Oh the Legion…

This past Friday I had the luxury of being invited for “a night out at the Legion”. For those who live under a rock or just don’t know what “the Legion” is it refers to The Royal Canadian Legion. Without going into too much detail it’s basically a members-only social club (at least up here it’s like that). The Legion in Iqaluit holds a pugnacious reputation for being the spot to go to party on Friday & Saturday night. It’s one of the few places in town where there’s late night drinking and dancing so it tends to attract people from all walks of life looking to have a good time.

Finally after 7+ months living here Suzanne and I were invited to break our Legion cherries. A friend of ours requested our presence at her birthday night of dancing and we were stoked to finally be heading to the city’s most happening night spot. I heard all kinds of stories both positive and negative about the place. Nothing could have really prepared me for the lessons and revelations I came to in just one night:

  • The Quiet Room really isn’t quiet. Yes. The building is divided into two sections. A larger area with many seats, a dance floor and DJ booth and a smaller closed off area with a large tv, bar and about a dozen tables. The thing is, the Quiet Room plays live music so when you’re sitting right under the speakers it’s not so quiet. However compared to the booty bumping bass on the other side I suppose quiet is a relative term.
  • Dance music still sucks. Last time I went club hopping was with Jesus and some of the Apostles. Okay so it wasn’t that long ago but I recall it was at Webster Hall in NYC and I was about 16 or 17 at the time. If any of you know how old I actually am you’ll know my first statement isn’t too far from the truth. Anyway, it amuses me how dance music really hasn’t changed. Back then you had a generic megabass repetitive beat with some crappy vocals on top of it to try and dress it up as a real song. Nowadays its repetative bassy beats with crappy synthed out voices on top of it. The Whippersnappers tell me it’s cool but we all know it’s crap. No one listens to dance music for the vocals or lyrics. They just want to dance provocatively to heart pumping rhythms. Nevertheless, with enough alcohol even I found myself on the dance floor a couple of time. Thank goodness there’s no flash photography allowed in there.
  • Eating a candy off a chick’s bum isn’t a bad thing. I tweeted that when I got in. That really happened. In full view of my beloved wife. In fact she paid for it and told me to do it. Before anyone gets the wrong idea there wasn’t anything dubious or erotic involved. There was a bachelorette partying going on that night. The pretty bride-to-be was clad in a very young t-shirt adorned with candies, front and back. She and her bridesmaids floated from table to table inviting willing participants to pluck candies off with their mouths for a small donation to the wedding fund. By the time she reached us Suzanne already had the money out. Being the gracious wife she is and knowing how much of a pig-dog I am she set me loose on the candies. The one I went for though was located in the no man’s land near the small of the back and upper …uhm.. gluteus area. I didn’t realize how affixed the candy was and didn’t manage to pull it off on my first attempt. I didn’t want to leave the job undone so I was forced to go in again and complete the task. I gained no amusement from this endeavor. Seriously. *snicker*
  • There’s no escape. It never ceases to amaze me how no matter where you go, you always run into the same people. It makes me giggle when you see someone throughout the course of the day and not have it planned that way. It adds a whole new wrinkle to the group dynamic. You can arrive at a place with a certain set of people, hang out with another set, merge sets later on and end up closing the night out with people you didn’t even arrive with. Got to love Iqaluit.
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Alianait Festival 2011 – Day Three: Tulugak!

While Alianait was happening, there was also a local baseball tournament happening.  As with the hockey tournament during Toonik Tyme, the Iqaluit Humane Society was also raising funds by volunteering at the baseball tournament.  Ian and I decided to cover one of the shifts, which mean working the canteen.  We got to sell beer, burgers, dogs and fries to the teams playing and the spectators.  We had loads of fun, enjoyed the absolutely beautiful sunny day and collected lots of tips for the pups and kitties at the shelter.  Well, it was fun until the wind died down and the sun got so hot!  See, in the arctic, the sun tends to get hotter than it feels down south, because you’re used to the cooler weather.  Oh, that and the larger hole in the ozone layer likely helps as well.  😉

Once the shift was over, we decided to take in the evening showing of the main performance piece of Alianait, Tulugak.  Created by Sylvia Cloutier, Tulugak was meant to tell Inuit raven stories – and there were many incorporated into the wonderful experience.  As described in the Alianait brochure, the raven is depicted as so many things:  trickster, passionate lover, nuisance, thief, and skilled hunter.  Tulugak showed these many aspects through a collaborative effort of the many performers involved in various aspects of the festivals.  It was a fantastic and funny presentation, and we’re both so glad we went.  We were in awe due to the beautiful songs…and laughed out loud at the humour spread graciously throughout the show.  Here’s some of the pictures that we managed to capture…enjoy!

Mike Philip Fencker Thomsen performing as Tulugak…

Charles Keenan and Beatrice Deer performing…

The members of Artcirq as ravens watching the hatching of a third…

Vivi Sorensen as the white raven…cleaning up the garbage!

Charles Keenan on guitar, with Mathew Nuqingaq and Laakkuluk Williamson drum dancing…Beatrice Deer singing in the background…

Laakkuluk telling the story of how Tulugak came to Baffin Island from Greenland…with Vivi and Mike Philip performing…

Angu Motzfeldt on guitar…such a treat to see him perform in this…

More drum dancing with Mike Philip, Mathew and Laakkuluk…this was so beautiful…

The performers of Tulugak!

Creator of the show, Sylvia Cloutier…

The video below is part of the Tulugak performance…wish it was better sound quality, but alas, my PAS cam isn’t the best.  Cathy and Roger, this one’s for you…Artcirq performers juggling and Mike Philip Fencker Thomsen performing Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ in English AND Inuktitut.  Beautiful!

Alianait Festival 2011 – Day One

With the July long weekend comes the hottest, coolest festival on top of the worldAlianait!  Alianait is Inuktitut for something that is wonderful – or being very very happy.  It has been an exciting few days and now that it’s winding down, we can start giving a day by day recap.

As with many other large events in Iqaluit, it lives and dies by the efforts of the volunteers.  Ian and I have been helping out again with this event and enjoying every minute of it.  I took some time off of work on Thursday to help out manning the ticket and merchandise tables.  It was grey, and most people were working, so not very busy.  But we met some of the other volunteers, including a woman (Hi June!) whose mother grew up a few houses over from where we lived in Kitchener…small world!

Ian modeling the cool schwag you get as a volunteer...

There are two main stages for the festival…the Big Top and the Main Festival stage.

This is the Big Top Stage.

This is the main Festival Stage (in Nakasuk School).

The Big Tent held showcases, a square dance and workshops, and the main Festival Stage was where it was at each evening of the Festival.  The first night was a nice introduction to some great Canadian (and international) music.  Lots of blurry pictures and low quality videos ahead…what do you want for a basic point and shoot camera?

First up was the April Verch Band.  The band is based out of Ottawa, but bassist/banjoist Cody Walters is from North Carolina and guitarist Clay Ross is from Brooklyn, NY.  April herself is phenomenal on the fiddle and performs Ottawa Valley Stepdancing while fiddling.  Pretty amazing.

Next up were the Gregor Boys from Labrador.  The “boys” included an eclectic range of ages of men playing “traditional” Inuit rock.  I unfortunately don’t know if I’m spelling their name correctly – they don’t seem to have a web presence and appear to have been a replacement for someone in the program.  Regardless, they rocked the house and got some folks up on their feet and dancing.

Coming from Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory was a quartet of women playing old time string music with pretty amazing vocal harmonizing – Annie Lou.  They were a little too country for my liking, but you can’t deny that they were good at what they did.  The music was highly evocative of another time, and certainly another place.

The final performer of the evening was Angu Motzfeldt.  An indie musician from Greenland, the program described him as “Greenland’s male opposite to Bjork but with a touch of U2’s ‘Joshua Tree’ and the psychedelic rock of Blow Up Hollywood”.  Not necessarily how I’d describe his music – it was more like Chris Martin of Coldplay with an Inuk twist.  No matter…truly beautiful work.  I definitely picked up his newest CD Burning Blue Skies which also features his band.  But Angu on his own is soulful and dreamy.  Perfect for helping someone sleep in the 24 hour sunlight…

And really, what night would be complete without me stalking someone for an autograph or a picture.  😉

Is that a smile? Or a look of worry? Don't worry, Angu. I am still having trouble opening the CD to be signed. You can run away while I'm distracted!

Don’t forget to keep checking for the rest of the Alianait posts…they’re coming soon…