April 21st @ Free Times Café

I was a bit confused recently when I read an article saying that the Ontario government planned to legalize tailgating. Why, I wondered did the government want to encourage people to drive too close behind other cars because, after all, that is the definition of tailgating.

As it turns out there is another definition however and it appears that the government wasn’t legalizing reckless driving but rather the practice of barbequing and drinking before a sporting event, which is also known as tailgating. This latter form of tailgating is particularly popular in the United States (as is the first form of tailgating) and the Ontario government’s embrace of this type of tailgating perhaps explains the new motto shortly to be found on our licence plates – “Ontario – more like Buffalo every day.” Makes your heart swell with pride.

Having been to football games in the United States, where tailgating was born and it thrives, I can tell you that there are three essential elements behind the optimal tailgating experience: a) a sporting event; b) with lots of people; and c) in a location with lots and lots of parking really near to the stadium where the sporting event is happening. The reason that c) is so important is that tailgating consists of barbequing meat and meat like substances on a truck tailgate or car hatchback (open flames and vehicles with full tanks of gas – what could go wrong) and drinking alcohol – lots of alcohol. People also toss footballs around and play music from their aforesaid trucks or hatchbacks but it’s really about eating and drinking. And given that there is lots of drinking it makes sense that people don’t have far to go to get to the stadium because you don’t want people to be tailgating and driving because they aren’t in good shape to be operating heavy machinery.

This quick description of tailgating should illustrate why it does not have a great future in Toronto. Our stadiums (or stadia) are downtown and there’s not a lot of parking around them. I suppose you could tailgate in the underground parking garage where you park your car, but I don’t think that’s a great idea. It’s also difficult to tailgate on the subway – it’s hard to move a smoking hibachi up the escalator when you get to your stop.

What this will mean of course, is that those huge conglomerates that own the sports franchises in this city will create faux-tailgating opportunities where people will be herded into packed spaces where they will be sold barbequed meat and meat like substances and charged lots of money for alcoholic beverages – but in deference to the fact that this takes place outside the stadium, perhaps less than will be charged inside.

If tailgating is going to catch on in Toronto then it will have to be done a bit differently. Rather than focus on large sporting events let’s focus on smaller musical venues, I don’t know, like maybe the Free Times Café – which, if you haven’t been there, is on College just west of Spadina. And because there’s only street parking and not a lot of room on the sidewalk, rather than doing things outside, maybe things could happen inside the Free Times. And rather than blaring music from trucks and hatchbacks, what if there was live music playing, let’s say from 8 pm to 11 or so. And perhaps the band playing the live music could be Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room – I hear they’re really good. And since people will be inside anyway, they could let the fine folks at the Free Times barbeque things for them and serve them drinks while they listen to the music. I think that’s a great idea. Let’s try it out. How about Easter Sunday, April 21. Monday will be a holiday for most folks anyway and in honour of faux-tailgating in Toronto there will be no cover to see the band.

Hoe to see you there.


P.S. A propos of barbequing I am a big fan of barbequed bagpipes, not eating them mind you, just barbequing them.

April 21st Set List:
Set #1:Set #2:
Highland Cathedral
First We Take Manhattan
Gringo In Belize
Sugar Mountain
Baby Tree
Rank Stranger To Me
Coast Of Carolina
Cry If You Want To
I’m A Believer
Glenora Ferry
Ruby Tuesday
I Can See Clearly Now
If I Didn’t Know Better
Rocket Man
I’ve Been Waiting
Harvest Moon
Parting Glass
Every Time That You Walk In The Room
I Won’t Back Down