The nice thing about a New Year is that everyone is trying on identities, working a little harder to become the person they want to be, and committed (at least initially) to positive changes. So once the champagne and fatigue of the well-past-Midnight party winds down, here are some things you can resolve to do in Montreal that really will make you a more interesting person.
I want to make new friends
Finding commonality, or developing it, is at the heart of every new friendship, whether between three year olds or 103 year olds. Try out some activities that connect you with other people who share an interest or an interest you want to cultivate.
You can’t hide in a corner in an intro to improv class. The Montreal Improv classes (http://www.montrealimprov.com/classes.html) are a great way to connect with new people. I, and many other people tried out Level 1. For me, it was the highlight of my week for four weeks (followed by the ice cream I ate at La Diperie afterwards). Improv gives you the opportunity to release your most wild imaginings. Contrary to my initial fears, I wasn’t the weirdest person in the room and I didn’t have to “be funny” to do it. Mostly, improv is about being receptive and cultivating that through different exercises. They seem weird at first, but soon prove to be a blast. The teachers at Montreal Improv are genuine and have a gift for bringing out the best in the students. I wholly recommend this as a way to meet some new people. Also, you get a pass that lets you check out shows at Montreal Improv, so you have something to do with your new friends. If improv seems a little out there, or not out there enough, you can try a clowning class or a mime class as well.
I want to feel better about my body
If you spend hours hating your body like the women in the Special K ad #ownit, it’s time to move that booty to a place that celebrates every inch of bare skin. Burlesque classes are a great way to recognize that every curve has got va-va-voom and it’s all a matter of attitude. Get to know your body in a new way by learning to show just a little at a time. None of the beginner classes get you down to the nude bits. They’re more a combination of stretching, dancing, and mastering your confidence. A few to try out are Arabesque Burlesque with The Lady Josephine, MTL Entertainment with Maya Malata, and Blue Light Burlesque with Mlle Oui Oui Encore.
I want to be more creative
Live drawing classes are held all over the city, but one in particular stands out. Dr. Sketchy hosts monthly events where burlesque and boylesque stars pose for you. Well, for you and everyone else in the room. You don’t have to be good at art; Dr. Sketchy calls itself anti-art school and is part of the alt.art movement. No one will grade your work. No having to invent some critique for the piece you don’t understand. No one cares if you paint a hotdog instead of the model. It’s a very chill atmosphere, a room full of people with sketchbooks and canvases. There are contests. Much to my surprise, you can find Dr. Sketchy events in 110 cities around the world. To keep up with the Montreal happenings, watch the blog HERE (drsketchymontreal.blogspot.ca). Events are $10.
I want to relax
I tried out a Thai Yoga Massage at the Toro Holistic Health Centre — read HERE for why this should be your go-to place. It has a great range of services, caring and trained staff, and it feels both homey and clean. A lot of people love Bota Bota (read our review HERE), the spa on a boat with its “water circuit.” You can enjoy the Nordic baths for under $35 on a weekday morning before 11 a.m. or after 6 p.m. A large range of massage types are available too.
I want to dance with somebody
You’re guaranteed a dance partner at the Montreal Slowdance. For those who come alone or want to switch things up, fill your dance card with the lending library of designated dancers. Dress up (or not). Come with a date (or not). Have a drink (or not). It’s like having the best part of the prom with none of its prom-blems like jerks, snobs, bullies, or chaperones. The slowdances are open to people of all sexualities — though occasionally a Queer slowdance is held for those who find the more general one too cis-oriented. Keep an eye on Chat Perdu Productions’ blog “Jane She is a Clerk” (http://janesheisaclerk.blogspot.ca/) for information and join the mailing list. The Slowdances, and the partner Strip Spelling Bee, take place every few months, usually (always?) at the Mainline Theatre.
I want to exercise
Forget conventional gyms and studios. You can join one at any time. It’s way more fun to play like a kid on a plaground with things to climb and jump over stuff. For a more curated playground experience or if you’ve ever wanted to backflip or try out a slackline, but need a mat as thick as five mattresses, paragym is what you’re looking for. This playful, challenging and stimulating gym (their words and mine) is not just for kids, but adults too. Injured, sedentary, over-60s, and the very fearful are welcome as well, What kinds of things do you get to do? Aerial techniques, black flips, wall flips, slack lines, parkour over obstacles, inversions. It sounds like fun, right? $22/course drop in, $109 for 6 classes, $149 for one month unlimited, and other prices. 3465 de Bordeaux.
I want to be more cultured
Collecting art is as simple as entering your Visa pin number, but most people don’t trust their own instincts when it comes to contemporary works. The MAC (Musée des Arts Contemporain) runs its bi-annual SéminArts program starting in March. Every other week, learn about contemporary art from different players: an artist, the art gallery, private collectors, corporate collections, and the MAC itself. They ply you with wine and snacks too and the attendees are diverse in age, knowledge, and experience. I attended the opening session to check it out (read HERE) and have been making a point of hitting the museums and galleries more frequently ever since. It’s a great way to learn at just $225 for the six sessions. For more info on SéminArts, click HERE. French sessions are also offered.
I want to write the Great Canadian novel
If learning to write is your great dream, the QWF (Quebec Writers’ Federation) probably has an 8 week workshop for you. Some of last year’s choices include workshops on short stories (Anna Leventhal!), memoirs (Joel Yanofsky), biography, novels-in-progress, poetry and even a cool workshop on hybrid literature taught by Monastiraki’s Billy Mavreas — photojournal of the most amazing place in Mile End HERE). The sessions are usually kept to around 12 students or less and all take place in QWF Offices in the the Atwater Library building at 1200 Atwater Ave. $160 members/190 for nonmembers for an 8 week session. This year’s winter courses will be announced at the end of January so keep an eye out HERE.