When the Desert Feels Like Home

I went to Coachella.

However, by venturing into the desert I actually went home.

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The talent at Coachella is second to none. There are definitely aspects of the festival where improvements can be made, but in terms of artists, I don’t think another festival holds a candle to this line up.

So how do you choose? How do you choose between staying in the beer garden with friends, grabbing food and running into the most beautiful people you’ve ever seen in VIP, Skepta, The Belleville Three or anything inbetween? Well, for my first Coachella (as I constantly had to repeat) I decided to go home.

I made an effort to see Toronto acts. Why? I know I know. I could see them at MOD club, or beg this person or that person for a ticket, but I wanted to see how Toronto was received on the international scale. I went to see Nav who brought out the Weeknd, and Future who called out the best or worst thing to happen to Toronto (depending on who you ask), Drake. I ventured into the Sahara tent for Tory Lanez, and caught the middle part of Majid Jordan’s performance.

In short: Toronto was received well. Really fucking well. The talent and popularity of Toronto artists could not be overlooked and to witness that was pretty rad.

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I saw groups go absolutely wild when Drake was brought on stage and then recite “Gyalchester” in its entirety.  Yes, when living in Toronto it’s easy to overlook the celebrity of our current pop stars. It’s easy when we are constantly exposed to a new OVO merch drop, radio show or label signee from around the 403W but seeing these artists at arguably the biggest festival was something special. People went wild wild for them. When the Weeknd came out people rushed over to the tent, simultaneously exposing the up and comer, Nav, to hundreds of new fans.

I’m proud to live in Toronto, and if these stars prove to be a reason why someone takes a second glance at Toronto and contemplates visiting, then yes, let the kids sing.

Of course I mixed in the acts I deemed unmissable- The xx, Nicolas Jaar, BANKS, Stormzy etc (as well as a Day 3 bacon grilled cheese en route from the magical healing Rose Garden to Lorde at mainstage- duh).

Going to Coachella and in turn the desert was such a wonderful experience, but to be able to feel a sense of home while standing in the middle Indio, CA was truly heartwarming, and a little emotional- just like Toronto likes it.

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The Girl Walking in Front of Me

Let me tell you about the girl walking in front of me.

You could tell she had had a long day and the damp Monday night was getting to her. It was dark, as it is at 7:45pm in early March. She was walking with a pace; like she just needed to reach her destination. She carried what looked like a very heavy work bag, you know the bag- the one that carries everything you need from 7:30am- 9pm. Probably just leaving the office;  it was obvious she worked hard; hustled; had put in her time. You could tell. Her trendy, long, wool coat and oversized scarf kept her hair in place. She wore dark jeans and black sneakers. She had a don’t fuck with me aura, so naturally, I fuck with her. She’s a real one.

I imagine she’s like all the other women I know. Fucking handling her shit. I imagine she works her ass off during the day, and enjoys a cocktail or two with her girls or her boyfriend after work. She tries to call her parents often and visits when she can. She has friends living overseas and across the country who she misses very much, laundry to do, a book to start, a presentation to work on, so all-in-all her life was just a bit overwhelming sometimes. But she keeps going, keeps pushing ahead, taking deep breathes and even when she messes up, she figures it out.

Let me tell you about the girl walking in front of me, and how in her I saw all of us. All the women in my life.

I saw the women at my nail salon that I had just left who work for seemingly endless hours, working their asses off to provide.

I saw the women I work with who help me, motivate me and keep me grounded all at the same time.

I saw my selfless mother, who I would sincerely be lost without. I saw my cousin who has dealt with so much shit, and yet still focuses on helping others. I saw my best friends; the women who I know will change the world.

Let me tell you about all the women in my life.

These women inspire. These women are the ones we raise our daughters to look up to- not the ones on a screen. These women aren’t women. They’re humans. They aren’t categorized by sex. They’re categorized by their brains, hearts, and souls.

Let me tell you about the strength of women.

It’s infinite.

The world is ours. The future is female.

Happy International Women’s Day.

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We Were Here

What is home? When did you change the most, when did you become who you are today and who you want to be tomorrow? Where did you learn all of life’s shitty lessons and all the magical ones as well? Where did you fall to your knees and cry and where did you stand on the counter and sing? Where did you become you?

I could tell you about where I lived. It was for 3 years and 10 weeks. It was with three remarkable woman- each occupying the other bedroom for some time, while I lived in the other. Living with every one of them helped me become a better version of myself. It was two noise complaints- one shy of being told to leave instead of leaving voluntarily. It was answering the door in a fur coat at 4am. It was countless movie nights, uberEATS, after parties, pre parties, birthday parties, festival parties, and a few fucking legendary new year’s parties. One year of school was squeezed in there somewhere too. I could tell you about where my heart was broken and where it was mended. I could tell you about the nights I would stare at the CN tower and be terrified I was losing my way as easily as I could recall the days where my best friends and I would sing Fleetwood Mac while cooking breakfast. I cherish all the memories equally.

People have come and gone from the unit on the corner. They have travelled the world only to return to the same place where we had last seen each other. If these walls could talk, they could tell you a few stories, and they could name a few names. But please, don’t ask.

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As I move the last few things out of apartment, I realize all these stories are because of who was present. Who was inside those walls. The stories don’t require the parking spot, dishwasher or the en suite. Yes, I liked having all these things, but it’s the company I kept and continue to keep that made my first place in Toronto insanely special, and so I can’t wait to see what’s about to unfold. I am going to be in a brand new neighbourhood with so much to discover and love. But for now, when someone asks me about where I became me, where I learned who I was, I’ll tell them about The Fort.

Meet the Bad with the Good

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Today wasn’t easy. Neither was yesterday. Example: I just spilled the remainder of my Diet Coke.

Some days are just harder to get through, right?

You know, when things aren’t necessarily bad, they’re just hard. It’s hard to get out of bed. It’s hard to find your focus. It’s hard to find your rhythm.

It’s on days when there aren’t any croissants left at my coffee shop by the time I arrive; when I get handed an extra project at work when I have a million tabs open already.

It’s on days when I wake up with a feeling that I’m losing my way; when I don’t see my friends, or talk to my family.

It’s on days like these that I try to be the part of someone else’s day that I’m missing in mine.

I’ll compliment a girl waiting beside me at the Spadina/King St light.

It’s on days where I can’t seem to do anything right when I’ll make sure to tip my barista a dollar extra- it’s not their fault I’ve started a croissant revolution and now people are recognizing that they’re the most lit snack/pastry/food group. Ever.

I remember being told in countless basketball huddles how a really good player wouldn’t let a poor offensive day ruin their game. A really good player would focus on hustle, defence and on making their teammates stronger. So this is what I do- I try to ensure someone else has a great day. I look to sports in most situations- like how I organize my closet like a team bench- first string jeans, franchise tshirt, third shift leggings- they have a hole in them, but come laundry day they the real MVP), but lifting others up when you’re down is a metaphor I’ve always believed to hold some truth.

So maybe the best way to change your mood and your mindset is to focus outward and not on what you can’t control. Some days will be bad. Some days will be good. And most of the time, what makes the difference is your mindset. So change it. Believe in your strength. Meet the bad with the good.

 

More than the Music: Electric Island S4E1 Review

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Photo Cred: House of Lords

 

I’ll admit it- I had forgotten how how special the event is and how much fun I have at Electric Island.

Even while writing this post leading up to the event, I wrote it remembering the feeling, but not quite being able to get back to it.  It had been awhile since we last danced together at Hanlan’s Point.

It didn’t take long for me to remember. Arriving on the island (after an expected battle with the water taxi lines) I instantly felt at home, which is interesting because as many of you know, I’m more of a dark lit club, smoke machines and one red light in the back kind of girl.

But this felt right.

May 2-4 long weekend is always a gamble with the weather. This year we were lucky and were blessed with some of the nicest weather we’ve seen yet. The beautiful day and weekend set the stage for fantastic day at Electric Island.

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Photo Cred: House of Lords

Since it’s inception four years ago, travelling to the island during every long weekend in the summer has become a tradition it appears the entire city has started to cherish, and rightfully so. No matter the line up of talented musicians, the crowd is more than ready to celebrate.

But as I started talking to the attendees, it became very clear everyone had come to the island with a similar mentality- to welcome summer and see friends. While it is sometimes difficult to coordinate all your friends coming together in the middle of winter to one set bar, it seems to be oh so simple in the summer. Meet me on the island. Meet me in the sun. Meet me on the dancefloor.

And dance we did.

While my favourite sets of the day were Job Jobse and Jamie Jones (shoutout to Sven Vath and DJ Tennis though who both killed it) the day was so much more then the music. People were enjoying the food trucks, picnic tables, and ping pong tables. Despite the obvious growth in number of attendees, the organizers have managed to keep the feel of the festival.

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Photo Cred: House of Lords 

Talking with attendees, it seemed they all felt the same way I did. Excited that the festival was growing, and although hesitant at the beginning, it was confirmed on Monday all the feels will still be felt. The sense of community on the island is not lost. The sense of coming together to celebrate summer, music, friends and family was not lost.

I am so for the future Electric Islands. It’s more than a music festival. It’s a day with friends, it’s a sense of belonging and a sense of community. Not to mention when the weather cooperates, it’s a beautiful day spent outside.

I can’t wait for Canada Day.

 

More Like My Mom

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our little family.

Technically I’m my father’s daughter. I’m quick to say what’s on my mind without a second thought; I won’t be late, but I sure won’t be early, and I often take control of any situation- whether it’s needed or not.

I’m outgoing, brave, creative, and logical.

My mom is thoughtful, sensitive, warm, and compassionate.

I’ve heard it so many times. I take after my father and my brother takes after my mother. While my dad and I can be brash, controlling and okay and a little hot headed, the other two are the water to our fire.

My brother’s empathy is easily traced back to days spent with my mother. My mother is the most selfless, warm hearted and caring person I know. She loves my brother and I far beyond how much she loves herself, and her constant guidance has always been something I treasure.

My brother also got my mom’s beautiful, huge, blue eyes. I’m not saying our blue eyes aren’t great, Dad, but we’re in second place.

However, I’m more like my mom than people realize.

I talk to every sales person in a store because well, we both like making friends. I’ve learned how to be a friend from my mother.

I try to  be the best friend I can be. I try to give my friends all the support, love and encouragement I’ve seen my mom give her friends (and me!) my whole life.

Sometimes, we wear similar clothing like when I saw her on Mother’s Day and we were both in a maroon top and black jeans. That’s the scary part.

I problem solve like my mother. I can brainstorm different ways to fix a problem, figure out efficiencies and work around time schedules like a pro, all because of my mom.

We both love disco, Father of the Bride, and cheese.

So while people will continue to label me a McArthur, and don’t mistake me, I am very proud to be one, I know that I am more like my mother than most know, well except my mom.

Mom’s know everything.

 

More than the Music: Electric Island s4e1

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How do you celebrate the start of summer?

Growing up in Brantford sumer was marked by the opening of the most lit franchise in the 519, Dairy Queen. Okay yes, it opened for Valentine’s Day, so summer wasn’t necessarily close, but it was always a beacon in the cold winter that promised warmer days.

As I got older summer continued to be marked by the opening of DQ, the changing of my closet, the start of the NBA playoffs, and in recent years, the first migration to the island.

This season we HONOUR the start of summer by the first instalment of Electric Island Toronto.

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Credit: Ded Pixel

This is the fourth season of the unparalleled Electric Island series and with it’s growing fan base it begs the question, WHY is it so special?

There have been some absolutely phenomenal sets played at Electric Island- The Martinez Brothers, Tale of Us, Seth Troxler, Jamie xx, Bob Moses, and Joy Orbison to name just a few.

However, I argue it’s not these world renowned musicians that make the island so special (though they help).

It’s the people. 

It’s the people who attend the concerts, pre at their friends’ place in City Place (“I live SOOOO close”), wait for the ferry, line up for a water taxi, and make the trek over. EI has created more than a stellar event for the heads of Toronto.

Electric Island has become our homecoming. It’s the gathering of all the different sub scenes and sub sub scenes seen throughout Toronto. It brings together the lovers of Coda, to the devotes of Nest, and keepers of Bambi and the dancers of Toika together.

The lovers of disco, the cravers of techno, the hipsters of house, and the ones who simply want to dance.

Electric Island is more than an event, it’s a community.

We meet for the first time on May 23rd for a (sort of) celebration of Queen Vicki but more so to welcome summer. And since summer is probably the only thing Torontonians love more than acting like they don’t care, everyone is pretty excited.

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We’re spoiled once again this year with amazing acts on for every EI. The opener will treat us to sounds by 416 favourite Jamie Jones, the great Sven Väth, and the ever techno DJ Tennis. For support, local heroes Nature of Music and Jonathan Rosa will be warming up the decks

We have the wonderful people at Platform, Embrace, and Footwork to thank for moulding this community into something so treasured.

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Credit: Ded Pixel

 

I went to Western University, so unlike those who attended Queens during my time, I know what a homecoming is and how it makes you feel. The island manages to conjure up those same feelings- ones of home, love, and belonging.

However, I can confirm the Hanlan’s Point has way better view than Concrete Beach.

I can’t wait to meet you on the island.

Stay tuned for post event coverage and see what others are saying about the island and if you need to grab tickets you can contact me at thatcbear@gmail.com or buy online here