Step 1. Don’t waste the babysitter on something that may not be epic. You only get a handful of nights off – they must ALL be epic.
So recently, as in, over the course of the last year or so, my husband and I haven’t exactly had a lot of one on one time. I don’t mean to divulge under the cover kind of information here, I’m talking dinners out, movie nights, that kind of thing. I mean, we’ve been super fortunate to escape for a weekend getaway as well as a wedding or birthday celebration here and there, but the getaways are few and far between, and the craziness of the far between part can often make nights out seem a whole lot more stressful than they might be worth.
This past weekend, we were all set to celebrate my husband’s German heritage by breaking out the Dirndl and Lederhosen and take part in the second largest Oktoberfest outside of Munich located in Kitchener, Waterloo (fun fact, Kitchener, until 1916, was actually called Berlin). We’ve done this a few times in the past and had a riot. This year however, we sort of spoiled ourselves by gathering a group of friends and trying out the Toronto Oktoberfest which was, in my opinion, far better and equally as authentic. Decked out in our (my husband hates it when I use this word) “costumes” we enjoyed a grand choice of German beer, Bavarian music and an all round good time! Compared to the Canadian beer offered up at the Oktoberfdest Kitchener, the Weihenstephan went down super smoothly and had this typical non-beer drinker running for more! The food was great too, with the choice of schnitzel, sausages, sauerkraut and big yummy pretzels with delicious grainy mustard to top it off.
Unfortunately, the success of the Toronto Oktoberfest meant that come Friday, we were less than motivated to get all dressed up and make the 1.5 hour trek to Kitchener. Top that off with a long day at work for the hubby, a Dirndl apron that shrunk in the dryer, and the promise of early morning trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to rescue the babysitters, and we took it as a sign that perhaps we had better… well, not. Years ago, I would have considered this super lame, but these days, I chalk up our desire to avoid long journeys and sleep an extra hour or two as further confirmation that we are, inarguable and undeniably, parents.
Step 2. Confirm you’d rather use a night off to go OUT instead of stay IN.
Don’t get me wrong – parents still love to party! Its just that some nights we’d rather crawl up in a ball on the couch, take a long bath or watch a movie without having to monitor the volume button at the onslaught of every action scene. You have to take into consideration the fact that we haven’t slept-in in over a year which makes a night and morning without baby pretty much priceless.
Friday night however, was not one of those nights. In fact, after dropping the wee one off at the Grandparent’s house, I cranked up the volume and hosted a private dance party in the middle of rush hour traffic, jammin’ to songs like Willst Du by Robin Schulz, No Place I’d Rather Be by Clean Bandit, and Chandelier by Sia. It was liberating! No crying, no whining, and no Rio Soundtrack on repeat please the wee one. I was unleashed and loving it!
The plan was to meet up back at the house and made hast to Kitchener. That was before we both got caught up in traffic and ended up pulling in way later than expected. So, we had a choice to make. Either way, we knew we wouldn’t be able to make it to Kitchener for a 6:30pm start time, so we could either stay in or enjoy a night out closer to home. Having already sipped my way through a nice big glass of wine, I was much more inclined towards the latter, and when it comes to a night out on the town, my husband is always on board. It was official, we were heading to downtown Toronto – all of a sudden I felt like my 15 year old self being taken into the city of lights where anything was possible and good times were guaranteed.
Step 3. Locate the nearest possible venue, allowing you to get at least 5 hours sleep before getting up with a cranky child.
As I curled my unwashed hair (ode to a stay at home mom), put on my eyeliner and dusted off my high heels, I had a thought: why go all the way into Toronto, when we could stay even closer and skip the drive in and out of the city? I shared the idea with my husband who couldn’t have been more excited. See, when it’s just you and your partner, it doesn’t really matter if it takes you 10,20 or 30 minutes to get to a chic restaurant or the most happening night club in town. But when you’re juggling life with kids, every single minute counts. It counts towards the amount of fun you’ll have in the moment or towards the amount of sleep you get before being woken by a crying child at 6am on Saturday morning. Thus, when deliberating over whether to trek all the way to Toronto without a reservation, find a suitable dinner venue and then scoot around looking for short line ups at clubs filled with people half our age, we opted to explore the night life a little closer to home.
Step 4. Beware of cougars, and be back by midnight.
The problem is, there’s not a ton of choice when you decide to “go out” in the burbs. The other, let’s call it “issue”, is that most bars in the area (with the few exceptions that happened to have been where I spent my late teenage years and are thus also off the menu) are geared towards an, ahem, older crowd. I realize that we’re not the youngest of pups anymore, but by older, I mean they’ve tried to make themselves open and available to those who are uncomfortable heading to Toronto to mingle with twenty and thirty something year olds bumping and grinding all over the dance floor. What that means is that you have a lot of single people of a certain age bumping and grinding on the dance floor instead. Couple that with the scandalous choice of outfits and the countless cougar sightings and we basically had, well, the most entertaining night, ever.
It started innocently enough; dinner at Alice Fazooli’s (can’t say I’d go back) and drinks at the Three Brewers where my husband enjoyed a pumpkin themed beer and I sipped on a White Russian and the best Sangria I’ve had in a loooong time!
After we’d worked up the liquid courage to explore the unknown, we entered the Dirty Martini. Oh man, I feel dirty even writing that name. Oh which reminds me! The in-house promotional TV was advertising being open for both birthday AND divorce parties. That’s how I knew we were on track for a night to remember. I was on water at this point (one of us had to drive), so my memory of walking into the bar is pretty darn clear. Truth be told, it kind of reminded me of a bar in Burlington called Club 54 where I was clawed by a Czech gypsy a few years back . Don’t ask. While our choice of locale 4 years ago was the result of my husband’s valiant effort to surprise me after years of being out of country for birthday celebrations, our arrival at the Dirty Martini was entirely our doing, and sadly enough, we knew exactly what was coming.
It all started with a woman, who at what must have been close to 70 was owning the dance floor. Admittedly, we were a little on the early side, arriving around 10:30-ish but I was still surprised to see that there was a grand total of 2 people getting their dance on. Don’t old people like to dance? The DJ however, honing into his target demographic, soon had a large crowd moving to the beat of his spin by playing a superb mix of retro dance hits and modern day favourites. Sorry, I have to clarify that one: Latin favourites. That’s right, every song that could be played in Spanish, was. Including any and every J-Lo song the guy had on file. Just when I thought I recognized a tune! Turns out he knew what he was doing; the crowd responded literally in step. Salsa, samba, these guys came ready to move.
Willing to dance to just about anything with a beat, we hopped around the dance floor until the crack of 12 or so, at which point we feared we would both turn into parents, I mean pumpkins, and decided to call it a night. Not before I got hit on by a French guy named Francois who actually high fived me upon my casually mentioning the fact that I was off the market: the perfect way to end the soiree.
In conclusion, we ate, we drank, we danced and we did it all within a 20km radius of where we live. Oh, and we were back at midnight. That, if you ask me, is how you truly party like a parent. Out for a night of fun but back in good time and without an immobilizing hangover. Just remember not to take anything too seriously, remain flexible on the choice of venue and the world (or anywhere less than 30 minutes away) is your dance floor.