Most tourists, especially if they are from the south, want to watch for northern lights, ride on a dog sled, check out the museum, go ice fishing. Me, I'm coming from Cambridge Bay where we've got Arctic fun coming out of our ears. What I was looking forward to, you see, was experiencing THE BIG CITY LIFE of Iqaluit, with its whopping population of 7000 (which is actually pretty big, considering the next biggest community is Rankin Inlet at 2500, and then (gulp) Cambridge Bay). What I was excited to do was drink beer at a bar. And go see a movie at a movie theatre. Grab a Tim Horton's coffee. Going to the big gym. Eat chinese food at a greasy buffet restaurant. Heck, eating at any restaurant that wasn't the Arctic Lodge was exciting, and Iqaluit had a bunch* of them.
(*like, we're talking at least five.)
So I watched a few movies at Astro Theatre. The movies weren't very good, but who cares? I was in a movie theatre! The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs were also happening, so I decided to watch a games at The Storehouse Pub. It was windy that night - Iqaluit in general is ridiculously windy - and on my walk over to the bar, I ended up eating a lot of the dirt that was being whipped around in the air. Yum. At the bar, I was offered a food menu, but after eating all that dirt to get here, I wasn't feeling that hungry. Instead, I ordered a can of Labatt Blue. I'm not much of a fan of Labatt Blue normally, but honestly, beer is so hard to get up here that Labatt Blue really did taste like ambrosia. It was a pretty surreal experience, to be watching the Leafs play the Bruins in freakin' Nunavut, with a third of the bar cheering for Toronto, a third cheering for Boston, and the other third trying to sell everyone Inuit carvings and prints.
Watching the Leafs game in freakin' Nunavut.
We also hit up the Legion for some drinks, dancing, and live music. Down south, a hip twenty-something girl like myself wouldn't usually be found at the local Royal Canadian Legion, which is where old men usually drink beer and complain about kids these days. But here in Iqaluit, it's the place to be on a Saturday night for everyone, young people, older people, Inuit folks, southerners. In the large room, there's a deejay spinning hit songs while girls in high heels and short skirts (IN THE WINTER!) dance their hearts out, while shy boys watch from the wall trying to get the courage to join. In the "quiet room", they sometimes have bands playing. On this night, Iqaluit's favourite blues rockers the Trade-Offs were playing.
I'm a big fan of the Trade-offs. We don't get nearly enough live music up here, and lead singer Josh has an unexpectedly amazing voice that sounds like he's just flown up from the deep south. My band Scary Bear Soundtrack competed against the Trade-offs for CBC Music's Searchlight Competition. We both made it to Nunavut's top five bands; ultimately the Trade-offs won for the territory, and it's not hard to see why they're popular here.
We had the opportunity to enjoy a different kind of music on another night, when traditional Inuit singers sang for us at the Arctic Hotel. They were a group of high school girls who shared a number of songs for us, ranging from traditional to contemporary, including throat singing, which I always love hearing.
So you can see, there's a lot of fun to be had on nights out in Iqaluit.
By the end of the night, we saw that our car was double-parked by some joker. We were gonna complain, but then it turned out that that joker was an RCMP cop, who wasn't in much of a mood for joking. What's a gal to do when she's double-parked by a cop?