Register Monday | December 5 | 2022

So Hip It Hurts

Why Geek Chic Is the Way of the Future

Although some may disagree, I don't think there's anything wrong with being a hipster. By hipster, I mean the kind of person who is with the times. The girl who got a rocker-chic haircut when everyone else still called this hairdo a "mullet." The guy who knew when to pack away his trucker hat and pretend he never owned such a thing. I can totally relate because I love to have fun with my clothes too. It's my belief that leg warmers are not only cute enough to wear, but they're also very practical. Recently, I concluded that a fake-bear stole was a wise investment. Quite suddenly, I have a great affinity for the colour pink-but really, don't we all?

Montreal-and specifically Mile End and the Plateau-is chock full of hip. If you ever go out in sweatpants, you quickly realize how well-dressed Montrealers actually are. It makes for great people-watching-in bars, in cafes, on the Main. And while lots of these beautiful people have beautiful minds, an anglophone girl of twenty-five can find herself in a hip establishment, sipping a tumbler of whisky, quite drunk and with nothing to say to anyone. It's not that we hipsters have nothing going on, it's that we're not talking to each other. A kind of surface-level interaction is deployed. Rounds of drinks are bought. You talk about the last loft party you went to. You mention the after-party. Someone asks you for the sixth time, "So, what do you do again?" You find yourself having the same conversations with the same people, and walking away without any real sense of who the person you were talking to is. You even start to wonder if you have anything to say for yourself.

I think a backlash against such flakiness is brewing-and if it isn't, it soon will be.

I think a backlash against such flakiness is brewing-and if it isn't, it soon will be. Sure, I can talk with great confidence about the relative unattractiveness of Uggs, but only for so long. I am glad to be a part of the Geek Chic movement. People are joining in throngs because they are bored of hollow interactions in bars where you can't hear each other talk. Along with tapered, high-waisted jeans (they are coming back, I assure you), people are embracing their nerdier, more wholesome selves.

In the past two weeks, I have been invited to no less than two games nights at friends' houses. One was on a Friday and everyone was "pumped" to be there. There was beer, popcorn and a rousing debate about whether "Mao" instead of "Mao Zedong" was sufficient to win a Trivial Pursuit pie piece. The other happened to fall on the same Wednesday that the Green Room (one of the hippest bars in Mile End) was launching its own games night. On Saturdays, the place usually features DJs. On Thursdays, it's a vernissage. And now, on Wednesdays, groups of friends are cracking open Cranium and Risk over a pitcher of Boréale Blonde. The Green Room is proving very popular-and for a reason. Spin Magazine recently wrote, "The Green Room may have red walls, but the irony stops there. Local art is on display, and the kids dance so unselfconsciously, they border on dorky." I don't know about you, but I'm sold.

People want to play together. Sure, alcohol and well-dressed hipster types are involved, but people are actually interacting and having some wholesome fun. A good friend of mine who plays the viola recently guest-starred on an album for a hot new Montreal band. Soon after, she was invited to the lead singer's birthday party. At a bowling alley. The invitation to a semi-famous actor's birthday party that I attended not long ago included the phrase "Bring your indoor shoes for better dancing."

Nights like these are great not just for group interaction, but also for dating. Often, early dates involve alcohol. The reason for this booze-based socializing is not just tied to Montreal being a city of alcoholics: it's also because beer or a bottle of wine over dinner acts as a social lubricant. It makes it easier to open up and relax. But, then again, so do outdoor activities. There is nothing like falling off a toboggan to get a little closer.

People want to play together. Sure, alcohol and well-dressed hipster types are involved, but people are actually interacting and having some wholesome fun.

Just look at all those kids who went to camp together and came back with that unbreakable bond. I wasn't one of them, and I know how left out I felt when my girlfriends returned. At the risk of sounding like somebody out of a Body Break commercial, I think a lot can be said for ditching the hip hangouts once in while. Go skating in the park, play poker, host a theme party, buy some cross-country skis and skin-tight all-in-one snow pants, go bowling, start a book club, take the guy you like to your yoga class. Don't get me wrong-I am not proposing we all start wearing low-rise sweatpants and Lululemon tops as fashion wear (only Vancouverites and McGill undergrads can get away with that), but I do think that Montrealers can learn something from all those outdoorsy, fleece-wearing, MEC-loving westerners. To dare to do something active and interesting once in a while can only be a good thing-once we've had our coffee and cake, of course.

A good Montreal friend started dating a girl who lives more than five hundred kilometres away. They met in Toronto, and she decided to come and stay with him even though they barely knew each other. She took the morning train and showed up at his house. They took one look at each other and decided to go fly a kite. Now, they are one of the happiest, most fun-loving couples I know.

PS-I just found a beautiful new website for Montrealers on the hunt for new hangouts. And since the best-kept secrets are best shared, check out Made in Montreal.

Emma Appleby is a fabulous force on the Montreal scene. Read more recent columns by Emma Appleby.