What started as a way to have fun at lunch has turned into a six-member band that’s raised $11,000 for charity causes.
The six-member band of Mount Douglas secondary teachers call themselves Victoria’s Other Secret and are booked all the way ahead to February when they’ll play their annual Super Ball, a fundraiser show of rock covers the night before football’s Super Bowl.
As summer comes to an end, and most of the group return from their travels, the band is getting ready to get back at it. They will learn 30 songs, about 2.5 hours of playing, for each show.
“It takes a lot of time to prepare,” said English and drama teacher Alan Williams, who sings and taps the tambourine and other light percussion. “It’s been a hoot. It’s certainly been a great thing to discover in my 40s.”
They’ve done three events at the Legion and in 2018 hosted a show at White Eagle Hall in James Bay where they sold 200 tickets. Other Mount Doug teachers volunteered to run the bar and clean up after, saving money and adding to their charity proceeds.
The band started when Danny McMillan, a social studies and physical education teacher, took to playing the drums in the band room at lunch. He invited Williams to sing despite having no musical background. Drafting teacher and rowing coach Graham McLaren, English teacher Ben Greene and education assistant Janine Dukes joined too.
Eventually the band teacher, Doug Awai, came on board. They’d been meeting weekly for two years when they signed up for their first gig, joining the annual Mount Douglas talent show.
Initially they played straight rock music but they’ve adapted. The band’s goal is to get people up and moving.
“Rock was our go-to,” Williams said. “Some songs people responded to. We also added some R&B, funk and hip hop. As we do fundraisers, people come to dance, we realized more and more what works for that.”
Williams and Dukes sing, Awai plays bass, keyboard, saxophone, guitar, and vocals, Greene plays guitar, keys, bass and harmonica, McLaren plays guitar and bass and McMillan plays drums. Dukes remains a member though she moved to Saint Michaels University School.
“Our first show was 500 people, lots of students, it was nerve-racking,” recalled Williams. “Then we kept playing and doing school functions.”
In 2016, Victoria’s Other Secret joined other teachers from the district in hosting a fundraiser for Syrian refugees at the Gorge Legion that brought in $1,600.
Since 2016, the group has steered away from playing at Mount Doug and schedules its own gigs, such as the Super Ball. Each show is a different charity. They’ve donated to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis aid (Cassie’s Place), First Nation awareness (Gord Downie’s charity) and others, usually inspired by Mount Doug students.
“We thought our first show outside Mount Doug, our first real gig, would be a one-off,” Williams said. “But we had so much fun with it.
“The more you play, the more you’re comfortable. We have a little more stage presence now.”