Hamilton is in the midst of a huge population swell. The amount of people moving here to beat GTA real estate prices has never been higher, and now that we're a hip town, more University and College students are staying behind after graduation. Whether you are a student sticking around after school, a newcomer, or a Hamiltonian looking to expand their social group, one thing is true: making new friends can be hard. This isn’t a problem that’s exclusive to Hamilton. Making friends is easiest in your early 20's; you're surrounded by people your age, the true burdens of life most likely haven't settled in yet, and you have the energy to go out and do things every if you want to. As you get older making friends becomes harder. Priorities start shifting, people start thinking about settling down, real jobs come up, and you find yourself spending more time alone.
If you keep an open mind and embrace new experiences, you will be able to make friends more easily as you go through life. The bad news is that you're going to have to leave the house. At least a few times. As the ancient saying goes: first you leave the house, then you make the friends, then you invite those friends to your house, then you never have to leave the house.
You can do (almost) anything in Hamilton and this is a great thing when it comes to making new friends...
The thing about making friends in Hamilton is that the t-shirts you see marching up and down Art Crawl tell the truth. Hamilton is Home (duh), and also You Can Do Anything in Hamilton. The first is obvious but the second slogan hits on something that can really work in your favour in Hamilton. You can do (almost) anything in Hamilton and this is a great thing when it comes to making new friends. Gentrification is definitely happening at a terrifying pace and we have less and less 'open' space to create and do cheap things. Still, if you look hard enough, you can find plenty of friend-making options to match your interests.
Let’s explore a few different friend-making opportunities over the next few posts.
The Hamilton Music Scene Has Something for Everyone:
Hamilton has a proud tradition of awesome bands and great venues. For the most part, you will be able to find something in the live music scene that will be up your alley. A great way to make friends is to check out a bunch of cheap local shows and get acquainted with the people there. This is especially true on weeknights where crowds tend to be smaller. Check out This Ain't Hollywood, The Casbah, Club Absinthe, HAVN, and The Corktown, for regular downtown shows, and this is just a sampling of reliable choices; there are many other music venues you can explore.
Hamilton’s musical talent goes beyond those in bands. Check out a karaoke night to see how freakishly talented the majority of the people there turn out to be. While it can be a little rough around the edges, Happy Hourz (Vine & James N) has the best Karaoke in Hamilton. There's something special about bonding with strangers over your love of Bon Jovi songs.
Getting Involved in the Rest of the Arts Scene:
Our love of music extends to different art forms in Hamilton. A great way to meet like-minded people is to create things. Depending on what your interests are like there are several organized groups and classes in Hamilton that focus on celebrating and teaching various art forms. The Factory Media Center is a great place to check out if you're looking to make creative friends. One example is OPTICKS, an experimental video/projection group that meets monthly at The Factory for Media Arts. This all-inclusive group functions in a 'lab' style where people are encouraged to jam, experiment, and geek-out over their love of projection/video gear. CENTRE 3 is another place where analog and digital art is created by friendly and creative people. If your interest in art is a little more community focused (and free) check out the Hamilton Public Library Makerspace. This is an incredible space that gives you access to everything from 3D printers, Audio and Video editing software, and more. Creative minded people tend to hang out at this space and it’s a great place to meet people.
While not technically in Hamilton - The Dundas Valley School of Art cannot be over looked if you're interested in signing up for any sort of art class. While the classes at DVSA can be expensive they have a terrific track record and small class sizes. It's a great way to learn something new and meet new people. If your idea of art is unrestricted, abstract, and free you might find a good fit at Casino Artspace. This creative studio space is run by a group of young artists who, in a short span of time, have created an exciting community of wonderfully weird and experimental art. Past events have included the now famous Sub Auctions, gallery shows, music events, and a lot more. Check out a list of their past events to get a taste of what Casino has to offer. Similarly, HAVN (Hamilton Audio Visual Node) is a smaller art space ran by a collective of artists who put on primarily music and art related events. Casino and HAVN exist in a similar world and are great places to hang out even if you don't have an interest in making your own art; these spaces tend to attract a friendly creative crowd.
The Academy of All Things Awesome is a group that puts on a huge variety of events all designed to get people out of he house and doing fun stuff. They've had everything from mixtape exchanges, to supper clubs. Perhaps the thing they are most known for are their dance classes. If you've ever wanted to learn the choreography to your favourite Beyonce, Aaliyah, or Janet Jackson song - this is the group for you.
Stay tuned for Part Two!