Another One Has Come and Gone...Part 3

by - December 26, 2009

Here comes one of the very best parts of my birthday.  A little background: when Dave and I met we found that we were both lovers of urban decay.  Any building that used to be grand but was now a crumbling wreck conjures a sense of sadness for me, but also peaks my imagination like nothing else can.  Walking through a place that has been forgotten, one cannot help but speculate what may have happened to cause the owners to abandon it, or sell it, only for it to never be bought, left to crumble and crack and become a part of the earth once again.

A few years ago a friend introduced us to a book called Access All Areas: A User's Guide to the Art of Urban Exploration.  Written by a dude named Ninjalicious (who very sadly is not a part of this world anymore), the book is a guide and record of many of the old buildings (and even sewers) that he infiltrated up until his death, in and around the city I live in.  This is where I read about the Crystal Ballroom.  Built in 1903, the King Edward Hotel is the home of the luxurious Crystal Ballroom; a vast space that boasts magnificent views of all sides of the city.  Unfortunately, the ballroom has been abandoned since the 1950s, and the 60 years that it has been forgotten shows.  This was the room that Dave and I sought out to find, and we would try and try again until we succeeded.

Like I mentioned in the last post, we had been drinking whiskey and watching scary ghost shows all evening, just chilling and enjoy our stay in this beautiful piece of history.  We decided to make our way up there that night, around midnight.  Of course I don't need to tell you that I was scared, but excited at the same time.  This was something I had been wanting to do forever, and there was no way I was passing up the opportunity.

The crumbling ceilings as we made our way up the stairwell, to floor 18.

After we had tried another stairwell and were only led to boiler rooms and Alice in Wonderland type half doors, the graffiti let us know we were finally headed in the right direction.

And then, we were there.  It was pitch black, and we didn't really know what we were looking for.  The only light we had was the light of my camera, and only when I took a picture.  We saw a door, and decided to go through it into the dark, not knowing what danger might be waiting for us, physical or otherwise.

Boy was it ever creepy.  We had to shuffle our feet in front of us to make sure we were not going to trip on any debris and fall.  But the room was magnificent.  Every little noise caused an echo, which in turn caused me to poop my pants a little.  But I was full of energy. I could almost hear the ghostly voices of those who enjoyed the room when it was alive, the glasses clinking and dresses rustling. Men in suits escorting their ladies to their tables to enjoy a lovely evening in one of the most expensive hot spots in the city.

We stood there in silence and marvelled at the view, taking it all in, amazed that such a swanky hotel could have this decrepit room sitting on top of it.  And then we turned around and ran back down those rusty stairs like the devil himself was hot on our heels.

We went to sleep that night, promising each other we would return during the day, to see the room in all it's glory.  And maybe to avoid the rumoured tall man in black that haunts the place at night.

The next morning we awoke bright and early with the ballroom still on our minds.  We quickly dressed and I grabbed my camera and off we went.  The ghosts from the night before were gone from our minds as it was a beautiful sunny day.  And really, how can you be afraid when you are faced with this?

I could not even believe how beautiful the room was.  I couldn't help thinking of when Jess came here and ballet danced in the dust and sunshine.  It makes me sad that this room is being left to whither away, and that generations after me will never know the grandeur of it, or even of it's existence.

I feel privileged that I stood in this room, and I will never forget it's beauty for as long as I live.  I hope to one day hear or read in the papers that someone decided to front the money to get it back up and running.  Because even though the ballroom itself is slowly fading away, it's aura and presence will forever be felt by anyone who ventures to go up there.  I am glad I did.

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