West End Community Centre

Aus dem Audiowalk Artists' Memories of the West End | Vancouver

Artists' Memories of the West End
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West End Community Centre


Jerome Mandrake visits the West End Community Centre and remembers how it has hosted important activities throughout his adult life.


Ah, the West End Community Centre. When I was younger, I was the captain of a LGBTQ+, although we didn’t call it then that we didn’t call it that at the time we called it just the queer cheerleading team. And we were called the Pride Squad and the Pride Squad used to meet here at the West End Community Centre. Every Sunday, I think from two to four, if I’m remembering right, we’re talking maybe 2002 and we would rehearse, we would train. And I was a national cheerleader back in high school, and I had just graduated and I followed this ad to become a cheerleader. And it turns out they didn’t have a captain. They didn’t have a coach.

So I quickly became the coach as well, which was crazy. And we used to come here to the West End Community Centre every week. And we would take whatever room was available. They’d have these community rooms that you’d have to show up to and sometimes the ceiling was really low when we’d have to pretend to go up and we would rehearse and there’d always be people that would be peeking into the doors and into the windows. Cause it was just the zany thing to be doing on a Sunday at the community center. And that was really fun. And when I got older, I started doing dance classes. I started teaching dance classes out of the West End Community Centre. And that was maybe five years after the cheerleading thing. And even that felt a bit like a full circle moment to be doing this thing at the same space, but in a more professional setting. And then, about five years after that, I started taking night classes here. So I took a pottery class here. I took a writing class here, creative writing class here.

So I think no matter where my artistic or my access energy has been in my life, as a resident of the West End, it’s always found its place without my permission here at the West End Community Centre. The class I happened to take. The practice I need to be going to. The class I need to be teaching is all based out of this space. And I’ve met so many wonderful people in this space. And it’s a really interesting space because it’s a community hub, but you’re always coming to the West End Community Centre by choice. You’re always choosing to take something extracurricular on. You’re always taking to go a little bit out of your comfort zone or to take something that’s a passion that you’re not getting paid to do necessarily, and to work it here.

I love the energy of this place because of that. I think people are always a little bit ambitious when they’re here. They’re always a little bit uncomfortable, but they’re willing when they’re here. And I think it brings up such really cool things in the community. I’ve also been here for some really cool tea dances, some really cool fundraisers, some cool parties, Halloween. They do some great stuff with the kids. I mean, talk about full circle. Now, the kids that I work with, I work for the Vancouver School Board now and coming here with the kids I work with and go into the library. And I mean, that was, that’s a really different purpose for coming here than the 17 year olds coming here for gay cheerleading practice. Cool full circle moment. Yeah. This is a really important space.

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