Flash back to circa 2005 — Who knew? A quick search to find like minds with whom I could practice my fleeing Spanish, would lead to such a great adventure? Indeed, 4 years ago, my Google search led me to a fruitless dead end. There were no Spanish Speaking networks in Toronto! At least not ones wanting to be found easily. Where did Spanish speakers convey then? Shady backrooms accessible only through back way alleys? Where you had to knock 7 times to the rhythm of La Curacha and dance a riff from the Macarena before a doorman suavely said ‘Si’ and allowed you entry? Seriously, I was at a loss.
Ah, such dichotomy in between the world wide web and the Spanish speaking community in Toronto.
Then the one thing I have learned is, if you can’t find something that you need, then well, create it. As such I started a group on Meetup.com. Back then the site had already been at it for a few years and it seemed like the perfect venue. For those not in the know, Meetup allows people to become an organizers and pretty much become an event planner. If people like your group then they join and off you go.
It went well at the beginning and with time I decided to branch out into other areas. Mostly social, since it is my belief that there are never enough ways to meet new people and enlarge one’s circle of friends. As such, the Toronto 23-35 and the Toronto 25-40 Social groups came to life about a year later. It seemed easy at first, pick a random pub, send an email to the then 10 members or so and see what would turn out. ‘Keep it simple’ I used to say.
Well, 334 events later, we are crossing quite the milestones! What started as smalls flower requiring plenty of attention and care have become a weed and is spreading like wildfire! On May 1st, we will having a party to celebrate the 3 group’s combined 3130 members! Incredible!
It has been quite the journey, meeting so many interesting people including some very quirky ones. If anything, it was a constant reminder of just how different and alike we all are. Regardless of religion, ethnicity or age, we all found something in common. The underlying desire not to be alone and to share experiences with one another. Some pragmatists would also include dancing and booze but digress it has been well worth it.
Aside the countless friendships, many have found significant others within the hundreds and a few –5 couples, that I know of– have gone off and even gotten married! You know, its corny but being able to make a positive difference in people’s lives is really quite the upper, not to mention Dharma-friendly. Take that, Law Of Attraction!
What will the future hold? Who can tell at this point… but I consider myself, not only I have learned some valuable skills but made some friends who I cherish and count myself as being very lucky to have meet. I am sure, eventually a point will come in which I may not have time to keep them up, but slowly a new generation of people are coming in, helping out as the groups keep on expanding but until then, let the Pachangas go on!