Can a chic day at the horse races make Vancouver a happier place?
Allow me to introduce Tyson Villeneuve and Jordan Kallman, the 30-something “eventneurs” behind The Social Concierge, a boutique branding and marketing agency that specializes in stylish, artistic large-scale events that have animated Vancouver (and now other cities) with an exciting joie de vivre.
You can’t just show up to Saturday’s Deighton Cup, a Derby day at Vancouver’s Hastings Park. Guests are asked to co-create the event by wearing fancy hats and sundresses or seersucker suits and fedoras.
“The crowd becomes part of the spectacle in and of themselves,” Villeneuve explains. “With the Deighton Cup, half of the time is spent peacocking. You’re looking at what everyone else is wearing, just as much as you’re watching the races or playing horseshoes.”
Dress codes are underrated. The first time I met Villeneuve and Kallman was at Vancouver’s inaugural Diner en Blanc, the annual French soiree that has exploded into an international phenomenon. It was 2012. They were bringing the concept of the massive, all-white pop-up picnic to Canada for the first time. After weeks of anticipation, the secret location was announced at the last minute. Thousands of stylish partygoers drifted en masse into Jack Poole Plaza tufted in white feathers and flowers, toting fold-up chairs, tables and baskets filled with ivory linen, crystal glasses and antique silverware.
The excitement was palpable. This was unlike any event I had ever attended in Vancouver. People actually talked to strangers. We laughed, danced, broke bread and shared wine with atypical abandon. There are other events that evoke a similar sense of camaraderie. The folk festival immediately comes to mind. But this was held downtown, right in the centre of the city, not a secluded park. The parade to the site was part of the festivities. Everyone who saw it, even if they weren’t attending, was engaged, curious, titillated. The event lit up the city, literally and figuratively. It almost felt like the 2010 Winter Olympic Games had come back for sultry, summer one-night fling.
I stumbled into Villeneuve and Kallman at the end of the night. We were the last ones there and shut down the plaza. We weren’t drunk. Well, maybe a little tipsy. But we were all high on an energy that I couldn’t quite articulate at the time.
Kallman calls it “chasing happiness”. For Villeneuve, it’s “post-event catharsis”. They describe it as a thrilling sensation or sense of exuberance that comes after surmounting all the stress, work and challenges that go into sculpting a great event out of a blank space. And for them, involving guests as creative partners (by have them dress in a certain way or bring their own table setting) is part of the magic.
They keep chasing that feeling with The Social Concierge, a company that brings unique cultural experiences to life. Their signature events include Harvest Haus, Dinner by Design (which launched in Calgary last month) and the Deighton Cup.
Originally called Thoroughbred, the Deighton Cup actually began as a birthday party for their friend Dax Droski of Droski Turner, a like-minded hospitality company that creates immersive social events. Villeneuve and Kallman worked behind the scenes for the first few years, as it grew from a fancy-dress lark in the park to one of the most stylish events of the summer.
Now in its lucky seventh year, the stakes continue to rise. This year the event will double in size with new concourse and grandstand seating area that can accommodate an additional 1,500 guests, a reserved-ticket Cocktail Jockey Mixology Competition, presented by Bulleit Frontier Bourbon, and the Style Stakes-Best Dressed Awards competition, which continues to push the fashion envelope with celebrity judges and a new red-carpet grandstand. Even if they’re not competing, guests are encouraged to don the Derby dress code.
“People tend to have more fun when they’re engaged,” says Villeneuve. “At first, it may seem like a pain. Some people just want to show up. But when you have to prepare for an event — even it’s just getting a nice hat for the Deighton Cup or a pair of lederhosen for Harvest Haus — it shifts your mentality. It builds a sense of community around an event.”
Have I perked your interest? Do you want to go the Deighton Cup this weekend? Lucky for you, we can help.
Vv Magazine is giving away four Marquee VIP tickets, valued at $75 each (value of $300). Tickets include full access to the Concourse level and picnic lunch, as well as elevated access to The Deighton Cup’s traditional VIP Areas: the Lounge of Leisure, Field of Dreams, Cigar Lounge and Champagne Stage. Marquee VIP guests are also eligible for The Style Stakes and Gallant Sartorial awards. Winners will have their names engraved on The Deighton Cup for posterity and win a weekend getaway, courtesy of our partners.
Interested? Here’s the deal: Let us know in the comment section below what derby wear you plan on sporting at the Deighton Cup and why you think you will make everyone’s heads turn.
For a second entry, tweet: I want to be a @ViewTheVibe #MarqueeVIP at the 7th @DeightonCup in #Vancouver! #luckynumber7 #deightoncup #Vvcontest
We will announce the winner this Thursday morning at 9am so don’t wait! You just might get lucky…
Note: you must be a resident of B.C and over the age of 19 to enter.