A more than “OK” evening… that all started with a button

Well, another one of my quirky quests was successful beyond my imaginings. In fact, it landed me smack dab in the middle of a trés chic art opening/ schmoozefest! Me and the models Weeks ago, I read an article in the Sun about a local guy and his unique attempt to bust through Vancouver’s perceived social unfriendliness. His idea was a button that says “OK” on it, which signifies that the wearer is open to being spoken to. As the website said, an OK button “tells people that you’re not only great to talk to, but you like the idea of a warmer and more open city. It’s an icon to let people know that it’s OK if they actually try and speak with you. That’s all there is to it.” OK buttonSounds intriguing! I talk to strangers all the time, but I’m a sucker for a button and especially one with a fun backstory. So last Friday (September 28), I finally got myself over to the Trunk Gallery on West 3rd, where the buttons were supposed to be available. (It was also a chance to drop in on my old workmates at Big House Communications, located on the very same block.) The uber-cool gallery space was a Kubrick-esque expanse of white walls punctuated by a few black leather benches. A bar area was being set up, and the couches shifted into place. I saw some enormous wine bottles, a single one of which would last me for a year. I explained to the woman in charge, whose name was Diem (“like in the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’,” she said) about the buttons. They must not be taking the city by storm – she knew where they were but didn’t seem to know what they were for. But she happily swept a few out of their drawer and handed them to me. But that wasn’t all – she also invited me to come back later that evening to attend the “invitation only” event they were setting up for. “Just tell them Diem said it was OK,” she said. Carpe Diem, indeed! There was no doubt I would seize this opportunity to have a unique experience. Maybe it would be a pretentious art crowd, but there’s always someone interesting to talk to, and hey – if all else failed, at least there was bound to be food. I returned at 6:45, one of the first folks there from what I could see through the glass facade. I pulled hard on the door but it wouldn’t budge. Panic gripped me. Locked out already! Then I saw another door right behind me – oh, that one, of course, hahaha… I was suddenly glad there weren’t a lot of people there yet. Happily, within mere seconds I was greeted by a familiar face: Jesse, a fellow student in Shea Hampton’s acting class which I was in through the Spring (and plan to return to soon). He works at auto/ONE, the high-end car dealership which, as it turns out, owns the space comprising Trunk Gallery and Clutch. Aha: Trunk… Clutch… I get it. Clever. Also clever to have art installations directly accessible to a crowd that can afford it… So, reassured by running into someone I knew not a minute after arriving, I proceeded to soak up the sights – art and fashion photography – and, best of all to me, the sounds! The delightfully swingin’ Angela Kelman and her crack trio filled the space with great jazzy tunes, cool and sophisticated yet very danceable. The event turned out to be a double showcase – for photographers represented by an agency called THEY, as well as an exhibit of magazine fashion photography. I had some nice conversations with some of the people in the crowd, including photographer Eydis (pronounced “80’s”) S. Luna Einarsdottir and her friend Deborah. I checked out the arty photos. And when a quartet of dolled-up lovelies arrived, seemingly straight from a fashion shoot (one was immediately thrilled to see herself in one of the displayed fashion spreads), I couldn’t resist arranging a photo just for fun. Tasty sushiMostly, though, I listened to the fantastic music – and made sure Angela knew I appreciated it, since it wasn’t the kind of gig where anyone pays attention to the band, sadly. I feasted on some fine sushi (and figured out how to apply soy sauce without one of those little trays). All in all, I had a great time! I even got another takeaway goodie – a CD with reproductions of the photos on display and four tracks by Angela Kelman, including a fresh and breezy take on “To Sir With Love” which gets regular airplay on AM 600 (my favourite cruising station for the Rambler). And it was all because I went looking for a button… Actually, sad to report, it looks like we in Vancouver will have to do our own social barrier-smashing without the benefit of the “OK” button. I just checked oksocial.org, and the site is gone. (Though you can still read some of its content in its Google-cached version). Well, one noble social experiment may have bitten the dust, but it was indirectly responsible for at least one delightful evening of fun!

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