Thursday, January 05, 2006

going overboard at The Boat

(This post brought to you by Optimuscrime: "Why hasn't this been blogged?")

On Christmas Eve Eve, I went to Toronto, and in the company of some Journal staff and alumni, visited The Boat for its Friday night "The Boat Gets The Clap!"* festivities. I was told they involved "a lot of Morrisey."

Wrong boat.

The Boat is a restaurant/bar in the Kensington neighbourhood that has been overtaken by hipsters. Overtaken, mauled, however you want to put it. It looks nondescript enough from the outside, with one of those large, faded plastic signs common in the area. However, up the narrow staircase is a rather uncommon experience. In our case, we had our hands stamped with "KEEP IT UP!" and saw two really skinny guys (one of whom had a fashion mullet) dancing on an otherwise empty dancefloor to "Livin' On A Prayer" by Bon Jovi, lit by one of those rotating light-ball things.

The bar menu is written in black marker on a sheet of paper and taped to a beam that rises out of the countertop. In acknowledgement of the festive season, there was also a sign reading
"EGG NOG AVAILABLE TONIGHT
ASK IF IT IS YOUR PREFERENCE"
but with some of the letters backwards. If you asked and it was not your preference, I can only assume you would have to
It looked like the staff had nothing to do with what had happened to the bar, consisting of a middle-aged Asian man and a few younger girls.

We went to sit at our table, in chairs fancily upholstered in a vaguely nautical manner, and admired the portholes in the wall. There was no Morrissey. Mariah Carey, yes, but no Morrissey. Meanwhile, The Boat continued to fill up with "edgily attractive" people with asymmetrical haircuts, and the Labatt 50 continued to flow like water. The water that keeps The Boat afloat.

The Boat is also home to the most attentive table busing ever. I don't know what the staff do in their spare time, whether it is martial arts, or a lot of Whack-A-Mole, or what, but at times there were literally seconds between putting an empty glass on the table and having it whisked away. At time, glasses that were not empty were whisked away. My friend thinks they actually heard the straw from his glass hit the table before they turned around and picked it up. While the efficiency is marvellous, it's also oddly creepy.

There was certainly never any Morrissey, which I didn't necessarily have a problem with, but the music was absolutely baffling. It pretty much stayed mainstream hip-hop/R&B and '80s all night. The DJs were local scenesters and band members from outfits whose names I have forgotten Lang telling me. These people played THREE MARIAH CAREY SONGS BETWEEN THEM. And the patrons drank their beer and danced.

In fact, one of the dirtiest men alive, Jesse Keeler from Death From Above 1979, showed up in a sideways, straight-brim Yankees cap and a bordering-on-puffy jacket. And it was the weirdest thing ever.

It's not necessarily that The Boat was bad: it just didn't make any sense. Was I supposed to appreciate it ironically? Had I been brought to a time and space beyond irony? Was I allowed to enjoy it un-ironically? Would enjoying it ironically make me a jerk? How much did I drink?

We did try to seek out better entertainment nearby, but that was a mistake. Someone said a bar down the street called Neutral was supposed to play "alternative dance." The sign reading NEU+RAL maybe should have tipped us off, but when we got inside, it took us about thirty seconds to realize we were listening to industrial music in a goth bar and leave. When we asked the bouncer at The Supermarket what they had going, he answered "FUNKSOUL. Just funk and soul," and gave us a look that suggested we return to the sea.

So, that was The Boat. I'm torn between being curious enough to return, and having no desire to ever go there again.

*To my throngs of suitors: fear not, I didn't actually get the clap. Why am I telling you this on the Internet instead of just yelling it out my window? Aren't all those candles a fire hazard? If you burn down my apartment, you get to NO BASE.