Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Canada – CCCXXV. Difficult Beginnings (8 of 15)

At the corner of Ste. Catherine Street East and St. Lawrence Boulevard, was a cabaret by the name of Casa Loma.  I have already alluded to Ste. Catherine Street E.  St. Lawrence is even more colorful therefore, before going to the cabaret, a brief description of this boulevard is in order.

S.L. has long ago earned the name of “The Main;” in my opinion, a well merited designation.  It divides the city in half with the West being largely Anglophone, and the East Francophone.  Many newcomers have started their lives in Canada on this boulevard; therefore, don’t be surprised if many of Montreal’s inhabitants harbor a special affection for that part of their city.

It is a shoppers’ paradise; there you will find clothing, housewares, jewellery, gourmet fare, furniture, art, and so on.  Sidewalk sales abound; deals are everywhere, or at least, so you are told.  Even if you hate shopping, you will catch yourself making the odd purchase or at least browsing; I speak from experience here for, even though I despise shopping, I did buy the odd item on S.L.

Restaurants go from the downright cheap to the very expensive.  Some restaurants are internationally renowned; Moishes Steak House and Schwartz’s Smoked Meat being the most famous.

Entertainment can be quite sophisticated or downright seedy; many places, such as Casa Loma, are in between.

Cabaret Casa Loma proved to be a real find for penurious immigrants like us.  We paid a reasonable cover charge, ordered one drink, and enjoyed a wonderful evening.  It offered music, singing, dancing, comedy, magic tricks, to mention just a few of their acts.  The place offered an intimate atmosphere that made it easy to see and hear the performers.  We felt included in the performance taking place on stage.

How could they offer so much and charge so little?  I would find the answer a few years later.  They gave a break to entertainers at the beginning of their career.  And some went on to become famous.  Examples:  Ginette Reno; Les Jérolas (Jérôme Lemay and Jean Lapointe); Ti-Gus and Ti-Mousse (Réal Béland and Denyse Émond); if you’re a jazz fan you will be pleased to know that Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Duke Ellington performed there.  [Source:  Wikipedia:  Casa Loma (Montréal)].

I believe I can afford to speak on behalf of my friends when I say that the Casa Loma gave us something to cheer about during a difficult period in our lives.

St. Lawrence included a section simply known as “the strip;” it included taverns, and places that catered to the base instincts of the male of the species (a polite way to refer to strip clubs!).  Foufou discovered an establishment that he promptly named Mo’adon Tahat (The Ass Club!).  We went there a few times.

The place in question didn’t have a name or at least a sign indicating what that name was.  Their system was quite simple:  You ordered a beer (or any other drink) and you paid a somewhat higher price for it; you were expected to order at least another (lower priced) beer; thereafter, within limits, they left you in peace.

The show consisted of a shapely girl who stood by a pole and danced in a suggestive way; the next step was to shed her clothing one at a time, and that went on until she was left with a cache-sex only; finally she mooned the crowd, and made sure to go all around the pole so that all patrons were treated to a full view of her behind!

This was followed by a period of rest.  Eventually, the music started again and another gal came and repeated the act.  It was not just a repetition; the music and the choreography were changed; and, of course, the ta’hat was different!

Once a girl has completed her dance, her work was not finished; she circulated around and was sure to sooner or later be treated to a drink by one of the guests.  This technique is, of course, as old as the world; she brings more business, and her drink is weakened tea or some colored beverage.

How long did that go on?  I don’t know.  We never stayed beyond the second girl.  After that, I imagine, we would have been expected to order more beer.  But we were neither interested in drinking more, nor treated to a third full moon!

I only went to that place with Foufou; Alfred being religious could not be asked to go to that den of inequities; and the rest were either married, or had their kicks in a different way.

It was our own little secret; and we intended to take it to the grave!  Alas, now that I let the cat out of the bag, it will not be part of the baggage we will take to our final resting place!

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