Photos C/O Cindy Cui

By Nadia Business, Contributor

If you had told me five years ago that drag would become mainstream, I would have looked at you funny. Today, queer culture has permeated many aspects of society, from the way we apply our makeup to what we see on our TV screens. Like many others, I found drag during high school. It really let me understand myself in a myriad of ways, from my sense of gender to untapped aspects of my personality. But what even is drag?

Drag is the performance of gender often taken to its extreme. A typical show could include lip syncs, dancing, comedy and more. I would note that drag is different from being transgender, as one is a job or hobby, the other is an identity, respectively. Drag has been used as a tool to help many people discover that they are trans, nonbinary or fluid.

Growing up as a queer, closeted Arab kid was not particularly a fun experience. I was born in Hamilton but I grew up in Beirut, Lebanon where being soft-spoken, polite and sensitive was absolutely not the male norm. I got plenty of ribbing from male peers for being a little too effeminate and just as many tuts from my mother to stop crossing my legs or to “walk like a man”.

When I moved back to Canada near the end of middle school, I had barely accepted the fact that I was gay after years of trying to tell myself otherwise. Queer content did not exist within my own little bubble, which consisted of being bombarded with media idealizing hegemonic masculinity, which had no room for boys like me.

Meanwhile, I had always connected more with female characters — the ones getting wooed who looked beautiful and feminine. When I discovered “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in high school, my outlook on life and similarly, my own self perception, shifted into focus. These drag queens were everything I wanted to be but couldn’t express while living in a home that didn’t understand, during a time where the word “gay” was synonymous with “stupid”.

The queens were sassy, loud, beautiful and oozing with confidence. They had all the traits that I was trying to hide away, but somehow it all clicked. I realized that it’s okay for them to be like that and maybe I could be like that too.

I adapted accordingly, switching my wardrobe to a more colourful ensemble and (not so subtly) hinting to my classmates that I was gay. It was liberating. I finally let myself explore my identity as a gay person, not giving a damn about societal expectations. “Girly things” were not just for girls, I realized, they were just “things”.

I must acknowledge that I did not manage this alone. I was incredibly lucky and privileged to go to a high school that was tolerant and supportive of queer students. More importantly, my friend group consisted of other queer people. I finally wasn’t alone. My friends helped me thrive more than I ever could have on my own.

Finding your community as a queer person is paramount, as many of our biological families reject us for being anything but cisgendered and heterosexual. However, we do get to choose our non-biological families — whether they are friends, teachers, mentors, etc — the people who become your support system, who you get to celebrate your milestones with, like going on your first same-sex date, or finally getting a prescription for hormone replacement therapy. Many of us can’t tell our families this information, for a variety of reasons, be it fear of rejection or of being cut off financially or emotionally.

Until university, drag was always something I had witnessed through a screen, watching when I knew no one could catch me.

The first big change in my life was turning 19, finally giving me access to queer nightlife. A byproduct of homophobia was (and in some places, still is) queer culture going underground, hidden away in bars and nightclubs, inaccessible to questioning youth. As soon as one is of age, you are given access to a slew of new places and a community.

Then, Morgan McMichaels from “Drag Race” was booked to come to McMaster. I was ecstatic, and the day before the show was happening, Campus Events put out a call for students wanting to show off their drag skills. So naturally, without any experience whatsoever, I sent them a message stating my interest! In hindsight, I was truly delusional to think that I could go on stage without a wig or heel to my name. the show was eventually cancelled — but the silver lining was that I got hired by Campus Events through working on the show together!

September 2019 is when I got to see my very first in-person drag show at Supercrawl, featuring many talents that I’m friends with today, such as Karma Kameleon and Hexe Noire. I was giddy watching, and went hoarse cheering. I needed to see more, and as the Hamilton Queer Scene grew, I fell in love with it even more. These were my people — they were loud, they were proud, they were free.

An exciting opportunity was coming up: another queen from “Drag Race”, Jujubee, was booked by Campus Events to perform at McMaster and this time, Mother Nature was not going to intervene. More importantly, due to being part of the events team, I was asked to not only host but open the show. Keep in mind, I had never been in drag before and have only danced in heels and a wig a couple of times. So, I quickly got to work and spent a lot of money.

The fateful night arrived and Nadia Business was born.

The fateful night arrived and Nadia Business was born.

I can confidently say that it was the highlight of my year. I met Jujubee and Karma Kameleon, who both chatted with me and made me feel comfortable. Karma in particular is a queen I greatly admire and has given me advice whenever I needed it. Not quite an official drag mother, but more like my kooky fun step-aunt who has a little too much wine at family gatherings. A drag mother is your mentor, teacher, and part of your chosen family, hence, “mother”. They typically put you in drag for the first time and help turn you from a baby queen to a seasoned performer.

As I did my last check in the mirror, I realized that Nadia was not just a character, but rather an extension of myself. She is the channelling of my “feminine energies” so to speak, and it is incredibly freeing to just be her. It’s not boy-me who’s on stage shaking their butt and making dirty commentary — that’s just Nadia doing what she does best.

I’m a people pleaser at heart, and getting to perform and have people enjoy this part of myself that a heteronormative society has tried to discourage makes me feel welcome and unafraid. Getting to express myself through Nadia has actually made me appreciate my masculinity in addition to my femininity. A long time ago, I used to constantly worry about how masculine I was because I didn’t want people to judge, but now? I’m just as happy in a fitted suit and tie as I am with wearing pounds of makeup and a wig.

I’m a people pleaser at heart, and getting to perform and have people enjoy this part of myself that a heteronormative society has tried to discourage makes me feel welcome and unafraid. Getting to express myself through Nadia has actually made me appreciate my masculinity in addition to my femininity. A long time ago, I used to constantly worry about how masculine I was because I didn’t want people to judge, but now? I’m just as happy in a fitted suit and tie as I am with wearing pounds of makeup and a wig.

Drag is a way to escape society’s, and even our own, expectations of gender — even if only for a night. Contrary to popular belief, drag is not just restricted to cisgendered gay men. As for myself, it has led to understanding and self-acceptance of all aspects that make me who I am today, and who I want to be in the future.  Trans women can be drag queens, some of the most talented queens I know are ciswomen. You can even be an androgynous performer. Drag is an art form and there are no rules. Go wild, put yourself out there and explore who you are and who you want to be. Good luck, and don’t fuck it up.

 

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Header photo: A still from the Speak Your Mind trailer

Hamilton has become an increasingly popular destination for production companies to film their projects. From Netflix’s Umbrella Academy to Marvel Studios’ The Incredible Hulk, pictures of all genres were created on the streets that we call home. One such movie is an indie project called Speak Your Mind, directed by Hamilton-born Cyrus Baetz.

Baetz called Dundas home throughout his high school years. When he graduated, he decided to pursue a path in public relations at Humber College. At Humber, Baetz tried out an acting for film and television course for a year and then decided to complete a course on intensive film studies at Ryerson University. Since Baetz completed his studies, he has focused on film, writing, directing and editing two short films and two feature-length projects.

Recently, the director has been working on his latest flick, Speak Your Mind. The film revolves around a struggling actor who was told by his therapist to express everything and anything that is on his mind. He struggles to walk the line between what is socially acceptable and what is honest enough to satisfy his own conscience. 

Speak Your Mind came from a desire to work with [Steve Kaszas]. I have worked with him on a short film called Blue Collar Buddha . . . He was so special, so talented in the audition and he showed up for the film and really sort of stole the show . . . so I wanted to work with him and I wrote an entire feature script,” said Baetz.

Writing film is a methodical process for Baetz. He likes to work and write by himself, setting time aside each day to chip away at scripts. However, for this production, Baetz was operating under a tight time constraint as he wanted to film in Hamilton, but he was set to move to Brooklyn at the end of 2017. Since he had started the script at the beginning of the new year, there was little time to make final revisions before going into production.

Indie films work on far different schedules than those of major motion pictures. Although each have their benefits, Baetz looks more to the indie side of the industry.

“The benefits of the more indie style of the film, once we auditioned the actors, we were able to do a pretty intense rehearsal process . . . it let us perfect the scenes and dig deep in the dynamics, that way we showed up on set and the actors felt comfortable and prepared,” said Baetz.

Post-production, Baetz sat down with his laptop and cut together his film from start to finish. This time, he was no longer pressed with a tight timeline. Finishing the final edit of a project that had occupied so much of his time, Baetz was able to reflect on the movie as a whole. 

“The film is designed to be provocative but also very entertaining . . . at the end of the day it’s a comedy, a bit of a dark comedy at times but it’s still a comedy,” said Baetz.

Thus far, the film has been well received,. At the Toronto Independent Film Festival, it won the best no-budget feature, an award for films with budgets under $25,000. While the film has been popular with audiences thus far, Baetz hopes that patrons walk away with their eyes opened to the times that we live in.

“[On] a more personal level and more one-on-one based level, the idea is that we assume things about people based on what we see superficially on the fronts they give us and we think we know people who we’ve been in relationships with and [in] friendships with for years, in fact a lot of the time we don’t. Sometimes the only way to really get to know people is to humble yourself and not assume you know them and ask from a place of vulnerability,” said Baetz.

The Westdale movie theatre (1014 King St. W.) will host a screening of Speak Your Mind followed by a question and answer period with Baetz. While everyone is encouraged to come out and watch the film, the director believes that students especially will take something away from it.

“This film is perfect for students because it’s a film about young people . . . who [are] struggling to find their place in society, in their social circles and find their voice and their confidence,” said Baetz. The emotional yo-yo process that comes along with that, it’s also really relevant in terms of the conversations that any socially and politically engaged student inevitably has been having. It deals with that in a way that genuinely attempts to be fair to all parties and tries to point it in a direction where there’s a compassionate dialogue and I think that’s something that could hopefully be a productive and entertaining fable for any student to enjoy.”

Speak Your Mind will be screened at The Westdale (1014 King St. W.) on Thursday, Nov. 14 and will be followed by a question and answer period with director Cyrus Baetz.

 

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Photo by Matty Flader / Photo Reporter

As accelerating technological advancement changes the digital landscape, the role played by social institutions like schools, companies and the government will shift. Students entering the workforce may be faced with the aftershocks of this digital shift and are looking to prepare themselves. 

On Oct. 2, students filled McMaster’s LIVElab to hear Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld discuss the potential impact of the growing presence of technology in the modern workplace.

Cutcher-Gershenfeld, author of Designing Reality: How to Survive and Thrive in the Third Digital Revolution, is currently a professor at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. In his book, he argues that there have been  two “digital revolutions” in the last 50 years — and that we will soon experience a third. 

“The first digital revolution was the shift from analog to digital communication, which gave us the Internet. The second digital revolution [was] the rise of digital computation, which has given us what is now the ‘internet of things’ … [and] ubiquitous computation all throughout society,” he said. 

As much as these two digital revolutions have transformed the world, Cutcher-Gershenfeld added that the ability to use this digital technology to make physical objects — a process he refers to as “digital fabrication” — changes everything. He points to fabrication laboratories as a particular example. 

Fabrication laboratories, or “Fab Labs”, are small-scale hubs equipped with digital manufacturing tools such as 3D and laser printers. Fab Labs can rapidly manufacture industrial-quality goods, allowing people to turn their ideas into tangible prototypes.

“What we’re talking about is the ability to make what you need by what we call self-sufficient production, in which you are making what you need without having to work for someone else … The capability to, in a sense, have a small rapid prototyping facility that can produce industrial quality goods is happening faster and faster,” said Cutcher-Gershenfeld.

When Cutcher-Gershenfeld began writing his book, there were only 1,400 Fab Labs and maker-spaces worldwide. There are now 2,000.

According to Cutcher-Gershenfeld, access to these Fab Labs will increase exponentially in the coming years. While the impact is currently modest, he believes that Fab Labs will give way to the rapid evolution of digital fabrication and, by extension, will change what the workplace might look like for students who are about to graduate and enter the workforce. 

During his talk, Cutcher-Gershenfeld emphasized the potential dangers associated with the growing presence of Fab Labs. Currently, it is difficult to predict the impact that Fab Labs will have on the economy. However, Cutcher-Gershenfeld warned that without the support of social systems, like government regulation, the ability to manufacture products digital outside of a factory setting may have repercussions on existing industries.

Judy Fudge, labour studies professor at McMaster University and organizer for the event, echoed Cutcher-Gershenfeld’s concern towards the rapid emergence of new technology.

“[Things] could change dramatically for the worse if we don’t think about the social systems to make sure they [also] change for the better,” Fudge said.

Fudge planned Cutcher-Gershenfeld’s talk as an opportunity for students and staff to see how the workplace is evolving and how some individuals are working to improve it. The seminar was planned with the Socrates Project, a McMaster initiative that brings attention to modern problems through an interdisciplinary lens, as part of their ongoing “Future of Work” lecture series. 

According to Socrates Project Director Rina Fraticelli, partnering with McMaster’s School of Labour Studies was an opportunity for the Socrates Project to stimulate discussion on how the average workplace might change in the future. 

After the seminar, Fraticelli said, “It seemed to me that . . . one of the biggest preoccupations . . . of students who are looking ahead [is asking] ‘What will happen when I graduate? What’s the world going to be like?’”

 

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Aaron Sorkin must have salivated when he was asked to write the Steve Jobs biopic, but the result will leave those who pay to see it with a dry taste in their mouths.

Following the heels of The Social Network, Sorkin was on top of the world and he tries to replicate the same magic with Danny Boyle (127 Hours, Trainspotting) directing instead of David Fincher. Much of the equation remains the same in Steve Jobs: the focus is still an ornery male “genius” who manages to alienate those around him, but the great man-history building feels stale this time around.

Renowned as the prodigal son that returned to helm Apple during the glory years when the company churned out the iMac, iPod, Macbook, iPhone and iPad, Jobs’ penchant for success seems unrivalled, but so was his capacity for hurting people to get what he wanted.

All this and more was already known to those who read Walter Issacson’s biography of the late Jobs, but here we find it overwrought in typical Sorkin manner. If it weren’t for Michael Fassbender’s intense display as the titular character and Kate Winslet’s captivating transformation into Joanna Hoffman, the film would have little to be proud of.

Famed for his work on shows like The West Wing and The Newsroom, Sorkin has a penchant for tightly wound characters and dialogue that leave actors and audience alike very little time to breathe. Such verbal acrobatics are seen here, but they are incredibly dizzying within the confines of a two-hour movie. Whether it was Sorkin’s intent for such quick-fire interactions to emulate what it was to work with Jobs, I don’t know, but something tells me it’s just Sorkin deriving pleasure from cringe-worthy one-liners from the film, like: “Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra,” and “If a fire causes a stampede to the unmarked exits, it’ll have been well worth it for those who survive.”

The claustrophobic effect is emphasized by how the movie is divided into three acts, all taking place in the forty minute-span before Jobs is to introduce a new product, and all involving the same rotating cast of characters: his daughter Lisa, her mother Chrisann, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, right-hand woman Joanna Hoffman, Apple developer Andy Hertzfeld and former Apple CEO John Sculley. The focus on the film is not so much on the products — Boyle and Sorkin are content to cut immediately and flash ahead whenever Jobs actually sets foot on stage. Instead of the products, the focus remains on Jobs and the conflicts that exist between him and his close acquaintances, and this tension is manipulated to the fullest. Too often, like when the camera flashes back and forth from Jobs to John Sculley (played by Sorkin favourite, Jeff Daniels) prior to the launch of the NeXT computer, this manipulation can prove to be too heavy-handed and leaves the viewer feeling as if they’re having their arm twisted.

The attitude that films like Steve Jobs and The Social Network propagate is that “changing the world” is more important than having the basic decency to value the lives of those around you. While the events in the film are heavily fictionalized, events like Jobs purporting that 28 percent of the American male population could have fathered his daughter Lisa with his girlfriend at the time, Chrisann Brennan, are true and pretty damning on their own. The fact that events like Jobs denying paternity and refusing to offer any monetary support are tempered by Sorkin one-liners rub further salt to the already gaping wound.

The only positive I can point to in Sorkin’s treatment of women is the fact that they are actually given screen time for once. Jobs’ head of marketing Joanna Hoffman (Winslet), mockingly referred to as his “work-wife,” is always on hand to berate Jobs to “make things right with Lisa,” but that just renders Jobs’ eventual attempt at reconciliation all the more laughable. That a man so endowed with the drive to succeed couldn’t bring himself to repair the bridges he had personally razed to the ground speaks to his character. While Hoffman admirably stands up to him throughout the film, she is only condescendingly asked to use a vague Eastern European wisdom to help fix Jobs’ relationship with Lisa.

The only moment where Boyle gets a chance to capture a genuine moment is in the final scene between Jobs and Lisa. But even then, the script falls flat in an attempt to wrap things together too neatly. Instead of letting the rawness of the scene carry it, Sorkin sneaks in a premature reference to the iPod that brings everything crashing back down to Earth. Then comes an embrace scored by The Maccabees’ “Grew Up At Midnight,” the type of indie-rock song that weaker films drift to when they want to evoke the sort of emotion that their own work lacks. In the end, the catharthis that the film peddles is shallow.

Save your money and try to “think different”-ly than Jobs. Don’t be an asshole.

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It’s been a month since a leaked recording of Hulk Hogan’s sex tape lawsuit, which revealed that the once wholesome “real American” went on a racist and homophobic tirade after having sex with his best friend’s wife.

Hulk Hogan was appropriately fired by the organization, and any traces of his likeness have been erased from the Hall of Fame and WWE online store.

His attempted erasure from the WWE history books should come with a re-evaluation of some of the practices that still undermine an already lowbrow form of “sports entertainment”. Hogan is a morally starved racist asshole, but the industry is made up of wrestlers, writers and managers that are just as despicable.

Despite WWE’s strong response to Hogan’s racist comments, it should not be forgotten that this is the same company that cannot depict a black wrestler unless he’s some kind of tribal warrior, convict, ex-convict, pimp, servant, witch doctor or dancing comic relief. These culturally insensitive characterizations are made all too real when current fan favourite stables like The New Day are still made to be on-stage laughing stocks compared to their white superstar counterparts.

For instance, when then-rising-star Booker T lost a racially charged feud between him and Triple H, the latter looked down on what would have become a rare success story for a black wrestler and said “Booker I think you’re a little bit confused about your role in life here. Somebody like you…doesn’t get to be a world champion.” Highly scripted and over the top? Yes, but when a setup like that resulted in Booker ultimately losing, it cannot help but feel like an all too appropriate metaphor for the larger issues embedded in the organization as a whole.

The writing team, all controlled by in CEO Vince McMahon, produces storylines that are laughable at best, and cringe-inducing at their worst. McMahon is responsible for so many awful on-screen and off-screen moments and is more than happy to walk the line between fictional and real life harassment and abuse.

In 2005, McMahon had his infamously scripted “n-word” drop on camera with John Cena, an angry Booker T and Sharmell. Although the clip was supposed to be an “outlandish and satirical skit involving fictional characters, similar to that of many scripted television shows and movies” according to a WWE rep during an in-character feud with the Undertaker leading up to the 2003 survivor series, McMahon threatened to have the wrestler’s house set on fire and have his wife “raped by a motorcycle gang, right in front of the Undertaker.” An adulterer in reality, McMahon used his “creative” powers in the WWE to make out with superstar diva Trish Stratus, Tory Wilson, and several other of his employee while the character of Vince McMahon drugged his actual wife (who was somehow roped in to becoming another WWE character) until she was comatose and wheelchair bound. McMahon proceeded to subject his life-long partner and viewers at home to his sexual escapades with employees young enough to be his daughter. This included Sable, wife of Brock Lesnar, who filed sexual harassment and unsafe working condition allegations against the organization just a few years beforehand.

It doesn’t take much digging to discover a disturbingly long list of sexual assault allegations against McMahon and other WWE and WCW officials. In 2006, McMahon was accused of groping and sexually harassing a tanning salon employee. A 2002 transatlantic flight carrying a variety of WWE superstars ended with a lawsuit by the airline, in which it was revealed that wrestlers sexually harassed the flight attendants. The list included Ric Flair, who flashed his penis and forced himself onto one of the attendants.

Professional wrestling is big, loud and stupid. It has always been hyper machismo to a fault, and has rightfully struggled to garner a consistent mainstream audience ever since the steroid induced 80’s and the graphic 90’s era. No matter how much the organization tries to rewrite their history books, it’s unlikely that the executives and celebrities participating in a disgusting and violent culture are going to change their ways.

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Super Bowl XLIX may have been a tight game, and Missy Elliot might have outshone Katy Perry and the shark backup dancer on her left, but the real story of Super Bowl weekend was Puppy Bowl XI. At 73-45 to Team Ruff, this year’s game was the highest scoring one in its prestigious 11-year history. Surge the hamster got the workout of his life, as he had to run overtime to power the scoreboard.

This year brought many new additions to the Olympics of canine sport. The penguins of yesteryear from Happy Feet have danced their way off the Geico field, to be replaced this year by a new squad of cheerleaders – dwarf goats! They didn’t disappoint as they went baaaaatshit crazy for all the plays.

It’s also the first year the dogs were placed into separate teams, the yellow Team Fluff and the green Team Ruff, because someone finally saw through the cuteness of it all and realized that previous years have just been pups chasing their tails. Teamwork does indeed make the team work, because this year’s dogs played harder than any bone thrown at them.

The half time show was played by Katy Furry, but last Friday night must have taken a toll on her, because she couldn’t manage to purr through her hits in her blue wig. The dogs in the barking lot were not pleased, and Twitter exploded with so many memes that Grumpy Cat must be a bit nervous on top of her giant mountain of cash.

Speaking of Twitter, the game was live tweeted by Meep the bird, but a human had to step in because Meep got distracted by all the bird related emojis on the phone. Looks like someone’s wings are getting clipped.

Cara, the 14-week old Shih Tzu from Team Fluff, emerged from a roster packed with talented pups to be named the Puppy Bowl XI. In her rookie year, just like everyone else, Cara scored double-dog TDs, with a particular highlight when she recovered from a stumble at the 10 and pushed Bubba and the toy noodle in her mouth into the end zone. That bitch didn’t even see it coming.

While Cara carried Team Fluff in the first quarter, Team Ruff made a strong comeback early in the second. Labrador Retriever mix Bryan Adams somehow managed to paw a ball through the uprights, and in the process scored the second Field Goal in Puppy Bowl history. Unfortunately, it was downhill from there for Team Fluff.

One memorable play involved a fight for a noodle toy. The two dogs were pulling so hard that everyone wondered why the referee didn’t make a call. The camera panned out to show that he was too busy kissing all the other pups. In a moment of glorious payback, Bubba grabs another toy and trots her way past the two feuding pups and into the end zone, because no one was watching it.

Overall, Puppy Bowl XI was one to remember, though not as memorable as the livecam where this reporter saw a mother repeatedly eat her puppy’s poop. Talk about taking one for the team.

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Whether you’re a Hamilton native looking to reignite your love for the city, staying in your student house for the first time over the summer, or just passing through and happened to pick up a copy of this, follow this map for guaranteed summer fun.

Play the “Name that Bird Game”: Walk on over to the Aviary (85 Oak Knoll Drive) where you can lounge in the gardens, visit the splash pad (if that’s your thing), or take a tour of the bird facilities and try guessing their species. What is that thing that looks like both a dove and a chicken? Is “grey” a breed of parrot?

And on your walk over, admire how beautiful the non-student housing is, and comment on how confusing Hamilton is for having three streets named Dalewood, all within Westdale.

Read…for fun: Visit the independent bookseller Bryan Prince (1060 King Street West), the second hand bookstore, The Bookworm (852 King Street West), or get a library card from the Westdale Library (955 King Street West) and sign out a whole bunch of books. No post-it notes or highlighters required.

Stalk deer in Cootes: Go for a casual stroll or a treacherous trek through one of the many paths connected to Cootes Paradise. Known for its flora and fauna, devote an afternoon to basking in the glory of mother nature and taking time to appreciate the bountiful deer population of Hamilton. Don’t forget to bring snacks and a camera!

Visit the planetarium: Aside from housing lecture halls and libraries, McMaster is also home to Hamilton’s only planetarium. Located in the basement of BSB, the planetarium hosts shows throughout the year. Check their website for their upcoming showtimes.

Get your tealeaves read: Head to the Vintage Garden Tea Room on Locke for a warm beverage, pastries, and a foreboding glimpse into your future. For the low price of $12, get your tealeaves read and have a ponder or two about your future. Make sure you make a reservation beforehand to guarantee a spot!

You gotta eat here: John Catucci of Food Network fame proclaimed this Locke Street favourite, Bread Bar, as one of Canada’s best restaurants on his popular show You Gotta Eat Here. Along with BB, The Black Forest Inn (255 King Street East) has also made the prestigious list.

Stay out at ArtCrawl all night: This Steel City tradition that turns the second Friday of every month into an open street art festival along James North and its surrounding areas, also encourages late night bar and restaurant hours for you to enjoy through the wee hours of the morning. Challenge yourselves to stay out all night and end your night/ start your morning with breakfast at the John Street Diner (29 John Street North) or Wimpy’s (771 Queenston Road). Don’t forget a flask and a toothbrush!

Pretend to be a food blogger: Take a stroll downtown and have a seat at a restaurant you’ve never tried before. James, John, King and King William offer loads of unique Hamilton restaurants serving up Thai, Mexican and Indian cuisine among others. Snap a few pictures of your meal and pretend to be a foodie of Instagram. Or write a Yelp review and feel your inner Guy Fiyerri come out. Check out some of our restaurant reviews for recommendations! 

Take a trip to the waterfront: If the most you know about Hamilton Harbour is that it’s next to the 407, then it’s high time you headed to the waterfront. Go for a picnic at Bayfront Park, take a stroll or go bike riding along the water’s edge trail, go roller skating at the outdoor derby rink, or sip a coffee at the Williams overlooking the harbour. You can even take a ride along the trail on a trolley ($5) or go on a guided boat tour ($11.50). It’s the perfect place for warm days and romantic evenings.

Go to a club on a Tuesday: While calm summer days are not always conducive to late club nights, try running through Hess on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening. Most venues are open offering live music and an overall very chill scene for patio drinks and relaxation. While you’re there, make your first sober trip to Smoke’s and discover how unpleasant their food is when you haven’t already had 6 shots of gin.

Go to the farmer’s market: Spend a day picking out fresh fruits and vegetables and chatting with elderly farmers at the Dundas Farmer’s Market, which reopens June 12. Side note: All I’m saying is the last time I went to the Dundas Farmer’s Market I met Justin Trudeau. So you should probably hang out there more often.

Visit a waterfall: Hamilton is the waterfall capital of the world. THE WORLD. Visit one of the 120 nearby shoots on a hot summer day, and be sure to pack a bathing suit as swimming is permitted (in some cases). The Darnley Cascade and Chedoke Falls are popular destinations, just be sure to plan your route well in advance, as they are not the easiest places for commuting. But after you’ve set your sights on the cascading beauties, the experience will definitely be worth the extra effort.

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