The Sociables are a group from Alberta who have become an entertainment staple among Brier crowds over the last seven years. You can’t miss them with their thematic, sometimes garish, always co-ordinated costumes, holding up flashcards spelling out “S-O-C-I-A-B-L-E” or signs, including one that asks “What would Russ do?,” referring to former Brier championship skip, now TSN commentator, Russ Howard,
On learning the 10 Sociables who came to St. John’s for this year’s Brier totalled 15 pieces of luggage, some oversized, you might not be impressed by their economy. That’s until you learn they have separate outfits for all nine days of the event — no repeats — and the costumes are not skimpy. We’ve seen Santa Clauses, Vikings, cowboys, Romans in togas and Star Trek crew members, often with accessories. For example, the Vikings featured weapons and shields, while the cowboys had hobbyhorses.
So what room is left in the suitcases for regular clothing?
“Underwear and socks. That’s pretty much it,” said the Sociable’s Tyler Bernakevitch.
Their annual Brier pilgrimage began at home in 2009.
“We’re all pretty much from from the Ukrainian community in Calgary. When the Brier was being held there, somebody said, ‘Let’s go and have a good time,’” said Bernakevitch.
They’ve been doing so ever since.
The first costumes were simple — T-shirts with “Hurry!” on the front and “Harrrd!” on the back, with faces painted in Alberta blue and gold.
They had such a ball that they decided they would have to go the 2010 Brier in Halifax and the tradition was really underway.
It was in the Nova Scotia capital that their name was born, a product of the first spelled-out sign, referencing a term for liquid refreshment.
Their fashion has become much more elaborate over the years They’ve dressed up as everything from Kevin Martin to a chain gang to Power Rangers to naval officers to Minions.
“Every year is a different set of costumes and we start the planning — I want to say — in June,” said Bernakevitch. “June to October is actually sort of the pre-planning phase.”
The outfits are mostly self-designed and self created. Purchases at party supply stores and costumers are kept to a minimum.
“We actually sewed and built most of it,” said Charlie Pullan of the Viking outfits. “The helmets and weapons are accessories. The rest is all us.”
One year, they launched an ‘Occupy The Brier Patch’ movement, kiddingly (or maybe not) protesting the Brier’s morning draws which interfered with socializing the night before.
They’ve met plenty of people and made a lot of friends over the years,
“We get recognized either from past Briers or maybe when they’ve shown us on TV,” said Pullan. “People we meet want to know our story and they all want to know what we’re going to be the next day, but we keep that a secret.”
The overall Sociable group consists of about 15 people. Most are young professionals. Some, but not all, are curlers.
Bernakevitch and Pullan are both engineers, but if they ever wanted to get into the costume business, they’d have a good inventory to begin with.
“I have a closet full of them,“ answered Pullan, when asked what happens to the outfits. “They’re great for Halloween. I’m good for Halloween until I die.”