Cruisin' Sunday Night

FTLComm - Winnipeg - Monday, July 8, 2002 (Images by Andrew Shire)
Popular culture and movies have portrayed the motorised culture of North America as a phenomena that seemed to have had its hay day in the 1950s and 60s. Cars of the era were often designed with eye and sound appeal that would lend itself to being an extension of the individual's personality.

I remember in those decades the essential courtship ritual of driving with class and show up and down the main street of a small Saskatchewan town turning at the train station at one end of main street and the edge of town at the other. It was a ritual with its own rules and its own manners.

The equivalent promenade has never really gone away but has been practiced in some form or another throughout the centuries. People need to see and measure one another and when it comes to choosing a mate nothing is more charged with emotion or more important.

I have seen scenes like the one we observed last night in Terrace B.C. in the mid 80s and in Minot North Dakota in the early 90s.

Winnipeg is almost perfectly designed for the routine with a main street (portage Avenue and the Pembina highway) which both stretch across the city for miles lined with strip malls and parking lots that serve business during the day and on Sunday night are the preserve of the "cruisers".

It was between 11:00 and 12:00 Sunday night that we ambled down Portage Avenue and I was astonished to see not hundreds of young people languishing along the way but actually many thousands. The scene was peaceful and orderly. Polished cars with any number of occupants moving along the eight lanes of street while others parked and their owners and friends gathered around to talk and share the warm evening.

Guys and girls decked out, looking "kool" the baggy pant punk group were no where in sight these people looked and want to look good.

Many with lawn chairs and a pickup backed up toward the street with picnic chairs in the back for people to sit and enjoy the spectacle of each other passing. The passer and passee exchanging glances and looks, the occasional wave and giggle.

The low light made it hard for us to get the pictures we wanted to show you the scene and only when stopped at a light could be squeeze of unobtrusive images that would capture the moment. Pity we weren't packing the low light video camera but these three will have do the job of showing you just a hint of the scene.

I thought most would be teenagers and collage kids but that is not the case. Cars are art forms and to be enjoyed and displayed by all. As you look at the picture below you can see that there is a mix of folks as BMWs were as much a part of what's rolling as 60s and 70s muscle cars, with chromed and polished oriental jobs filling in the traffic.

Apparently through the summer this is the way it is each and every Sunday night in Winnipeg.