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October 18, 2009

Swing Shift, Samba Lessons and Japanese Exchange Students

Saturday night I asked Karin if she wanted to go to hear the big bands that were playing at Fulford Hall. The guest band was from Courtenay. And, Salt Spring's Swingshift was playing as well. Tables were layed out cabaret-style and just about the only thing missing was Lawrence Welk and the bubble machine. Well, okay. Eligible men weren't there either.
These two bands, if you like 40s big band music, were great.

We`ve gone to so many events lately - Karin and I - that island lesbians are looking at us thinking we're just like "them". "How did I get so lucky to have such a hot babe like you as my girlfriend?" I ask jokingly.

Friday night was the art opening that kicks off a week of celebrating 150 years since the first black settlers arrived on Salt Spring. Karin had a piece in the show. She`s black. Her mother`s white. her father`s black. But, as she herself pointed out, skin colour just doesn`t seem like the defining reason to be part of something at this point in history.

"Do you ever wonder why we've come together,"I asked her earlier in the evening, a thought I'd had that afternoon. But, she's not the least bit metaphysical. She most certainly does not believe that "there are no coincidences." "Because we have good conversations," she says. "We have the same humour. Because we live here."

We both know that if this were the city not only would we never have met or become friends but we most certainly wouldn`t be hanging out on Saturday evenings. She is 11years younger than me. And, she doesn`t look like she belongs here. I once saw her pulling her suitcase through Ganges and she looked as if she was a model going off to her next shoot. I just observed her and smiled to myself.

We get out of her car outside Fulford Hall after parking along the road. The parking lot is packed. We can hear the music wafting outside, disappearing into the darkness of the night. I laugh at our "big night on the town". We`re walking down the middle of the road and not worried about a single vehicle in either direction.

We walk in and purchase our tickets for $16 and the band is already playing. There`s a lot of people there. We find some seats. I introduce myself to the man seated to my left. He looks Persian. When I ask him where he`s from he says Scotland. His wife is playing keyboards in the band. His name is Fred. They`ve lived in Courtenay for 3 years or so.

When Swingshift takes over, his wife joins him and they get up to dance. They are amazing dancers. When they take a break, they give Karin and I Samba lessons in the back corner. It was fun.

The cool thing is that the band is full of people that you`re used to seeing in other capacities. The guy who sells fish at the market is playing trumpet. The tiny, spunky Japanese woman who owns my favorite restaurant is playing trumpet. My band teacher is doing a sax solo. The conductor is the fish selling, trumpet player`s daughter.

There's wine. There's beer. There`s delicious homemade cookies and old-fashioned squares.

I notice five Japanese exchange students follow in their Canadian 'mother' like ducklings. They`re wearing black jeans and they don`t look too thrilled to be there thank you very much.

One can only imagine the warped impression they will have of Canada if they only live on Salt Spring for their entire 'exchange' year. They`d go back home claiming that Canadians only eat raw food. They never get married. They have kids with at least two or three different people. They barter for everything. They`re crazy in love with organic everything no matter the cost. They never tire of potlucks and they are fashion disasters. Thank God the sushi place here is relatively decent.

Poor things. Fun night.

PS: I just couldn't find a photo of mine that made sense so sorry, no photo.

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