Tag Archives: calgary

At the National Music Centre

Calgary is now home to the National Music Centre (NMC)! The grand opening on July 1, saw thousands of people walk through the doors of the newly constructed building. The mission of the National Music Centre is “to give Canada a place that amplifies the love, sharing and understanding of music”; in their new home in Studio Bell, with five levels of exhibitions, a collection of over 2000 artifacts and pieces, and a performance space that seats 300, the NMC more than achieves this goal.

My mom and I checked out the space on July 4, a quieter day than the grand opening, and spent nearly three hours wandering and immersing ourselves in the musical world the space creates. The top level, level 5, is where the ‘Best of Canada’ exhibition lives. It showcases and celebrates the Canadian musicians who left a lasting mark on the world’s stage. Around the corner from ‘Idols and Icons’, is the East Village Skybridge. Here, you can look out over the City and on a classic Calgary day, get lost in the “busy” sky. Patrick Marold’s installation Solar Drones provides a unique soundscape for this most epic of walkways. This incredible mash up of art and science, is constructed from the pianos from NMC’s collection that were destroyed in the 2013 flood. Sixteen wooden pieces hang from the ceiling, and are connected with an electromagnetic system to solar panels on the roof. Each produce a continuous note, or drone, based on the City’s weather conditions. Each time you walk through the Skybridge, the soundscape changes based on the sky above. How cool is that?!


My favourite exhibit was on level 4, the interactive ‘Making Music’. It is here that I could have spent my entire day. There was ‘Unplugged’ – where you can check out rare acoustic instruments, ‘Plugged In’ – if electronic instruments are more your style, and ‘Workshops’ – where, through a window into another world, you can watch the NMC “gear-heads” restore and maintain the NMC collection. I spent most of my time on this level being taught, by virtual music teachers, how to play Rush on the drums and then Hedley on the piano. We even had the chance to try our hand at mixing and remixing a classic tune by Tegan and Sara.


On level 3 we were taught some of the science behind the music. We learned how our bodies and brains react to music and why some songs get stuck in our heads easier than other songs – Waterloo by ABBA anyone? We also learned what our vocal ranges are and were tested on our pitch. Only one in 10,000 people in the world are born with perfect pitch, and my mom and I learned that we are definitely in the other 9,999. It was also on this level that I saw the piano Elton John wrote Tiny Dancer on, and I nearly fainted.

The NMC has big dreams for education, performance, recording, and the future of their exhibitions. Their vision is “to be a national catalyst for discovery, innovation and renewal through music,” and I think that Calgary is the perfect place for the NMC to grow and inspire. Even if it’s not the music you are interested in, go for the building. The King Eddy, the adjacent performance space, and a building with the most epic musical past, will be reopened for the duration of the Calgary Stampede. Thanks for the music education, Calgary!



Floating at a Float Spa

I think meditation is an incredible feat and I am inspired by those who can successfully silence their mind and meditate, but I don’t believe everyone needs to meditate, nor that they even have to want to try! What I do believe is that everyone needs to spend some time with their own mind every once in a while. Every day we are inundated with technological stimulation. Our phones, our computers, our tablets, even our watches, are there to join us with everything and everyone around us. The internet is the place to feel connected. But often, the connections that really matter are forgotten, like the connection we have with our own mind. One of my favourite moments of the day is just before sleep, when I’m just hanging out with my brain and thoughts.

Photo by Shannon Yau.

With this in mind, I decided to try out a float spa. I heard how wonderful it is for silencing everything around you and really encouraging the mind to relax. I figured I would give it a go! Clear Float Spa is Calgary’s newest place to float. It is located in Mission on 18th Ave, just off 4th St SW. I met Bryce and Jesse, two very relaxed, very barefoot people, who welcomed me in and showed me around. Jesse took me to the room that contained my float pod. The pod has ten inches of highly concentrated salt water— 1000 pounds of epsom salts to be exact. After a brief run through of what to do pre- and post-float, I hopped in my pod.

The float pod! Photo by Shannon Yau

I giggled as I lay back in the water and my body lifted off the floor of the pod. The motion activated light in the room went off, and the pod was all aglow with a blue light. I was somewhat startled by the pleasant voice recording of a British woman who welcomed me to my pod. She told me to relax. I tried. I turned off the blue light and listened to the relaxing mediation music.

To be completely honest, for the first bit of my float, I thought, “this is straight up boring.” I played with my hair, and pretended to be a mermaid. I moved around in the water, feeling how soft and silky the salt was making my skin. I played with the eerie blue light— on, off, on, off. I imitated the British voice of the recorded lady who welcomed me to my float. Finally, I realized I couldn’t sit still because my body just wasn’t relaxed. I was aware that the muscles in my neck were holding my head out of the water. “There are 1000 pounds of salt in this water, neck,” I thought to my neck, “you need to trust that my head will float without you.” I felt the muscles in my neck relax and I felt the water creep up my face a wee bit more. The next thing I knew, I woke myself up snoring.

They say everybody ‘floats’ differently, especially the first time. The mind and body do what they need to do while lying weightless in the salt water. I encourage everyone to try it! Clear Float Spa has a great introductory deal— three floats for $49. I am definitely going to go again. I am very curious what the second, third, and fourth floats will be like! Check them out at http://clearfloat.ca. Thanks for the relaxing float, Calgary!

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At the Indie Comic Coffee Klatch

I believe everyone has at least one creative bone in their body and it is just a matter of being in a safe, non-judgmental, and super fun space, for that creativity to start pouring out. I discovered a space just like this! I was introduced to the Indie Comic Coffee Klatch, more lovingly known as I.C.C.K.

I.C.C.K happens every second Wednesday evening at Phil & Sebastian in the Simmons Building in East Village. It works on a drop-in basis between 6-9pm. Show up at 6pm and stay the entire time, or drop in for an hour. The point of the klatch is to provide a fun, safe, and motivating place to create and to overcome the creative blocks we all feel from time to time.

When I met Stacey, the founder, it was as if we were old friends. Trevor, the cofounder, offered me a piece of paper and pen immediately, and asked if I wanted to join their table. I sat down and introduced myself to the folks around the table. There was Steele, Graham, Trevor, Jules, and Erickson. Everyone was working on their own thing. Jules was practicing drawing eyes and had a full page filling up with sketches of eyeballs, Erickson was working on hands, and had a page of hands in various poses and positions, Steele was working on vehicular characters for a fictitious world he is creating, Trevor had drawn a ‘peliconstruction’ worker – a pelican mixing concrete in his beak, and Graham had a full page with panels and a comic book in progress!

Erickson finished his hand practice and asked the group what he should draw next. Someone suggested he draw a cyclops! Then this whole cyclops thing began. Trevor drew a cyclops with a beard. Graham drew a cyclops at the opera – a “cycl-opera-goer” if you will. Erickson made his cyclops into a “cycl-optometrist.” I am not so good at drawing realistic things, and so I stuck with absurd characters. I drew a bucket, proclaiming the fact it is a bucket, a jellyfish wearing a hat, and I wrote the theme of our evening, the word “portmanteau,” in big, blocky script.

I stayed for two hours and wish that 9 o’clock never came. It was so fun to meet new people. It was fun to challenge myself and be vulnerable in front of new people. It was fun to be inspired by these new people! I have continued to draw absurd things and even attempted painting my little characters! Thanks for the inspiration, Calgary!

The next meeting of the Indie Comic Coffee Klatch is on June 22 at Phil & Sebastian in East Village. Bring a pen, a piece of paper, and an open mind! See you then!


At Lilac Festival!

One of my favourite things about Calgary in the spring and summer is that we celebrate everything. Let’s face it, the number of festivals in June, July, and August is just absolutely ludicrous — in the best way, of course. We have festivals that celebrate films of all genres, and music of all kinds. Festivals that celebrate both the cooking and eating of food, and the art and majesty of Canadian beer. We have art festivals, children’s festivals, and pet festivals! We have comedy festivals that make us laugh, science festivals that make us think, and cultural festivals that open our minds. We even have a festival that celebrates the sun and a festival that celebrates salsa. That’s a lot of festivals—so many, in fact, that ‘festival’ is looking less and less like a real word.

I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Lilac Festival on Sunday, June 5. Lilac Festival is one in which Calgary celebrates Lilacs— the beautiful trees, the purple blooms, the delightful smell, and the fact that these delightfully smelly blooms are actually blooming! As any Calgarian will tell you, our winters are cold, and summer often teases us with a short, somewhat wintery spring. But when the lilacs are blooming, we all know summer is coming.

Thousands of festival goers flocked to 4th St. on Sunday, checking out the vendors, partaking in the activities, listening to the music, and soaking up the sun. I arrived just in time to catch the parade. The colour guard wowed me with their uncanny ability to throw flags in the air, and the Calgary Stetson Show Band, that played Carly Rae Jepsen’s instant hit, Call Me Maybe, had me dancing in the street. The parade was full of dancers, music makers, and politicians. I even caught a wink and a wave from Mrs. Calgary! I perused the books at Shelf Life Books, I ate a few delicious, and irresistible mini donuts, I fell in love with the art at Rural Creative and Paperlove Co., and I am the proud new owner of a beautiful kimono from Lost in Layers! Thanks for the market in the sun, Calgary!

Lilac festival was the perfect way to kick off the festival season in Calgary. Tune into “Where the F is Beth?” to discover more of Calgary’s endless celebrations, and whenever you catch yourself thinking, “whoa, I just love this activity/food item/music” you can bet your bottom dollar there is probably a festival for it. You name it, Calgary celebrates it with a festival. And why not?

Throwing Axes at the Batlgrounds

I had a serendipitous Saturday off last weekend and I was thrilled to spend the day with my buddy, Roman. When he asked what I wanted to do, I replied, “I am up for anything!” I expected him to suggest going for patio beers at the Ship and Anchor, or eating Made by Marcus ice cream by the Bow river, or something of the like. He would have to decide, because I wouldn’t be able to! The weather app on my phone was being as indecisive as I was, and it couldn’t make up its mind whether it would be a bright, ‘sunshiney’ day, or if we would have a thunderstorm. Roman came up with the perfect activity. He said, “we could go throw axes?”

I had no idea what to wear. Plaid? Sheepskin? Chainmail? I don’t know much about axe throwing or its history, other than a few terrifying scenes in Game of Thrones, so I really had no idea what to expect. What I found on the internet, is that axe throwing comes from the Middle Ages, and what was once a very necessary battle skill, has become a fun pastime for the most hardcore Calgarians. My research didn’t answer my initial question though, so I settled on plaid.

We arrived at the Batlgrounds, filled out the waivers— don’t throw axes at each other, if you drop an axe on your foot we aren’t liable, etc.— and were introduced to our two badass axe throwing coaches, Roach and Erin. We were shown the basics, the proper stance, the way to aim, the throwing technique, and then we were each handed an axe. With an axe in my hand, I felt ten times fiercer than my normal level of fierceness. I assumed the position, aimed, and threw the axe. It stuck right in the board, right in the second circle. The hesitation I felt before, thinking I might look like a fool, the fear of pulling a muscle, totally disappeared.

If one of our axes hit the target and then fell to the ground, even if we missed the board entirely, Roach would say, “if that board was a zombie, it would be dead, so you’re doing really well.” That being said, there was no better feeling than when the axe stuck right into the bullseye. Except of course, for the feeling when the throw was so strong, it was difficult to pull the axe out of the board. Man, I felt so great. I used to be afraid that in the event of a zombie apocalypse, I would be the first to die, but with this new found skill, I’m not nearly as nervous! Bring it on, zombies! Thanks for the axe throwing fun, Calgary!

Batlgrounds is open for drop in axe throwing throughout the week. Try it out with a few buds, or book a private party. And once you really get into it, join a league!

Market Collective

You know when you walk or drive by certain places and you just think, Man, everyone in there is just so cool. Maybe it’s the hip people typing away on their computers in the window of Analog on 17th Ave. Maybe it’s when you drive past a packed Ship and Anchor patio on a Friday afternoon and it’s full of happy, smiling people. Or maybe it’s when you bicycle past a super cool art or music happening going on at ContainR in Sunnyside. Market Collective at the Chinese Cultural Centre is definitely another one of these places.

Market Collective was started by two women, Angel Guerra and Angela Dione in 2008, and has become a thriving local event in Calgary. The market showcases the work and art of Calgarian talent. Musicians create a soundtrack for the market, snacks and coffee drinks are served, and tables are set up so local artists may sell their creations, including clothing, jewellery, books, paintings, and drawings. The market takes place every month or two and has a $5 entrance fee.

The atmosphere of this place is rad. There is so much hustle and bustle in the room, people milling about, chatting, introducing themselves to the vendors and fellow shoppers. There was such an array of things to look at and buy. I really appreciate Market Collective because it is a well curated group of vendors. There is such a variety of goods to buy, but the sentiment is the same— community. Shoppers of all ages and ethnicities, from all walks of life, who have brought their family or their friends, sporting different hairstyles, fashion ideas, and various body art, all take an hour out of their totally unique lives to come together in this one place.

The paintings of bacon, the sassy calligraphy, the handmade leather goods, the beautiful handmade jewellery, the brightly coloured abstract paintings, the handmade wooden calligraphy pens, and the pressed leaf art were just a few of my favourite things. Thanks for the local art and crafts, Calgary!

Market Collective is on once again this weekend, May 27-29. Check out the website for more details. http://www.marketcollective.ca

Playing Games at Buttermilk Waffles

Before I turned 18 and was able to meet my friends and drink at the bar, I would often hang out with friends at one of our parent’s house and play board games. Settlers of Catan, Cranium, Charades, even the Game of Life, but only if we were really bored. It seems to me not enough of my time is spent playing board games with my friends anymore. I decided to make a change!

I follow Buttermilk Waffles, the waffle place on 17th Ave. on Instagram (because who doesn’t want to see multiple pictures of fluffy, delectable waffles flooding their newsfeed?), and found out that they have board game night on Wednesday nights! I collected my three best board game buds and we head to Buttermilk.

We each ordered our dinner— waffles— and took a seat. While Chris read the rules of Taboo aloud, I drooled over the Apple Bacon Cheddar waffle that was placed in front of me. He slowly became an adult in Charlie Brown as I tuned him out and focused on ensuring my every bite had the perfect ratio of homemade apple compote, and freshly chopped bacon bits.

When we finally got the game started, it was super fun! Taboo is a game in which you try to have your team guess the word on the card but can’t say the other associated words listed on the card. The descriptions that come out are ridiculous. When trying to get Anna to guess ‘jumping,’ I said, “When you move your body to the sky then to the ground, to the sky to the ground.” Chris said, “weird young ones eat this,” when trying to get Ryan to guess crayons.

We thought about playing another game, but instead ordered more waffles. I learned that while games night started on Wednesdays, Buttermilk leaves their games out every day so waffle eaters can partake in board game any night of the week! That being said, on Wednesday nights, the Buttermilk Classic waffle is only $5! A beautiful fluffy waffle with butter and maple syrup is the perfect dessert. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Wednesday night than with board games, Buttermilk, and my radical friends. Thanks for the waffles and games, Calgary!

Calgary Reads Big Book Sale

One of my favourite things to do is read. I love reading! Whether its comic books, novels, or hilarious blog posts written by a spunky Calgarian, reading gives each of us the ability to visit other worlds, imagine the lives of people in other places, and experience adventures we had never dreamed possible. The love I have for reading is shared with the volunteer organization, Calgary Reads. Their vision: “A thriving community where all children can read with confidence and joy.” Isn’t that the most amazing vision?

Every year for 13 years, Calgary Reads has run a major fundraising event: a book sale! Not just any book sale though, this is the Calgary Reads BIG Book Sale. Thousands and thousands and thousands of books are sorted by volunteers into categories – fiction, non-fiction, childrens and then into specific genres like gardening, cooking, history, mystery/crime, historical fiction. The sale is entirely volunteer run and supports Calgary Reads’ children’s reading programs. This book sale is HUGE. The entire Calgary Curling Club space is packed with books

Last year the book sale welcomed about 6400 people through the doors, all who walked out with great deals on books.  They come to browse for hours picking up little known titles, they come with lists for English Literature classes and book clubs, they hunt the boxes below the tables to find the one book in sci-fi series that they don’t already own. They even come to find some beautiful books to adorn a table for a wedding or a special shelf above the fireplace. They come for one book and leave with armfuls.

The book sale begins in the morning of Friday, May 13. On Saturday evening 6pm-9pm, the book sale hosts Jazz and Book Night! Book lovers can shop to the musical sounds of Midnight Blue Jazz Society and enjoy a glass of wine from the cash bar. On Sunday the Children’s Story Tent is set up with crafts and storytelling by Girl Guides.

Bring your parents, bring your children, bring your lover(s) and your friends. Come create positive change in the community and support Calgary Reads’ vision to work towards a “thriving community where all children can read with confidence and joy”.

The book sale is on May 13th 9am-9pm, May 14th 9am-9pm, and May 15th 9am-12pm. It takes place at the Calgary Curling Club- 720 3rd St. NW. Thanks for the great reads, Calgary!

Glenbow Museum’s Free First Thursday

Whenever I travel to a new city, I like to experience everything that city has to offer; I go to museums, I see shows, I walk along the main streets, and check out all the markets and shops. I think a lot of people would agree that they do more activities like these in cities they are visiting, than they do in their own city. I’m the same. I am embarrassed to admit this, but Calgary, I can’t remember the last time I went to the Glenbow Museum. It has been on my list ever since the Kaleidoscopic Animalia exhibit opened in October 2015 and I just kept procrastinating. So, you can imagine my excitement when, in January 2016, the Glenbow Museum began offering free entry on the first Thursday evening of every month! I brought my parents!

We started on the top floor and worked our way down. The Mavericks exhibit on the third floor was incredibly cool. We took a trip down historical lane and learned about the hard working and spirited mavericks – both men and women – who helped build Southern Alberta. We learned about David Thompson, the map maker, D.W. Davis, Alberta’s first member of parliament, and Colonel James Macleod, whom you may know as an important RCMP officer, of the time or from that Trail we named after him. We learned about George Lane, one of the Calgary Stampede’s “Big Four,” who helped fund the first ever Stampede. Under his portrait was the quote, “always keep yourself in a position to look any man straight in the eye and tell him to go to hell.” Good for you, George Lane, and good advice for all of us. We read about Tom Three Persons, the first Native man to enter the Stampede Rodeo. He won the championship for bronc riding— on a horse that had thrown all the other riders! Henrietta Muir Edwards, one of the Famous Five, fought for the political rights of women. It was the Famous Five who fought to have women declared as “persons” under the law. Oh my gosh, I learned so much about Alberta.

On we went to the next floor. We visited the Kaleidoscopic Animalia exhibit, designed and curated by Paul Hardy. This temporary exhibit showcased window display-like installations with the most extraordinary costumes and props. Each abstract piece drew my eye. It was hard to look away! Paul Hardy said, “my desire in creating this exhibition was to startle the viewer,” and startle me he did!

The Glenbow Museum offers free entry from 5pm-9pm on the first Thursday of every month. The event is made possible by the generous support of Servus Credit Union.

Happenings 4 at Arts Commons

Last week, Alberta celebrated the 100-year anniversary of white women gaining the right to vote. While the entire population of women in Alberta wouldn’t receive the right to vote until 1960, April 19th marks a very important day in this province’s history; a day when change began and when people realized that anything is possible.

Arts Commons opens its Centre Court to a few local artists and celebrates the new art being shown in their galleries. The event is Happenings, and on April 19th, I had the pleasure of attending Happenings 4. In celebration of many Alberta women receiving the right to vote 100 years ago, all of the Happenings activities were inspired around women’s rights, empowerment, and equality, including a free screening of She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry!, a documentary showcasing the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971.

The documentary was wonderful. It held nothing back. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and hilarious. The film showcased the stories of multiple women involved in different women’s rights movements in the United States. Thousands of women all over the country fought for change and this film showed just how fierce, badass, and totally inspired these women were, and still are.

After the movie, I met up with my friend to peruse the Centre Court and the various activities. The Happenings events are designed for the public to curate their own evening from the various art activities The button-making table was buzzing with people, scissors, and glue, and so we continued our meandering. The surprise guest, Mikaela Cochrane, a dancer with the Garter Girls, filled the room with beautiful and lyrical dancing. She danced for twenty minutes and held us captive the entire time we were there!

We continued our wander around the court and of course, stopped at the cotton candy making station. The same cotton candy artist from Happenings 3, magically created a beautiful, colourful masterpiece of sugar and air. We stopped again at the temporary tattoo station and covered our arms with feminist fake tattoos— mine said “riots not diets” and Ryan’s said, “Girl Power!”

The evening was so fun. The film was thought-provoking, the activities and crafts in the Court were rad, and the entire evening was inspiring. I am thankful to live in a world where such change can occur and am motivated to continue striving for change. Thanks for the inspiring evening, Calgary!