David Costa dancing at Acropolis Manor before residents arrive for his music session, on Nov. 16. (Photo: Norman Galimski/The Northern View)

David Costa dancing at Acropolis Manor before residents arrive for his music session, on Nov. 16. (Photo: Norman Galimski/The Northern View)

Heart of our City: David Costa

The music man

David Costa has a life-long passion for music and making people smile.

“Laughter is key,” Costa said. “I’m born and raised in this town, and I’ve been through everything.”

Costa credits his mother for instilling in him the values he now shares with everyone around him.

“My mom was always a person that likes to be happy and likes to make other people happy — sharing and giving,” he said. “My dad was actually the shy one.”

However, his mom now lives with Alzheimer’s and has moved to Portugal with his dad for better health. Costa has not been able to see them in person for two years because of the pandemic.

“I’m just trying to emulate [and] take a page out of my mom’s book if I can. If I’m able to make someone happy and help where I can, I will.”

His dedication to laughter, positivity and giving back is infectious as the music he DJs for people of all ages.

Costa’s journey with music began in high school, where he attended Booth Memorial. Back then, he had no equipment, save a sole cassette tape player.

His career as a DJ began with a trip to the vice principal’s office.

“I thought I was in trouble,” Costa remembered. He said he nervously walked through the hallways and entered the principal’s office. He was greeted with, “I hear you have music.”

Instead of being chastised for wrongdoing, the vice principal made Costa a proposition to DJ that year’s sock hop.

“Next thing you know — I’m the music man,” he said with a grin.

Since that first event, Costa has been sharing any music he can with people, in all kinds of ways.

Fast forward into adulthood, Costa was the announcer for the Rupert Rampage hockey games for more than seven years.

The Rampage is great for the community in the great town we have here, he said.

Costa said he fed off the energy at the games.

“I antagonized the visiting team like you won’t believe,” he laughed.

If the opposing team started to complain about a call on the ice to the referee, Costa would play a clip of Arnold Schwarzenegger, which would tell the visitors to “stop whining,” a reference to the movie Kindergarten Cop.

“If they [were] about to get into a fight, I’d play Russell Peters’ somebody’s going to get hurt.” Another favourite clip to play during a fight was Olivia Newton John’s “Lets get physical”.

Alternatively, when a fight did break out on the ice, he would play the Blue Danube Waltz. Previous Rampage coach, Frank Pyde, loved it, and from behind the bench, Costa said he would conduct the crowds like at the orchestra.

“And that’s my energy. If I see someone’s happy, I feed off of that, and that’s what energizes me and keeps me going,” Costa said.

“I just find music, what’s stored in here,” he said, tapping over his heart, “just touches everyone. You don’t have to be able to dance to enjoy.”

Costa said he spends his spare time supporting the community. Many Rupertites may know Costa by sight, from his portrayals as Captain Portugal: his colourful alter-ego.

No doubt, those who have lived in Prince Rupert for many years have seen Captain Portugal out on the streets at fun events like Seafest and Winterfest, but the captain is used for more than just fun.

Costa uses the persona to attract people to local businesses during tough times. He helps charities, such as the Salvation Army, raise money and collect charitable goods.

“It’s a domino effect When you’re able to help, and it emulates to other people,” he said.

Costa had a friend at Acropolis Manor, who he frequently visited to play cribbage with. It was during his visits that he noticed the manor had all kinds of activities happening.

“I just started bringing some music from the 40s and 50s, and I started playing it,” he said. “I saw the reaction from people in wheelchairs, and how [they] were moving around.”

“I called it chair dancing. Just because you’re in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you can’t dance,” he said.

Costa would get out on the dance floor, holding the hands of those dancing in their wheelchair. They sway along with to the beat, and he always lets them lead the way.

The next step he thought of was bringing in a wireless microphone so the residents could sing. Those who couldn’t get up and dance with the tunes would grab ahold of the microphone and sing melodies instead.

The residents used to sing as they did at bars back in the day, he said. He said what he brings to the manor is not just providing entertainment but it is also providing an opportunity for remembrance.

“[It’s] going back — a blast from the past,” he said, adding he finds it difficult to use a word to describe the feelings it brings out to those involved.

Costa continues to visit the manor and his aunt, who now resides there, while he continues to play music for the residents.

COVID-19 has brought on a lot of challenges complicating what he does at the manor. It’s difficult not only to dance with a mask on, but he can’t dance hand-in-hand with the residents like he used to.

He said he has a can-do spirit and continually finds ways to adapt to situations using an unstoppable attitude.

“I will jump through any hoops just to bring this music to them,” Costa said. “If I didn’t have to work, if I won the lottery, I’d be doing it every week.”

READ MORE: Heart of our City: Daniel Sim, arranging Prince Rupert’s music tempo

Norman Galimski | Journalist 
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