Slate greets us from Canada
By Mr Slate Honey:
Brooklyn, I miss you. I have spent the past ten days making the rounds in Canada’s cultural capitols, Toronto and Montréal. Oversleeping, eating meals I could never afford and immersing myself in familial catch-up and madness have been my main activities of late. What work! Inevitably with any short-term stay outside New York, after more than a week, I start to feel homesick for city chaos and the comforts of my wide bed. But before quitting this country, I decided to go on a little adventure downtown. It turned out to be more like a voyeuristic mini-voyage. After a decadent New Year’s Eve meal of steak and lobster paired with three too many Whiskey sours, I put on my best tie and shiny new jeans and headed out to size up Toronto’s queer scene. A friend’s recommendation led me to Cherry Bomb’s New Year’s Eve bash at the Raq, billiards hall turned lounge, on Queen Street West.
Let’s begin with a mention of the free public transport in Toronto from midnight to 4 am. Ah, the well-organized pro-public culture here is always worth a little sigh of envy. The 501 street car took me down Queen to my destination, a rather big club that had a sign on the door that read in big letters: This is a Gay event! Gay-friendly folks are welcome. Inside, the dance-floor was crowded and some games were going on a couple of the dozen pool tables. On a wide screen above the dance floor, projections of lesbian black and white porn from the 1950s intermingled with experimental video montages of Mariah dancing on a pole and Beyoncé biting down on a cigar in a three-piece suit. The party was a good mix of folks in terms of ages, genders and ethnicities. In general, I’ve noticed a lot of mixed-race families in Toronto and it’s little surprise since the city is ranked by the UNDP as one of the world’s most multicultural cities and annually becomes home to half of all immigrants coming to Canada. I always get a little soft-hearted every time I spot Hapa kids and their parents—fueled by my cheeseball Hapa pride—and Toronto’s p.o.c. population being 70% Asian, there are a lot of mixed race Asian families around.
Anyway, back to the queers. I bought a drink and headed to the DJ area to check out Torontonian cruising. There were plenty of cuties but I felt a little pang of disappointment about peoples’ game. I should admit that I am for the most part a shy dork save for some golden moments of flirtation with strangers. Maybe I got my hopes up too high expecting to stumble into a super-friendly Eden of flirty queers (which my aunt and mom later insisted I would definitely have found if I had went out in Montréal). I felt like the cruising was a little too lukewarm for my taste and the music a little too 90s club beat for my dancing feet. So as not to be too visible a voyeur, I found a comfy spot and watched the dancing. At one point, I could not take my eyes off a gorgeously tall, leggy person in a glittering mini-dress working it out proper with each of her dance partners. It made me want to devote an essay to the skills of high-femme glamour.
Honestly, it was just a nice relief to be in a queer space crowded with folks grinding, friends being silly and lovers magnetically glued to one another. As the club emptied out a little, I got up for a little booty-shaking before heading home. Reality hit me a little too hard in the face on the free tram back to my aunt’s. I squeezed into a car and got wedged between some obnoxious, loud, righteous drunk white boys and put a sour face on for the ride. Well you can’t have it all, I suppose.
So, I think come summertime, I am going to have to do another round here and better scope out the Toronto gay life. Maybe I’ll do a city-comparison and see if my aunt and mom are indeed correct about the abundant fruit in Montréal. Until then, it’s back to Brooklyn. I am so ready for it.
Happy New Year!