A Steady Arm at the Yaletown Roundhouse


Yaletown Roundhouse – It was just a skytrain station stop up until the night I went to the Capture Photography opening at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre. Construction of the original building took place in 1888. In 1980 plans to demolish it were waylaid by passionate train buffs and other supportive Vancouverites and the building was refurbished in time to feature it as a theme pavilion at Expo ’86 in Vancouver.

Photo Credit: Ryan Neukomm

It was a warm Spring evening in Vancouver, as we hustled across the street from the skytrain to the Roundhouse, a little bit late for the early VIP party – which meant we were about to miss the free booze. As Northerners, recently relocated to the big city, this was a big deal. We circled around the building looking for the entrance to the Community Centre. It was around the back and we walked inside, down the hallway and into the low lit room full of all those kinds of people who get VIP passes to these events.

I’m not sure how I was one of them that night, but with no time to loose we headed over to the bar just moments before it closed. I found out later I had chosen the right date to bring along; his drink sat untouched in his hand until mine was done, at which moment he switched his full glass for my empty one with a smile. That’s what I call chivalrous!


After some co-worker sightings and introductions I decided I’d better catch some of the photography show that I had come to see, so my date and I wandered in and out of the dozens of people, looking at what we could get close to. It was photography, but it was also modern art. There were some really amazing photographs – portraits being some of my favourites – but then you could also find what I can only describe as still life videos – videos of plants or a tire swing slowly moving in the breeze as you watched.


People watching was almost as much fun. After two glasses of wine I was starting to feel it and this was a rare sighting of me in heels, so my attention span was shortening. My grip tightened on my date’s arm as I confessed my state of intoxication and my gratitude for the support. I hid behind my camera and enjoyed my own silence as the room buzzed around me. It had a life of its own and seemed to breath in and out as people flowed from photo to photo.

But silence is only there to highlight the joy of loud raucous conversation. The few co-workers and acquaintances I knew there had started collecting in the centre of the room and the conversation moved to discussing those quirky and frustrating details of our jobs that seem so much funnier and lighter with a couple of drinks and at a social gathering. I have been fortunate enough to almost always work with people that I absolutely adore and this group was no exception. I silently noted my good fortune as I laughed a little too loud and swore a little too often.


The night ended with a lighthearted departure out onto the cobblestone and into the cool evening air. As we walked away from the Roundhouse we looked back at the yellow windows glowing in the disappearing light. Leaning in hard on my dates arm – for the support as much as the closeness – I couldn’t help smiling and feeling like the luckiest country girl in the big city that night.




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