People In the City

In our great city of Toronto, one rarely sees our 2.8 million people all together at one time. But it got pretty close last Friday night.

A few weeks ago the family of one of our “children,” the musical family, invited us to a dance performance at Harbourfront. We had never seen flamenco dancing up close, and our impressions were superficial: lots of Spanish guitar playing and stomping around in flouncy skirts. Pretty basic I admit, but I also needed a new blog topic, and we are happy to go anywhere with our family, so we said yes.

After a quick supper, we headed for the GO train station and found the parking lot almost full. Then we noticed other people wearing Blue Jays shirts and hats. Ahaa…a Jays game was being played very close to our performance destination. The GO train was packed and the young crowd were hooting and hollering, flirting and fist-bumping. The game, against the Atlanta Braves and former Jay Kevin Pillar, had generated a lot of excitement. And a lot of drinking. At Union Station the crowd surged through the doors and headed in the direction we were going – towards Bremner Blvd.

Then we began to hear roars, louder and louder, and then Maple Leaf sweaters on the march. Of course! It was Game Five of the playoffs against Florida, a do-or-die event for the hockey teams, with the Stanley Cup on the line. Most of Bremner Blvd. had been closed, except for a narrow path crossing York St for pedestrians like us going south. The police were out in full force; in cars, on foot, and on horseback. The crowds were squished in, on both sides of York St, in fenced areas with Jumbotrons blaring from above. Maple Leaf Square had become Maple Leaf Coliseum.

South of Lakeshore Road the screams died down as we left both the Jays and the Leafs fans behind. The noise of cars and buses almost soothed our ears. But along Queen’s Quay the foot traffic picked up again and everybody seemed to be going one way – our way. We followed along into the Queen’s Quay terminal building and up the elevator to the concert hall – packed with adoring flamenco fans. The first number, titled “Galeria,” featured 5 talented dancers accompanied by the melodious guitar strings of 2 expert musicians. As the final notes of the piece sounded, the audience went wild, clapping loudly and belting out: “whoohoo!” and “Yayyy!” The well-known Spanish Dance Company was a real crowd pleaser. We sat back to enjoy and learn.

The performance ended with several rounds of applause, a standing ovation, and a new appreciation of this art form for Peter and me. Then we headed back to the GO train – with some concern. It was just after 10:00 pm. What if both the Jays game and the Leafs game ended simultaneously? We would be swamped, trampled on, stampeded! We picked up our pace. We determined that the Jays game had just finished. But the Leafs were into overtime. We silently pleaded: “Please don’t anybody score till we get on the train!”

We raced towards the GO station with other flamenco fans and and Jays supporters, and we all managed to find seats. As the doors of the train closed, Maple Leaf shirts began rushing up the stairs. Too late – Yes! We didn’t stop to think until later how the poor Leaf fans would be feeling: first the Florida team had kept them out of the playoffs, and now the GO system had kept them out of the train.

Such is life in a big city: how lucky we are to have so many world-class activities to entertain us, but unfortunate when they all happen at the same time.


5 thoughts on “People In the City

  1. We’ve seen flamenco dancing before and really enjoyed it. We’ve also had the “pleasure” of riding the tube after the one Jays game we attended last year. Not only was the subway a zoo but walking to Union Station made New York City look deserted. It’s great that you keep finding so many outings and sharing them with your readers.


  2. How clever of you to retire to Toronto. I love Nature but sometimes I’ crave a concert, flamenco, organ recital, opera, tango, etc. Glad you are living it up…there is hope for me. 🙂


  3. PS there is an amazing Spanish film called Carmen about a dance school that relives the Carmen plot for real. The stars are the best flamenco dancers in the world at the time.


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