Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Montreal Shenanigans

So I hate retelling stories multiple times to different people. Also, I never know who actually wants to hear about my travels and who is just too polite to tell me to shut up hence this blog post. Long story short, I went to Montreal this past weekend with 3 of my friends. Sarah, Paige, and Phil went with specific plans to go to Piknic Electronik and Arcade Fire, while I went mostly because I LOOOOOOOOVE Montreal and I rarely get to go. Let me start off by saying that in my opinion Montreal is by far the most fun place one can easily drive to from Boston. Don't get me wrong, I love going to NYC, but to be honest I'd pick Montreal over NYC any day. I'll try to explain why as I go.

We made a brief stop in Burlington, VT for lunch, beers, and a bit of oceanic scenery. 
Paige and Phil unknowingly posing for a Hallmark card
 Cute town, lots of good-looking dudes :) but after a quick meal and a hang it was allons y to Montreal.

I was lodging separately from the rest of the crew. I ended up getting a room right on St. Denis - prob one of the more lively streets in Latin Quarter. I met my awesome host Dominic (more about him later) and was off exploring St. Catherine Street. I set out with a distinct objective to NOT buy everything I see. The problem with Montreal you see is the abundance of really awesome clothing and shoe stores. I managed to dodge a bullet at the Tibetan and Nepalese clothing store. Items procured at that place have magical powers on hippies and psytrance kids. If I wear one of their patchwork jackets to a gathering of some sort, moments later I am usually followed by a flock of dreaded kids who have imprinted on that jacket like a bunch of baby ducks. Luckily I was able to resist getting any new hippie bait this time. I did some brief recon, snatched a pair of pants from Jacob that I did need and a dress from Le Chateau that def didn't need, and found a shoe store that I vowed to come back to next day because it was closed, but it looked like it had a bunch of cool stuff in it.
At this point the rest of my crew informed me that they wanted to chillax in their neighborhood, so I was left to my own devices. I stumbled upon an outdoor movie showing in Place Des Arts. 
It was pretty amazing. They were showing this movie in the middle of the city and all I kept thinking was "this would never fly in the US." Someone would complain that this content is too offensive for the general public, that their kid is now traumatized for life because Bruce Willis said "oral pleasure", etc etc. I mean seriously, you can't show this to people in the US without first making them sign some sort of a waiver. And here it was, all out in the open for everyone to see and no one was having convulsions over it. Amazing... This feeling of "this'll never fly/happen/be allowed back home" is probably the most common emotion one feels when in Montreal. 

I finished the evening at a little club called Le Bleury and caught a pretty amazing set by DJ Sprinkles. Unfortunately the place didn't have AC and when 200 people dance in a little room for a few hours, it can get a bit intense. I left around 1:30 or so and came home to find my street Rue St. Denis to be in full party mode. My apartment had a roof deck with a hammock and I passed out for a bit in it to the thumping beats of Jump Around from some downstairs bar. 

I started the next day with more exploring. Stumbled upon some cool graffiti 

got weirdly artistic with some church and clouds...

found a very Canadian building 

and proof that conspiracy theories know no international boundaries.

Perhaps my favorite piece of street art was this awesome maze they built in Gay Village.

It's illuminated at night with different pics on different walls. 

I then revisited the shoe store I mentioned earlier. It's called Berti and it was worth every second of my time. I walked in and was immediately drawn to one shelf in particular that featured boots of some of the most original designs I've ever seen. The owner of the store an Italian gentleman named Philippo came and asked me quietly "Do you know what samples are?" My heart fluttered and I whispered "Yes". "Good, then you know I only have all of these in one size - 37 (US 7)" If you don't know what samples are, let me explain. A shoe designer will often times make models of shoes that for whatever reason don't go into mass production. They are used at shows and other industry related situations. They are always in women's size 7 and men's size 9 or 10, and they are one of a kind. The boots in this store in particular were from AS 98 - a company that made boots for Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Every one of then was like a piece of art. As I admired the boots, the owner focused his attention on me more and more finally ignoring all other customers. He complained to me how nobody likes interesting hand-made shoes anymore and how everyone wants Michael Kors with a "made in china" stamp for $700. I said I didn't want Michael Kors and that I'd take pirate boots over Michael Kors any day. At this point I am sitting on a bench all Cinderella-like and the dude is on his knees lacing up my boots completely ignoring everyone else in the store. "Excuse me Sir. I'd like to buy these shoes" exclaims some lady. "Well, so? Do you expect me to drop everything for you?" scoffed my Italian friend. This whole experience was turning into a farce. My Boston crew finally joins me as I am paying for my boots. It didn't take much persuasion on my part but the two ladies I was traveling with ended up buying boots as well. Philippo and I parted as friends, and I can't wait to come back. 
The Three Musketeers
Later that night we ventured out to a party called Piknic Electronik on an island one subway stop away from Rue St. Denis. Imagine a set up similar to Flux or DOTC but much much bigger. Again, my friends and I have mentioned more than once throughout the night "no way this would be allowed back home". I think this one of the things I like most about being in Montreal - the general laid-back atmosphere when it comes to partying. It's an amazingly refreshing and foreign feeling to us who are now constantly subjected to body and property searches when entering a concert. I guess, according to locals this mellow attitude is something that one sees in Quebec more so than in other Canadian provinces. Well, whatever it is, I love it! Despite the lack of security, Piknic had an amazingly well-behaved crowd. People were drinking and partying but somehow everything was done with some degree of healthy moderation. Everyone had fun, but no one was raging. This is DESPITE the fact that they were selling alcohol there by the buckets. Literally!
In the middle there is an already empty bucket of mystery booze punch.
I called it a "Bucket of Bad Decisions" although in retrospect I made none.

Also, hats off to Canadian dudes for not preying on women at these events. Everyone was friendly, but no one was being a creep. Add to this another weird phenomenon. When you look at the crowd at Piknic, I swear it's like they shook Montreal, and the 10% most attractive people ended up at this party. The music was excellent! We were particularly excited to hear a set from Jamie xx and we weren't disappointed. He started and finished his set with disco and played pretty much every genre in between.
My friends had tickets to Arcade Fire later that night on the same island, but I ended up going back to Montreal to hang out with my airbnb host Dominic and his friends. We had drinks on the rooftop and chatted. Dominic is a stage actor, so he and I talked about Russian theater a bunch. When the Boston crew was too wiped out to party more after Arcade Fire, Dominic invited me to tag along with him and his friends instead. We went to a club called Apollon in Gay Village and it was an absolute blast! The sound system was banging, they played good deep house all night. I think between Piknic and this club I danced for 7-8 hours that day.

In the morning, I had enough time to run out and buy a bunch of pastries to bring home to my family. If I manage to sell this awesome dress that I bought at Le Chateaux but definitely don't need, i'll be ecstatic. Hit me up if you want it :) (size 2-4).
Montreal Stats:
Music +++++
Art +++++
Shopping ++++
Fun +++++

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