(To enhance the reading experience, imagine the intro is spoken by the narrator from Spy Groove)
Friday, February 26, 2010. Looking a bit more like Madonna than she intended, very non-extroverted-emo-blogger Liesl and her best friend, who shall be dubbed Danish and who was wearing a black-and-red qipao, enter the Hart House Debates Room. Their purpose: to peruse the Urbane Magazine Launch Gala, a semi-formal, swanky-danky evening social, sure to test the mingling skills of any undergraduate.
Liesl and Danish approach a table of food.
Liesl: wat do we do now?
Last week, my epic partner-in-crime Danish and I attended the launch party for Urbane Magazine, a fashion/design/politics/culture-oriented publication made by U of T students. ‘Twas fun, thanks partly to my virtual list: “How To Survive Extrovert-Laden Social Events: Obvious Tips for Those Full of Fail Thus Far.”
The list says to always – always – drag a friend along with you. Dragging good friends (at least one) gives you an advantage in the skill of mingling. You can talk to each other. You can goad the other into starting a conversation with a stranger. If one of you runs out of things to say, the other can inject life back into your banter. That, and you get to hang out with your friend.
I found out about Urbane through Facenecronomicon when they were looking for writers and photographers. I was interested and signed up and then “ahh… meh” it didn’t happen – y’know, school gets in the way, shyness sets in. I think every student probably has a list of “Extracurriculars I Really Want to Try But… Ahh, Meh.”
Regardless, the magazine looks awesome – insightful and very professional. Content includes stories on fashion trends (e.g. the return of Americana in men’s fashion), an interview with a local designer, commentary on Toronto’s spending and its tax implications, a piece on Roncesvalles and a piece on Toronto nightlife that includes the phrase “gruesome throng of neon monsters.”
Both Danish and I raised our eyebrows as the gala launch loomed. Our concern? The dress code: semi-formal, which Danish argued is quite relative, and smart fashionable. Would we be judged, we wondered.
No. The atmosphere was not as intimidating as we expected, nor was it a pool of pretentiousness, as the fashion scene is made out to be by the likes of Micheal Kors. Not that he was there or anything. We received as many once-overs as we would walking around campus on any given day.
It was lively and everyone was dressed…to a T? To the nines? Everyone looked quite nice. One lady who stood out for me was wearing giant glasses, bright red lipstick, a ruffly white blouse and a black pencil skirt. Yes, librarians are cute.* There was also a guy wearing a bowtie. If you can pull off the bowtie, you can pull off the bowtie. Can you tell I love nerdiness? There were two live bands, fast-disapparating** hors d’œuvres (spring rolls, veggies, grapes, an array of exotic cheeses forbidden to my lactose-intolerant body), cocktails and beer.
Danish rather enjoyed Hart House. She’s at another campus, one that does not have Hogwartsesque buildings.
I went in with the intention of interviewing someone involved in the planning of the event – didn’t happen. In retrospect, they would have been too busy running it. “Excuse me, I have a question! Um, um… hmm.” However, we did run into a number of people I already knew and we made some new friends, as well. A couple of attendees came from out of town, or from different schools. We got some names, learned some majors/minors, staple mingling conversation.
The fashion show started off with Britney Spears’ Toxic, then the same song that plays in the Bayonetta commercial. I squealed. The show was lovely; the first few dresses incorporated subtle stripes, tulle and poofy-ness, and remind me of Fashion Crimes on Queen West, or perhaps a dream I had in which I was in a store of gowns that was like Fashion Crimes. Striped walls were in this dream.
One thing to note: one of the sponsors for this event was the Hart House Good Ideas Fund. Mary did a post on this already, and this magazine launch is clear empirical evidence of what students, largely on their own, can put together. The GIF may not fund your entire project, but they can help with events and getting the word out. Thus, if you have an idea, don’t let it flounder in the sea of hyperbolic dismay at U of T’s impersonal, ivory tower-like – (cough) – don’t let your good ideas go to waste.
Check out the first issue of Urbane Magazine and tell me/the rest of the internet what you think. Urbane also has a blog and a tumblr thing. I suggest you check them out. I suggest you write for them. I suggest you, in your attempts to be more social, make the strange act of mingling a fun and hilarious experience for yourself.
P.S. After the event, Danish and I went to see Repo! The Genetic Opera at the Bloor Cinema, with crazies in the audience and a shadow cast. Two words: Oh. My. God.
* I hope she doesn’t read that and take offense. :$
** the spelling is a Harry Potter reference)