Tonight it's -36° C (= -33° F for you Americans; no wind, so no wind chill). Patches of ice fog, which means a coating of hoarfrost on the trees tomorrow morning, but the roads are skating rinks tonight.
Going back to my list of reasons why I stay in Winnipeg (continuing from this morning):
3. Affordable housing: Winnipeg has one of the most affordable housing markets in North America. At 40, I am in a distinct minority of single people my age who do not yet own their own house. (Compare to the Californians and New Yorkers who make twice what I earn, but live two or three to an apartment...).
4. Universal healthcare, Provincial Pharmacare, and lower drug prices to start with (Internet pharmacies are a growth industry in Manitoba, because Americans are discovering that they can fill their prescriptions for less money here than in the U.S.)
5. Socials. We have something here called a "social", which I notice doesn't seem to happen too much outside of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. A local tradition that I've been told came originally from the Polish/Ukrainian immigrant community, a social is when the friends and family of a married couple (or a sports team, or a Ukrainian dance troupe, or a singles group or whatever like-mided group of people) rent a hall (often in a community centre, a curling club, or a church basement) for 100-300 people, hire a D.J. to spin CDs or records, get a one-night-only liquor license from the provincial government, and throw a party (or, to be more accurate, a thrown-together one-night-only bar) as a fund-raiser. Around midnight, a bread-and-cold-cuts buffet is put out (food must be served as one of the conditions of the liquor licence).
For many years, my chorus, The Rainbow Harmony Project, had a series of queer socials as fund-raisers, and they were always well attended. Fun too :-)
One particularly memorable social was thrown by a separated/divorced/widowed support group, for a friend who had undergone a cancer operation, and it was a fundraiser to help her meet her daily expenses as she recovered from surgery. We were packed in like sardines (probably way over capacity) but everyone had a marvelous time, especially the friend, who had a helluva surprise...
The really popular socials (usually Filipino, Italian, Ukrainian, and French-Canadian weddings) can sell out quickly... Winnipeg has a large Filipino population (mostly more recent immigrants) and fully 1/4 of the city has a Ukrainian background (mostly from the big immigration boom of the 1910's). Winnipeg is also home to the largest French-Canadian community in Western Canada. We're also the largest Icelandic community outside of Iceland. Like I said, a real mix of people.
The music is always a real mix too... not just contemporary pop/rock stuff either. We may have a snowball dance to start (especially if it was a singles social), and a couple of spot dances during the evening to give away door prizes. The music ranges from the latest dance pop and country two-step to waltzes, polkas, and the schottise (butterfly)... everything from conga lines to the macarena (in my opinion, the only dance that straight people do better than queer people). I have fond memories of one particular Transcona social where the conga line went in and out of the men's and women's washrooms, outside the social hall, around the block, and back inside again.
People sell social tickets ahead of time to their coworkers, friends and relatives, and whoever else wants to go out dancing and drinking on a Friday or Saturday night. You can often get a really bizarre/interesting mix of people you know (uncles and cousins and aunts) and complete strangers who heard about the social second- or even third-hand and buy tickets at the door, if there are any left (shhhhh... the government's not supposed to know that you're selling social tickets at the door, that's not allowed... but come back out into the parking lot and we can do business).
I can remember in high school that one in-the-loop friend of mine always knew what socials were going on where that weekend, and she always seemed to have social tickets for sale. We'd form a group and head out almost every weekend; didn't matter if we knew the couple who were getting married or not...although it helped if at least ONE of us knew ONE of them. Socials always had dirt-cheap drink prices (most teenagers got their first taste of underage booze at a social). Socials seem to have become much less popular since I was a teenager, but they still happen often enough to keep me up on my polka steps. It's a truly Winnipeg thing...