Slow Hand

Weekend Radar: Doors Open Toronto, Bells on Bloor, Sushi for Two, Drummers for Darfur, desiFEST, Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market, Blackout Party, Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City, Inside Out Film Festival Closing Gala

Saturday, May 29

CITY | Doors Open Toronto
If you've ever wondered what lurks behind the facades of Toronto's most interesting buildings, Doors Open Toronto gives you the chance to go behind the scenes and take a peek inside 150 sites of cultural and historical importance throughout the city. Almost all of the Toronto's most famous buildings will be throwing open their doors to the public, including the Canada Life Building, the Casa Loma Stables, Osgoode Hall, and the Soldier's Tower at Hart House. Aside from recognizable landmarks like those, you can also gain access to usually secretive places like the Toronto West Masonic Temple, and this year dozens more sites have been added to the list, giving the public its first glimpse of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, among others. All Doors Open events are free, but each building has its own hours so check the City's helpful guide before heading out. Runs til Sunday.
Various locations and times, Free

BICYCLE | Bells on Bloor
In the battle for better bike lanes in this city, Bloor Street is ground zero. The busy downtown street has more holes in it than the plot of an episode of Lost and its rough surface, heavy traffic flow and lack of a designated lane for cyclists makes it an extremely dangerous ride. Today hundreds of bikers are expected to participate in Bells on Bloor, a mass synchronized bike ride that organizers are calling "a moving musical on a thousand wheels." Giant puppeteers from the Clay and Paper Theatre will be performing at sites along the route and riders will be making as much noise as possible with bells and instruments, all in an effort to raise awareness of the need for bike lanes on Bloor. The route starts at High Park's main gate and then heads East along Bloor before dipping down to Queen's Park, so if seeing a massive bike parade sounds like fun to you then you'll have plenty of chances to check it out, but if not you better stay the hell away cause this thing's gonna snarl up traffic for blocks.
High Park Main Gate (Bloor and High Park Avenue), 11 am

FOOD | Sushi for Two
Lovers who like it raw should check of the Drake Hotel's Sushi for Two sushi-making workshop this afternoon. Chef Shin Aoyama, who spends most of his time whipping up Japanese and Korean delicacies at Yorkville's Koko! Share Bar will be imparting some of the expertise he learned from studying under Vancouver master Hidekazu Tojo, guiding couples through a hands-on experience that should be as sensuous as it is delicious. The $50 ticket gets you and your partner all the ingredients plus a glass of sake each. One lucky couple will also win a romantic dinner at the Drake Hotel. There are still some spots available, so act fast and sign up on the event's Facebook page.
Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen Street West, $25 per person, 3 pm

COMMUNITY | War Child's Drummers for Darfur
Bells on Bloor won't be the only thing making a lot of noise in the city Saturday afternoon. War Child is putting together its second annual Drummers for Darfur event, which will see hundreds of demonstrators march through the city banging anything and everything they can get their hands on. Drummers have been collecting sponsorship over the past few weeks, with all proceeds going to help War Child's programs in Sudan brace themselves for the rainy season, which will compact existing problems of conflict and displacement by adding a deluge of unsanitary water to the mix. Celebrity drummers participating include Jeremy Taggart from Our Lady Peace, Goldfinger's Darrin Pfeiffer, and ex-Rheostatic Dave Clarke. If you haven't had a chance to get yourself sponsored you can still participate by showing up with some acoustically sound pots and pans and making a donation through the organization's website.
The Grange (behind the Art Gallery of Ontario), 1 pm

Canada's only national South Asian music festival explodes into Yonge-Dundas Square today for a 12-hour showcase of Bollywood extravagance. The festival will move on to Montreal and Vancouver after its debut here in Toronto, which will see performances from local artists the Diyas and Jadoo Entertainment dance troupes, rapper Bollywood Booz, fusion guitarist Farid Khan, and Punjabi hip hop crew Black Mahal. While performers entertain onstage, food and clothing vendors will set up shop in the square, recreating the South Asian Market experience.
Yonge-Dundas Square, Free, 11 am - 11 pm

GALLERY | Always Moving Forward: Contemporary African Photography from the Wedge Collection
The CONTACT Photography Festival finally wraps up this weekend with a swanky party at the Spoke Club. But instead of schmoozing with a bunch of society types you should have some artistic integrity and check out the last gallery events on the festival's schedule instead (and let's face it, you're not getting into a posh jam like that anyway). At Gallery 44 curator Kenneth Montague is giving tours of Always Moving Forward, an exhibit of photographs by African-born artists that are part of Montague's Wedge collection that fights stereotypically pessimist depictions of the continent with hard-hitting documentary, conceptual and street photography. The show opened on May 1st, but this is your last chance to have a first-hand account of the project from Montague, who's been collecting photos that address the African diaspora for ten years.
Gallery 44, 401 Richmond Street, Tour at 2 pm, Gallery hours Tuesday to Saturday 11 am - 5 pm

Sunday, May 30:

COMMUNITY | Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market
Kensington's celebration of bipedalism returns this weekend in the year's first instalment of the ever-popular Pedestrian Sunday festival. Held on the last Sunday of every month from May to October, Pedestrian Sundays afford downtown dwellers the opportunity not only to freely visit the bars and shops of the city's most eclectic neighbourhood but also to momentarily subvert the dominance of the internal combustion engine, which reigns supreme on city streets the other 30 days of the month. Organizers have yet to post any details about what they have planned to mark the return of PS Kensington this weekend, but as usual Augusta and Kensington Avenues as well as St. Andrew's and Baldwin Streets will be closed to motor traffic from 12 pm onward. Starting at 2 pm at the Boat, the Pitter Patter Festival is putting on an afternoon concert to coincide with Pedestrian Sunday that includes sets by Planet Creature, the Diableros, and festival organizer Keith Hamilton's Hamilton Trading Co.
Kensington Market, Free, 12 pm - 7 pm

PARTY | Blackout
There is a certain feeling that you only get during a blackout. We all remember that thrilling mixture of excitement and anxiety that came from watching the city go dark on August 14 of 2003, when Toronto was struck by the worst power outage in North American history. Ossington hotspot Baby Huey plans to recreate the unforgettable vibe of the spontaneous parties that sprung up in kitchens and patios that night by pulling out all its fuses for a blackout party. There will be no lights and no amplification, but there will be unplugged entertainment from the likes of Crackpuppy, dirty novelist Mister Ease, and Skin Tight Outta Sight's Naked Girls Reading (might want to bring a flashlight).
Baby Huey, 72 Ossington Avenue, No Cover, 9 pm

COMEDY | Eddie Izzard at Massey Hall
Groundbreaking cross-dressing British comedian Eddie Izzard ends his Canadian tour where he began it, with two shows at Massey Hall on Sunday and Monday. Izzard is one of our generation's truly unique voices, delivering blistering comedy sets with razor sharp wit and keen intelligence. Constantly defying expectations about sexuality and gender, he's won legions of fans on both sides of the Atlantic and influenced megastars like Russel Brand. One of three earlier performances at Massey Hall at the start of his current Stripped tour was cancelled, so anyone who missed him then will get a second chance to experience his one-of-a-kind comedy in the intimate setting of Toronto's most hallowed venue.
Massey Hall, 178 Victoria Street, $40.95 - $61.95, Saturday and Sunday 8 pm

FILM | Inside Out Film Festival Closing Gala
The Inside Out Film Festival wraps up its 20th successful year with a closing gala and awards ceremony at the Gardiner Museum on Sunday. Cherrybomb DJs Denise Benson and Cozmic Cat will keep the party going to the wee hours with some ass-wiggling beats, and all-male drag hip hop dancers Ill Nana will rock the joint with a super sexy performance. After twenty years of challenging movie stereotypes about queer people on film, there's a lot to celebrate.
Gardiner Museum, 111 Queen's Park, $10, 10 pm


COMMUNITY | Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City
Since Thursday Christie Pits has been transformed into a refugee camp in an effort to raise awareness of the plight of the 42 million people around the world who have been displaced by conflicts and disasters. Doctors Without Borders has created the free 8,000 square foot exhibit out the same materials it uses in its emergency aid work in places like Sudan and Cambodia, and is giving visitors 40 to 60 minute guided tours of the facility, urging Torontonians to imagine living every day with the risks of poor sanitation, sporadic food and water supplies, and the threat of violence. The exhibit was first staged in Europe in 2005 and is currently on a four-city Canadian tour.
Christie Pits, Free, Thursday and Friday 9 am - 8 pm, Saturday and Sunday 9 am - 5 pm

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Photo: "Slow Hand" by Aramil Liadon, member of the blogTO Flickr Pool.

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