For soon to be a senior – the whole idea of Nuit Blanche is a bit frightening. Mobs of people milling around, no toilets anywhere, fast food offerings only, and the events seemingly focused on the younger crowd that finds DJ’s fooling with records entertainment.
But that is so totally different from what Nuit Blanche is really all about. Nuit Blanche is fun. Lots of fun, actually. We started at the Place des Art’s metro station – it’s centrally located, and dumped us right at the heart of the action – Quartier des Spectacles. And what a pulsing, beating heart it was. We were there just at 6:00 – the light shows were happening, there were people roasting hot-dogs on sticks over open fires all around the Quartier, there were people sliding down the ice slide, there were jugglers with fire batons – people playing ‘toss’ with giant balls – and that was just in the short walk from the metro station to St. Catherine’s street. Amazing.
We loved the light shows – heavily animated – entire buildings had become the canvas for animation artists to play upon. There were letters falling out of signs, people walking past open windows which then disappeared (not the people – the windows!), and flashing colors everywhere. We even spotted people writing in neon letters 30 feet tall on another building. It was amazing. And so good-natured. Not a grumpy face anywhere.
We walked down to China Town for dinner – using the underground the whole way so as to avoid any slippery side walks, and after dinner walked back to the one event we’d decided to try. Out of over 1000 activities – this was the one that seemed to us to be ‘our speed’.
Events we decided quickly NOT to try – Tango Dancing, Gumboot Dancing, anything that mentioned a DJ, anything that wasn’t free (we really wanted free), anything that looked to be mostly in French (our French isn’t that great), anything that started after 10:00 (we’re early to bed kinda birds), and anything that wasn’t near a metro stop. That eliminated a lot of options – but we cut down more by checking if there would be seating (we can’t stand for an hour – not even close), and anything that mentioned ‘experimental’. Hard experience has shown that ‘experimental’ at Nuit Blanche is often smutty.
Out of our short list of about 15 – sounds pretty good choices – we eventually agreed on the Cabaret de la Nuit Blanche. It was being held at the National Theatre School – and there are always seats. And the space has high ceilings and good lighting. And it’s right up the street from where we were going to eat dinner (The Tong Sing – reviewed elsewhere). In a nut shell – perfect – if the advertised acts – Fanfare Pourpour and Les Soeurs Schmutt delivered.
We arrived just at the stroke of 9:00 – just as the band was gathering. We snagged front row seats on the side and settled in to enjoy ourselves. And enjoy we did. The Fanfare Pourpour was quite simply outstanding. I attached a picture – it’s out of focus and not great – and it doesn’t even begin to capture the joy they bought to the house. It was in their faces, their voices, and communicated itself throughout the crowded space.
Sharing the stage – and the center of the room – and an overhang in the back of the room were the 2 lovely and extremely flexible young ladies who performed on and off during the evening. Acting as host was a female impersonator – the quite talented Soizick Hebert in the role of ‘Jackie’. Altogether – I was sorry we had to eventually pick up stakes (and purses and coats) and head back home.
Great night Montreal. You sure showed the world exactly how to properly party.