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At Circle the Wagons!

I love how busy summer is in Calgary. There is a festival every weekend, there are events and activities throughout the week, and there is absolutely no excuse for being bored. What I love about our jam-packed summers is that Calgary’s activities don’t all fit into July and August, so the events continue into September! One of these epic events is Circle the Wagons. BassBus, YYC Food Trucks, and Village Brewery came together to create a carnival of local food, beer, music, art, and performance— the perfect place to find oneself on a beautiful September Saturday.

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Some casual stilt-walkers wandering by

Ashley, Josh, and I arrived at the University District Park around 1:30, and quickly found a parking spot with the other cars. The park was all buzzing, people with their friends and families wandering around, eating food from the food trucks, taking photos of the costumed performers, and soaking up the beautiful atmosphere. We joined right in. I bought a maple, pepper, and bacon panini from the Hoodoo Foodoo Curbside Cafe truck. That slow cooked, maple-basted bacon is what dreams are made of. We sat at a picnic table, and people-watched while we ate our lunch.

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The Bingo Dome on the perfect day

We met up with Andy and Sam and the five of us wandered over to where the wiener dog races were about to begin. Picture this: a huge crowd of people, cheering on costumed wiener dogs, running across a little field to their owners. My personal favourites were the Captain America wiener dog and the wiener dog wearing a skunk outfit. We said hello to the goats, who were mowing the grass nearby, and then did the art walk around the water feature in the park. We met a man who gave us a lesson about crystals and how they effect our energy, we said hello to the people at the tea booth, we cheked out the space where Lululemon set up for yoga classes, and we pondered the works of art on display around the edge of the park. We also admired the beauty of the park. The sky was a brilliant blue with perfectly fluffy clouds scattered around, the mountains could be seen in the distance, and the sun sparkled off the water in the middle of the park.

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Burchill making us all dance!

We wandered over to The Bingo Dome, one of the stages presented by BassBus, and caught the epic set of local DJ, Burchill (Listen Here). The mixes this guy shared were ridiculously fun and not dancing was just an impossibility. It was here people were also playing bingo as they danced, but Andy, Sam, and I chose to just groove to the music, and enjoy the Village Brewery beers for sale.

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In The Bingo Dome with Andy. Photo by @ilikemonkeys 

We realized it was time to eat again. This time, I treated myself to the Lucky Fries from the Taiko Taco food truck. Fries drizzled with a spicy, creamy sauce, piled high with spices, with the most tender, mouth-watering pork belly on top. I was in heaven! We sat for a bit and digested our dinner. The wind began to blow a little chillier, and the sun disappeared behind a cloud. We all donned our warm layers, and then headed to The Big Top Stage, presented by BassBus and Le Cirque de la Nuit. Everybody knows that the best way to warm up on a brisk September evening is to dance! We caught the tail end of Goldfish’s set. These guys would drop a beat, and then play along with it with a saxophone, a flute, and a stand up bass, just to name a few. Totally rad!

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Goldfish ripping it up on the sax. Photo by @ilikemonkeys

J-Pod was next. This local Western Canadian DJ brought the house down. The speakers were shaking the earth around us and the bass dropped. Finishing the evening was Beats Antique. I heard multiple times from multiple people throughout the day that these were the guys to watch. I am glad I waited! While the music swept the crowd off their feet, performers spun hula hoops of fire, danced with batons of fire, and were lifted into the air on rings— you guessed it— of fire. I was speechless. When I wasn’t dancing like a mad woman to the music, I was watching the performers, and picking my jaw up from the floor.

Thanks for dancing with me, Andy and Sam! Thanks for the delicious food, YYCFoodTrucks. Thanks for the music, BassBus. Thanks for the epic carnival, Calgary!

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Performer Kate Ryan effortlessly spinning her hoops.

At Theatre Junction’s 8th Annual ALLEY PARTY

On Thursday September 1st, Theatre Junction continued the tradition, and celebrated their upcoming season with the 8th annual ALLEY PARTY. Really, is there any better way to celebrate a season of contemporary live art than with a giant dance party in a back alley in the middle of downtown Calgary? No, in fact, there is not. I like to think that on a day-to-day basis I am a pretty cool person, but walking into this party made my cool level skyrocket!

My friend, Casey and I could hear the party from a few blocks away and before we entered the theatre, we walked passed a group of onlookers watching the people dance from behind a fence. We walked into the Grand, the oldest theatre in Calgary, and marvelled at the lobby. It’s worth a visit just to see the lobby. We walked under the artfully destroyed ceiling, and the chandelier made from broken bottles lit the way through to the main hall. We ‘paid what we could’ and entered.

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The main room was dark and full of sound. The DJ from Hifi spinning when we arrived had everyone grooving. Amongst the grooving were my super hip friends, Tyler, Garrett, and Chris. There was a green space set up on one end of the room, where a bean bag toss and a few games of giant Connect 4, both provided by Home & Away, were set up. Nearby was a makeshift photo booth manned by an enthusiastic photographer whose goal was to make us look even cooler than we felt. Over two separate stints in front of his camera, I think we nearly exhausted him. There was also a bar, with a healthy line of excited people, ready to support local theatre by buying a beer or two.

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Brie, Tyler, Garrett, and Neil striking a killer pose.

 

We walked through a dark hallway and emerged in the back alley. I laughed. When Tyler invited me to a party in a back alley, I had no idea what to expect, and could never in a million years have expected this. It was all glamour and opulence set against a derelict back alley backdrop. Another DJ from Hifi was set up next to the brick wall, and the crowd was dancing all around. The music echoed and reverberated up through the buildings. Everyone was dancing. And how could they not? The beat demanded it. “The bass!!!!” Tyler exclaimed, as his body gave in. We stood in the middle of the crowd and just danced. I couldn’t help but look around at the stunning party-goers surrounding my friends and I. A smile on every face.

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Tyler and I!

The scariest part about attending a party on a weeknight is that you will be out too late and be tired at work the next day. This party ended at 11pm. I love a party like this. The Hifi Club had an after party for those who couldn’t rid their bones of the beat just yet, and I applauded those people as I hailed a cab to take me home. Theatre Junction and The Hifi Club did it again. That party in that back alley is without a doubt on the list of the top ten coolest parties I have ever been to. Thanks for the invite Tyler, thanks for the music Hifi, thanks for the games Home & Away, thanks for the reason to celebrate, Theatre Junction, and thanks for the rad weeknight party, Calgary!

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Where the F is Beth?

At the Calgary Mini Maker Faire

A new tradition my extraordinary father and I began last year is attending the Calgary Mini Maker Faire at the Telus Spark Science Centre. The Maker Faire is a place where everyone from robotics engineers to homemade crafters to garage tinkers, come to share their projects and ideas. One of my favourite parts about the Maker Faire is the incredible array of people presenting and attending.

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On that note, let me begin by introducing the coolest kid we met, Arpad, the Science Lad. Arpad built a Van de Graaf generator using the battery pack from a bug zapper, a Tesla coil, a few lightbulbs, and a bunch of tinfoil. He was thrilled to tell us all about his creation and how much fun he had building it. He told us about how dangerous this sort of experiment could be if he wasn’t careful. “Kids shouldn’t play with these things,” said the 10 year old. I could have hung out with Arpad all day, but had to move on.

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We walked past the wearable LEDs and tried on some glowing accessories. Two sisters, one with the creative design mind, and one with the LED know-how, work together to make really incredible wearables. We stumbled upon a pancake printer. Yes, a printer that prints pancakes into designs right on the pan. The device squirts out the pancake batter onto the pan as it cooks, and as if by magic, but knowing full well it is by science, an Eiffel Tower pancake appeared on the pan.

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We learned about Protospace, a space for members to gather and work on their dreams and ideas. One member of Protospace showed us his can crusher. He instructed us to put an empty can in the hole. The can slid into place, sat for a split second, and then a very loud hydraulic press crushed it.

I smiled as I walked around, seeing all of the passionate makers explaining their projects to other passionate makers. It is so cool to see ideas being shared in such an open minded and rad space. The room was all a buzz. Then a kid ran by me ecstatically yelling, “ROBOTS! ROBOTS! MOM! THERE ARE ROBOTS EVERYWHERE!”

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Next, I took a turn blowing up asteroids with a Virtual Reality mask. It was fun, but I couldn’t help but think about how crazy I must have looked; spinning around, bending my knees and extending the control— my gun— out in front of me. I was even making shooting and explosion sound effects, that probably didn’t sound like shooting or explosions. Dad just laughed.Dad took a turn shooting an infrared gun at a target. Once he hit the target, a big blast of fire shot out into the air.

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I left the Maker Faire with a hand made button made from a comic book, a custom engraved lego piece, and a rekindled appreciation for the incredible people who build and design technology.  Thanks for the rad day of art, science, and technology, Calgary!

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At Happenings #5

What could be better than an art party with plant portraits, shadow puppets, poisonous plants, and bees? If you ask me, not much. On August 11, it was time for another Happenings at Arts Commons. Happenings always has a major theme, and Happenings #5 was centred on the theme of plants and nature. As always, there were many free activities that anyone and everyone could enjoy.

I invited my friend Jess to join me. Our evening began with a snow-cone— I got one with root beer flavour, how could I not?— and a wander through the building. I felt all kinds of classy; there I was at an art party, rockin’ my glamourous red lipstick and my rockstar red high heels, slurping back a root beer snow-cone. While we enjoyed our icy treats, we wandered over to the Apiaries and Bees for Communities presentation to learn a bit about bees. Jess confessed to me that she loves bees. We learned about the different nest designs, and how to construct one to attract honey bees to your backyard. Jess is excited.

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Jess and I enjoying our classy AF snow cones.

We ran into Richard, the Communications Manager at Arts Commons. He suggested our next stop be with Alyssa Ellis and her collection of poisonous plants. “Don’t touch or eat them though, because you will die,” said Richard. “No actually. You will die.” We decided that we were too engrossed in our snow cones to be responsible enough around poisonous plants, so we enjoyed them from afar. The plants were gorgeous. Nature is so tricky, making plants that will kill you so beautiful and tempting.

Next stop was the Bizarre Garden of Eden. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, you’re right! It was a place to design and create your own shadow puppets! I wanted more than anything to create a unicorn shadow puppet, but I didn’t know how. I expressed my disappointment to Jess and a woman overheard me. She gave me the fastest unicorn drawing lesson you’ve ever seen. I sketched it out, and really surprised myself. That woman enriched my life. Jess cut out a dancing mushroom and we went behind the sheet to put on a show.

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Jess’ dancing mushroom and my unicorn!

After our shadow puppet debut, we decided to check out some of the art that we were celebrating. On our way to the Ledge Gallery, we walked past artist Trevor Gieske and his potato printing station. We didn’t get the chance to try it out because the table was at capacity pretty much the entire evening- who knew potato printing was so popular! We entered the Ledge Gallery and wandered through the green world created by Natural Real Supreme. Green walls, green plants, green bits and pieces all around, green, green, green. The environment was so very soothing and lovely. It was nice to be above the crowd, too, to escape the noise and walk through a bit of artsy nature.

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The view from the Ledge Gallery. Courtesy of Arts Commons

Our evening ended in the coolest place: We were surrounded by green streamers and ribbons hanging from the ceiling, red and green lights illuminating the space, and the sound of crickets filling the room. Rob Knudsen and Janine Bennet, two artists whose work is in and around Arts Commons took part in a discussion. There were questions written on paper leaves attached to the hanging streamers and the audience had the opportunity to pick a leaf and ask a question. The artists discussed their processes, their beliefs, their dreams and goals; it was really cool. The shroud that often covers the artistic process was pulled back this evening. We had the chance to learn about how art is created, see art being created, and even create our own art!

As always, the Happenings was such a rad time, and don’t worry if you missed it, because Happenings #6 is on October 31. Thanks for the nature art and the chance to create, Calgary!

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The space for the artist discussions.

 

 

At Heritage Park

I remember going to Heritage Park as a kid. My family would make a day of it. I loved the Caterpillar ride and the boat swings, I would eat so many root beer candies from the candy store, and my family toured around the Glenmore reservoir in style on the S.S. Moyie. Going to Heritage park is like traveling back in time. With all the lovely memories I have of the place, you can imagine my total delight when my friend Natasha invited me to spend her birthday with her at Heritage Park!

We began at Gasoline Alley and checked out the cars, the airplane, and all the gasoline pumps from back in the day. Everything looks so beautiful under lights in the display building. We learned about the gas pumps and some of the original companies in Alberta. We wandered around admiring how shiny everything is, and in such good condition, including my obvious favourite, the 1909 McIntyre, Model M, believed to be the only restored example of its type in existence!

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The path led us to the Famous Five Centre of Canadian Women, to the Jewish Synagogue, and the Prince House. The buildings are all rebuilt, refurbished, and designed inside to appear the way they would have 100 years ago. The furniture, the wallpaper, the light fixtures, and even the little accessories and toys on dressers and tables are all pieces from the turn of the century. We listened to a bit of the very inspiring speech one of the employees was giving about the Famous Five and the impact their work would have on the lives of women in Canada forever. We had the chance to look into the reimaginings of the bedrooms in the Prince House, and listen to a history lesson of the Jewish Synagogue.

Next stop was the Games of Amusement in the antique midway. Much to my dismay, I discovered that as an adult, I am not permitted to go on what was my favourite ride as a kid— the boat swings. I stood for a moment and enviously watched the six year olds squealing and laughing with joy, before making my way over to the ferris wheel. That wheel spins way faster than I imagined. The wind whipped our hair, the breeze freshened our faces, and at the top of the spin, we could see the whole reservoir. It was a stunning view.

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After the ferris wheel, we stopped into the hotel for lunch and delicious root beer, and then made our way down to the water for our boat cruise! The S.S. Moyie in which Heritage Park ferries its passengers is a half-size replica of the original ship built in 1898. From the boat we saw some deer on the shore, lots of birds, and were able to wave to people sitting on the water’s edge. It was also on the boat where we sang the birthday song to Natasha.

We walked through the main street and to the farm area. I stopped for a quick swing in the playground, and overheard a little boy say to his mom, ”Heritage park is now my favourite.” I smiled. It began to rain as we went into the saloon, so we waited out the downpour inside. A few beers, a few rounds of cards, dominos, and Yahtzee, and the rain stopped.

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We ran after the train to take us back to the candy store— probably the most important stop of the day. I bought a root beer candy stick, like I always did as a kid. I remember thinking they were so expensive when my only income was my weekly allowance. Even with the rain, Heritage Park was the perfect destination for our Saturday. The ticket price for an adult is $26.25, and once inside the park, the boat, the rides, and the train are all free. A lot of bang for your buck, and way less expensive than what I assume time traveling would cost. Thanks for the rad blast from the past, Calgary!IMG_0436

At The Calgary Folk Music Festival

This past weekend, I had the total honour of being my fantastic friend, Kelsey’s plus one to the Calgary Folk Music Festival. As a sponsor of the festival, Kelsey’s employer was given passes for the whole weekend, and she generously shared with me. When I looked at the totally stacked line-up I nearly fainted. With the amount of incredible talent on the schedule, how were we going to choose which artists to see and which workshops to attend? On Thursday night, I donned my cutest festival outfit and head to the grounds.

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Kelsey and I

We began at the beer garden to sit under the trees and plan our evening. We were able to see The New Pornographers, a band I have loved for years, and the last few songs of The Cave Singers, a band I had never heard before. We caught the first bit of The Dudes’ set, a band made up of four Calgarians, and finished our evening with The Tallest Man on Earth, a band from Sweden! It was during the Tallest Man on Earth that my friend said enthusiastically, “the best thing about folk fest is the nonstop killer vocal harmonies.” I agree! It was a brilliant day one of Folk Fest and I bicycled home with a giant smile on my face. Three more days of this?! Best. Weekend. Ever.

Our Friday began at the “Voice Male” workshop, featuring the Bros. Landreth, The Cave Singers, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Northern Beauties. A stage chalk full of incredibly talented and inspiring male singer/songwriters? How could we miss it? I am glad we didn’t. The songs that evolved from this workshop had me swooning and falling madly in love with the men creating this music. Once my legs became less jelly like, we wandered to the Mainstage. It was here that we saw Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, a Calgary legend, whose lyrics and music are as magical as his smile. The Bros. Landreth was on the Mainstage next. Another band I had not heard until this weekend, and my goodness, I count my lucky stars I was here to see them. Their music had my skin in goosebumps the whole set. To end the perfect day, we danced all evening to Lord Huron. I had not heard of them until I was standing in front of them, but I liked what I heard, and it was impossible not to dance!

Our Saturday began with the workshop “Do the write thing,” featuring Bobby Bare Jr., The Dudes, Foy Vance, and Bry Webb. It is so rad to see people on stage doing what they love and having a fantastic time with it. That kept us in the beer gardens for a while, where we met up with some friends, and made some new ones. The Calgary Folk Festival brings so many different people out, you never know who you might meet. It always makes me smile to see teenagers partying alongside sixty-somethings, only a few feet away from a family whose young children are also enjoying the music. With our passes, we were invited to sit in the artist lounge. It was here that I would meet Calgary meteorology legend, Darr Maqbool and his lovely wife Lynn (see? You never know who you will meet!). We chatted for a long while about the arts in Calgary and how this City is truly up and coming. Then Kelsey and I watched The Sadies from backstage. These guys know how to rock! The drummer kept spinning his drumsticks as he played— the coolest trick for us non-drummers to see— and the vocalists danced and partied like they were born to do so. José González closed off the night to a huge audience. It was a brilliant way to end a crazy and beautiful Saturday.

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Darr Maqbool and I

We arrived Sunday and caught the tail end of the workshop, “Idiom Savants,” featuring Bobby Bare Jr., Elizabeth Cook, Robbie Fulks, and Northern Beauties. I was sad we didn’t get to see more of their set, the music that emanated from the stage was just what I needed on a hangover Sunday. We found our way to the next workshop on our ‘to see’ list, “Defining Moments,” featuring Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Amelie Patterson, Colleen Rennison, and The Weather Station. It was so lovely to hear the stories each of the artists shared about defining moments in their life. MBF told us of the first time he played at Folk Fest in Calgary and how rad it was for him, and now eight or so years later, he took the Mainstage. How cool is that?! We sat in the artist lounge for a while to soak up some much needed shade (again, hangover Sunday). Kelsey and I had a hilarious conversation about being traveling musicians with the Bros. Landreth, when they came to eat dinner at our table, and we chatted about music and then politics with Robbie Fulks and his drummer. We marvelled at the drum beats of the Krar Collective, and closed our eyes to be swept away with Cat Power. We stood in the middle of the crowd for Cat Empire, whose music had everyone up out of their lawn chairs, dancing like crazy. The weekend closed with the infamous Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans, who had everyone singing along, and craving a bit of rye whiskey.

Music festivals in general are such a crazy and whirlwind way to experience music. It is always fun to see bands you love, especially bands like The Dudes who are total Calgary legends, or an international sensation like The Tallest Man on Earth. What I loved about this weekend too, is that I had the opportunity to see bands I had never heard before. I fell in love with multiple bands while they were on stage, like The Bros. Landreth and Lord Huron. Thank you Kelsey for bringing me, thank you to all the musicians who poured their hearts out on stage, thank you to the incredible volunteers without whom the festival would not happen, and thank you to everyone I met over the course of the festival. For this island in the heart of the City, for the great music, for the Alberta blue sky, thanks Calgary!

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Kelsey with the rad sign made my Bob Quaschnick from The Dudes

Making Bath Bombs with Maker YYC

Taking a bath with a bath bomb is like bathing in champagne, decadent, luxurious, but less of a total mess. I love bath bombs, but I honestly can’t afford them. How many times have you walked into a bath shop or soap store and thought, “this is a ridiculous price for a bath bomb. I feel like I could make this!” I don’t know what goes into making a bath bomb but feel they are simple and wouldn’t take much time.and that others think the same.

Sarah and Kat, two Calgary artists, and the cofounders of Maker YYC, know all too well the feeling of going into a soap shop and thinking, “why would I buy this when I could just make it myself?” They also realize how frustrating it can be to try crafting on one’s own, and they understand the difficulty in answering the questions, where do I get the stuff, how do I actually do this, what is this mess I’ve made, and wtf have I gotten myself into? The beauty of a Maker YYC workshop is that Kat and Sarah provide all the ingredients and tools necessary for the craft of the evening. They do the research and try it out beforehand, so they are the gurus the workshop attendees look to for guidance. The “How to Make Bath Bombs” workshop on July 6 was a sold out house!

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Photo from Maker YYC

I sat with Montana, Carla, and Alberta, three lovely ladies who had never been to a Maker event before. We were given our buckets, our mixing utensils, our ingredients, and were told the one rule: don’t eat the citric acid. With a few inspirational images of handmade bath bombs (probably from Pinterest), we were chomping at the bit to begin. Within mere moments, the entire Vintage Caffeine Co. coffee shop smelled like lavender, lemongrass and rose petals. People were mixing and matching colours and scents, pressing their bombs into whichever shape they chose, and waiting excitedly for the time when their bombs could be released from their mold.

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Photo from Maker YYC

It was cool to meet and get to know the ladies around my table— all from different walks of life, different backgrounds, and with different interests. There we sat, for two hours, bonding while we created the daintiest and most decadent of crafts. I successfully made six bath bombs, all with different flower petals, swirls of colours, and shapes. I am very happy and I can’t wait to bathe!

So, the total tally from the evening:

Number of beautiful bath bomb makers: 12

Number of beautiful bath bombs made: at least 89

Times I said cute: too many to count

Number of people who put citric acid in their mouths: 0 (woohoo!)

Thanks for the sweet smelling craft night, Calgary!

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Three of my bath bombs!

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?!

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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.

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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!

https://nmc.ca

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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.

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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.

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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!

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