Last Nuit Blanche, a friend asked me if I wanted to volunteer at a loft party in East Montreal. I readily agreed, and to my surprise, ended up at a trans “kink-positive” play party where attenders were encouraged to observe and participate in raunchy but strictly consensual performances. Although watching strangers perform “not your grandma’s Kama Sutra” didn’t really appeal to me, the cocktails were as eclectic as the crowd and the DJ spun 90s hits till dawn. The (semi-clothed) dance party was raging.
Needless to say, Nuit Blanche has something for everyone.
Nuit Blanche is the most vibrant way to experience la culture montréalaise. It’s the culminating all-nighter event of the week-long Montreal en Lumière Festival. I know you’ve been staying up for the past week to finish essays, assignments, and study for midterms, and now, the city pays you back, asking you to stay up one more night to experience everything and anything Montreal’s arts and culture scene has to offer. There are over 185 mostly free activities taking place in three districts: Quartier Des Spectacles & Downtown, Old Montreal, and The Plateau and Mile End. The entire underground mall also transforms into a contemporary art gallery.
I know how little McGill Ghetto-ers venture far from their urban comfort circles, so I’ve outlined diverse activities for this Saturday which, for the most part, are just (slushy) steps from the Roddick Gates.
8:00pm – The Belgo on St-Catherine and City Councillors is a great place to start your evening. Meander through the halls of this Art Deco building. Every room belongs to a different art exhibit, musical performance, dance party, or workshop till 3am.
9:00pm – Move on to Place Des Arts and the Quartier des Spectacles. There are fireworks at 9:00pm, a free Ferris Wheel ride, a giant ice slide, and multiple free performances taking place in just about every room at Place Des Arts. Explore until you need to rest.
10:30pm – To sit down and recharge, head over the Studio Aire de Tango on St-Laurent and Marianne. The theme of this year’s festival is “Buenos Aires.” As a tango fanatic, I’m excited for the studio’s “10 Faces of Tango” performance featuring professional dancers, dance classes, live music, and a milonga till dawn.
11:30pm — If you’re reluctant to venture further East, head back West to the Museum of Fine Arts for a free Peruvian cooking class. While you’re there, check out the exhibit for half-price and then enjoy a free chocolate tasting and live chocolate body-painting performance at the Cocoa Berry lounge.
12:30am — Kill those calories by heading over to the Canadian Centre for Architecture near Concordia for a dance party presented by POP Montréal featuring Jef Barbara, Solar Year, and Montag until 1 am.
1:00am — Take advantage of the free-all-night STM service and cool down with “Swim under the Stars” at the Hilton in the Old Port. $12 entry to their rooftop swimming pool from 8:00pm – 5:00am.
2:00am — End the evening with delicious, drunk fun. Head back towards McGill for “10 Feet of Edible Art” at Carré Confiserie, steps below Place Des Arts metro on Bleury. At 2:00 am they are cutting a 10 ft cake which you can help decorate.
Other amazing activities include Pikolo’s coffee tastings from ten roasters in North America, Coupe Bizarre’s free haircuts, Ice fishing at Quai de l’Horloge, and an ice-skating dance party at the Mont Royal arena. Check out: http://www.montrealenlumiere.com for the full program.
Some last words of advice: There are over 185 activities (that doesn’t even include the number of below-the-radar sex parties et al.), so be informed, dress warmly, and be ready to stay up all night!