Ottawa Citizen article Jan 7, 2019 Older adults and staying sexy

Not fade away: Older Canadians are having more sex than ever

Joanne Laucius
Updated: January 7, 2019

When Don and Karen met 20 years ago in their mid-40s, they never thought they would still be having sex into their 60s.

“Back then, 60 was ancient,” says Karen, now 66.

“I didn’t think I would be alive,” says Don, 67.

Twenty years later, though, the couple, who asked their that real names not be used, have embarked on a quest to keep their sexual relationship going as long as they can.

“At 65, you have to decide if you want to stay sexually active, or if you want to fade away. You have to make it a conscious decision to make it what it used to be,” Don says.

Christina, a 58-year old retired occupational therapist, has been in a relationship with her husband since they met in university in 1979. Now they have two knee replacements and the occasional sore hip, but still search out soft places to be intimate and experiment with sex toys.

“I like touching and kissing. That has not changed,” she says. Christina also asked that her real name not be used.

“I think what I noticed amongst other people our age is their kids are grown up, so they are ready to try new things. They are still afraid of what people will say, so it’s still a secret. But they are willing to admit they are sexually active and curious. In a way, they are newbies. I think my husband and I were curious from the time we met and since we met at university far away from our family and friends, there was no judgement.”

As more and more baby boomers enter their senior years, it appears they are determined not to go gentle into that good night.

When Ottawa sex therapist Sue McGarvie gave a talk on at the Ottawa Council on Aging — it was called Put a Twinkle in Your Wrinkle — it attracted about 150 seniors.

There has been a paradigm shift in seniors and their attitudes toward sex, says McGarvie. “We have to technology to make you as sexual as you want. If there is a will, there is a way to do it,” she says. “I don’t want to go quietly into the night, and I don’t know a lot of people who do.”

Life expectancy is on the rise. Between 1921 and 2005, Canadians gained about 20 years of average life expectancy to about 78 years for man and almost 83 years for a woman. By 2031, the average life expectancy could rise to 81.9 for men and 86 for women. And for many, it means they will be having sex for longer.

Senior sex has been having a cultural moment for more than a decade. In 2003, Jane Juska, A divorced California teacher who hadn’t dated in 30 years, placed an ad in the The New York Review of Books “Before I turn 67 — next March — I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like.”

Her memoir, A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance, told the tale of the adventures that followed. Juska received 63 replies from men ranging in age from the octogenarian who stole her champagne flutes to a “very old” 32-year-old who broke her heart when he married a younger lover. The memoir was adapted into a play in 2010 and Juska wrote a followup book in 2012 called Unaccompanied Women: Late-Life Adventures in Love, Sex and Real Estate. Juska died in October 2017 in a care facility.

In 2008, the British Medical Journal published data based on interviews with 1,500 Swedes over the age of 70 between 1970 and 2000. The study found that more seniors reported having sex in the latter years of the study than in the beginning. Among married men, for example, 68 per cent said they were having sex, compared to 52 per cent in 1971.

Among the married women, 56 per cent said they were having sex, compared to 38 per cent in the 1970s, while 54 per cent of the single men and 12 per cent of the women reported having sex, compared to 30 per cent of men and less than one per cent of women in the 1970s. They also reported having sex more frequently — more than a quarter said they having sex once or more a week in 2000 compared to only about 10 per cent in the 1970s. The study did not report the reason for the shift, but it’s likely that history played a role.

According to the Pew Research Center in the U.S., online dating among seniors 55 to 64 years old increased significantly between 2013, when six per cent of people in that age bracket reported using a dating website or mobile app, to 12 per cent in 2015. There are even sites geared specifically to the over-50 crowd, including SeniorPeopleMeet.com, SeniorMatch.ca and Stitch.com and OurTime.com., which has almost nine million monthly visitors.

A 2012 AARP study of 1,000 people 50 and older found that while almost half of those who used internet dating sites were looking for a serious relationship, about a quarter wanted friendship or companionship and 14 per cent were looking for casual dating.

French psychotherapist Marie de Hennezel was 71 when her book, A Frenchwoman’s Guide to Sex, was released in 2017. “In the sexuality of youth, which is open, you have to be fast and strong. This is contrary to what is going on with older people — to be slow and tender, to play between distance and closeness, trying to find the good rhythm and letting the imagination do the rest. I think it’s full of discoveries,” she said in an interview last year.

But research into sexual activity in older adults has produced inconsistent results, says a review of 57 research papers continued sexual activity in adults over 60. One of the problems is a need for a more comprehensive approach to studying sex in older adults including “expanding the definition to include non-coital sexual behaviours” to get a fuller picture of who’s doing what.

The baby boomers who changed ideas about sex are moving into their senior years, says Dr. Elke Reissing, one of the authors of the paper, published in 2016 in the journal Sexual Medical Reviews.

Boomers changed attitudes toward sex outside marriage, said Reissing, director of the Human Sexuality Research Laboratory and a psychology professor at the University of Ottawa. They could have sex without procreation. They could have sex recreationally. They could have sex with the help of pharmaceutical intervention.

“When you think of baby boomers, they were the revolutionaries. Sexuality has been special to them, and they want to maintain that ability. Even just the idea that they could be sexual if they choose.”

People don’t just step over the threshold of middle age into decrepitude one day. One of the problems is that “older people” are lumped into one monolithic category. Reissing prefers to group people into the “young old” — those 55 to 65 — the “old” -— 65 to 75 — and the “old old” — 75-plus.

“There is so much that is different between a 60-year-old and an 85-year old,” she said. “But it’s surprising that sometimes you can find an 80-year-old who is so much more sex-positive than a 60-year-old.”

Aging is a slow process, and sex with aging can be managed with the right attitude and interventions, said McGarvie, who estimates that by the time people 65, about half are not being sexual. It doesn’t mean they’re not interested in sex, she says.

Older people have to use it or lose it, she says. “I think men are still interested in women. Asking anyone who works in a nursing home. They’re still looking down your top.”

McGarvie leads a group she calls the “ducklings.” The group might visit a dominatrix’s dungeon in Kanata, or sign up for a boudoir photo shoot. “They are trying not to turn into their parents,” she says.

“You have to have the attitude that you want to keep things going,” Don says.

The 60s are a good time of life, says Karen. “We’re looking at health problems down the road. We might as well be enjoying this as long as we can. Hopefully, we’ll be enjoying it for a really long time.”

But people who want to continue having a sex life also have to accept that the supply-and-demand landscape of sex changes, and they have to be realistic abut the marketplace, says McGarvie. Older men looking for younger women can do that, and older women often have success with younger men.

“Women are till looking for the ‘male unicorn,’ the man who wants an exclusive, monogamous relationship. I know a lot of stand-up guys who are not adverse to falling in love again, but they don’t want to be tied down. If you are willing to colour outside the lines, there’s lots of sex to be had,” she says.

The expectation that sex will be the same as it ever was is also likely not possible to fulfill.

“You have to roll with the fact that sex is not always intercourse; it changes. You have to work with it, McGarvie says. “If you want sex you can still have it, with integrity, with friendship. … I tell people to throw their expectations out the window. … Sometimes you have to change your expectations. As long as it’s safe and consensual.”

The biggest predictor of having an active and satisfying sex life in later years is having an active and satisfying sex life in adult years, says Reissing, who has a PhD student who is looking into the preparedness of long-term care homes to receive baby boomers who want to remain sexually expressive.

“We want people to have full rights in a long-term care facility. They can be sexually active and show affection.”

She believes baby boomers truly are different from previous generations, and history is a a major reason why. They lived through a time when sexual activity could be treated as recreational. Heterosexuals could explore their sexuality without concern that sex would result in a baby. There was increasing acceptance of non-heterosexual sex.

“If you have a rigid script, you have never learned that it’s OK to do other things that are different.”

It’s a third marriage for Karen and a second for Don. They met on an early online dating site in 1998. As time went by, Karen had health problems and Don suffered from erectile dysfunction and sex became sporadic. After seeking help, they agree that having sex keeps them young, But they have to work at it.

“There’s a lot more foreplay than there used to be,” says Karen.

Don has three children. Two of them would think it was great that he was still having sex. “One would be shocked,” he says.

He doesn’t care what other people think. “At our age, you can identify which couples are active and which aren’t. It shows in how they act in public. It’s visible in their interactions with each other. If you mention that you went on a date night and you get a weird look, you know they’re not active.”

A Review of Desire Riviera Maya Pearl Resort, Puerto Morelos, Mexico.

We had a wonderful opportunity to visit Book Desire Riviera Maya Pearl Resort, in Puerto Morelos last week. From the short (25 minute) professionally handled commute (from Cancun airport) to the opening greetings by all the staff of “welcome home” we knew we were in for something special. Pearl is a small hotel but opulent. It has the wow factor. Its goal is to be the most exclusive couples resort in the Caribbean. In that it succeeds, at least in our experience.

The staff are superbly trained to be attentive yet give you the space you wish. Some guests wish to very interactive, some are looking for a holiday of solitude and reconnection. It is a hotel that pledges to encourage you to be whomever you wish to be. From the very sexy and flirty to the simply elegant and private. There are only 88 rooms, with 12 of them being elaborate suites, and the hotel boasts 240 staff. The room are very comfortable, well appointed and large. The grounds are immaculate and eco-sensitive. There are multiple restaurants serving a variety of meals. The resort has 5-star amenities throughout.

What differentiates Pearl from other resorts is the emphasis on couples. (Singles are not allowed reservations). Pearl attracts a very loyal clientele that wish to be sensuous. Nudity around the pool is common but very relaxed during the daytime. Restaurant dress code at this time of day is simple and casual. In fact, with the very active and engaged animation and bar staff, the resort resembles top end fun destinations throughout the Caribbean from sun up until about 4pm. However, after 4 the focus transfers to more adult interests. The large hot tub comes alive with a laughter filled happy hour (the swim up bar staff are fantastic). Couples still have quiet space if desired but most are actively engaged in conversation. While there are no clothes to be seen in the hot tub, dress is very elegant for dinner and many couples have complete costumes for the nightly theme dances that include nautical, western, and neon nights.

Dinner is very elegant if you choose the Pearl restaurant. You may also choose a very cozy gastro bar for tapas or a larger common dining room. No matter where you go, the clothing is eye popping. You end up knowing the names of the serving staff as the level of service and interaction is so high. The word we use to describe the staff best is charming. You simply want to get to know them better.

There are some deals to be had if you pick off-season or follow the website and watch for specials. Otherwise the rack rate is very high. This is not a resort for the budget conscious. There are enticing extras such as the spa services. Or you can order special meals including one that is served on the beach where somehow you end up having a sizzling romantic encounter at the end of it – on the beach bed. Use your imagination. In fact, the hotel specializes in creating fantasy encounters. They have a senior staff member dedicated to bringing them to life. (Kind of like a wedding planner, but just for those fantasies you always wished would happen, but you had no clue where to start). Everything is done amazingly well, but make sure you are prepared for the bill when you check out.

Desire sells the feeling. The feeling of attention to detail and that you are important. You also feel very safe in the resort. In fact, if you stay on the resort for your entire trip, we don’t have any reservations about saying that safety should not be a concern at all when selecting Pearl as a holiday destination. This area of Mexico is well patrolled and very tourist focused. There is a safe in each room and guards on duty everywhere. If you wander the grounds at night, the only sounds you hear coming from the bushes are small local animals, the most predominant being little raccoons. The resort also sells the feeling of community. Everybody wants to belong to a group and you quickly feel like the other guests are your people.

If you prefer to focus on your partner and just be silly, the Saturday afternoon foam party in the pool is not to be missed. Jello shots are distributed during the swim and it is an opportunity to watch a hundred adults turn into children again. Or you can find a quiet pool side bed and focus on your partner in other ways…..so many choices.

Like any destination, there are downsides. The hot tub can be overwhelming for a first timer just dipping a toe into nudism or lifestyle activities. Expect to be approached by folks who may be fueled by liquid courage and who may not display appropriate decorum. Also expect to see sexual activities front and center. (On the flip side, if you are trying to decide between Desire Pearl and Desire Riviera Maya, the people we interviewed were unanimous in stating Pearl was the quieter and less aggressive of the two resorts).

We would also recommend sandals with good tread. We found the tile and polished concrete around the pool area to be slippery after heavy rainfalls. The staff works extraordinarily hard in keeping the water off these surfaces but just be aware.

Pearl sells plans of pre-paid nights. We were very surprised with the number of guests who had purchased the plans. To a person, everyone was thrilled. They wanted to be part of something, and generally the story was the same. They had traveled around, tried a bunch of other places and decided Pearl was home. The feeling was if this is where they planned on returning annually (or more often), then it was better to have a discount and some perks. We truly could not find anybody with buyers remorse.

If you are looking for an opportunity to spark up your relationship in a big way, or dip a toe in the world of sensuous and flirty adventures then this is definitely the place. You are immediately surrounded by friends. As the manager told us “Mexico is about people”. Talking with hundreds of guests and staff over a week, at least in this gorgeous slice of the Yucatan, it would be very hard to disagree.

Sue McGarvie & Blaik Spratt

Free stuff for being a Duck!

Newsletter!
What a celebration of summer!

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The Vikings came out in droves at Saturday’s summer solstice party. Despite the rain (and the mosquitoes) we had fun in the tent, inside the house in the pool, and hot tub, and had a great sing-a-long with the fabulous Rory Gardiner. The mead was on tap, the company was fun and supportive and be sad if you missed it.

Duckling-only deals on sexy things!

We had a great turnout at the Orgasms in O’town event last week. And we gathered a whole bunch of sponsors to give away free stuff and support our breast cancer fundraiser. All week we have had people ask for the contact information about the discounts the participating sponsors offered. While we are trying to commercialize the Ducklings in any way, we did score some deep discounts that we think add to the overall coolness of being a Duckling member It’s a just a perk if you are interested in taking advantage of the offers.

Zumio toy!
We gave away over 40 review Zumio’s in the last 6 months. Membership has it’s privileges and there are loads of happy Duckling women out there. They are advertised on Amazon as $175 US. While there are no more free ones at the moment, Joan from Zumio is giving us a Duckling discount as follows.

The code ZUMDUCK is for $100US. The coupon is in effect from the 1st of July to the 8th of July on theZumio website

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Jade eggs for Vaginal Kung-fu
Kerry Lundy has a deal on the three jade eggs for $48. You can reach her at lundy.kerry@gmail.com

The O-shot, Pshot and vaginal and other laser at Inovo MedicalThe Duckling discount at Inovo Medical (1328 Labrie) is 20% off of all laser and sexual well being treatments (Woman’s Shot, P-Shot, Vaginal Laser Therapy).

It would apply to all individual treatments and can’t be combined with other promotions or discounts.

$10 off burlesque classes with Dance with Alana

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! Join Sue for the drop-in Tuesday night Tease at 8:30 if you want to wiggle with us.

From the Stag Shop! We gave the Ducklings an AMAZING! deal 20% off NO RESTRICTIONS!! this is such an amazing deal and all they have to say is I’m a DUCKLING!!

Rumble in the Jungle party on Sat. July 14th at the Nest!

It’s our new venue! A huge, private house on Cedarhill Road we are calling “The Nest” is the site of our next event on Saturday, July 14th at 3 pm. An outdoor pool party, potluck, BYOB, crafts, ice breakers, off-set deck for more private conversations, music, and a chance to do your best Tarzan and Jane imitation. Don’t miss our inaugural event!

Why your body might be interested in someone before your brain even knows you are looking

There is a great article about the six areas of sex research that is coming up lately. In one the question was asked:
Which comes first—desire or arousal?
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Research: In a study from 2004, described in this New York Times article, Ellen Laan, Stephanie Both and Mark Spiering of the University of Amsterdam examined participants’ physical responses to sexual images.
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Results: The research indicates that we respond physically to highly sexual visuals before our mind even engages with them. In other words, desire doesn’t precede arousal—it’s the other way around. And we aren’t even aware it’s happening.

So in other words, your body might be all set while your brain is still looking around the room. Sex drives us more than we are even aware of. Just thought it was interesting.

Spring newsletter!


April events are coming!

We hope you had a great St. Patrick’s day celebration and are recovering nicely from all the green beer you may have downed. We are chilling in the sunny south and between frolicking naked we are busy fleshing out the details for the 2017 Duckling calendar. We are heading back home in another week.

Maya and Robert, the winners of our Christmas charity basket joined us for a long weekend at our Florida cottage (Cypress Cove Florida’s most beautiful nudist resort). For those of you who are new Ducks, we raised $1500 at Christmas for worthy groups with charity baskets of activities donated by businesses and other Ducks. Now we are having fun doing the activities. We heard that Patrick and Cat’s dinner party purchase of Chef Sylvain’s services was a culinary masterpiece. Carine’s pole-dancing workshop was a huge hit and plans are made for other winners to do a wine tour in Prince Edward county, take in a Sens game and utilize a handy-duck-for-a-day to undertake a “honey-do list. And there was so much more!

For us it was a fantastic visit with Maya and Robert full of dancing, ice cream, chasing gators and lying by the pool. We are brainstorming about a group get away for next winter. Some place warm, inclusive and loads of fun. If you have any thoughts or want to volunteer to help organize a get-away next winter your input would be welcome.

Speaking of helping out, we need to formally recognize a few outstanding Ducklings who we couldn’t manage without. Stacey and Rosie have been given the cool titles and responsibilities of Duckling Food and Beverage Managers, and Amanda has chosen the kick-ass title of Chief Duckling Enthusiast. As we grow we are trying to get better organized and more inclusive. Hence the fancy titles.

We are starting our spring events with the School of Sex on Anal, Prostate, and general ass stimulation on April 2nd! We’ve invited the city’s most famous prostate massage expert (who says she is responsible for over 10,000 orgasms) to come and talk. As well, the top wax expert Mr. Bald and his model will be showing decorative hot wax pleasure techniques. That should be an eyeful. As we say about the School of sex series, “it is certainly not your parent’s sex ed class.” It’s taking place on Sunday April 2nd 2-4 pm at the Orange Hall 41 Rosemount Ave. Cost is $30 (receipts provided). Park across the street at the school and we will see you there!

Check below and on the websites for updates to the Duckling calendar. Our HUGE art show has been moved to late September (a few key artists needed more time) and we are now adding the Duckling games (think games like twister tournaments etc) along with a day of volleyball at a new venue for June instead. Stay involved as we have loads of fun things planned!
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We have added two meet and greets, and summer parties to the line up.

If you want to check your calendars and add some dates so you don’t double book we have a few events coming up. We are planning on having a couple of Meet and Greets this spring. The tentative dates are April 28 and June 28th. But we are working on another location. We didn’t hit our bar tab number at the Prescott in order to continue reserving the downstairs room. The Ducklings drank responsibly (and we applaud this) but that means a new venue is in the works.
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Why I became a Duckling – guest blog

Dating beyond your 20s is challenging at the best of times. As a single woman, it can also be quite scary. As much as I want to believe everyone is good, there are guys online with less than good intentions. Since, my physical and emotional wellbeing are of the utmost importance, a safe environment for meeting people was something I was looking for.

But I didn’t want it to just be any people and I didn’t want it to be in hopes of landing a date. They had to be fun people. People who were open and not judgemental. People who wouldn’t lie about who they are. I know, I’m asking for a little much right? How about we go with people who are fun and most of them are open, non-judgemental and don’t lie. Does that sound a bit more realistic?

Somehow, poking around online I found Meetups and through Meetups, I found the Ducklings. I read their Meetup page and then went and read their web site. Definitely sounded like some fun activities.

I dragged my friend G with me to a monthly Meetup at the Prescott. Don’t get me wrong, I am no shrinking violet. But I wanted someone to come along so I could have a discussion afterward and get another perspective. It’s always better to have another pair of eyes and a different mindset to get a better picture on any situation.

My first Meetup was OK. WHAT??? Who would ask me to write an article if I wasn’t going to say how fantastic everything was??? Well, I figure its best to tell the truth. And there is some pretty sound logic that I believe is very valuable to anyone looking to maybe attend a Meetup or join the Ducklings. So keep reading, I promise it will make sense.

So, it was OK. The people at my table were OK. The game was OK. It was all OK. I will be honest and say that I did expect something that felt a bit sexier. Doing vibrator races is not what I would describe as sexy, but certainly funny and not something many groups could pull off with ease. Not everyone was as relaxed talking about sex and ‘playing’ with vibrators but at least you could talk about sex without having to whisper. And it was just a Meetup to get a feel for what the Ducklings are about.

I also had to stop and remember that many people were coming here to start their journey of exploring sex and sexuality. Not everyone was at the same place in their journey and the need to respect everyone’s comfort level at a Meetup and keep it fun but informative is likely key to the group.

Despite my ‘OK’ assessment of my first Meetup, I was definitely interested in some of the events the Ducklings had coming up so a few days later, I joined the Ducklings and signed up for a few events.

Then the next month rolled around and since I was now a member, the monthly Meetup was free so I thought why not! I went to the Prescott again – on my own this time. And here it is people. The reason I told you my first time was OK. Aside from Sue and Blaik and a few of their helpers, it was a totally different crowd. Not a single person seemed familiar from the first time I went. And that meant the vibe was different. It felt more upbeat and fun. The people at my table were more engaging. The game was more fun. It was definitely a better fit for me this time.

I’ve also attended two Duckling events – one for members and one open to anyone. Both were interesting for sure. One was definitely more fun and sexy. Personally, I like the fun and sexy events a bit more than the informative ones but that’s just me. So I’ve signed up for 3 more fun and sexy events and taken a pass on a couple of informative/learning events. But again, that’s just me and what I’m looking for and what I enjoy doing.

My point is, every Meetup and every event is going to be a different mix of people and have a different vibe or feel. For me, what makes something fun or exciting is likely different than you. And the kind of people I have the most fun with or enjoy talking to are quite possibly different than who you find engaging. So if you are thinking that the Ducklings might be ‘your people’, please don’t judge by attending just one event. Come out to a couple of events/Meetups and see how you feel. They really do have something for everyone provided you are looking for something a little bit beyond…

Fun date night ideas in the Capital!

fall-datingKeeping Things Hot as the Temperature Drops
As the leaves fall the temperatures dip, it can certainly be difficult to find a good reason to leave the warm comfort of home. Luckily enough, The Capital offers a multitude of fun date night activities, making it a little easier to forgo your typical night of Netflix and takeout for an evening of romance and excitement!

Complimentary Oysters at Luxe Bistro

Every Tuesday evening from 4:30-6:30pm, Luxe offers a complimentary Oyster Happy Hour, where guests who order a drink and food are welcome to as many little creatures as their hearts’ desire. I’ve been known to eat upwards of thirty in one sitting! The delicious food, modern décor, and relaxing ambiance all make for a truly luxe-urious experience. And hey – oysters are said to be aphrodisiacs! While the science may still be a bit hazy on whether certain foods can actually stimulate sexual desire, there’s no denying that a romantic date night at one of Ottawa’s poshest restaurants is sure to get anyone in the mood!

A Night in Old Ottawa South

Old Ottawa south doesn’t get nearly the recognition it deserves. Just over the bridge from Lansdowne and the Glebe, this little gem is home to a fabulous selection of pubs, restaurants, and wine bars. Begin your date-night at The Belmont, a neighbourhood haunt specializing in unique small plates and creative cocktails using only the freshest ingredients from local farms. Afterwards, go catch a flick at The Mayfair, Ottawa’s oldest active movie theatre, operating since 1932. Inside, there are four faux-balconies, stained-glass windows, and wrought ironwork that will make you feel like you’ve been transported to another era for the evening. After the film, cap your night off at Quinn’s, a cozy little pub just a stone’s throw from the theatre.

Explore Gatineau Park
There’s nothing more romantic that an escape to the Gatineau Hills in the fall. The Champlain Lookout, best known for its stunning bird’s-eye views of the hills over the Ottawa Valley, is the perfect place to sit back, relax and enjoy each other’s company. Breath in the crisp country air on a hike along the 1.2-kilometre hiking trail surrounding the lookout. On your way back to town, take a stroll through the charming streets of Old Chelsea, where you’ll find plenty of little cafés and specialty shops to enjoy. The Cafe Chat Siberien and the Chelsea Pub are two of my favourites!

Cooking and Wine Classes at La Bottega Nicastro
La Bottega Nicastro in the Byward Market offers cooking and wine tasting classes led by various guest chefs and wine experts from the region. As you sip on fine Italian wine, you and your date will be guided through the preparation of a gourmet three-course meal that you’ll get to enjoy along the way. Check out their website for upcoming classes and registration: http://www.labottega.ca/pages/cooking-classes

A Night at the Museum
Come party with the creatures of your planet at Nature Nocturne. Every month, the castle-like Nature Museum is transformed into Ottawa’s best dance party. It’s a fabulous opportunity to dress up, let loose, and discover the Museum after hours. The event combines DJs, live music, mingling, dancing, food stations, bars, and fascinating exhibitions.