Crowd Review: ROM Friday Night Live Finale (Well, of this season.)

What is the spectacle without the spectator?” – a philosopher, probably.

Admit it, you often pay more attention to the people at an event than the event itself. ‘Crowd Review’ is a new SDTC column that reviews the atmosphere, audience, and sometimes odour of various Toronto scenes.

The ROM hosts their PROM in March but the last Friday Night Live this season was definitely their Winter Formal. It was the best adult high school dance I’ve ever been to. Upon arrival I quickly noted that I was woefully under-dressed. Given an opportunity to spend the evening in such a beautiful space, most of FNL’s attendees had dressed to impress, some in floor length gowns, cocktail dresses and others in bow ties and suspenders. It reminded me of my first school dance- I had no idea what to expect- I wore jeans and butterfly clips and other, cooler kids wore black velvet dresses and feather boas. My mom chaperoned the dance and, because of all the smoke machines, my contacts fell out in the middle of my first ever slow dance. A wild, wild party.

Though most people’s memories of high school dances are overtly uncomfortable, that feeling didn’t apply to the atmosphere at ROM. However, there were many overlapping elements that could not be ignored: the large groups of giggling women fixing their hair in the bathrooms, the over abundance of fedoras, and the undercurrent of nervous excitement. Just like at school dances, a public space (this time ROM and not the gym) was magically transformed and re-purposed for an after-hours party. Also there was so much awkward facial hair. I guess I have to give thanks to Movember for solidifying the analogy.

Walking through the crowd I saw groups of friends and couples drinking and chatting, some genuinely interested in the artifacts and others more intent on socializing. It felt like a great place to bring a date. I haven’t seen so many make out sessions since Grade Eleven when a challenge was proposed to see who could make out with the most people. Which just meant we all kissed each other; it was very clever.

The museum looked and sounded fantastic and at ten o’clock, as the sweet smells of waffles flowed through the air, a dance party broke out at the main stage. I was so impressed by amount of people who were just going for it, really enjoying themselves and dancing with abandon. They were the ‘Grade Twelves’ of the dance. Full of hubris (and/or booze); they ruled the dance floor and knew it. There were a few juniors hanging back and watching from the bleachers, but even they looked to be having a good time. Scanning the crowd I saw couples grinding, people raving, and friends joke dancing. It was an intense and joyous dance floor and at the end of the night, inevitably, a breakdance circle formed and some of the attendees showed off their moves. I think people cherished the opportunity to ‘get down’ in a non-club setting and, unlike in high school, they were comfortable and confident doing so.

When the lights came up at midnight (seriously I’ll say it one last time: high school dance) and they kicked us out, people gazed around blearily and then shuffled outside to the taxis, TTC, and moms waiting to take them home.

Rating: 5/5 people walking the dinosaur

~ Lisa Amerongen

See more of Lisa’s Crowd Reviews here.

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