Every metropolitan city is assumed to have nightlife, and Toronto is no exception to this rule. We know that restaurants close at 11p.m. in GTA (with an exception of a few), so nightlife in Toronto starts early and ends early as well. So what exactly is there for Torontonians to enjoy in those weak dusk hours apart from food and drink? Theatres, movies, orchestras, operas, festivals; the choices are scare and they become more limited when they are subjected to cultural constraints.
One is forced to think that ‘having fun’ falls under cultural preferences as well. In my teen years, I would disagree with this statement that implied that culture says a lot about having ‘fun.’ But when I went to university, and ‘having fun’ no longer meant merely having a birthday party at a friend’s house, or having a slumber party over the weekend, I realized the impact of cultural values in my life. This put me in a dilemma when I started observing those thin invisible lines that divided the cultures and impacted my daily decisions.
I still remember, living off campus with several other students, from various countries and cultures. ‘Multiculturalism is great,’ I thought at that moment, but when I was invited to a birthday party with a theme ‘let’s make-out,’ I was not only speechless but had to politely leave after ten minutes because of my growing level of discomfort. I deeply thought about the diversity of cultures at that moment, things, which are right in one culture, are completely unacceptable in another. The thought of making-out with my housemates was not welcoming at all.
I also remember telling a house-mate that my brother is engaged to my first cousin, she was not only shocked but had a look of disgust on her face, “incest’ she had shouted aloud, which obviously had offended me. This again emphasized the differences in values based on cultures.
Having observed these cultural differences, one is inclined to think about opportunities that give South Asians a chance to have fun. During a conversation with several attendees at a South Asian musical party, I had a chance to inquire about South Asian nightlife in GTA.
Seeme Ali, owner of a travel business says that there is a need to have more South Asian events. Having musical events is a good idea but she would prefer events with more people interaction, such as a picnic organized at a park, “I have seen Guyanese community do that, it would be fun.” Her partner, Malik Shaukat was satisfied with attending musical parties to have a good time. Talking about the frequency of attending such events, he says that it really depends on the number of weekends that he can manage to take off from work.
Talking to Haris Najmi, a student at UOIT and his friend, we were told that there is more demand of events such as concerts and musical nights among the youth. They enjoy dancing and dining out with friends. Haris also pointed out that it would be a great idea to invite Bangladeshi actresses to perform here, as well as international artists from India and Pakistan.
Several other attendees reflected the same need, more south Asian events catering to South Asian community. One thing was clear; South Asians enjoy cultural events to a great extent and participate with extra zeal.