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Calgarian receives $10K in funding to produce a documentary about one of the city’s most unique events

GoGo Battles is a satirical feminist wrestling show that is full of absurdity

Fights often break out in Dickens Pub.

Femmes and thems slam each other on the ground. They kick, scratch, and bite under flashing lights while music blares and bystanders roar.

However, this isn’t just any kind of fight, it’s GoGo Battles.

GoGo Battles was created over five years ago by Cabaret Calgary and it’s one of the company’s most unique shows. It’s billed as satirical feminist wrestling, but it’s so much more, says Val Duncan, a producer and performer in Calgary.

“It's so joyful. It takes a different approach to the masculine tropes of professional wrestling and turns them on their head. It's political, and it's funny, and it's just a real joy to be a part of,” she says.

Duncan is a performer in the show and for three seasons portrayed Val Halah, a gladiator-type hero character who is deeply noble and always in the pursuit of justice.

However, she isn’t just a performer. Duncan recently received a $10,000 grant from the TELUS STORYHIVE Voices program to produce a documentary on GoGo Battles.

One of 101 content creators across BC and Alberta to be provided funding from STORYHIVE, Duncan is thrilled to share the story of GoGo Battles with the world.

Going GoGo

Kayla Bigras is part of Cabaret Calgary and helped create the GoGo Battles show.

Bigras says it was in the early days of the company that they started GoGo Battles.

Cabaret Calgary was hired by a local sports pub to put on a show, and because the company tries to create entertainment that suits the venue, they knew their typical burlesque act would not work in the pub.

“The concept was, there would be these fancy show girls doing go-go dancing behind all these sports screens that were all over the bar and then at the end, to connect it together, they would do a one-minute cat fight,” Bigras says.

However, it wasn’t the dancing that was a hit. It was the cat fight that the audience loved, so Bigras says they shifted the focus of the show to be more wrestling-heavy.

“The reality is the majority of us are middle-aged ladies and we're not buff gym rats or anything so we can't necessarily do all of the moves,” she says.

Instead, the show uses comedy, props, and commentary on society.

The characters exist in a bizarre, alternate universe that extends across all seasons of the show. Each character falls into the villain or hero category and has their own back story.

For the love of the fight

Victoria Bucholtz is also part of Cabaret Calgary and helped create GoGo Battles.

Bucholtz loves how creative and empowering the show is.

“It’s a fun way to mix in nostalgia, absurdism, camp, and political commentary. It's a very creative art form that uses wrestling as a base to have these much broader ideas and comedic trends,” she says.

Bucholtz says the show is a passion project for the wrestlers in the show.

“Nobody’s really making any money on this and most people in the show are professional performers, yet we all do it for a few dollars because it's so fun.

The show is currently in season five, but the crew is already planning out season six. Bucholtz says they hope to enhance the show further in the next season so it can continue for years to come.

Wrestle Womania

Duncan’s documentary on the show has to be wrapped by early 2024, so she will spend the summer and fall completing interviews and capturing footage of GoGo Battles matches and behind-the-scenes work.

As an emerging filmmaker, Duncan is pleased by the opportunity to get production experience through STORYHIVE’s program. In addition to the funding, she will also receive mentorship and training.

“GoGo Battles is so unique and such an interesting event in Calgary. It’s such an amazing community and I think it's the strength of that story that really convinced them [STORYHIVE]. I am just here to document it and to share it,” she says.

Telling their story

The performers of GoGo Battles are thrilled to have Duncan tell their story.

“Val is an amazing storyteller and understands the heart and soul and joy of GoGo Battles,” Bucholtz says.

She also believes the documentary will bring GoGo Battles more exposure.

“So often, you have to see it to really get it,” Bucholzt says. “I think having more exposure through the documentary will be good because people will get a sense of what the product is.”

Duncan says the project is still in its early stages, but she looks forward to seeing what the film will become.

GoGo Battles takes place monthly at Dickens Pub. Its next show is Aug. 22, so be sure to snag tickets now for an unforgettable night!

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