s spectacular voice and instruments ranging from clarinet to bucket), Deep Dark Woods‘ rocking roots style); and delight in old timers who can still hold an audience spellbound (Jim Byrnes, Connie Kaldor).
But after the music, the second best part of the festival is, without doubt, people-watching. From the grey-bearded, sandalled veterans in unflattering shorts to the young and the tattooed; from lesbian couples snuggled up under the trees wearing one jacket between two, to face-painted children eating whales’ tails, to the ancient hippie guy who dances in a headscarf and a skirt to young women in original sartorial combinations of the decorative and the utilitarian — it is all a feast for the senses.
This year’s outstanding looks:
- the woman raffle seller with a glossy black Elvis pompadour, complete with long sideburns
- the elfin older woman in an ethereal long white dress with long platinum hair
- the man wearing an oddly feminine skirt complemented by black socks held up by sock suspenders, and red and black Doc Martens
- the tall, slim woman wearing black lace pantaloons and carrying a parasol
- the woman with the elephant tattoo
- the baby wearing a superhero onesie complete with red cape fastened to the back
And a special award goes to the woman of advanced years in droopy shorts — wearing the forbidden combination of socks with sandals — who nevertheless danced unselfconsciously to the gospel music on Sunday morning while giving her partner unmistakably seductive looks.