Bring on the House of SAS: Cirque Bizarre storms the Capital
Sanita Fejzic met up with Sebastien Provost and Sara Ainslie at Mercury Lounge to discuss their new production company House of SAS and its first week-long party, Cirque Bizarre from August 22 to 25 at the old Ottawa Jail Hostel.
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“I slept my way to the top,” jokes Sara Ainslie, who is also the general manager of the Mercury Lounge. “My boyfriend has been the owner for the past twelve years. I’ve been doing programming/booking, so it has been my baby.”
The idea for the House of SAS (Sara And Sebastien) came to Provost and Ainslie while sitting on the couch and discussing how to make Ottawa’s Pride week a destination for out-of-towners. As we speak, I am caught in the wave of two professionals who are not only extremely experienced, with years of successful events under their belts, but also in the company of unique personalities who are charming, passionate and dangerously charismatic.
Their enthusiasm is contagious.
“If you look at what Toronto and Montréal are doing, or even Winnipeg, which has a Pride that’s three times bigger than Ottawa with a smaller population,” explains Provost, previously co-owner and events manager at Flamingo. “We just didn’t see the level of sophistication that would entice out of town people to come to Ottawa.”
While Cirque Bizarre is not part of Capita Pride, their events compliment Pride’s programming. “We’re not competing with Pride. We’re doing the parties, the entertainment,” adds Provost. “Whereas Pride’s focus has always been community-based, we decided to do what we do best and that’s throw parties.”
Cirque Bizarre is bringing in performers and DJs from all over the world, including DJ Cazwell from NYC and Erez Ben Ishay from Tel-Aviv.
“We’re using the Ottawa Jail Hostel as our location because it’s something that’s never been used before,” explains Ainslie. “It’s very cutting edge, underground, undiscovered and we would like to bust it open. It has a unique feel; it’s something that is not created, it’s authentic,” she says of the historic venue.
The interior and exterior of the old jail will be used, including the parking lot and courtyard as well as the eighth floor “Death Row”—or what used to be death row. Rain or shine, the party will go on as tents will be installed on the exterior grounds. Plus it’s central, near the market.
Asked to pick one and only one special event that’s got them tickling with joy, without much hesitation Ainslie said “it is of course A Night at La Cage because there is so much programming and it’s all for the ladies.” They’re starting off at Mambo for a meet and greet for what feels to me like a geisha atmosphere before hitting Cirque Bizarre for a night of dancing with DJ Lady Miss Kier, lead singer of legendary 90s duo Deelite.
Provost had a harder time picking one event, though he did settle for Saturday night’s House of SAS Under the Big Top for the international and regional selection of musical delicacies.
CIRQUE BIZARRE, Aug 22-25
Ottawa Jail Hostel / 75 Nicholas Street / houseofsas.ca
Wednesday August 22, 6pm–2:30am
WE LOVE 2 HUMP
With Dick Party & the House of Darlings.
Thursday August 23, 6pm–2:30am
A Night at La Cage
Followed by DJ Lady Miss Kier, lead singer of Deelite.
Friday August 24, 6pm–2:30am
GAYBASH (MTL) with DJ Cazwell (NYC)
Includes Montréal’s hottest: DJ BUGO, SHAYDAKISS, Still Not Famous and MST STR.
Ladies and the TRAMPS T- Party (free event)
Montréal’s DJ, singer and songwriter Sandy Duperval & Capital Tease Burlesque.
Saturday August 25, 7pm–2:30am
DJ’s Sandy Duperval, Erez Ben Ishay (Tel-Aviv), Miss Honey Dijon (NYC) + cirque and drag performers.
Saturday August 25, 10pm–2:30am (Located on Death Row)
Steve “Bear” SAS & Dan Valin.