struck his family, and Vig started drinking heavily to cope. Then he got a job with an oil company, and hightailed to Inuvik to work on a rig.
“I was trying to get away from myself, but myself came along.”
But Vig didn’t have a drink the entire time he was in the Arctic, and it gave him time to figure himself out. He didn’t go back to the farm; he kept working on rigs.
He liked to keep moving. He’s worked off the coast of Nova Scotia, on Sable Island, the unlikely rocky outcrop that wrecks ships and is home to herds of wild horses. He’s worked rigs in the Red Sea, and in B.C. and Alberta.
Dancing is Vig’s constant. He can always find a place to cut a rug; he’s got a nose for it. He says most of the guys from the rig would go to the bar, but Vig would look for music, dancing and women. He says it kept him from being an alcoholic.
A ringing in his ears brought Vig to Whitehorse — tinnitus is the condition. Vig said he’d tried all kinds of treatments, and nothing worked. He was working in northern B.C. when he picked up a hitchhiker in Dawson Creek. The hitcher told Vig about an acupuncturist in Whitehorse — Sue May at the North West Clinic.
That was in 1995.
Vig says the acupuncture helped his condition, and he started making the trip to Whitehorse a couple of days out of every year. Eventually, he bought a lot in Carcross, and that’s where he lives now.
He comes to town on Thursdays in the winter so he can catch Joe Loutchan and the boys play fiddle music at the ‘98.
His face lights up when he talks about dancing in relation to his life:
“It’s my thing. It’s what I grew up with, this kind of music.”
At 78, Vig is a beanpole; he says he was a chubby kid. When he was a pre-schooler, back when his mom would dance with him to radio tunes in the farmhouse kitchen, his uncles called him ‘Tubby’. It hurt Vig’s feelings, and he brought this up to his family much later, when he was in his 50s.
His uncles said they called him ‘Tubby’ after the host of a country-music station. They told him he had something special, even then — he could keep time to music.
And he still does.
He likes fiddle night at the ‘98 because he’s used to that kind of music. He goes to the Casa Loma or the 202 when Yukon Jack plays. He likes Yukon Jack “even though they switch to rock ‘n’ roll. I don’t mind if they do it at midnight, but if they do it before that it spoils my night.”
These days Vig just has one drink when he goes out — it took him a long time to learn that it’s all he needs. He says it helps that these days he doesn’t need help loosening up like he used to need it.
“I never stopped dancing,” he says, “not like I cut down my drinking.”
He doesn’t need help finding dance partners, either — he unabashedly taps every female shoulder in the bar. He tells his partners to “pick up your feet”, or “let me lead”, or, “I can tell you’re used to dancing alone”, but the ladies keep joining him on the floor.
They can tell he’s in it for the dance alone.