I heard the car horn blare from inside my second floor apartment and after a quick check in the mirror, I stepped out into the mild, foggy night. I tightened my scarf and pulled up the collar of my jacket as I headed downstairs and made my way to my friend’s car. We were off to a book launch that his latest fling had gotten us invited to and we couldn’t be more excited. I have never needed an excuse to get dressed up and I had a feeling that this was going to be one of those perfect nights, out on the town.
My friend was excited to be dating this rather worldly seeming fellow from New York City. He had migrated to Montreal to hang with the cool kids and maybe even change the world through the art of hair design. The way he had been described made him seem pretty impressive so I was looking forward to meeting the guy that was making my friend so happy.
As we drove off, I was told that this fabulous book launch was happening in the up and coming Griffintown district and we would be stopping by the New Yorker’s loft for a drink just before (a loft pre-party in Griffintown? Yes, please!). Up to this point, the Griffintown I had seen was lined with new developments and more new restaurants and bars than even I can handle.
We made our way through the city and headed into the brand spanking new area of town. We drove past one new building after the next and soon, to my dismay, we had gone past the bright lights, way too far past the glimmering new high-rises and condos, straight into the heart of what Griffintown used to be, a misfit collection of derelict old factories, run-down buildings and shady street lights.
After a moment of driving, we found the address, parked the car and said good-bye to it, just in case. With caution, we sauntered across the street to the entrance and were buzzed in. The stairwell smelled like stale air, mildew and wet paint and once we completed our climb, we followed a yellowish hallway to an open door where the New Yorker was waiting to greet us. Two of his friends had already survived the trek and were seated when we arrived. Looking around the small apartment, there were dishes piled up in the grimy sink and several dust covered vases in a black IKEA bookshelf that had seen better days. I was offered a drink and asked for some white wine, which I figured he’d have on hand. I received a bottle of rosé and he took a glass out of the sink and handed it to me with a grin. I poured the tepid wine into the glass and held it without taking a drop.
Though we introduced ourselves, his friends had no interest in us whatsoever. They were judging us just as harshly as we were judging them. We were gussied up to the nines while they looked like they may have cut their own hair and had worn as many scarves as possible. That’s when it hit me, they were hipsters, they were all hipsters and this fabulous book launch was quickly losing its sheen.
After listening to a debate on which second hand bookstore was the best in the city, my friend and I put down our full wine glasses and lead the way out of the apartment. The car hadn’t been touched, so we could still plan our escape if need be. With a little subtle distance between us and the hipsters, I shot my friend an anguished look and asked him what we had gotten ourselves into this time?
Moments later, we arrived at the second sketchy address of the evening. The main floor entrance was covered in gravel and there was a short line up to get in. We made our way up and paid the entrance fee at the door. The author was tending the door at his own book launch and the 10 dollar fee included a copy of the book. It looked like it had been stapled together at a student binding center. This wasn’t a book, it was a glorified pamphlet.
My friend and I were obviously the odd men out and we looked the part. In a world where looking good is half the battle, the opposite can be said of hipsters where toques, torn skinny jeans and odd sneakers (worn in some way by almost everyone at the launch) defined individuality while defying social constraints.
Afraid to touch anything, the New Yorker found us in the middle of the room after having spoken to a few friends of his. He had brought a couple of them with him and they introduced themselves as Newfoundlanders. While hazily smiling in our general direction, they looked like a couple of people who hadn’t just strayed from the island, they’d strayed from a comb and a shower. Sensing that we were not hitting it off with these people, the New Yorker directed us to the bar. We cleared a dirty mattress, some socks, a mannequin leg and other obstacles before finally reaching the bar.
“Do you think they might have Gin?” My friend asked laughing.
“If they do, it will be homemade.” I quickly replied.
They had some warm beer outside a cooler filled with ice and I thought to myself, was it really necessary for everything to be so ironic? There was some Pabst in the cooler that we were told the author had put there so I told the New Yorker I wanted it. Yes, I drank Pabst while wearing Prada in a decrepit loft in the sketchiest part of Montreal.
I turned to my friend, who also had been handed a cold one and told him that we were not long for this party. I was going to the washroom and when I got back, we were leaving. He didn`t argue. He went to the New Yorker and made up an excuse that I was sick and we had to go. When I got to the bathroom, there was a line up, but I wasn`t having it. I marched pasted the nine lanky hipsters that couldn`t have defended themselves if they had to and without apology I butted in line. One of them told that it wasn`t cool to cut in line and my response was the slamming of the door.
Once I survived the bathroom, my friend and I marched out as fast as we came in, recycling our pamphlets along the way. The heavily pierced author, who was still sitting at the door, shot us a dirty look on our way out. The New Yorker had told him that we were leaving because I was sick, but he knew better. I’ve never looked happier than at that moment when we cleared the gravel entrance and stepped back out into the foggy night.