CirqueCon: The Unofficial Gatherings of Cirque du Soleil Passionates



Friday, May 21, 2004 to Sunday, May 23, 2004
Douglas House & Cambie Lodge Bed and Breakfasts
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

And so the journey begins. Or continues.
Traveling far across the continent we are called by some
unheard, un-vocalized scream.
We come from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana,
California, Louisiana, Georgia, Virginia, Florida and even Mexico.
We stand ready for the amazements that lie before us.
Yet fear what we may discover there.
At this time and this place we have chosen to gather.
To find our way through the darkness to where others stand bathed in light.
To be with them, and in so doing, be together.
Laugh and cry together.
Experience. Together.
And part knowing we have found our kind.
We stand together, yet we all stand alone.
We are Quidam. Yet we are all Passionates.

It began with Cirque fan Jeff “sfogviper” Tolotti proposing, on the Cirque du Soleil Yahoogroup, a gathering during Quidam's Vancouver, BC run. Seattle fan Keith Johnson, who was already planning a gathering for his family, suggested combining groups. This turned into a specific weekend when Cirque fans from across the country would converge on Vancouver, Canada. Fascination! (the unofficial Cirque du Soleil newsletter) publisher Ricky “Richasi” Russo brought the newsletters' sponsorship to the endeavor, enthusiastically lending his support.

Jeff created a website to announce the weekend. It read in part:

  • Who: Any Cirque du Soleil fan, as well as friends and family.
  • What: A weekend of Cirque du Soleil fun and socializing with friends, including a performance of the touring production Quidam.
  • Where: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • When: Friday 21 May - Sunday 23 May 2004, including the Quidam show on Saturday 22 May at 8pm
  • Why: After being gone for all of 2003, Quidam's only North American stops in 2004 are Vancouver and Calgary. Quidam is one of the finest theatrical productions in the world. This is the perfect opportunity to see it again - or for the first time - and have some fun as a group!

THE BED AND BREAKFASTS - Keith, who had previously organized group trips from his home base of Seattle, WA to Orlando and Anaheim, had something special in mind; two Bed and Breakfast lodges that he thought would be just perfect. What if we all roomed together in the same facility? The Douglas House and Cambie Lodge, cozy turn-of-the-century houses, were right next to each other in a quiet residential neighborhood about a mile south of the Grand Chapiteau, very close to the cosmopolitan downtown of Vancouver. The intimacy, character and charm of these two homes-turned-inns and their closeness to the Cirque tent-grounds (not to mention reasonable rates and free on-site parking) made them perfect choices!

With attendees making their own airfare arrangements (many flying into Seattle and carpooling up), and also buying their own tickets to Quidam, having nearly everyone stay together created a sense of community. It was also our combined numbers that lead Cirque to take notice and contact us.

THE PROGRAM PACKETS - In addition to the special weekend we experienced, we put together small packets of information and momentos as gifts for our attendees. Each person received:

  • A Program Book to keep as a momento, with articles and information,
  • Two CD's chock full of rare music by Cirque and its musicians,
  • A full-color name badge with lanyard,
  • A spread of food and wine at our Friday “Cocktail Hour,”
  • And all the planning, research and communication, both on-line and via phone and email, necessary to make the trip happen and answer questions.

OUR SCHEDULE - What did we do during our weekend? Many folks planned small trips throughout Vancouver to see that fabulous city or took in multiple performances of Quidam. The “official” CirqueCon activities were detailed in a page from our Program Book:

  • FRIDAY - MAY 21:
    • 5:00pm-6:00pm - Douglas House B&B, Kitchen area

      We invite everyone who's in town (and not attending a show) to stop by our headquarters Bed & Breakfast for a little "get to know you." We'll have a few munchies and some Cirque Du Rose wine for consumption. We'll also have space for you to show off your rarest Cirque collectible. We'll have older programs, Cirque du Soleil wallpaper books, and other Cirque memorabilia you won't find elsewhere.

  • SATURDAY - MAY 22:
    • 1:30pm-approx. 3:30pm - Cirque du Soleil Quidam Backstage Entrance

      A very special event for CirqueCon Vancouver members! A tour of the Quidam site, and perhaps other things even we don't know about.

    • 4:00-6:00pm - The Old Spaghetti Factory

      We'll have seats in the same area but probably not at one big table. We'll eat and party and prepare for the show. After dinner folks are free to tour Gastown, return to the Bed & Breakfast to dress for the show, or head straight to the tent to be there when the gates open at 7:00pm.

    • 7:00pm-11:00pm - Cirque du Soleil Quidam Entrance

      At some point while on the Cirque grounds we'll want to gather to take a group photo, so bring your cameras (just don't use them inside!). After the show, don't leave the tent! Cirque will have another exciting event for us at approx. 10:30pm - a special post-show Question & Answer session with Cirque artists, including autographs and photos!

CONCLUSION - It was an incredible weekend for our 30 members, which spurred us on to consider other trips. For more details on how CirqueCon was created, check out this article. For a fun history of our trip, check out this article. We also got a bit of local press.

Our final numbers told the story. For CirqueCon Vancouver 2004 we had:

  • 31 members total, all of whom attended Quidam,
  • 11 rooms rented at the "Headquarters" Bed and Breakfast,
  • 4 rooms rented by members at other places, for a total of
  • 15 total hotel rooms, approximately 33 room nights.

Quite impressive for a first-time ad-hoc fan event!

CREDITS - The CirqueCon Vancouver 2004 Team (in alphabetical order):

  • Ricky Russo: Special Events - Cirque du Soleil liaison.
  • Jeff Tolotti: On-Line Instigator & Publications - Format & production of Program Packet, Badge, and Gift CDs. Producer and compiler of CD #2.
  • LouAnna Valentine: Socials - “Cocktail Hour” Organizer.
  • Keith Johnson: Logistics - B&B, Restaurant, Member Contact. Producer and compiler of CD #1.

Special Thanks to:

  • André Belanger and Genevieve Bastien of Cirque du Soleil for helping to make the weekend so special.
  • Leslie Lewington and Paul Findlay of the Bed & Breakfasts for so kindly allowing us to book two of their properties.
  • Our friends at The Old Spaghetti Factory.
  • Susan Graham of Tourism Vancouver.
  • Norwescon for the Program Book Bags.