Footnote: I may be misquoting everyone. Do not stab me. I’m only little.
The encounter with the so-called gentleman that afternoon at the Empress had shattered what dreamlike impressions Victoria had initially made for me. Though the weather proved nice enough, I decide to retire to my hotel room, tired without any reasonable explanation. You could argue that I should have spent more time listening to his drivel, frankly speaking my patience had instantaneously disappeared in the last moments of our conversation. How contradicting, that I speak to others of being patient, whereas I seemed to have none in return.
That following Monday, I walked around town to fill in the gaps of my travel inventory, spending much less time meandering at the local cafes and bakeries, instead narrowing my options carefully. I pick up a phone charger and a pre-installed notebook, several packs of cigarettes, and travel information. Afterwards I sat myself down and began to write my first entries. I’ll go so far as to admit that like Paul, I too am an aspiring writer, yet in recent years I’ve allowed my capacity for writing to significantly diminish. It is rather therapeutic actually.
Only then do I start to realize that there’s still a lot to live up to, despite the personal value towards my venture; that I’ve already promised so much to everyone, that has left a lot to fulfill, lest I be held in scrutiny. I confess that in recent years, that too has become a regular habit – that is, making one too many empty promises, allowing myself to fall short of even my own expectations. I remind myself then that if I managed to make it to Victoria so far, let alone bring myself to this point in my long journey, then simply settling for anything short of my goals and intentions is simply not an option.
I’m sure it shows in my writing that there’s still room for improvement, both in prose and depth. The method I’m using to express myself is best described as transcribing my inner thoughts into words, like a journal or sorts. Hey, at least it beats talking to a mirror at night doesn’t it?
Tuesday nights have been the regular munch nights since the days of Sagacity. To those unfamiliar to the lifestyle, a munch is best described as a gathering of people from the fetish/alternative crowd, generally in a public restaurant, to share and exchange information regarding the scene or upcoming events.
In Vancouver, the size of the munches are varied between locations, the age gap between the attendees varying from both the new and experienced, the young and the old. Most of these munches can be divided according to different interests – ageplayers (the fetish of varying age gaps between partners), bondage (self-explanatory) and others. The size of the people gathered per munch can shift dramatically, not only based on work and availability, but also due to the weather and venues they are hosted at.
Like before, the smaller size of the Garden City allows more room for maneuverability, granting most of the local kinksters here easier communal access between munches and events. The numerous hotels and pubs offer a larger list of options to host them, the distance between these venues being at times within walking distance to one another. There is a candidness to the munch that evening, in fact the regularity of its weekly presence has actually allowed part of the bar to be separated from the rest, if only due to the large numbers of regular attendees there.
In Vancouver, again based on my own opinion (“Fuck you! It’s my opinion!”), I have noticed that most of the people attending the munches are divided by their age. You may discover that one end of the table has a younger crowd and on the other end an older one. Here in Victoria, it comes as a surprise that the regulars are integrated altogether, which again can only be explained by the familiarity they have to one another.
From the crowd, I am approached by one or two people, who I recognize by face and not by name. Perhaps it would be best for me to point out that I am absolutely fucking terrible with names, the result of venturing into different scenes all the time. Still the sight of a familiar presence is always lifting and the initial social anxiety disappears in a heartbeat.
The host and hostess of this event are very friendly and welcoming. There is a stronger atmosphere for support in this community, moreso than its counterpart in the mainland; the smaller a scene, the more closeknit it becomes. The people I meet that evening are hospitable and welcoming to an outsider from what I’ve seen. A round of introductions are passed around between conversations and most of the people I talk to are quick to answer to my inquiries.
“It is a necessity,” One person tells me that evening. “People do have their issues between each other yet objectively speaking, most of these events overlook them and focus more towards the community as a whole. That’s what is most important – less gossiping, more developing.”
You run a tight ship, I tell the hostess, who replies with a pleasant laugh. “When Sagacity ended, nobody was left behind to pick up the pieces. The question that remained was simply who on earth would take up the mantle? Somebody has to stay behind and tell newcomers that they’re not alone and that there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“People here take what we do with more seriousness,” said another person. “There is a sense of unity, familial to a degree.” Almost incestuous, I comment. “Yes, definitely very incestuous even. There isn’t a single person in this room who hasn’t had relations with another person in attendance.” How naughty.
After everyone gets settled down, the host and hostess of the munch pull out a notepad, going through notes together. Once they gather everyone’s attention, they proceed to make announcements, whether they be current or upcoming events. I’m impressed by the organization and structure that the two have planned for the munch. I feel that maybe this could be a dynamic that ought to be integrated to future munches. I’m looking at you, Vancouver.
“It’s really more a matter of convenience,” One other person adds, regarding the organization of the event. “I mean, years ago, before they had internet access or networking, a lot of this was very much disorganized and had to be done through word of mouth. The connectivity these platforms grants have allowed these things to happen.”
In the eyes of a fairly young member of the scene, what I’ve gathered over the years and interaction with the senior members, is that it is an incredibly understated privilege to have the means of information the way we have now. Years prior, most of the events were only listed in bulletins, provided that the need for discretion was undoubtedly paramount back in the day. At present times, one need only to utilize Google and other search engines to access these listings.
“There’s a fair number of LGBT communities here which is why these sorts of activities are tolerated. That’s not to say you can openly declare, based on where you work, what it is that you do in your private life.” The person shakes her head. “That’s beyond the point.”
“It’s good for business,” said another person. “The hotels get tourists and guests from out of town yet its usually the weekend events that pull in a bit more for them. Look at everyone here. How many of these people are ordering food and drinks?” The person I’m talking to chuckles heartily. “I imagine lost tourists might have a story to tell when they chance on one of the parties.”
After the announcements, the host and hostess pass around slips of paper for a draw and group discussion, an activity that I find promotes more group interactivity. The questions are varied between serious and humorous context such as “How does a person separate information from gossip between others?” and “How much chips can a woodchuck chip if a woodchuck could chip chips?”
The hostess momentarily tucks away a crude drawing of a giraffe with a top hat into her cleavage. The answers to the questions are more varied but almost always given without any form of reprieve. People here are unafraid to express themselves, free from the judgment of their fellow peers. The effect it has on their replies and the feedback that follows is highly intellectual, allowing room for debate between everyone.
“It’s been a pleasure speaking with you.” I’m told after the event. “Good luck on your travels!” Someone offers me a firm handshake, clapping me on the shoulder. “See you this weekend at Domlander. If not, come back and visit!”
Oh yes, Victoria, absolutely.
Next Update: An Interlude; Wherein yours truly makes his way to taunt the Legislative Building, thereafter terrified of the ghosts of Victoria.