Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Funky Ooohs

I went to a strange event last week.  I believe it was simply called "choir".  The MC half of the hosting team kept saying "Thanks everyone for coming out to choir!" 

My sister signed me up for this group on Facebook, and soon I received an invitation to take part at a venue called Double Trouble in Kensington Market.  I always enjoy singalongs.  Singing is fun, however my singing voice is only passable to mildly good, depending on how much I've practiced recently (usually not at all, because I don't want my neighbours to hate me).  If I'm singing in a group, so long as I'm in tune and on time, the sonic quality of my voice is not important.  I tra-la-la quietly away under the radar.  I can be nasal, weak, and otherwise displeasing, without worry.  The good singers (and there are plenty of them at this event) belt it out and drown my voice completely.  Maybe eventually I'll practice a little and then we'll see.

The date for the event arrived.  My sister couldn't attend, so I was on my own.  I located the address which I had carefully Googled ahead of time.  The storefront was a Portuguese Bakery.  I checked my paper again.  Nope, that was definitely it.  No sign of Double Trouble.  ???

Fortunately just then I noticed a gate to a narrow alley down the side of the store.  A black, metal, unmarked door was open and people were milling in and out.  People who looked like they just might be there to sing.

I climbed a creaky set of wooden stairs up to a room over the bakery.  It was crammed with artsy-nerd types, mostly grouped into tight cliques talking excitedly at each other.  The din was incredible.  I picked up a set of lyrics sheets from the front and then stationed myself by an empty section of wall.

A woman around my age was nearby, also unengaged in conversation.  I introduced myself and we got acquainted.  It was also her first time there.  I was all proud of myself for making a new friend.  Ten minutes later my new friend said "Are they going to start soon?  I'm not sure if I'm going to stay."  Five minutes after that (by which time it was 20 minutes after the supposed start time) my new friend decided to leave.  She was not enthused about the crowds and the disorganization.

Then I was friendless.  Each clique around me resolutely kept a wall of shoulders facing out.  This is typical Torontonian behaviour.  If you don't get in at the ground floor when new social connections are made, the cliques solidify quickly and you can rarely wedge yourself in.  It makes me kind of sad, but at least I've seen it often enough to know not to take it personally.

I'd come all the way from North York for the event, so I wasn't about to give up and leave.  After waiting another fifteen minutes, standing awkwardly in the steadily increasing storm of conversation, the hosts, one MC guy and one mainly musical guy, got everyone's attention and we got started.

What it boiled down to was we took two popular songs, broke each one down into four-part harmony, and sang them as a choir.  It was pretty cool.  The mainly musical guy plays guitar and sings extremely well.  The MC guy went around making sure that each group knew their part of the harmony.  I think we could have used a little more specific direction at times, however for two guys running a free event and trying to corral the attention of 50+ excited attendees, they did very, very well.

I'll be going back soon.  Maybe when I'm there with my sister I'll meet some more new people.  She's the extrovert of the family, my happy, shining, smiling sister. 


Lynn said...

This sounds like a fun event, except for the cliquishness. When I took the Meyer Briggs test - I came out squarely in the middle of introvert/extrovert. Because I mostly find it easy to be outgoing and mingle, but at times, like the event you describe, I don't like to force myself into groups.

A woman in my condos has a holiday party every year in which coworkers from the American Cancer Society and neighbors are invited. The Cancer Society people talk to each other in a closed circle. I thought about that when you mentioned the closed circle of people - I think it happens everywhere.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Eeeep!!!! I would have so been gone....

Jameil said...

THIS! This is exactly the thing I'm talking about! You have so many adventures! I think I would've been gone, too. I'm bad at waiting and disorganized events. I'm also not good at being shut out of groups in crowds. But I'm glad you have fun and are going back!!

LL Cool Joe said...

You did so well! Nope you wouldn't have got me to stay in that situation either, even if they were giving out bling chains at the end... ok maybe.

Reminds me of when I went to my brother's church and everyone ignored me and I stood there like a lemon on my own.

Sparkling Red said...

Lynn: I'm also in the middle on the intro/extro scale, tipped slightly towards the introvert side. I like to meet new people, but I'm not always good at taking the initiative to do so. Cliquishness does happen everywhere, but I think some cultures are more prone to it than others.

Ron: Yeah, it was a little uncomfortable, I must say. If I hadn't travelled 1.5 hours to get there I might not have stuck it out.

Jameil: It was definitely time for a new adventure! I have to justify the name of my blog, yes? :-)

LL Cool Joe: Next time I'm standing awkwardly on my own, I'm going to think of myself in the guise of a giant lemon. That'll at least give me something to smile about.

DarcKnyt said...

Sounds like a good time was had by all. It also sounds suspiciously like my first time visiting a prayer group. It was...interesting, let's say.

Have a great time. I miss my singing voice...

Jenski said...

Sounds like a fun reason to sing in public! I probably only would have stayed if I had traveled that far too.

DarcsFalcon said...

What fun! A true adventure in Sparkland! I envy you your singing. I can't carry a tune in a bucket, as the saying goes. But I do love to listen to people singing. :)

Glad you had fun!

kenju said...

That sounds like a lot of fun!! I can carry a tune, but my voice is only good with lots of people singing along - LOL.

Sparkling Red said...

Darcknyt: I've only been to one prayer group. I feel much more vulnerable praying than singing.

Jenski: I miss my high school choir. This is the next best thing.

DarcsFalcon: I love good singing, and it's even better live.

Kenju: That's why choirs were invented. ;-)