Monday, October 29, 2012

I ain't afraid of no ghosts

As you may or may not know, one of my passions is getting into places I'm not supposed to be.  I love seeing behind the scenes, going where the general public doesn't get to go, and just generally snooping around.

So it was a huge thrill to get into the Pantages Playhouse theatre this weekend for a vigil.  The building has allegedly been haunted forever, and we went to investigate.  The building is almost 100 years old, is close to the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg, and was at one time connected to the underground tunnel system (!!!!!) that has sadly been sealed at some point since then.

I went with my sister to this vigil - we've both lived in (different) haunted houses, so convincing us that ghosts exist was not an issue.  We got there a few minutes earlier and got to wander around the lobby and public areas.  The building itself is AMAZING.  I took some pics with my iphone, and yeah, they're crappy but you'll get the idea.

This is the ceiling of the lobby where the public used to enter.  I couldn't capture the whole thing because it's enormous, but you can still get the idea from this picture.

This is in the corner of the same lobby area - close to the ceiling.  The plaster is cracking off but to me, that just adds to the charm.

There were dozens of these sconces lighting the lobby.

On either side of the lobby were stairs going up to the mezzanine level.  We were almost dancing around in glee at the thought of getting to sneak past this gate and go check things out.

Here's my sister (you might know her as Kristy McCool) being a goober.

The lobby again...

Finally the fun started!!  This was up the first level of stairs.  I forgot to mention that the very first concert I ever went to was at the Pantages.  At a ritzy joint like this you would expect that it was maybe something operatic, or at least respectable... but no.  I saw Warrant and Danger Danger - a couple of 80s hair bands.  When I told Kristy that, we both started singing Cherry Pie ("She's my cherry pie, cool drink of water bring a tear to your eye, taste so good make a grown many cry, sweet! Cherry pie...) and couldn't get THAT tune out of our heads for the rest of the night.  So much for pretending to have any class at all.

These pictures were really dim but you can still see the beauty of the building.  The guy in the picture above turned out to be quite sensitive to spirits - he kept hearing words in his head that were ridiculously accurate.  I was jealous.

 This next picture is the view from the mezzanine level, overlooking the main part of the theatre. The overhanging balcony prevents you from seeing the stage from here, but that's okay - that's not where the action was anyway.

We were all hanging around the middle part of the mezzanine, trying to attract spirits, when I found myself drawn to the corner by the staircase.  I tiptoed over there and could distinctly feel something different there.  The medium who was accompanying the vigil came over too and we could tell there was a spirit in that corner.  She could apparently SEE the ghost (JEALOUS) but I could only feel her and sense where she generally was.  At one point she freaking HELD MY HAND, not joking.  I felt a hard tingling in my hand where she was touching me, then a hard tingle up my whole back, from my heels to the back of my neck.  Then some of the other people got too close and she got spooked and left.  It was So Freaking COOL.

We were there for 3 hours and saw lots of evidence of spirit activity - we could smell sausages cooking at various places in the building, heard water rushing and doors slamming.  The medium found an usher named Edward (not Eddie, he does NOT like to be called that), and in the basement, a former performer named Sally.  The leaders of the vigil had K2 machines - they were monitors that picked up electromagnetic activity - that would light up like crazy when the medium asked the right questions.  Honestly we would have been pretty lost without her.  Seems the spirits actually talk to her!

Another thing that I was initially skeptical about was a free phone app called Ghost Radar.  They told us about it when we got there and indicated that sometimes it was helpful when dealing with spirits. There are two things it's supposed to do - pick up spirit activity near the phone, and also come up with words that can help you interpret what's going on.  Sure enough - when the medium was talking to the usher on the stairs, she picked up that his name was Eddie, but someone had an ipad running the app, and "Edward" came up, (RIGHT AT THAT TIME, WHAT ARE THE ODDS?!) and sure enough, it seemed to make the ghost way happier to be called Edward.

The last part of the night (close to midnight) was a spot of table-tipping.  Six people gathered around a card table in the orchestra pit and tried to attract the spirits' energy.  The table moved around quite a bit, and they seemed to talk to a few different people.  Unfortunately there was a guy sitting behind me who was wearing a squeaky pleather jacket who would NOT sit still and he kind of ruined my concentration.  The view was nice though - you can see some of the balcony seats in the next pic, and that's the stage on the left.

Kristy and I desperately wanted to stow away and get locked in the building for the night, but good sense prevailed (rats) and we left with everyone else.

Now I kind of wish I wouldn't have chased away the ghost in the house I lived in... but to be fair he was kind of creeping me out.  Maybe if I had a medium to find out what his deal was, things would have been different.  But his thing was to come in around 11pm (the back door would open and close, even if it was locked) and then you could hear his footsteps come through the kitchen, through the living room and stop RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY BEDROOM, where I was trembling in fear just on the other side of the flimsy accordion door.  Not cool, ghost.  One day I'd had enough of being scared at bedtime and I had a very bizarre conversation with an empty room - told him that whoever he was looking for didn't live there any more, and maybe it was time for him to move along.  Never heard him again after that.

Anyway, that was the highlight of my weekend.  Now: back to making art!!

Love Shelley!


  1. o.O I'm a little bit traumatized. Not in a hundred years would I embark in such an adventure :P Happily, I have never had an encounter with paranormal activity.
    But anyway, it was kind of amusing to read your description of the events.


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