The city’s West End and downtown will be awash in tuxedos, glitter, ball gowns and tiaras all this week — and no, it’s not the after, after party of the Juno Awards.
Instead, it’s Coronation 47, a week leading up to the Black and White Ball at the Commodore Ballroom this weekend during which the 46th elected Monarchs of Vancouver, the Mother Court of Canada, will step down and a new regime will begin.
Reigning Emperor Tommy D, who helped organize the event with a team including reigning Empress Jane Smoker, says voting to name the new Monarch Court took place March 24. He adds the new empress will be crowned March 30. Also stepping down at the ball are the imperial crown princes of Vancouver, Clayton Alexander and Sean Malmas, as well as imperial crown princesses Kendall Gender and Gia Metric.
The Imperial Court System in the U.S. was founded in San Francisco in 1965 by drag queen José Sarria, who soon became the catalyst of a volunteer fundraising movement whose members took on titles of nobility bestowed upon them by the “Emperor” and “Empress,” who are elected annually.
In the U.S., the first court outside of San Francisco was formed in Portland, OR, in 1971 followed by Seattle, and then Vancouver in 1976 by the self-proclaimed Empress of Canada, ted northe — always spelled in lower case. Northe founded the Imperial Court System of Canada in 1964 and became the titular head of the charitable organization in 1967. He remained Empress of Canada until his passing in April 2014. In B.C. the court is called the Dogwood Monarchist Society.
Tommy D says the goal of the Imperial Court System has always been to raise money for charities. Tommy D adds each year the elected empress and emperor are able to choose their own charities to raise funds for over the course of a year.
This year’s charities include, Rainbow Refugee, Women Against Violence Against Women, Health Initiative for Men and Zee Zee Theatre, which represents marginalized groups.
“Myself and Jane have spent the year raising funds and whatever we make this week is added to that amount,” says Tommy D.
Tommy D is expecting between 300 to 400 out-of-town visitors to converge on Vancouver to take in the pomp and circumstance, which includes drag shows at various venues all week.
For more information and a schedule of events and shows leading up to the ball March 31, visit dmsvancouver.com.
Safety tips for Coronation Week from Joan-E
Former Empress Joan-E, also known as Robert Kaiser, used Facebook to post some words of safety advice to visitors from out of town attending the ball “due to its location in the Granville entertainment area.”
- Travel together at night
- Arrange transportation in and out of downtown: take a cab if possible or avail yourself of the shuttles arranged by our court
- Keep your ID on you at all times
- Arrive early at clubs to avoid standing in line
Kaiser ended the post with this message: “We are thrilled you chose Vancouver as a destination this year and I think we can promise you a monarchical celebration that will be remembered for years to come. I look forward to spending time with many an old friend, and creating some wonderful new relationships along the way.”