Wednesday, March 19, 2014

a rave in a snow castle

Guys, I went to a rave in a freaking castle made out of snow. I am not making this up.  

We were enjoying our favourite rosemary drink at the Trapline Lounge in Yellowknife when we ran into a fellow CamBay resident who told us about the Snowking Winter Festival. Actually, he didn't even call it the Snowking Winter Festival, or explain that it's an annual Yellowknife tradition where the benevolent Snowking builds a castle out of snow and ice on the frozen Great Slave Lake for the whole community to enjoy the wonders of winter.  

Instead the conversation went more like this:

"So, there's this rave, and it's in a castle made of snow."

I mean, really, you don't need much more explanation than that.

We took a cab ride out of downtown and into the darkness.  Way out. Keep going. Eventually, somewhere in the midst of the darkness, a mighty castle arose, seemingly out of nowhere, made of snow and funky lights, standing right there on the frozen Great Slave Lake.

It was a wondrous sight.

When I was in high school, I took an outdoor education class where we learned outdoor winter survival skills. We learned how to make a giant pile of snow and then carefully carve out the inside, to create ourselves a warm shelter made of snow. It was a very memorable Canadian experience.

I guess this was kind of like that. But on steroids.

There was so much detail put into everything. The rooms (multiple rooms!) looked like real, proper rooms. There were lights lined up inside the walls, buried in the snow to light our way. There was a large courtyard with beautiful ice sculptures.  There were little tunnels that you could crawl through to get to other rooms, which would be handy in a scenario where the snow enemies are attacking.


It. Was. Awesome.

The castle was even outfitted with washrooms, handy little makeshift outhouses. I was impressed.

bathroom self-portrait!

And of course, there was the main hall, where the rave was going full blast.

Like most raves, there was no booze being served, so all the dancers were discreetly drinking from non-coffee liquids from their coffee thermoses. (There was, however, hot chocolate being served, which only seems right in a snow castle).

the Bush League DJs

It was an amazing sight, watching a crowd of people dancing in their Canada Goose parkas.  And other wild outfits.  Girls in onesies. Guys dancing in plaid shirts and overall snow pants. One girl was inexplicably dressed like a dinosaur.  It was all so very very Yellowknife, which I've always seen as somewhat of a Portland of the north.

And as we danced, little pieces of the castle fell and snowed on me, and it felt like I was being sprinkled with magic.

We even got to see the Snowking himself make an appearance too, although I kept mistakenly calling him Santa (and sometimes, Gary).

I swear, I fall more and more in love with Yellowknife every time. Whenever I visit, it's always in such agonizingly short little bursts, just a tiny enough taste to tease me. The random places, like the East African themed Blue Star restaurant, where old cab drivers take their breaks to lounge and watch the Chelsea game while arguing about the players in their own language

The Blue Star

Delicious, delicious injera 

What amuses me about Yellowknife this time of year is the way that everyone always seems so cold, especially tourists.  Walking briskly with their hunched shoulders, unnecessary snowpants, scarves masking their whole faces like unhappy ninjas.  Meanwhile, those of us passing through town from Nunavut linger outside, bare-headed and our jackets open, waving our arms and loudly exclaiming about how nice it is outside today, to be able to breath in the fresh air without being stabbed in the lungs.

You always run into someone from your community here, or someone you know from down south.

You also learn, if you are/look Asian, to avoid wearing blue Canada Goose Parkas, which is what all the Japanese tourists on package tours wear here.  Otherwise you might be mistaken for one, and be accidentally herded on to a tour bus to Aurora Village.

Sushi North

 My band played a show at one of the local venues, and we had an amazing turnout. The place was packed, and even some media came to cover the event. It was an open mic event that we were hosting, and we had the chance to see a variety of artistic talents. A local band. Talented young guitarists and singers. A poet/movie enthusiast who conducted a movie trivia with questions in haiku form. An elderly man who sat at the front and played the flute along to whatever you were singing. It was magical. Yellowknife seems to be magical.