Sometimes I wonder if I live in a different Winnipeg than other Winnipeggers.
Yes, there are giant bear statues on every corner in my Winnipeg; and yes, it gets depressingly cold in the winter where I live too. But despite these common attributes that should prove my Winnipeg is the same as your Winnipeg, I am often baffled when interacting with my peers at how they describe our hometown.
“It’s boring,” they say. “There’s nothing to do, nowhere to go – there aren’t enough night clubs!”
Seriously? Boring? In one night last month, I watched independent films starring puppets and stood inches away from Jim Henson’s daughter (who actually kinda looks like a Muppet), before attending a craft sale at Plug In Gallery where I sipped beer, listened to live music and chatted with a local artist who embroiders ‘80s pop lyrics into pillowcases and aprons.
When I’d had enough of that, I briefly took in the opening party of a student architecture show at RAW Gallery before making my way over to Osborne Village for a late night snack. I flipped through DVDs at Movie Village as I narrowed my many food options down to nachos or pizza.
And this was an early night for me. I could have easily had a few more drinks somewhere, played darts at the Toad, sang karaoke, danced at HiFi, walked up Corydon, climbed a tree, or sat on the riverbank and read poetry to my dead lover.
Winnipeggers aren’t bored because Winnipeg is boring, they’re bored because they are boring. Last year, a young local wrote a letter to the editor in the Winnipeg Free Press proposing that our city should create an entire street completely devoted to nightclubs. The writer rationalized that other large Canadian cities have streets like this, and that if we did the same, our tourism appeal would increase.
“ Winnipeggers aren’t bored because Winnipeg is boring, they’re bored because they are boring.
I am assuming that the writer’s wisdom was derived from a trip he took to Calgary, or wherever, and the partying that he did while on one of those mythic streets. But really, I would bet that he didn’t have a great time because of the abundance of bars all situated in one place. It was because he was somewhere new.
Winnipeg has dozens of clubs that play the same music and serve the same drinks as those in other cities. We have foam parties, celebrity appearances and our very own drunken locals to make-out with on the dance-floor.
Building more clubs, and lining them up on one street isn’t going to improve Winnipeg. Bars can barely stay open here. Look at Blush and the metamorphosing names and themes of the Canad Inns chain. The problem is that if you do the same thing every night, it’s going to get boring and a street of options offering 10 more of that thing isn’t going to fix it.
If some Winnipegers added more variety to their nightly repertoire and started experiencing all of Winnipeg, then they would know the city that I know. It’s no wonder that Kier-La Janisse is packing up her BigSmash! Productions company and heading to another city. Winnipegers were too boring to appreciate the incredible events she brought to this town. It’s a shame.
I have friends who live in cities with those club streets and the cool people that live in those cities don’t hang out there because they have more interesting things to do. And that makes us look uninteresting.
But maybe this summer we can change. Maybe we’ll all go see The Roots play at JazzFest or go to a museum or see an art film. Anything.
Cindy Doyle is a University of Winnipeg student.