After spending a month in Montreal this June, I have decided that I am hopelessly in love with this city. Out of anywhere I have been, this place stands out. It is alive and full of culture; with their unbelievable arts scene, festivals, huge selection of lounges, clubs, and restaurants, beautiful parks, wicked fashion, “French-ness”… I could go on all day.
I was lucky enough to live at the UQÀM residences (I was studying French with Explore), located right at Place Des Arts, the forefront for festivals, perfectly located just minutes from well known streets, St. Laurent and St. Catherine. Throughout June I got to experience: Grand Prix, The International Jazz Festival, Les FrancoFolies, St. Jean Baptiste, Fringe, Mutek, their annual Beer Festival, and I’m sure there were multiple other things going on that I wasn’t aware of. It was common to wake up and notice stages freshly set up, new posters scattered about – it was never a dull moment. Sometimes it was hard to believe that I was still in Canada. I have been to almost every province and major capital city (besides the Maritimes unfortunately) but Montreal is remarkably different, and reminded me more of Europe than any other Canadian city. The whole look, especially Old Montreal, is quite European; with cobblestone streets, and narrow buildings brimming with history. Also, the city’s more lax approach to things was a refreshing change. Lounges and clubs were open later (typically until 3 or 4 am, and there were also many after-hours choices), the common “apportez votre bière ou vin” (bring your own beer or wine) option at restaurants, multiple 24 hour poutineries, law where you can drink alcohol in any park as long as you have food with you … where was I? These were concepts that Winnipeg has definitely not acquired.
I went to as many events as I could while in Montreal, exploring different nightlife, but after a month of galavanting, I still barely made a dent in what the city had to offer. Although, there was one weekly event that I couldn’t get enough of. Piknic Electronik. This magnificent event happens every Sunday in Parc Jean-Drapeau, runs from May 20th – September 30th and provides electronic DJs all day from 2pm – 9pm (although usually a bit longer) while encouraging people to bring picnics, and allowing bottles of wine and beer if accompanied by a meal.
Their website (http://piknicelectronik.com/en/) describes the unique experience:
“Unifying, positive, and family-oriented – here’s an idea for these modern times that helps you get the most out of Montreal’s summer weather while enjoying an incomparable view of the city and quality electronic music, all in a comfortable and warm environment. Piknic Electronik is an innovative weekly event that combines the best of hedonism and discovery. Its mission is to democratize the world of electronic music and to highlight the innumerable talents of the local and international electronic scenes. Defined by its eclectic programming, which sometimes features classic acts and other times audacious newcomers – and always strives to mix up the two!”
(Hedonism: The pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence. The ethical theory that pleasure is the highest good and proper aim of human life.)
The first time I went was one of the funnest days of my life. I will make that bold statement. As soon as me and a few friends got off the metro, the bellowings of electro music could be heard, and swarms of young people seemed to dance their way into the music. The serene happiness the music brought was remarkable. We got in no problem, well $14 later, and found a cozy spot on the grass next to one of the smaller DJ booths. The atmosphere was something similar to Folk Fest (for you Winnipeg readers) with a bunch of trendy, carefree people dancing about, fire breathers, drink tents that conveniently sold buckets of sangria, and multiple picnic tables which were perfect for the crowd. It was a great atmosphere to socialize in, and it was easy to meet people or remain with friends. I also liked that there were a few different DJ’s that you could frequent, depending on your taste of electro – some being more trance-ey or dubstep-ish. Forgive the lingo. The main DJ was stationed right in front of the distinct L’Homme statue (featured in my photograph below), and the night would slowly end as you danced into the setting sun, letting the music carry you away. . (sold yet?)
I went almost every Sunday, after Tam-Tams (I’ll cover that later), and must find time to go again next year. Maybe Winnipeg can get inspired by this. Piknic in Assiniboine park? I’d be there.
Download: PillowTalk – Street Walker