March 15, 2010
balloons banquet
VE Day Celebration Balloon Release, Bob Franklin, Southsea, UK (source)


While there is architecture of celebration—churches, monuments, civic structures—meaningful festivities more often occur in the realm of the mundane: the living room birthday party, the post game street parade, the Christmas dinner in front of the TV. In order to make these ordinary spaces extraordinary, we blow up balloons, suspend streamers, shower confetti and bolt lights to any surface that will support them; all of this to great success. Recognizing the temporal nature of the celebration, an entire industry exists solely to satiate our need for such disposable space jewelry (Party City in tonier neighborhoods, or Party Fair if you happen to live in Bushwick). A full transformation rarely requires more than a twenty dollar bill. This stands in stark contrast to the millions of dollars that are invested into more permanent forms of celebratory infrastructure, such as the Chinese pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. The Oriental Crown is estimated to have cost around 1,500,000,000 CNY, or 219,702,645 USD, whereas a pack of twenty-five latex balloons can be purchased for two dollars (they can probably be purchased for much less when bought in bulk from within China). At a conservative eight cents per balloon the Chinese government could have purchased an estimated 2,746,283,075 balloons (twice the population of China), for the same cost as the pavilion: In my view, a much more entertaining and memorable proposal than an eternity of the Oriental Crown.


E. Sean Bailey


La Primavera, Vaughn, Ontario (source)


Banqueting centers are ubiquitous in the Greater Toronto Area as a result of a lack of suitable spaces for celebration. They often conform to a rough set of standards which makes them an identifiable genre. Regularly located near a highway exit, these buildings are relatively minuscule islands in a vast sea of parked cars. They have showy facades that make them easy to spot from a moving vehicle. With numerous simultaneous celebrations happening at a given center, the spaces are commonly planned as a series of large rooms, which may be subdivided with partitions for flexibility to maximize profit. At times these partitions are identical to those used in many a local school gymnasium. While these partitions provide the hall with options, their flimsiness allows one to hear the neighboring celebration. In addition to aural mixing of parties and the merging which takes place in the parking lot, people from different celebrations mingle further in the hallways and bathrooms. Total privacy is a luxury that is rarely granted. The exteriors of the banquet centers are often rendered in stucco with wallpapered interiors that incorporate many neo-classical or Mughal plaster details. Top all of these parameters off with the tasteless overcooked food that is regularly served and these spaces for celebration become spaces which are simply not worth celebrating. How did it become part of our cultural ideal to host a party in a big box celebration multiplex?


Erandi de Silva






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