by Adrian Di Giovanni
Gung hay fat choi! Today is the first day of big new things for me – I have got to hold on to the reigns and hang on tight for the ride!
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Gung Hay Fat Choi Remixed-cionados! I hope that Chinese New Year has provided a good reprieve from the winter’s cold. Don’t worry I’ll spare you any pithy one-liners about making your own warmth to melt the cold, or finding strength in facing the polar vortex head on. And, no, no mention of groundhogs here, for this is the Year of the Horse, and we have much to celebrate.
The Horse Year is a lucky one, I discovered thanks to a quick and dirty Google search, and promises to be full of “adventure and movement, delightfully delving into new ways and practices.” And for all of you lucky Horses out there, well, like your namesake, you are “animated, active and energetic” creatures, who “love being in a crowd.”
Thanks in part to Chinatown Remixed, celebrations to kick off the New Year started early. Those of you brave enough to stir from your mid-winter slumber a few Friday nights ago (January 24) were treated to a whimsical and brash party, truly fitting of our equine enchanters, and no other.
Picture a four-story loft, with hopping dance floors on each level, but also a castle looking out onto the bright lights of the city. No, this wasn’t the east side of Berlin before the whole world descended on Prenzlauer Berg, or Tribeca in the ‘80s. This was a museum, the Museum of Nature, on a Friday night no less. Props Ottawa, no one puts the hip in square quite like you. And, damn, you sure clean up nice for a frigid -30C (+piercing wind) night!
nature museum by night.
The event, themed “Horsing Around,” was a collaboration between Chinatown Remixed and Nature Nocturne. When asked for his impressions, Remixed leading light Don Kwan remarked how excited he was to see the yearly arts festival get such great exposure, which he regards as yet another sign of Remixed’s continued growth, now building up to its 6th edition in May. Kwan also expressed how fantastic it was to see – in true Remixed form – so many members of the community come out and experience the museum like this; interacting with it as a public space in new and different ways. Call it Remixed Transplanted.
When pushed to step out from behind his media persona, and press release one-liners, Kwan confided that Horsing Around was a bit of a childhood dream come true. As a kid, his parents would send him and his siblings off to the Nature Museum whenever they wanted them out of the house. You could see the delight in his eyes, as Kwan vividly recalled running around the old building with its once wall-to-wall carpets. And now the chance, all grown-up, to party in the museum at night!
Without a doubt, Remixed’s line-up of activities had enough fancies to tickle and tease the inner child of every grown-up there. And what a diverse if stylish mix of grown-ups it was. On relatively short notice – about a month – your tireless Remixed Collective threw together a program big enough to fill the fourth floor and parts of the third. On offer, was a wide assortment of games like Ping Pong, Twister, and giant sized versions of Jenga, Battleship and, my favourite, Snakes and Ladders, as well as candy (all courtesy of Monopolatte).
Local celebrity China Doll was also in the house hosting a karaoke lounge, all decked-out in a glamorous yellow dress (complete with leopard fringes). And there was no shortage of (sober?) songsters in search of glory here. Thanks to furniture provided by vintage store/social enterprise HighJinx, this enthusiastic roller coaster ride of musical highs and lows – both in talent and taste – could be enjoyed from the comfort of a tastefully decorated retro-lounge.
(Thankfully, My Sweet Tea set up a table to sell their yummy bubble tea, as Nocturne continues to live-up to its infamous reputation for painfully slow, never-ending alcoholic drink lines.)
In the throws of a Snakes & Ladders game China Doll on stage
As for the dancing: great all-around. Tunes pulsed from all corners, but without competing with one another, and offered up a solid dose of something for everyone (electric, ‘80s pop, house, hip hop etc.). The dance floor in second floor atrium, aka the Lantern, was especially popular with this crowd. So popular that dancing at one point spilled out, all the way up onto the overlooking staircases. A special highlight was a tightly stitched mix of hip-hop hits from across the decades, between the hours of 11 pm and midnight.
Second flooratrium dance floor, before and after.
The Earth Gallery proved an unexpected treat, with its sparkling, almost otherworldly array of gems, rocks and minerals. My charming companion and I stumbled on the Gallery in search of a quiet sanctuary, away from the frenzy of games and dancing. It turns out we weren’t alone. This was apparently the place to be for anyone on a date at Nocturne. A steady procession of couples streamed eagerly by, lost in gentle conversation, and pausing only to ooh and aah some of the sparkling wonders. Many radiated with the nervous excitement of a first date. Others, the wistful energy of new love. Sigh. Who knew rocks could be the source of so much handholding, dreamy-eyed fun. Then again, with objects on display such as the Lover’s Crystal (or was it mineral?), maybe it’s no wonder.
Lover’s Crystal (or Mineral?)
All in all, what better to way to gallop into the New Year? More to the point, what better reminder than Horsing Around that Remixed is a celebration we carry inside us all-year around, and not just one month a year on Somerset Street. What’s that… too many pithy one-liners for you? Don’t worry, I’m done, go back to sleep sweet one and see you in May in Chinatown for the real deal.