The Yukon

April 22, 2007

The only society I like is that which is rough and tough – and the tougher the better. That’s where you get down to bedrock and meet human people.
– Robert Service

How interesting is it that the Yukon spirit that fascinated Robert Service still lives on to this day, nearly a hundred years after he lived here. I found this quote this morning after a brief jaunt outside into the “real world” away from the hotel. I was thinking about this very same thing when I was sitting in the Capital just watching the pool game go on.

There’s a certain rawness to the locals. No one is timid when they’re out in the bars, which is a bit odd considering how small of a city we live in. We all live under a magnifying glass in this town, but most show no fear whatsoever of people see when they do go out. At times, it’s like Girls Gone Wild, other times it’s a frat party, and other times it’s just like the Old Wild West with the showdown on the street.

This weekend had a certain vibrancy to it with the re-opening (re-branding) of the 202 bar into Coasters. I’m rather glad that I missed out on this adventure, but I feel as though I lived it from the outside. I recommended to a few people visiting Whitehorse for the weekend that they check it out. I knew it would be crowded, and I knew that they would experience the Yukon in a way most tourists don’t want to do. It was the Lonely Planet: Whitehorse for them. The next morning, the only thing people could talk about is whether they were at the opening or not. I heard that the bar may have done upwards of $20,000 in sales that night – good for the owner, rather sad for Whitehorse that we could spend so much money on a wasteful liquid.

Regardless of how we spend our money, a night out in Whitehorse is unlike anything most people have seen. The mixture of people thrown into a few small environments can be overwhelming and jarring. 50 year olds two-stepping beside the 20 year old kids grinding away surrounded by old and young men slamming back drinks like it was water. You would be hard-pressed to find a situation like that anywhere else in the world. Part of the appeal of the Yukon nights is how people behave in such a way that they show themselves off. Their motives aren’t primarily to pick-up people. It’s to enjoy life.

But the flip side of this enjoyment of life comes the truth about human nature. The fears that are within people, the doubts, the signs of weakness. Through rumours and talking behind people’s backs, people show themselves for who they really are. People’s behaviour in bars which give the Yukon such charm allows them to say what’s on their minds, and that freedom is what creates the “rough and tough” environment that Robert Service so desired.

[ posted a month late ]

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