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Arts, City

Sunday Wakes You Up with a Story - Nuit Blanche

Posted by Robyn / March 4, 2007

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So, like pretty much all of Montreal, if the density of the crowds was anything to go by, I went to the Montreal All-Nighter last night. Or Nuit Blanche, or Montreal en Lumière. Whatever it was called, I went to it, a lot of it. Way bigger and, yes, better (due to an obvious step up in organization/logistics) than last year's event (which was pretty fun anyway), the Hydro-Quebec-sponsored (yes, them, of the heat and electricity bill we all love) All-Nighter really did keep thousands of people out all night. Could it only happen in Montreal? Well, only in this particular, jovial yet chaotic way in Montreal.

You gotta love a town that for a one-night event manages to set up activities for miles, put out a full-colour program of events, appeal to all ages and creative inclinations, and yet doesn't fill the streets with cops "just looking out for your safety."

(The downside being that certain icy sidewalks on certain main arteries become serious casuality zones.) But I like this edge of chaos, this patrolling of self only if self needs to be patrolled; I don't need my freakin' hand held, I don't need a freakin' fun-filled panopticon. Love this town, never change.

The whole thing went down in three quartiers: Old Montreal and the Old Port, Centre-Ville, and the Plateau-Mont-Royal. That is a lot of real estate to cover, and it was action packed (though I missed the Plateau/Mont-Royal action - reports welcome in comments below!):

- down at the Old Port, dancing in silence with (complimentary, borrowed) headphones cranked up or just dancing in the regular way, y'know, to a huge speaker system, or drinking complementary booze at SAQ-sanctioned "sample booths," or standing by a raging barrel fire or trying not to give in to agoraphobia (I am proud that as someone who spends a lot of time working/living alone, that I got over this quickly enough, and with deep breaths. and a bit of whiskey.), or skating on the St. Lawrence, or sliding down a giant ice slide!

- or walking the underground corridors of Places-des-Arts, witnessing the musical dance floor, improv theatre and dance, world-class contemporary art (I hadn't seen the Musee d'art contemporain's latest exhibitions of Jean-Pierre Gauthier, Jerome Fortine and Guy Ben-Ner, but spent a long time with them last night), and the eventual ebbing of the crowd.

- or in the gallery spaces of the Belgo Building on St. Catherine's (at Bleury) and The Darling Foundry/Quartier Éphémère in Old Montreal, blissing out to the art and to some pretty awesome and weird sounds/music. I spent a lot of time in this one space in the Belgo listening to the strumming of a harp and the dripping of water. Oh, and petting doves. Real, live, semi-freaked-out doves!

- or running into friends you haven't seen in a while, losing them in the crowd, and then suddenly running into more friends. I think I saw half the people I know in Montreal (also, I walked everywhere - do not understand shuttle system, sorry). After the long indoor-days of January and February, this was a lovely reminder that social life continues (and I am truly nowhere near as impoverished in that realm as certain dark, cold days would have me think. I love you, winter, but I must shake my fist at your sometimes dastardly ways.)

It was all kind of like New Year's Eve, but with more comradery and less intense fervour - this sense that everyone was in on something, yet without the pressure to have a really really great gotta be awesome or all is lost Good Time. How can you lose when there's something for everyone? Even when I lost my friends, my initial sadness was abated by art, music, more friends (and new people, yaay), more things to do and see. Kind of a reminder of infinite possibility, which is reassuring, and makes me hate people way less. Yaay world! Would go again A+++

(I also managed to take no pictures, such was my overwhelmedness.)

(I am also going to manage to continue my wind-down with what will be a really nice show at Casa del Popolo tonight (Sunday) - MV & EE. If you're into some relaxing yet not-sleepy and definitely interesting music, spend your Sunday night in the comforting red glow of Casa, possibly drinking the comforting red ale of a certain local brewery.)

(photo by Da Jules)

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