Upfront Reviews: Float Toronto

Upfront Reviews: Float Toronto

by Cameron Brtnik

    When you enter into Float Toronto, you’re entering into another world… If you haven’t “floated” yet, do yourself a favour and get buoyant! 

    If you haven’t tried it, you’ve most likely heard of it: known as “float pods,” “isolation tanks” or the more ominous sounding “sensory deprivation tanks,” they’ve started to amass a cult following amongst its practitioners. It has also been called “floatation therapy,” and is anecdotally said to cure a multitude of ailments. Joe Rogan claims he sleeps in one every night. As Float Toronto – one of the few venues that carry float tanks in Toronto – say in their promotional video, “Your experience in a float tank is about everything you won’t be doing.” I personally always go in with some intent: think on my goals, focus my energy, reflect on my actions or simply to meditate.

Welcome to Float Toronto!

    You are greeted by a chill receptionist who is more than happy to give you a tour of the spa. In fact, it’s more of a “do it yourself spa.” What comes to mind when you think of the word “spa?” Relaxation, meditation, and healing – and that’s exactly what you’ll get during your float. In fact, I’ve found floating to be far more relaxing than a traditional massage. I believe it’s because your body actually relaxes, I mean fully relaxes, without friction against your body, and your muscles for the first time can fully relax. That’s the problem with traditional massage: your body is still lying against another surface so it’s impossible for your body to completely relax. Because the water is heated to the same temperature as your body, you don’t really feel it after a while and your mind becomes “untethered” from the rest of you. As Joe Rogan says, “Your body is a distraction.” Now it’s time to travel to the centre of consciousness…

    As you enter your own private room complete with personal bench, tiled shower and your very own float pod, you’re overcome with a sense of relaxation before even stepping into the glimmering abyss… The dim lights and their sapphire glow make it feel as if you’re stepping into a spacecraft – and that’s exactly what you’re doing. After a soothing shower (there’s no rush as you have a whole hour to float), you step into your personal pod and it feels ethereal. At first you’ll feel slightly nervous to lie down on a bed of water. Don’t worry: each tank has a thousand pounds of epsom salt which gives the water a buoyancy akin to the Dead Sea. You fully lie back – yes you can even rest your head on the surface of the water – or you have the option of using the provided halo cushion for your neck. You have the option of earplugs if you get swimmer’s ear, soothing body cream to rub on your skin after your session, and your very own robe; you’ll feel like you’re staying at the Hilton. If you are claustrophobic, not to worry; the tanks are easy to exit at all times by just pushing up on the pod door. But don’t fret: Float Toronto’s tanks are much larger and voluminous than most, so even the most claustrophobic guest should’ve have a panic attack.

    There is heavenly zen music playing as you enter the glowing hull. As you descend into the warm glow of the lights, it’s nice to just lie in it for ten minutes to get fully immersed into the experience. You can control the settings from inside the tank if you want to control the lights and music, but this floater recommends trying the full experience: FULL SENSORY DEPRIVATION. Oh, and one very important tip: never rub your eyes! Don’t put your hands even near your eyes. Doing so will result in a disruption of your meditative state and quickly propel you back to reality. In case of this scenario, there is spray and a towel provided in the tank which will quickly remedy the situation. As you’re in a “sensory deprivation” tank, after about ten minutes you’re encouraged to turn all these distractions off…so you’re floating in pure blackness, like the blackness of space, the thick water fully supporting your weightless body. At first you may feel helpless, anxious, or even nervous…but slowly a relaxing feeling encompasses you like a warm blanket. As you lay there naked – oh yes, I forgot to mention you are encouraged to go “au naturel” to get the full experience – typically your mind will start racing to all the things you have to do that day: go to work, pick up milk, take the dog out, watch the season finale of Game of Thrones. In today’s age you may even have a full-on panic attack that you can’t whip out your phone to check your notifications and like your favourite insta posts. But eventually these thoughts fade and suddenly, for the first time in forever, your mind becomes empty…or at least void of any trivial thoughts. You begin noticing your environment and because there’s no light to “influence” your vision, you may even start hallucinating. I have envisioned that I am floating in space with stars hovering above me (these experiences are heightened by a quick hit on the ol’ vape before floating. I feel this enhances the experience but is not necessary.)

Top 5 Things I Like To Do While In The Tank 

  1. Listen to my knuckles crack underwater
  2. Hum and chant underwater. Your voice is intensified so that it sounds like it could fill a stadium. (One time floating with a friend he heard me chanting from an adjoining room. He thought he was hearing things in the tank!)
  3. Force myself to be creative. If I have an upcoming project that I haven’t reflected on yet, I simply focus on that one thing and – boom – ideas come streaming in
  4. Pretend I’m a frog swimming around in my own private pond
  5. Massage my body. The salty, viscous fluid helps with this

    Because you won’t be “fighting gravity,” it’s hard to tell where the water ends and your body begins… You became “one” with the water and the space around you, as if you’re a naked astronaut floating through space. I am usually fully relaxed halfway through the float, and that’s when my mind starts being creative. I like to use the tank time to think, create and brainstorm ideas – like a literal think tank! But each person’s experience is subjective, and you may prefer to just relax and enjoy the experience. With around twenty minutes to go, I often pass out due to feeling so relaxed. You may call that a waste of a float, but trust me when I say when you wake up you will feel like a new person, and I guarantee you will have never slept like that in a bed before. The music comes on again at the end, sort of like a heavenly alarm clock, to wake you. But if you find it hard to snap out of the trance you’re in, the water will start gushing around the tank to “nudge” you awake. You’ll want to take another shower to wash all that salt off your body. One thing you’ll notice is how smooth your skin feels: “Like a baby’s bottom,” is the best way to describe it. Another thing I find is that, ironically, my muscles are sore, almost like I just ran a marathon. I think it’s because they’ve never fully relaxed before. But it’s in a good way, like that feeling after a good workout at the gym.

    After getting dressed, you can enjoy some hot herbal tea in the lounge and share your experience with the staff. They even provide a journal where you can share your experience by writing a poem, drawing your visions, or writing a short diary of your experience. I’ve heard from people who have had very visual hallucinations (particularly one guy who did mushrooms in the tank. But I don’t recommend that, at least on your first float!), to those who have none and just find it to be a therapeutic experience. I recommend you book a float to find out what you’ll experience. They also sell bags of epsom salt in the lobby so you can enjoy the health benefits in the comfort of your own bath. Whatever your reasons for trying it are – therapeutic, spiritual or psychedelic – I believe floating is the best way to achieve it. Bon voyage!

Book your float here: https://float-toronto.com/ and use their online calendar

Recommendation: Book a package of ten floats and it’s almost half price! Tuesdays are “clean for float” days where you can volunteer to come in and clean for a few hours in exchange for a float! 

Float Toronto on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=3nHbY3lNOJI

Post-float reactions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI_EL3IvmKQ

Joe Rogan on Sensory Deprivation Tanks https://player.vimeo.com/video/97880537

Cameron Brtnik is a freelance writer and blogger based in Toronto, and a practicing “floater”

No WiFi – A Critique by Virginia Kyriakopoulos

No Wifi

a Critique by Virginia Kyriakopoulos

     No WiFi is packed with metaphors, depth of tone, and feeling. The unkempt, ignored, sullied and covered up ( with air freshener,) room in a no-name hotel reflects the inner state of the protagonist, also nameless. He places himself in an environment that is barely alive, which reads also as soulless, like the town itself. But, unlike the children whose uninhibited playing is admired and coveted by the protagonist, what the reader here can glean is a connection, and therefore not soulless since the relationship suggests a genuine exchange; learning from the kids and admiring their authenticity. The other brief relationship presented in the story is the one with the voice. Is it a hallucination? Perhaps as the man doesn’t want to say out loud that he’s crazy, but is willing to utter the word when he’s scared. Fear of being crazy is brought to the surface when the environment suggests something crazy is happening.

The vodka is another relationship we see unfolding; this is the relationship the man has with the bottle, suggesting the one he has with himself is one of sedation. The recognition that the vodka serves only a temporary creative outlet reinforces the man’s sanity as this thought is rooted in rationality. The other thoughts of insanity are merely extensions of his fear. The blend of self awareness and a creepy, mysterious, unidentified voice or noise is an effective way of depicting drunkenness. The man’s desire to, yet fear of, connect to this ghostly voice ends on a positive tone. The words, “Thank you,” are an expression given in acknowledgment of some good done, and the lucky number eight both express that positivity. This is what the story is all about: The man’s desire for acknowledgment! I think the air conditioner serves as a symbol for that; As the man postulates that, “Even flies don’t appreciate persistent efforts, we see its efforts go unthanked. That the story ends with the voice giving thanks is full of validation, connection and hope.

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Critique by Virginia Kyriakopoulos 5.03.18 – Virginia is a freelance writer, poet, and literary critic

Read the original short story here: Short Story – No Wifi by Cameron Brtnik

Upfront Reviews – The Bomb-itty of Errors

Upfront Reviews – The Bomb-itty of Errors

by Cameron Brtnik

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All the world’s a Bomb-itty of Errors
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man (or woman) in his time plays many parts…
 
     And in The Bomb-itty of Errors, the actors sure play many parts! A show filled with ill rhymes, sick flows, dope beats and Shakespearean slang is sure to amuse Shakespeare fans and hip hop heads alike! The play originating in New York, and adapted here by Brook Hall, is currently being showcased Nov. 18-Dec. 4 at The LAB Space in Taipei (by Qilian station on the red line) as part of his Butterfly Effect Theatre Company. “When I saw The Bomb-itty of Errors for the first time in NYC in the year 2000, I immediately put it on my bucket list for must-do shows.” If you’ve witnessed any of their past stage productions – God of Carnage, Ives’ Shorts, Tuesdays With Morrie – you know you’re getting top-notch entertainment, and high value for your money (700 NT). Living in Taipei, our dramatic arts and alternative entertainment choices are few; this is the best ticket money can buy. Coming from Toronto – a city highly praised for its arts and entertainment – one can appreciate what Brook is doing, raising Taiwan’s arts culture to world standards.
 
      Starring Airy Liu as Dromio, the feisty, ill lyric-spitting identical twin of Dromio, Meg Anderson as Antipholus of Ephesus (try saying that three times fast) and other comical characters – notably as the hilarious bumbling “emcee wannabe” postal boy, Steve Coetzee as Antipholous of Syracuse, and the memorable Hendelberg, a rhyme-dropping rabbi, the prolific Charlie Storrar as Dromio of Ephesus, and the hysterical Luciana, Adrianna’s sister (the initially confusing plot becomes more apparent as the story emerges), and last but definitely not least, DJ Cross Cutz dropping the beats and spinning the turntables throughout this lively, fun, and frantic farce. With such a limited cast playing such a vast array of characters, you’re sure to see characters do quick-changes that would impress Clark Kent, wigs flying off mid-performance, comical voice changes, all immersed in impressive emceeing that will leave your head spinning. When asked if it was difficult to memorize the lyrics, Charlie Storrar replied, “When I first read the script, it looked intimidating – very different to lines I’d had to learn in the past. But in the end the fact that the words are generally rhyming couplets made it like learning song lyrics, even the spoken parts. Being able to listen to the soundtrack on repeat also helped get the words into my head. I was off book in about a month.”
 
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     I first witnessed The Comedy of Errors at a “Shakespeare in the Park” event held in my hometown of Toronto two summers ago. As only a perfunctory fan of Shakespeare – I hadn’t read any of this plays since high school – it resparked my interest in the bard and especially live performance of Shakespeare’s plays (and helped me greatly in following the plot more sensibly this time around). So if you have 700 NT in your wallet (about $20 Canadian) and you have your heart set on spending it on the next X-Men movie, do yourself a favor and emerge yourself in the cultured forum of performance art. You’ll have an amazing time, meet like-minded people, and be smarter for it. With teeth, with eyes, with taste, with everything.
 
 
 
For your very own “Upfront Review” just send me a message on WordPress or via Instagram @instacam81
 
Cameron Brtnik is a freelance writer, reviewer, blogger and revived Shakespeare fan