Late Sunday nights spent in a light snowfall with good company have been the breeding ground for some of the best moments I’ve had. There is nothing more beautiful than a still winter evening and taking a quiet stroll through the deserted urban landscape that is our fair city.

This passed Sunday I was particularly restless after a week of illness and home improvement projects. I spent most of the holidays without a voice and one of the worst colds I’ve had in a while. The bright side is the money I didn’t spend on partying and keeping up with my friends allowed me to splurge on décor! However when I realized it was my last night before a new semester, I decided it was necessary to put on my new boots and head out on the town.

The four piece of Wild and The Wind playing at Casa Del Popolo

Sunday is a day of relaxation, but you can still find a fun event if you’re going stir-crazy. Give your local concert venues a check and you can usually find a cheap show to suit your Sunday vibe. This past Sunday I attended a friend of a friend’s show at Casa Del Popolo, a venue located on St Laurent just south of St. Joseph (that serves fantastic black velvets for five dollars).

Sunday’s line up was Wind & The Wild (formerly On a Bear Hunt), Little Stella, and Geronimo. Though the STM late night Sunday service is not the most reliable, I made it for the last act. I enjoyed my drink and settled in for the sounds of Wind & The Wild, a Montreal based band whose members reign from Aylmer and Chelsea, Quebec. They kept me at a good level of lively, with their relaxed sound and twangy vocals. They played a few upbeat danceable songs, a couple of covers, but mainly their own tunes. It was five dollars well spent.

The show ended at twelve and I decided to continue on because… I was already out. The next place we slid to was Barfly. Each Sunday they host a bluegrass jam session, and there is no cover. In a very loose environment, the crowd is a mixture of young to old (ish) folks drinking, playing pool, chatting, and listening to the live music.

barfly2As most anyone who has lived in Montreal longer than a couple months knows, this city is a small one. On any given night it is just as likely that you will make a new friend, as it is you will run into an old one. To me there is nothing more comforting than a chance encounter with someone you knew in a different time or place, it helps you feel like the world is a manageable size.

After some catching up you continue your adventure together. By this point some dancing might be in order. If you’re around the plateau, you have the three staple options: Blizzarts, Blue Dog and Korova. No lines, no cover, decent tracks, and occasionally, if one is lucky enough, an empty dance floor all for themselves. Disagree as you may, but for me nothing beats starting a dance floor with some good company.

Perks of Sundays: you never know who you’ll run into, you’ll only have to pay cover once, and despite how many buses you miss, you can walk home down the middle of Sherbrooke, Parc, St. Laurent, or in wherever direction your bed lies, unbothered by the usual spew of on coming traffic, because this metropolis sleeps early on Sundays.

I always find New Year’s Eve to be one of these holidays people use as an excuse to get plastered and make fools of themselves. On this particular night we can act as if our mistakes will be absolved, as the next day a new year will grant us a fresh start. As we have all survived yet another doomsday prediction, I expect this year will be even messier than usual. It’s easy to get your hopes up on NYE, so I find it best to try for a drama free night with great music and of course, a few great people.

This December 31st, I’ll be checking out the bash at the Society of Arts and Technology (SAT). The line up reads: Busy P, Vincent Lemieux, Vosper, Jealous Lovers, and Jocool & Liberty. SAT offers great programming, a cool venue (how often can you party in a dome) and an affordable evening ($20 in advance, $25 before 11pm, and $30 after). I am looking forward to welcoming 2013 with my loved ones and electro, frankly it’s the only way I’d want to bring in the New Year.

Here are also a few other last minute suggestions to ring in the new year:

Royal Phoenix is having a Royal Ball, DJ B’UGO (GAYBASH/HI-BUDGET/MTL), DJ TIZI (HOT SAUCE/CIRCUS, MTL) and HOSTS: SALLY AND TYLER (GAYBASH, DARLINGS, OCHO, MTL). 5788 St. Laurent, 15$ at the door.

TICKLE ME IL MO’ 2013: Il Motore’s New Years Bash. DJ NOAH BICK, DJ MITZ, DJ MARC, D J L A. They promise drink specials, dancing and kisses with strangers. AND it’s cheap! It’s a pay what you can night, so you don’t have to worry about NYE costing an arm & a leg. 179 Jean Talon w. $ pay what you can.

In 2013 We Trust, at Baillat Cardell & Fils in Little Italy will have some groovy electronic music care of DJs Mini, Mateo, Baya, Endless, Orbital NYE 2013 | CRNKN (LA) | OPEN BARMechanics and Alix in the Mix, visuals by Diagraf and Data Dada and an art installation Iregular. 420 Beaubien w, #201, $25/$30 at the door.

Le Belmont is having an Open Bar Party with DJ CRNKN (LA), SWAGTOP STEVE, SNAILS, and RYAN ORPHAN. 4483 St. Laurent, 50$

SnapShots x NEW YEARS EVE PARTY - OPEN BAR!Snap Shots is this year’s NYE party at Blue Dog, open bar from 9-11, free champagne and tequila shots and music by DJs Ledisko and Jay & Nedd provide and open bar until 11 p.m. 3958 St-Laurent, 10 p.m., $15/$20

La Banque Bouge is a loft party going on in La Petite Italie @ studio Playmind. It’s gonna be lots of fun with DJs Alexis Bowles (Monsieur Musique), Fabien Loszach, Alex Paré, Heidy Pinet (ForgetTheBox), and Matteo Grondini. 6751A Boul Saint-Laurent (entre St-Zotique et Dante), 18$ at the door.

If you’ve got more suggestions just leave ’em in the comments below!

Last Saturday night Piranha Bar hosted Ker-Pow presents; Blood Money 2—a party organized by artists Stef Eerie and Angus Philip Byers. This event was a solid community art show filled with the bar’s usual tattooed crowd. A pretty good turn out, which made me smile because nothing makes me happier than seeing people showing love for their local artists. Everyone attending seemed to know each other, and had stories about the artists and artwork to exchange (such as the process involved in creating the testicle paintings—but we’ll get to that).

I rushed in from the train station after a trip to Toronto, and made my way down to the bar. I have been to Piranha Bar a few times before, where I have seen some pretty kick ass metal shows. As far as art goes, I am a frequent visitor to more institutional white cube gallery spaces. As much as I appreciate it, it tends to become a pretty cold and stuffy setting. I was totally looking forward to a change of scenery.

I paid the two dollar cover and was handed a raffle ticket. Prizes consisted of swag donated by sponsors such as Stomp Records and Sin City Tattoo and Piercing. The black and red walls of Piranha Bar were filled with paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and crafts alike. Everything was priced under $100, with the most notable price tag set at “a couple drinks”. Macabre pointillism, tattoo style illustrations, and whimsical photographs were lined up side by side.

After a quick chat with Angus Philip Byers, one of the organizers, I got a little more insight to the inspiration for the event. Ker-Pow’s goal for Blood Money 2 was to create a comfortable and relaxed environment that allowed contributors to display their work in an accessible context. The aim was to ‘divorce’ the art from the art gallery environment. Using the space of Piranha Bar allowed for the contributors to keep the full profit, which is a pretty rare occurrence. Steph and Angus approached many of the artists to contribute, but tried to keep a laid-back vibe to allow others to feel comfortable approaching them with submissions.

Working with the intention of trying to get art into people’s homes, many of the works came in multiples. Prints and originals were available, both extremely reasonable for the amount of craft put in by the artist.

Some beautiful and insanely detailed post-it note drawings (Stickynotesfromtheheart) and Star Trek Mount Rushmore were among my favourites. Which brings me back to the testicles. In the back corner near the some cool jewelry and leather masks, the wall was plastered with ball art. Cheeky watercolour paintings made with the artist’s dick and balls. Of course they left me giggling like a little girl. My friend later gave me the lowdown and the technique used to make them, but I will spare you that visual.

Ball art by Big James

All in all, keep your eyes out for future Ker-Pow events. Affordable art from talented locals, cool people, free swag and imprints of genitals are all pretty fantastic things if you ask me.

Slutdrive

SlutdriveLooking to get in trouble tonight? I think the answer to your party needs is to make your way to Divan Orange to catch Douce Angoisse and Slutdrive. Here’s an introduction to these two bands for those unfamiliar with them.

Douce Angoisse is an electro act coming from France. Well, it’s a little bit more complicated than that. The project started in France but Adeline, the front woman, was looking for a change of scene and soon packed her luggage to take London by storm. Unhappy after a couple of years, she decided it was time to move again and now lives in Montreal. The band changed a lot since arriving and I must say it’s for the best. She’s now playing with a very talented guitar player, Olivier Gourde, and a new drummer. With a slogan like “We’re all born in the same shit”, I can guarantee you that toilet paper rolls will be flying and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Adeline jump on the drum and make sure that everybody in the room is shaking their asses off. Check out some of her videos, she’s awesome!

http://youtu.be/jRVP72Ck7MA

I met Slutdrive at a loft party I was djing at last May. Everybody was encouraged to wear jeans short and it brought a crazy atmosphere to the event. If Douce Angoisse is the electro queen, let’s say that Slutdrive are the dirty punk rockers. Their live show is the best answer to a stressful end of semester. Not convinced yet? Have a listen to their bandcamp : http://slutdrive.bandcamp.com/

The show is taking place at Divan Orange tonight. It starts at 9pm and 8$ is all you need to see these wonderful bands. Remember, soon you’ll be stuck in doors with your family dealing with some Christmas drama. Get your dancing fix before it’s too late.

As part of my continuing “I’ve never…” series, I went dancing outdoors in below freezing temperatures at Igloofest!

Winter in Montreal is unforgiving, bipolar and frette en esti, which is Québecois speak for really freaking cold! I say the only way to get through it is by taking advantage of it as much as you can, in a “can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em!” sort of way. Shake off the hibernation and get outdoors. Though Montreal is a bustling metropolis, it also has spaces for playing outdoors. Go skating at Beaver Lake, the pond at the Lafontaine Park or in Old Montreal, cross-country skiing at Parc Maisonneuve, snowshoeing on Mount-Royal, winter running/hiking, whatever it is, just find something fun to do outdoors and play in the snow. So what, it’s winter? Get over it and deal. It may be a little killjoy of me to be yet another person writing and talking about Igloofest, but if you hate winter and you hate being outdoors, then I dare you to venture over at least once while you are in Montreal.

For the most part, electronic music is not my thing. I have attended my share of raves and after-hours once-upon-a-time. I’ve had my moments of lust with trance, drum&bass and dubstep. Every once in a while, I need to expense extra energy and freestylin’ my way to the dance floor is one easy way to do it, grooving to the sounds and getting lost in mesmerizing light shows. Igloofest is in it’s 6th edition, located in Old Montreal on the shores of the Saint-Laurent River, and though it has now come to an end, it shows no signs of melting away next winter. The event is brought to you by the same folks that put together Piknic Electronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau during the summer, in aims of democratizing electronic music. Politics aside, this is certainly a must try at least once in Montreal.

Layer on the long-johns under snow pants, thermal shirt under fleece under winter coat. Pile on the gloves, scarf, hat and winter boots. If you want to go the extra mile, raid your parents’ closet for that one-piece snowsuit you begged them to never wear again or hunt one down at a vintage second-hand shop. When the temperature drops way below zero, you definitely want to stay warm if you’re planning on spending a number of hours outside. Igloofest has unquestionably gained in popularity over the years, so you may end up waiting in line. Half an hour after shuffling along the entrance, I finally reached the threshold of ice sculpted bars, contained bonfires and light-shows glowing up the sky. All the while, my toes managed to achieve the preliminary stages of frostbite, and the night was just beginning.

First thought that came to mind was that I had to find a way to warm up, for fear of chickening out on winter and returning to the comfort of a heavy blanket and a movie. Everything feels better after some mulled wine. It was time to pick a stage and get dancing. Brightly coloured one-pieces, animal shaped tuques, all sorts of off-the-wall accoutrement are the norm and are amusing conversation pieces. “Did you see that guy wearing the furry bunny costume?” “Is she really wearing a mini-skirts without leggings?” “Let’s count the number of sombreros we spot in one night!” Visual commentary aside, discussions are limited to woot-woots and other monosyllabic expressions.

IgloofestAfter a couple drinks, jumping up and down and getting my feet moving, I managed to get the blood flowing back to the tip of my toes. Busting a move in the middle of a crowd certainly gets things heated up both inside and out. All senses are involved: the bright lights, the beats pounding, tingly sweetness on your tongue, the heat generating between your fleece and your skin, crisp air on your cheeks, the scent of cold air filling your lungs. Everything beckons you to get lost in the ambiance, let loose and tear-up the frozen dance floor.

Even if it is only once in an icy blue moon, Igloofest is part of living life in Montreal. At the end of the day, I am still a rocker-chick at heart, but for now, back to the game: I’ve never ridden my toes of frostbite while dancing at Igloofest… throw back a shot of Jäger.

Every city has something to offer and Montreal is of course no exception. I have been living in Montreal for over a decade now; I originally moved here for school and stayed to work. In those first inaugural years here, many precious hours were spent experimenting my near-adulthood and basking in the late-night buzz of drinking games. Embarrassing yourself and others, and not really giving a shit about it.

Remember those days? Me too, barely at times. “I’ve Never..” was the drinking game friends and I returned to regularly (and Quarters – I was a pro!). Through it we all caught-up on missed experiences and not-so-innocently compared notes. The rules are simple: if you’ve done it you take a drink. There are a number of things that I’ve done. I have surfed my way to the front stage at punk shows, drunkenly scarfed down a poutine at 4am, ran up the Mount-Royal, lazed on its grass feeling the beat of the tam-tams under the warmth of the summer sun. I have seen (most of) Montreal’s museums, attended (some of) its festivals, but experienced only a fraction of all that Montreal has to offer. There is nothing like a hot bagel from St-Viateur or Fairmount after grabbing a latté at Café Olympico on a warm fall day. There is a bustling energy throughout the city in the spring when the bar terraces first open up, all the hemlines skyrocket and you linger sipping on that first sangria, urging on the heat of the months to come.

Montreal wouldn’t be what it is without its winters, every year marked by the mornings-after of heavy snowfall, the entire city temporarily immobilized under a white blanket, flawless until the morning rush settles into its winter routine. I have come a long way from my first days in the McGill ghetto, just barely venturing past the student “safe zone” of what was the St-Laurent, Guy, Mont-Royal and Saint-Catherine’s perimeter.

Finally, curiosity got the better of me (as it often does) and I slowly started discovering this city’s various eclectic boroughs. I’ve tried the famous hot spots and also accumulated a personalized list of favorites – for no other reason than the memories they ignite. There are those things that are typically Montreal that you must experience at least once, especially if you have lived here as long as I have. There are the Montreal essentials that you can’t miss, some that I’ve mentioned others to come, but others that may not be as obvious. To fully grasp a city it is all about trying things that are not necessarily your cup of tea, but need to be lived at least once.

Whether you are passing through, staying a while or settling down, break out of your own skin and truly see what experiences this city has to offer. If the world truly does end on December 21, 2012, that means that I have less than 49 weeks to let loose and scratch off all those things of my list and truly experience living in Montreal. No more coasting through this city’s day-to-day, week on end. This year I am replaying the “I’ve Never…” game but taking it to a whole other level. If I am going to start calling myself a Montrealer, then let’s make it official shall we? Over the course of this year I’ll be experiencing all the things that make Montreal, Montreal! And I’ll be sharing my experiences here, with you.

 

My first item on the list is Igloofest, happening the last three weekends of January on the Quay of Old Montreal, offering 9 nights of performances by various artists of the electronic scene. I’m thinking this sounds like a rave in a winter-wonderland, glow-sticks and furry boots included. Now, all I need to find is one-piece snow suit…

Dust off your whip and polish up the latex: that’s right, it’s Montreal Fetish Weekend. To commemorate its 7th edition, this year’s theme is the Seven Nights, Seven Sins. Photographer Chris Zacchia and I will see how many we can commit as we pop our Fetish Weekend cherries and explore the darker side of human sensuality.

Having never been to any large-scale fetish event, I’m not entirely sure what to expect. The website is laden with glossy images of sexy men and women in sleek, intriguing costumes. Despite losing almost 95% of their sponsorship from donors and supporters that were hit hard by the global financial crisis, the festival keeps growing from year to year. And ticket sales are up for this year’s edition again!

The weekend kicks off with a night of sultry opulence and fetish fashion, the Kabaret Kink at L’Olympia Theater (1004 Ste-Catherine East). The cabaret-style fashion show will feature over 40 performers and models showcasing designs by local up-and-comers and international icons, set against the elegant backdrop of a gilded 1930s theatre. Watch for my review next week!

Saturday night, Olympia again plays host to Latextacy, a fetish fantasy ball with an emphasis on avant-garde fashion. And if you’re not completely fetished out by Sunday, there’s the Night of Masks, which is being billed as a sensual Victorian masked ball. All three events have fetish dress codes that include the likes of leather, latex, PVC, cosplay, Gothic, glam, lingerie, etc.

And it’s not all just corsets and galas either. On Saturday and and Sunday, there’s a vast array of workshops as well as the Expo Kink, which features local and international designers at the Hotel des Gouvenors, 1415 St-Hubert Street.

On Sunday afternoon, Infringement Festival co-founder Donovan King and burlesque performer Velma Candyass will give a walking tour of hot spots from the city’s former Red Light District. This will be their third time this year leading the tour that examines the Red Light District from both a historical and contemporary perspective, touching on the impact of gentrification, police brutality and corporate attempts to rebrand the area as the “Quartier des Spectacles”.

I’m very interested to revisit the dirty glory of sin-city era Montreal and learn more about the last few remaining institutions including Café Cleopatre, host of the monthly “Club Sin” fetish events. It starts at noon at Bar le Midway, 1219 Saint-Laurent, and lasts for 90 minutes. To reserve a spot, email optatif@gmail.com. The cost is $10.

In an attempt to open the weekend up to a wider audience, this year’s Festival Weekend also includes a variety of free events, including an afternoon of fetish bowling and pool at Sharx (1606 Ste-Catherine West), and an exhibitionist walking tour on Sunday afternoon. Tour guides Tanis and Stephane will parade the group of fetish-clad freaks and foxy femmes past some of the best photo hot spots in old Montreal. It leaves at 2pm from the Hotel Gouvenors, and fetish wear is compulsory… unless you want to hang about ten feet back of the group to watch the reactions of the tourists.

For more information on any of these events, or to purchase tickets, visit http://fetishweekend.com/.