Headed by Lululemon’s Chip Wilson, Low Tide Properties is a private real estate investment, development, and management company founded in 2011 and headquartered on Water Street. The company buys and holds office, industrial, multifamily rental and retail properties for the long-term. Low Tide is a regular supporter of many of Gastown’s events; from Yule Duel to Gastown Nights. If you can see the effervescent Time Is Precious neon sign, you know Low Tide is nearby.
The Dugout is a drop-in centre located on Powell and Columbia where anybody can hang out in what the folks like to call their “community living room”. Run by volunteers, the centre provides cheap coffee, free breakfast, and baked goods to those who need it. On average, 600 people visit The Dugout every day where a safe, warm, and welcoming space awaits them.
The Dugout came from a vision by Bob Burrows, who to this day, still gives his time to the little shelter. It was 1967 and the young minister of The First United Church in the Downtown Eastside, wanted to create a safe hangout space for disadvantaged residents in SRO’s and those struggling with homelessness. With the financial support of 3 other churches and the City of Vancouver, The Dugout was born and has since opened its doors almost every day. The space also hosts The Out To Lunch Bunch – a daily AA meeting from 12.30-1.30 pm.
Los Parranderos started back in 1996 when a small circle of friends, all of them Venezuelan immigrants, decided to revive the Venezuelan tradition of going door-to-door singing Christmas Carols to their neighbours. Still going strong, these red hot choristers love playing with different rhythms and singing their own arrangement’s of Venezuelan Christmas music.
Today, the group consists of about 20 participants and is directed by Maria Luces, whose dedication, knowledge, and patience have been instrumental in shaping this group of amateur musicians.
We spoke to Ivan Contramaestre-Luces , who was a past musical director of the choir, and currently a member.
Check out Ivan and Los Parranderos in the video below.
Could you translate for us the meaning of Los Parranderos?
The term “Los Parranderos” is close in meaning to the expression “The Party Goers” and refers to a casual group of people, often family or friends, who go singing/carolling from house to house. It also reflects their happiness, laughter, and good disposition to enjoy life. We sing “Aguinaldos”, “Parrandas”, and “Gaitas” which are folk-music sub-genres of Venezuelan Christmas Carols.
What makes Los Parranderos so entertaining? What’s your secret recipe?
For those listening to us for the first time, the one thing they will notice is that there is a lot of energy in many of our songs. Venezuelan Christmas Carols are varied and full of rhythms; ranging from the lullaby-slow melodies to the fast-paced songs. They are heavily influenced by Spanish and African cultures from colonization days and, thus, are a mix of religious Christian themes with percussion and string instruments.
One of the richest aspect aspects of our music includes the variety of instruments utilized such as “charrasca”, “chineco”, the triangle, drums, tambourines, maraccas, “furruco”, “cuatro”, “requinto”, sometimes the guitar and tiple. Many of these instruments are of Venezuelan origin.
But I think part of our recipe is the fact that we are not musicians. Instead, we are “happy people with musical homesickness” whom are thrilled to share our rhythms and enthusiasm with Vancouverites, Canadians and our communities.
Any surprises in store for us this year?
If you have not seen us perform before, the entire repertoire will surprise you. One piece is specially-unique where we pay tribute to African-style drumming while at the same time honouring the heroes from our independence drive against Spanish rule. If you have seen us before (or visited our website), we are singing an old song that we have not performed in about 8-10 years – with an interesting adoration and reverence to Baby Jesus.
What are you listening to at the moment?
As we are approaching our opening show, I am listening to our repertoire over and over to make sure I am prepared.
What’s your fav Christmas/Holiday song?
I love Silent Night (in English and the Spanish version as well); I also love “Esta Bella Noche” (“This Beautiful Night”) and “Precioso Querube” (“Precious Cherub”) from our own repertoire.
What’s your ‘guilty pleasure’ Christmas/Holiday song?
“Jingle Bells” the Barenaked Ladies version.
What’s the best part about directing Los Parranderos?
As we are a group of (mostly) Venezuelans, the best part is keeping alive some of our traditions and cultural diversity. We also get to use some time, post-rehearsals, to laugh and share with friends making the time we are together a form of group-therapy: filled with laughter and good vibes. It certainly makes a difference to one’s mental health during the long autumn and winter months
Do you have any shows/gigs coming up in December/January?
We have about 10 shows scheduled over the Metro Vancouver area this year. Most of them are free to attend with a few private functions as well. A complete list of our performances this year can be found on our website.
Notably, we will be performing at the “Not-So-Silent Nights” festivities in Gastown, the “Yule Duel 2019” competition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the “3rd Venezuelan Christmas Bazaar” in Burnaby, and the “Aurora Winter Festival” at the PNE.