Today I am writing another installment of “Being a Tourist in my own City.” Summer in the city, especially on the weekend, can often be warm, muggy and oppressive. It’s easy to laze around the house or pull up a chair in the backyard and do a lot of nothing. Instead of that, this weekend we decided to take advantage of an annual event in our neighbourhood, and on Saturday night, with only one child at home (the baby), we stepped outside and walked over to Salsa on St. Clair.
I remember stopping by this event a few years ago, as it wound down on a Sunday night. We had only checked out the perimeter and I recall that it was busy. This year, at 7:00 pm on a beautiful Saturday evening, we decided to try it again. I had checked out the event’s website and expected to find loud lively music, some dancing on the closed off street and a mix of Latin American and South American food.
We found all of that, and I also found dense crowds and long lines. I should have known better. After weeks (or was it months?) of rain in Toronto and so many washed out weekends, people were desperate to get outside and party on such a gorgeous evening. As we approached the Eastern edge of the event, I could hear the music, I could see the crowd and I could smell the sumptuous food.
No doubt the event delivered on its promises – there were blocks of music and dancing and a huge variety of food for sale. But it was impossible to move, never mind dance, and I did not have the patience to wait in snaking lines just for a taste of a tomatillo, plantain or churros. I don’t doubt the food was delicious, and the music was so vibrant that I could feel myself wanting to dance, but I (or my husband or my parents who joined us) did not have the patience nor the stamina to stay, so we kept walking.
It was slow moving, but we crossed the Salsa, from one end to the other and passed people of all ages enjoying the event. There were families with babies and young children, teenagers and 20-somethings out for a night on the town and even an older crowd enjoying the scene. We just kept on walking.
If you keep walking along St. Clair West in Toronto you arrive in one of the many “Little Italy” neighbourhoods of our great city. With our stomachs rumbling we checked out a few places and eventually decided upon a modest but sweet looking place that had a quiet patio and space to accommodate us and the stroller. Big Slice Restaurant came through with a tasty meal and friendly service. On our walk home, as a bonus, we stopped a for a treat at Punto Gelato, where everyone (including the baby, of course), enjoyed a couple of scoops of this Italian treat. I highly recommend the Caramelo flavour by the way!
To get home we chose to dive back into the Salsa again to see how it looked at night. The music was lively and there was some great dancing. The crowd had thinned somewhat, though I didn’t see too many young families or the older crowd from a couple hours before. We definitely brought the average age up while we walked through!
I am fortunate that I live in a city that has such a vibrant mix of cultures that are celebrated throughout the year. Whether it is a street festival or a parade, and whether the event is small and quiet or crowded and lively, I love them all. My family and I participate in our own special way, and I look forward to the next time I can be a tourist in my own city.