WINNIPEG GREY CUP 2015: RIDERVILLE HOSPITALITY ROOM PREVIEW

Riderville is the drunken sloppy twin brother of Spirit of Edmonton.  They were born at the same time and should be exactly the same, but Spirit of Edmonton got all the good genes and Riderville got all the bad ones, so there’s just something not right about Riderville.  People still like Riderville.  He’s lot of fun, he’s really nice, but he’s kinda off.  He’s a little dumpy, always has a bad haircut and, like, a mustard stain on his shirt or his fly is down.  Meanwhile, Spirit of Edmonton is at the gym cracking jokes, showin’ off the guns and making all the cheerleaders laugh.

But it doesn’t matter.  Rider Nation looooves Riderville.

Riderville is reflective of what people in Saskatchewan think is a good house party.  All you need is an unfinished basement or an empty garage.  No food. No decorations.  And 100% BYOB.  Fuck y’all.  The host’s job is to provide the venue; that’s it.  After that, it’s up the guests.  Jungle rules.  Maybe if the host considers himself a real Martha Stewart he sets up a ghetto blaster, puts in the ‘80s mix tape (with way too much Harlequin, Chilliwack or, if the host prefers the classics, Queen City Kids, although eventually everything turns to Bon Jovi) and cranks it to ten even though the speakers are shot and it’s all just static.  Then the host can sit back and wait for everyone to arrive.  If he invites, say, twenty people he knows, only three will show up (usually ex-wives or ex-girlfriends spoiling for a fight, or maybe a cousin looking for the ten bucks the host owes him) and the other three hundred guests will be complete strangers ready to destroy the place.

After a few hours, old Camaros, jacked up half tons and rusted out Chevettes will be parked around the block.  The place will be packed and everyone will be drunk.  What will everyone be talking about?  The Riders.  If they’re having a bad season, it’s the fuckin’ Riders.  If they’re having a good season, it’s the fuckin’ Riders!  …fuckin’ Riders…

Half the people will be sitting on their coolers and refusing to move so no one can steal their beer.  The other half will be stealing beer out of the coolers left unguarded by the people who finally had to get up to go to the bathroom.  Any mix (Coke, Sprite, wine coolers) that might show up is gone after ten minutes, and forget about ice.  There was one tray in the freezer filled with frozen greyish material and it’s gone immediately.

As for bathrooms, just–no. The girls might be able to use the house bathroom for the first ten minutes, but after a few guys get done with it, it resembles the Black Hole of Calcutta.  By 10 o’clock, it is completely unusable except as a quick retreat to plan an exit strategy after passing out, throwing up on oneself and then waking up with a pile of red Solo cups stacked on your head by your best friends. If it’s a party out in the country, the women will just squat in the field at a respectable distance (say, a couple of feet).  If it’s a city party, then they just go in the neighbour’s yard, whether or not he’s just standing there watching.  The guys will usually wander away into the back alley or field and try taking a leak in the pitch dark, only to discover upon their return to the party that they pissed all down their own leg.  Eventually some catatonically drunk guy will just whip it out in the house and start peeing against the wall.  Everyone will laugh except the guy whose cooler is getting spattered with piss, but even he doesn’t bother trying to stop the drunk guy since it’s usually his own brother or dad.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  It’s a disaster, but that’s all Riderville needs: a place to have a disaster.  Our disaster.

At the Riderville hospitality room in 2015, at least one mullet is still mandatory (it will be awesome) and most everyone will be wearing clothes that were ten years out of style in 1985.  Girls who have no business wearing tight jeans will be all muffin-topped up, and guys who have no business wearing anything but sweats (and probably will be wearing sweats, dirty, with a broken elastic) will have the male version of a muffin top, which looks like a vat of chili frozen at the moment it is about to be dumped over the rail of a back patio.  The people from What Not to Wear would shit a brick if they saw this crowd.

You might be asking yourself:  how is this any different than any other CFL hospitality room at around midnight on Saturday?  Well, everyone is wearing a Roughrider jersey in Riderville.

That’s what you see at Riderville during Grey Cup.  The Grey Cup website says that the place is “sprinkled” with CFL fans from around the league.  That’s probably a good description, although I might go with “littered” given the venue.  Most CFL fans will make the trek to Riderville at least once in their lifetimes, just to find out what the fuss is all about, and then they discover nothing is up about this fuss, and there is no actual fuss.  Riderville does not even rise to the level of fuss.  Muss, maybe.

I indicated in an earlier post that CFL fans are cheapskates who don’t like cover charges, yet Riderville charges a cover and still packs ‘em in.  Here’s why.  In Saskatchewan, all you need to do is slap a Rider logo on something and people will buy it, no matter how ridiculous or useless.  It doesn’t even have to make sense.  “Hey look, honey!  It’s a Roughrider penguin feeder.  Let’s get three.  And one for your parents!”  Doctors could charge a cover for a colonoscopy, and if there was a Rider logo on the wand, Rider Nation would start lining up at four in the morning on a Wednesday.

Half of every Canadian Tire in Saskatchewan is devoted to Rider junk, by the way.  They don’t even have room to sell tires any longer; just rows of Rider garden gnomes, spatulas and BBQ covers.  The government even issues Roughrider license plates.  License plates.  Not license plate frames; real license plates.  In Alberta, they issue special plates to commemorate the Canadian Forces.  In Saskatchewan, it’s Roughriders.

From toasters to tampons to toilet plungers, put a green S on it and Rider Nation will clean out the shelves like it’s bottled water and duct tape before a hurricane.  I still have a box of Fantuz Flakes just in case, you know, the Apocalypse.  I’m not sure half the Rider fans who get in line for Riderville even know what they are in line for.  They just see a bunch of Roughrider jerseys and assume it’s got to be pretty! fuckin’! awesome!

I think Riderville had Trooper at the last Winnipeg Grey Cup, or one of the last Ridervilles.  Lead singer Ra McGuire was wearing a Roughrider jersey and somehow managed to look both bored and thrilled.  These days his own mullet is gone, along with the rest of his hair, and he sings with his hands in his pockets like he’s waiting for a taxi. Raise a little hell, but not too much hell; I’m really tired and I have to get up early tomorrow for my Rider colonoscopy.  He resembles less a rock star now and more a guy who sells used car parts out of his trunk.  He was awesome in person, by the way.  And I picked up a catalytic converter for my ’77 Dodge Aspen for next to nothing.

In Vancouver, Riderville was decorated to look like a Guatemalan prison, so at least they had a theme.  In Toronto, I wanted to buy some Rider stuff (I had my eye on a pair of Rider nose hair clippers) but they wouldn’t let me in to buy anything without paying the Riderville cover charge.  There was a cover charge to enter the Rider store.  And being the Rider Store, they could get away with it; we’re so damned stupid.

At both previous Winnipeg Grey Cups, Riderville was located at the downtown Convention Centre, and it will be this year.  At the first Winnipeg Grey Cup, they told me I needed to check my coat because if I hung it up inside Riderville, someone would steal it.  So I paid the coat check, but once I got in I found out everyone hung their coats up inside Riderville.  I got wise for the second Winnipeg Grey Cup and I hung my coat up inside Riderville. Someone stole it.

So anyway, Riderville is terrible.  But it’s still the best.  Go see what all the muss is about.  Winnipeg’s proximity to Rider Nation Ground Zero will mean a flood of Rider fans looking to coagulate for many beers.  You will not be disappointed, unless you are.

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