Vancouver, like any good bustling metropolis, has a number of nicknames: Raincouver, Hollywood North and Vansterdam, to name a few. But perhaps one of the most pervasive and discouraging misnomers tacked onto Vancouver is “No Fun City.”
Where exactly the name came from I’m not sure. But this reputation is visible across the web, with one article going as far as calling Vancouver a “black hole of boring.” Now, I’m by no means a Vancouver-apologist. In terms of the “fun” scene in the city, there are obvious entertainment gaps and well-loved venues have been closing down left and right. We’ve all had less-than-memorable Saturday nights watching Netflix reruns, groaning about how there is nothing else to do.
That said, for the start of term two, I issue UBC students a challenge: get cultured.
Now before you get up in arms, don’t worry. I’m not suggesting that you are ignorant, or lacking taste. But what I am saying is that Vancouver — UBC specifically — has a treasure trove of arts and culture happening around us, and unfortunately a lot of students aren’t taking advantage. This isn’t because we don’t care about the arts, but more often than not because we were never introduced to the sweet possibilities.
Perhaps you’re one of the many people on campus who doesn’t see the appeal — you’ve never been an “artsy” person. Let’s get real, I know many a student may prefer to spend their Friday nights and hard earned pay cheques at a pub. Hell, you’ll probably see me there too! But after knocking back a couple of pints, stumble you way down to the Chan Centre and catch a world-class show for only $15. That’s a beer and a half at Koerner’s, and I promise that you’re going to feel so much cooler listening to jazz with a buzz. Plus, don’t forget that you can buy drinks at the theatre! Decide to enjoy your newfound freedom and get baked outside your dorm one lazy Sunday afternoon? Some of the exhibits at the Museum of Anthropology feel practically hallucinatory by themselves, and I’m sure they’ll be even more enjoyable now that you’re feeling colours. And even if you aren’t interested in enhancing your artistic experience with substances, you will probably still soberly enjoy watching your fellow students perform their hearts out on stage with UBC Theatre.
I know what you may be thinking: art is intimidating. Don’t be embarrassed, as the Culture Editor — the de-facto expert in the arts at UBC — I’m here to tell you that you’re not wrong. There have been many a time that I’ve gone to a play, checked out an exhibit or attended a performance and thought: What the literal fuck is happening? Art, especially high-brow art, can be confusing, vague and lacking the context that allows viewers without a breadth of background knowledge to understand what it really means. This can turn people off from taking part in it.
This truth is, this is all a trap. Don’t let hoity-toity artists and their fancy explanations littered with academic jargon and Olde English trick you into thinking that you can’t go and enjoy whatever they’re offering. The more art I consume, the more I have realized that you don’t need to always understand art to enjoy it. Often, the experience of it alone is worth the time and money, and you don’t need expertise to look at something and say, “I like that!” or “Not my cup of tea.” Plus, the more you consume, the more you tend to understand. There is something a little different available for everyone.
So next time there is a world-renowned bagpipe player taking stage, or the UBC Theatre is putting on something by Shakespeare, don’t shy away. Even if you leave not totally satisfied with your experience, at least you’ll be able to say that you tried it. Take advantage of your student ticket pricing and spend an evening getting cultured. I’m sure you won’t regret it… but if you do, don’t come looking to me for a refund.