Creating a space for People of Colour in Winnipeg

Rind reinvents what a pop-up bar should look like

The ability to go into any space and feel completely comfortable is a privilege many people don’t have. For People of Colour (POC), it is not rare to feel like an outsider in a room full of people.

In a city filled with POC from all different lived experiences and different interests, it can be hard to find a middle ground when it comes to Winnipeg events. Rind is a local initiative described as a “nomadic pop-up bar featuring a rotation of talents from Winnipeg’s POC community through boozy drinks, food and music.”

Audrey Mercado is the co-lead organizer of the pop-up.

Ally Gonzalo, Audrey Mercado, Shaneela Boodo, Noelle Madison Sagher and Brenden Gali created the Rind pop-up. // Supplied photo

“We have noticed that pop-ups that do happen around the city are very white and mainly made by white people, and it can be inaccessible for POCs,” Mercado says.

Rind organizers are aiming to create more spaces for POC to be able to gather without feeling like the exception.

For co-lead organizer Brenden Gali, the name Rind felt a perfect fit.

“The name Rind came out of an idea that, oftentimes in music and poetry, metaphors of People of Colour are related to fruit and how to get the good part of that fruit, you have to get through that built-up, tough exterior.

“Like fruit, our skin is thick and bitter. Our sweetness earned, not exposed”

Along with Gali and Mercado, the organizers are Ally Gonzalo, Shaneela Boodoo and Noelle Madison Sagher. All play an important role within the collective, working on photography, designing logos and social media.

The organizers want to make sure that local POC talent and attendees feel comfortable and have fun.

“It feels good to know and go to a pop-up where it feels like you're not the token Person of Colour in a sea of white people,” photographer Gonzalo explains.

University of Winnipeg student Taylor Grant understands how it feels to stand out in a bad way.

“It can be a little uncomfortable,” Grant says. “But at the same time, I’ve gotten used to it, because that’s how I grew up. At all my schools, it was predominately white kids with three to five POC, including myself. There is a feeling of isolation, and it can be unsettling knowing you stand out whether you want to or not.”

Local drag queen Alex Nguyen, who performs under the name Ruby Chopstix, has experienced the discomfort that comes with being a POC in public spaces.

“I’m not as scared with being in those public places and events, because I’m more comfortable in my skin and who I am as a person,” Nguyen says. “I’ve embraced me being a POC. But definitely a couple years ago, basically last year, I definitely didn’t enjoy being out in public events, especially clubs. It just feels like people judge you and eyes are always on you when it’s not the case at all.”

The first Rind pop-up takes place on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Fools and Horses (379 Broadway). Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $5. To learn more and to stay up to date with the future of Rind, follow them on Instagram @rind_wpg.

Published in Volume 73, Number 5 of The Uniter (October 4, 2018)

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