Unintended Literary Participant

This is one you’ll have to imagine. I have photographed the stage, but not the participants. I am sitting near the back of the Bluma Appel Salon, a full audience in front of me. Author David Mitchell is standing at the lectern reading from his latest novel. He is animated and keeps interrupting himself to provide us with context for the passage he is reading. Mitchell is very engaging, but I am having a hard time focusing on him.

There is a window behind Mitchell that looks out to the condo a short distance away. On a balcony, a shirtless man wanders back forth.

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Movement in the Ballroom

If you squint your eyes while looking at this photo you can almost see the people dancing as guests once did in the rooftop Crystal Ballroom. Of course these people are not dancing. This abandoned ballroom was meant to be full of people, and the expansive room only begins to return to life as these guests stand quietly, sharing their observations about a place long closed to the public.

The idea of dancing stays with me as I walk past these conversations, through the space. I feel the room swaying. I think this sensation has something to do with the large windows and the light streaming in through them. Or maybe it is the view out the windows that makes me feel unsteady, a view that still reaches all the way to the lake. Regardless, I enjoy the sensation of movement. I imagine the feeling to be similar to a guest’s experience when the Crystal Ballroom was in its heyday.

Did Your Grandmother Hang at the Windsor Arms?

I am at the Windsor Arms Hotel for a YWBC volunteer appreciation tea. The first time I visit a building, I always make a point of checking out the washrooms. A room, so tied to function, can reveal a lot about a place. The washrooms here are what I expected, full wood panel doors on each stall and luxurious finishes. The interesting part came as I left.

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Washroom Large Enough for Ballroom Dancing

I swear the women’s washroom outside of theatre number 6 at AMC Yonge & Dundas is large enough for ballroom dancing. Not only are there many stalls, but the space between them is incredible. There is room for a long line of patiently waiting women, with enough left over on either side to walk from the stalls to the sinks and mirror.

Where does the ballroom dancing fit in? The washroom was empty both before and after the film. So much space to fill. Maybe the Grease soundtrack playing provided the inspiration to dance.

Teenage Flashback

It’s freezing cold outside. Tonight is the Artscape Holiday party at Wychwood Barns and Aaron has joined me. The Christie Street doors are locked, so we are forced to walk around the building over very icy terrain. The party is in the LOOP Theatre space, and the room is full when we arrive.

Wooden bleachers are folded up along one side, twigging a memory of my high school gym. Groups of people stand chatting. A drunken couple is making out by the cheese table. Shortly after 10pm the lights come on. The room is still full, and feels uncomfortably bright. I half expect to see teachers with crossed arms shooing us out the door into the cold.