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Week 2/52

The lesbian bar scene in Montreal, the struggle of letting go of an idea, fabric pleats, things that feel like home.

What was on your mind this week?

  1. What happened to lesbian bars?
    1980s Montreal had a burgeoning lesbian bar scene, following the rise of the second-wave feminist movement of the 60s and 70s. The plateau neighbourhood was the hotspot of community - lesbian magazines in every depanneur (our version of a corner store), lesbian bars on every corner, most of the apartments occupied by lesbians. But with the arrival of the HIV/AIDS crisis and subsequent police raids on these queer spaces, Montreal's once blossoming plateau lesbian wonderland faded away, with what remnants left moving southeast to what is now called the Gay Village. The big last holdouts of this bar scene, Le Drugstore and the Royal Phoenix, closed in 2013 and 2014, respectively. There haven't really been any women-oriented gay bars or spaces in the public eye since then. Sure, there are private parties and cliques and scenes. But there's no public place you can walk into off the street where you'd take a date, or grab a drink with friends, or play some pool (except the wonderful Champs bar). The second I walked into Champs, I just felt at home. When I went to my first truly built-for-women-who-love-women space in San Francisco, it just felt right. Especially as someone who also dates men, it's been a struggle to find my place in the queer community I'm surrounded by here in Montreal. I'm sure I'm not the only one in this position, either.

    And that brings me to:

    I want to build something of my own this year, and I've been feeling a big pull to do something in real life. It's a crazy idea, and I have no experience in business financials or real estate, but I've had an idea similar to this for years, and I just have this gut feeling that there is a need for more of these spaces in Montreal. And that if someone built it, they really would come.

What challenged you this week?

For the first time in a while, I really couldn't figure out how to make something in a design tool. I've been (very casually) learning 3D design on Spline and Blender when my computer decides it can run the proper engine without bursting into flames. I was trying to create a specific holographic, watery glass material on Spline but I could not figure it out for the life of me. I had to abandon the idea eventually, but I spent hours and hours trying to find the solution.

(This is a great example of what all designers should practice - learning when to let go of an idea because it doesn't match your skillset yet. You can always learn that technique later, but if learning it now will infringe upon your project, it's time to abandon ship and jump onboard the next one.)

What new thing did you learn or do?

I really want to make my own wide leg pleated flowy pants I saw this one girl on TikTok wearing, but its difficult to find prepleated fabric, let alone affordable and in the colour/material I want, so I spent a ton of time researching how to make your own pleated fabric.

In short, you make a template by folding cardboard, lay the fabric over each fold and then iron the pleats into the fabric one fold by one fold. By hand this takes forever, now we have industrial machines that do it.

Cardboard pleat templates can look something like this:

I also learned that pleats are not always straight lines, like in the template above. It's pretty cool when you think about how to fold everything perfectly to get the right effects. I'm sure it's like origami, and also has a considerable amount of math involved.

(I have still yet to try this and pleat any actual fabric, and I also still haven't figured out how to make the pleats stay after washing or if any garment made with prepleated fabric is dry clean only)

What are you grateful for?

One of my best friends came back after spending a month in India with her family and I am so happy she's back in the city. Spending time with her is always reenergizing. We've been through a lot of similar challenges and life events, so over the years we've developed a deep understanding of each other and appreciation for our strength and resilience. We learn so much from each other and I'm constantly inspired by who she is and what she does.

She's a friend that feels like home.

What are you most excited about right now?

FarCon, the unconference conference of Farcaster that I'm helping design for! We're launching the website tomorrow and I can't wait to immerse myself in all the excitement and start counting down the days until we're all in sunny Venice together in-person.

As @nounishprof and @adrienne reminded us in today's episode of GM Farcaster, there are 3 key things to having happiness in life:

  1. Something to do

  2. Something to love

  3. Something to look forward to

Also, I'm really excited for this week. I just have a feeling it's going to be a good one :)


Until next week,
Erica

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