Nuit Blanche: Art Imitating Life

I want to meet the person who has somehow pulled off the perfect Nuit Blanche and shake their hand—it might be the closest I’ll ever get to meeting a real live unicorn.

That elusive individual who managed somehow to hit up all of the events that piqued their interest, had their mind blown by beautiful art, who didn’t have to wait in line for hours, inside and outside, too hot, too cold, harassed by shuffling crowds.

This person put enough booze in their thermos to never pay for any drinks and kept the feeling going all night long until daybreak, when they met up with their still-going friends and regaled their spectacular art-filled evening over waffles.

I’ve been to a handful of Nuit Blanche festivals in my time and none of them have ever gone so swimmingly. This one started with a palmful of friends, huddled around a fire at the Planetarium, shivering and watching penguins, and ended with a surprise jam session on a bus home at no less than four in the morning (despite my ambitions to make it to waffles at the crack of dawn).

Nuit Blanche 2014 boasted over 200 events city-wide, and yet every single one I hit up was packed to the rafters. The penguin exhibit at the Biodome was overcrowded, Place-Des-Arts was a veritable madhouse full of people, and I was denied the opportunity to ride my first ever ferris wheel after waiting in line for an hour because it was snowing too hard to operate anymore. It was disappointing because I’m pretty sure they say you’re never quite the same following your first go on a ferris wheel.

Traversing the snow blown streets of our fair city, my friends and I, an ever changing amoeba of people coming and going, crash landed in a joint on St. Laurent for some middle of the evening grub. We hit up karaoke for an hour, and finally made it to the Art Demolition at Theatre St. Catherine at 3 a.m., one of the few plans we actually saw through to success. This was followed by hunting for ice sculptures which we never actually ended up finding before calling it a night.

Almost nothing went the way I expected it to, and you know what? I’m here thinking that’s kind of the beauty of it all. Nuit Blanche itself kind of hinges on the element of madness. It’s held in the middle of the winter, from dusk to dawn, and banks on the idea that people want to get out of their houses, to do things they have never done and see things they’ve never seen. That they want to be out of doors all night. Crazy, right?

You can turn a corner and see a gigantic projection of someone’s face up on a wall, or walk into a bar and be suddenly immersed in a costume party that looks like it’s being thrown by Gwar. You can find yourself in the back of a karaoke bar belting out Blink-182 with the people on stage, and the next minute, be out on the prowl for poutine.

Nothing went right, but nothing went wrong, and all things considered this was the best White Night I’ve ever had. Because if nothing else, I was afforded the chance to spend a night out of doors, kicking around in the streets, seeing the sights, the lights and spending it with my friends. We made an event of it and had a good time, even when things went off track, taking the ever-changing plans in stride.

From this I can only surmise that Nuit Blanche is art imitating life—it’s unexpected and it can be antagonizing, but you see amazing things and you adapt and you carry on.

If I had any advice for next year’s Nuit Blanche attendees (excluding those unicorns out there) it would be to dress warm, pick one or two things you really want to see, and then after that, just see where the night takes you. Don’t expect anything, or everything; you must let yourself get swept up in the madness.

Also, if you’re looking for something to change your life, don’t put your bets on the ferris wheel.

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