Retro dance party ‘gets physical’ for breast cancer

Imperial hosts ’80s and ’90s-themed Boobyball fundraiser Oct. 21

Spandex, high-rise leotards, friendship bracelets and Zack Morris will be the elements in play at an upcoming breast cancer fundraiser aimed specifically at the under 40 set.

Vancouver’s inaugural Boobyball is happening Oct. 21 at the Imperial around the theme of “Let’s Get Physical.” Taken from Olivia Newton John’s 1981 hit of the same name, the motif is meant to reflect the vibe of an ’80s or ’90s dance party, but it could also be “Let’s Get Serious.”

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As in, serious about breast cancer.

Launched in 2002, Boobyball is rooted in equal parts party and advocacy.  Themed parties — life in the ’80s and ’90s, summer camp or outer space, for example — have raised money for breast cancer research and treatment.

The ball got rolling via Toronto-based charity Rethink Breast Cancer, which was established in 2001 by founder MJ DeCoteau.

“It’s not your typical charity fundraiser,” DeCoteau said. “That’s the reason I started Rethink Breast Cancer and that’s how Boobyball started — it’s to create a bold, relevant event for the under-40 crowd to help get people thinking that breast cancer is not just an older person’s issue.”

That point was painfully driven home when DeCoteau launched Boobyball after a mutual friend was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She was just 23 at the time and her support circle responded in kind.

“It came out of her friends not knowing how to support her,” DeCoteau said. “They wanted to lift her spirits. She expected a room full of a few people, but it turned into this massive party.”

Party is the emphasis of each Boobyball gathering, of which there have been many across Canada in the last 14 years. Last year alone saw more than 4,000 participants taking part, and more than $4 million has been raised for the charity since its inception.

While breast cancer is the tie that binds the room together, Boobyball is a chance to let loose for a good cause. To that end, events aren’t your typical fundraising affairs: no stuffy black ties are needed, nor the need to shell out $1,000-plus for a seat. Instead, they target young philanthropists in their 20s and 30s who want to shake their tail feathers and knock back a few cocktails.

“We’d love [attendees] to know that as a young person you can get involved with the breast cancer cause and that it can be done in a fun way that’s relevant to their lives,” DeCoteau said.

Boobyball Vancouver committee chair Kelly Townsend said next week’s shindig will include a slew of peak ’80s and ’90s fare: a doughnut station, candy bar, friendship bracelet making station and tunes courtesy of Z 95.3.

Sounds, like, totally tubular.

Vancouver’s date with Boobyball gets going at 8 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the Imperial on Main Street. Tickets are $125 apiece and include a tax receipt. For tickets or info, go to


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