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Call me old-fashioned but...Leisure activities not what they used to be

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Opinion | March 22nd, 2010



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I donít know if itís just me, this city, the schizophrenic weather as of late, or maybe for once Iím on to something, but in the limited free time that I do have, it really seems like thereís a lack of genuinely interesting things to do! I mean if you donít get wasted, and arenít looking to pick up some tail, what sort of activities are left for a gal to choose from? The mall as a hangout? Well, that went out of style once I surpassed my designation as a teen. A movie? Frankly, with the exorbitant amount of cash they charge to watch something on the big screen, Iíd rather catch a flick in the comfort of my own home, rocking my flannels with vegan-friendly foods to munch on. A concert? Donít even get me started on the limited musical revues one can attend these days. Dinner? See the above vegan comments Ė London doesnít have many restaurants appealing to picky eaters such as myself, and the ones we do have, well been there, done that. Perhaps the theatre? If it ainít off-broadway in NYC, or at the very least a Stratford Shakespearean production, you can count me out. Iíve said it before, and Iíll say it again Ė they just donít make recreational activities like they used to.

Long ago are the days where communities hosted large-scale dances, meet and greets, and community-oriented affairs just so their youth could have something to do, and well, to keep them out of trouble.

Even when London does get a festival going down in Victoria Park, letís be honest, thereís a pretty limited demographic to which these events appeal. Yet youíll notice pretty much everyone in the city comes out of their hovels to gather downtown because itís SOMETHING (who cares what?) to temporarily fill us with amusement.

Iíd just really like the opportunity to attend a beat poetry reading, a meditation/drum circle, a magic show, a philosophical debate or consciousness-raising seminar, a really emotional jazz performance, or a jump-jive-and-wail dance-off Ė not just as part of a special limited time offer sort of deal but any day of the week. A little maypole twirling never hurt anyone either! Iím not saying these things donít exist altogether, but they are few and far between, and typically they tend to remain on the down-lo (read as: theyíre poorly attended beyond the hostís family members, if at all). I mean even just having a genuine old-school 50ís diner with a dance floor, jukeboxes and roller-skating waitresses to congregate at with some of my closest pals would be an improvement. There are only so many times I can go out and sing karaoke.

What Iím trying to get at here is itís not just the lack of venues offering such forms of entertainment; itís also the people. Weíve changed. As my anti-technology discussion alluded to last week, it seems (at least for kids my age) there are only two extremes: 1) youíre a shut-in whoíd rather establish online pen-pal relationships than step out into the real world or 2) youíre a sex-crazed party animal which is equally non-conducive to the aforementioned activities.

Is it wrong that I fantasize sometimes about being swept away into a 1950ís high school rom-com where all the girls got ready collectively in their Sundayís best to wow the boys at the Sadie Hawkinsí dance? Is it weird that I crave attending dress-up theme parties in the vein of full-on masquerades where everyone actually dresses up? What about storming off with a gang of 20 compadres to take over the local drive-in movie theatre, go on a crazy road-trip where you only make left-hand turns, or spend a day playing beach volleyball? Even hippie festivals like Woodstock far outdo the ones we try to host these days in terms of music, connectivity with others and overall atmosphere.

Not to sound like a broken record, but I think the changes in what we value, then versus now, have played a considerable role. To think many people donít actually celebrate their honeymoons or that foreign business dealings are often akin to vacations Ė I donít know, it seems rather weird and sad to me. You work hard. You earn your money. Hopefully you achieve both doing what you love. But if you donít, itís even more essential that you value and get all that you can out of your much deserved R&R time. I mean money? You canít take that to the grave with you. Memories? You and those involved most certainly will.

But no, instead the all-too-commonly embraced forms of entertainment and social engagement are getting trashed to the point of temporary amnesia. Given what Iíve just said, donít you see how this is rather counterproductive? But again, we have to ask ourselves, what is so wrong with our contemporary world that people want to engage in mind-numbing activities as a form of leisure? Substance abuse, admittedly, is as old as humankind itself, but at one point it was primarily associated with religious rites and spirituality, as opposed to constituting the ideal form of escapism and social revelry.

While I would never opt for reviving the days of the Middle Ages where the ďthing to doĒ was watch criminals get tried and tortured, I would like to see a bit more variety Ė not to mention a focus on ďcultural and perceptual expansionĒ Ė in the typical recreational itinerary of us future leaders. Medieval revival fayre anyone? Come on, there has to be someone out there too who believes fun can be had without alcohol, stingy nightclubs, and clothing I affectionately term ďslutwearĒ and ďnapkins.Ē

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