For months, my social media feeds have been packed with posts about retail stores closing, restaurants going out of business, and old haunts shuttered to make way for condos. With the destruction of so many places, I quickly found myself in a race to visit my former hangouts — cherished places responsible for my best memories — one last time.
Last week I made plans to visit a restaurant that I hadn’t been to in, like, forever. Back in the not-so-recent day, it was my go-to place: it witnessed my break-ups, celebrations and horrendous dance moves (usually courtesy of a tequila-fueled night). In a few months, those memories will be buried — demolished, actually — to make room for a boutique hotel. And sure, in a few years maybe the hotel’s swanky lobby bar will be a place to make amazing/new memories, but I’m not taking any chances.
Those born during the condo boom may never understand the places we deigned to love; they may never know — or care to know — that many shiny, floor-to-ceiling boîtes sit on top of infamous, deconstructed places.
Then, our world consisted of dark, dank bars that were full of people from walks of life you couldn’t have imagined in your wildest dreams. You walked in, pulled up a seat at the bar and engaged the bartender (or a local) in banter until last call. As a generation we were rebellious, but we had rules: you dared not order anything but beer, and food was definitely off-limits (open concept wasn’t a thing then, but you always caught a glimpse of the kitchen when you went out for a smoke in the back alley — hell, half the time the cooks were out there smoking right along with you).
Our back-in-the-day stories celebrated girlfriends who graciously held our hair while we unleashed fury into the bathroom’s porcelain god (again, never order anything but beer). Even then, we knew the dangers of identity theft: the dance floor was a myriad of friends who threw their purses down and formed a protective dance circle around them. Of course, at some point in the night you checked in with the DJ — if the bar could afford one — and requested your favourite song (usually anything by Bon Jovi, but Meatloaf often sufficed).
These places — these risk factories — spawned movements, fashion trends, and, best of all, lifelong friendships. Every so often I mention them in the company of my dearest friends, and the stories, jokes, and I-can’t-believe-we-went-there’s start to flow. It’s a shame to think their extinction is upon us.
The places of our past — places where we came of age and experienced our firsts (and lasts…thank you very much, tequila) — are history in the making. We should call on our friends and head back in time to relive our best moments and say hello/goodbye to forgotten friends before our old haunts disappear into the archives.
Let every hair flip be fabulous.
original photo by rondell melling // manipulation by le snobbery