Date: Wed Oct 16, 2002 2:25 pm
Subject: Black and Blue and those Canadiens
Whoa, what a week. First of all, contrary to rumors, the Gestapo never showed. Or maybe it just seemed that way, relative to our experiences here in Gotham.
We got into Montreal on Thursday evening and checked into our swell hotel, Hotel St. Paul, on 355 McGill, which we would heartily recommend to anyone interested in a beautiful Beaux-Arts building redone in a style to suit the modern world's way of life. Check out the website (www.hotelstpaul.com) Our room was spacious and
streamlined and the bed was exemplary, which proved to be key for a week like this. There's a lovely restaurant on the ground floor called Cube, and a bar-lounge called BarCru, and the atmosphere in all the public areas was very Ian Schrager/Royalton/Delano/YouKnow. It worked for us, the entire five nights.
Hotel St.Paul was a refuge from some of the seedier aspects of Montreal. As Ed Childs said, the town is a bit run-down, and in constant disarray due to construction/renovation, and St. Catherine Est is particularly iffy in places, though not threatening if you happen to be an inhabitant of New York. We headed to the Gouverneur and picked up our passes. The Welcome Center was not nearly as social as the welcome centers in South Beach where you can count on cocktails and music and boys scouting, but it was well-run and our passes were handed over with smiles.
Smiles. That's what this town has in spades. In all our years of traveling, I don't think we have ever encountered such a plethora of friendly people. Not once in our five days there did we experience any of the nastiness which can punctuate the checkout lines here in Manhattan. Not once. Nothing but smiles. These people are happy, even if the weather is cold. Maybe it's because they have to sleep with another person so often, body to body, to keep warm, and maybe that makes them warmer overall. Whatever, it works for us.
So we headed over to Stereo for the Jock Ball. Hmmm. Talk about need of renovation. The club was closer to a YMCA, or maybe a high school gymnasium. Well, whatever. We fixated on the smiles. But here's an odd thing. We get through security, and then, not ten feet away, on the stairs leading to the floor, are three boys selling
whatever we needed/wanted. And later, we see the very security people who patted us down chatting up the dealers. Well, how cooperative it all seemed.
Anyway, we dance for a while and it's a kind of low-energy evening, in some ways, but there is this one BBCM dancer who totally gets the groove and he's on a box and he works for us and he gets us in shape. It's good to have a leader.
We leave around 4 a.m. and try to find papers on the way home, amidst all the detritus which litters the streets the further west we walk on St. Catherine. Yes, very much like the old Times Square around here... Phone call to Disney?
We walk the river, our one venture away from GayVille. We walk Sherbrooke Street, which Ed Childs might have liked because it was a plus more upscale. Holt Renfrew the department store which is kind of like Louis in Boston or Wilkes in SF. The Ritz-Carlton and McGill University. Very British, in a way. Lovely to see. We stopped and
sent flowers to our hotel room so the concierge we adored would be impressed and think we were really rock stars.
We're not exactly leather boys, but just the same, we wanted to hear Escape. He's such a sweetheart. His joy so infectious. His smile so contagious. Who could resist? And yes, he did play Dark Beats about six times or maybe a hundred, but it reminded me of the way Larry Levan used to play things over and over at the Garage (not that
I ever heard him live, just hearsay, you know.......)
We got there just in time for the show which was done to Bohemian Rhapsody and it was kind of intense weird and perfect for this strangely wonderful club called Medley. Think of a fur trappers' lodge crossed with an Elks Club with maybe an Oddfellow thrown in. Lots of wood and a balcony which circled the floor and a dark wood
painted ceiling and creaky staircases and the usual body painters and boot lackeys and spit polishing and such. And all of it done with good humor and lightness. It wasn't a dark party. These people were all dressed in leather, but I wouldn't have been surprised to hear them trading recipes.
At one point, there was this huge Alien-like creature wheeled into the center of the floor and it was on this kind of hydraulic pump which kept this apparition undulating up and down and back and forth and all in this black cloud of materials and horns and pipes and strangeness which was finally stripped off to reveal a sort of acrobat who swung around. It got me. I couldn't keep my eyes off whatever it was.
And Escape worked for us. He was fun to watch, and he made the night fun, and we didn't leave the place until after five a.m.
We wandered Gay Ville like good gays. We patronized the clothes stores and the restaurants. This section of St. Catherine Est is nicer, natch, than the section directly to the west. All the boys were out, everyone shopping and jabbering. The energy was nice, a sense of anticipation in the air.
As Ed Childs said, it's a big club, and also in need of a bit of freshening up. Think of Level in South Beach. A big theatre, stripped of its balcony seats. It also reminded us of the Roman Senate. We overheard a boy on his cell on the way upstairs, screaming into the phone, probably to his sleeping boyfriend, "It's only the biggest party of the year."
And it was. It was THE PARTY of the week. The next night was THE EVENT, but this was THE PARTY. It reminded us of Manny playing at Level two years ago for Winter Party. The boys were there for him, but we loved Gilles as much. The floor was packed, everyone shirtless, and sweating. So sweaty. The floor was slippery with
sweat. You could slide on the sweat. It was deliriously wet. It was futile to resist. There was so much going on. Upstairs, the balconies were packed, ring after ring of boys. Downstairs, hardly an inch to move, least of all on the floor. Manny played to them all, and they loved every bit of it.
Narcotic Thrust, or maybe just the lead singer, came on and sang Safe From Harm and, predictably, everyone sang along. Well, why not? It was the song of the week, you could tell already, and the subtext is all about being there for each other, blah blah, so it fit with the Humanity theme, and it worked. So why not sing along?
We loved this party, mostly because of its intensity. The energy was overwhelming, no holding back EXCEPT from overdosing. It was a wild crowd, but one without fall-outs/overdoses. Everyone was happy. Those smiles. And though the floor was packed, shoulders and elbows weren't jammed into your back.
THE MAIN EVENT/BLACK AND BLUE:
Okay, so we've never really liked stadium events. So we had minimal expectations, thinking that maybe the dance floor would be concrete or else too vast or the sound dreadful or no sense of community fostered.
Wrong. We were so wrong. We took the Metro around 12:15 a.m., because our adorable concierge said it was the best thing to do, and good thing. The metro takes you right into the stadium, and there were droves of people there. But the VIP line moved quickly, and the coat check was relatively easy, and then security, which was much
less invasive than at Exit, and then, a long dimly lit blue hall and then down a staircase and there, across the stadium, like a carnival rolled into town for the night, there it was: Black and Blue.
Like a midway, with massage parlors and concession stands and souvenir stands and energy drinks and bars and bleachers all around, in a six-sided ring, and a stage in the center, and a track overhead, the likes of which looked as it if would support a subway, and a stage at the front, and the VIP area right behind the deejay, and it
was Tracy still playing, and we sat in the bleachers, at the top, and just tried to soak it all in.
The dance floor was packed, glow sticks bobbing and God, there was so much going on. Where to look, what to do, what to see?
And then, right at 1:30, this big platform starts moving through the crowd and there are these war-torn dancers on platforms and high above the floor, and there's the Red Queen on the platform moving slowly toward the center, singing, "I Want You to Get It Together" and all the screens around the floor are showing the world's peoples,
all kinds of people, and then the Buddha comes across the ceiling, on the subway track, in a huge cage, and he's just sitting there, and the Red Queen is waiting for him and the war-torn dancers are writhing and the place, the whole place, is going fucking crazy. I mean, crazy. It was so intense, so wild, and maybe I was just peaking, but I don't think so.
It went on for twenty minutes. This one production number, it was like a twenty-minute orgasm, and when it was finally finished, the two of us looked at each other like, What the fuck. My God. So now we knew. So now we knew what the night was going to be like.
And it was. We were there until ten a.m. This is unheard of for us. We never stay more than four or maybe five hours. Eight hours? Nine hours? No way. But we couldn't tear ourselves away from the music. And it was just as Josh had said: so much new music and just what we wanted/needed because, for me, I don't want to dance to what
I've danced to before. I want to feel something new within me, and let that newness take me away.
Those production numbers, they just kept coming. Angels in white, angels above the floor, one, then two, then another two, all of them about eighty feet high and then the sun rising from the floor. And then realizing that the angels were moons.
And then we were in the VIP area and Escape was there and so of course, chat chat chat. Love you, love you, blah blah. And there was so much food, if you wanted. And Paulette was sexy dominatrix in black leather and her beat worked me over. And also Superchumbo, and Irresistible was definitely the song. And then Mark Anthony and he
was ear to the boards and mix mix mix.
And the whole time, the floor stayed packed. We danced atop the bleachers, fixated on the pulsing organism which was the crowd. God, what incredible energy.
And again, we saw no people in distress. And all the people we talked to were so friendly, so happy. So many straight people, just happy to be there, dancing. And it wasn't about being gay, or straight, it was just about being together for the night, and celebrating our commonalities, and not freaking about our differences.
It was a joy.
Yeah, it took a while to determine whether or not we needed/wanted to go to this party. Again, at Metropolis, did we really need to do it? After the highs of the night/day before?
But, of course, we went. Dutiful circuit queens. Yet again. Back on the street, into the club. Yeah, we're here again. And it was fine. Maybe even good. It was good to see how the energy had changed from two nights before. How the crowd had come down a bit. How we were all in the same boat. How much fun the week had been, and how it was now about learning to let it go.
So we danced to James Anderson, and he got a groove working, and Suzanne did the Show Me thing, which kept that song in our minds, all the way home yesterday.
Montreal has wonderful energy. It's a town without hustle, which, as New Yorkers, we could appreciate. How pleasant to be in a place where everyone wasn't working you over. How nice to see so many farm-fresh boys, smiling and happy.
I can't say we ate the best food, but sometimes it was enough just to be surrounded by such pleasant people. And whenever we said we were from New York, there was such empathy for what had happened here last year, and their compassion was so genuine that it was almost painful. "Oh, New York," one cabbie said. "A terrible thing
happened there last year."
Yes, we know. But this week was about celebrating our humanity and all the things that bond us to other human beings.
BBCM did an exemplary job at making us aware of all the good that exists in the world -- and how you can still find reasons to dance.
Loved it. Anyone who goes again will too.
Mark and Robert
From: "Timothy B"
Date: Wed Oct 16, 2002 8:13 pm
Subject: Black & Blew all over ;)
I made the trip to Montreal because I have heard so many great things about the BBCM production style and the lineup of dj's appealed to me.. I was really looking forward to seeing Tom Stephan play. Not only is he a major babe, more importantly he plays the tribal music that I like. He did not disapoint. The high point of the Main Event was when I looked up to see five angelic creatures floating above the crowd on that huge crane structure that moved across the throngs of people. People reaching towards the angels and the roof as the light got brighter and the word's "You bring light in, to a dark place..." were coming out of the sound system from Tom playing King Unique's remix of Underworld's single 'Two Months's Off'. Brilliant!! With all the fear and violence and darkness the world has experienced over the past few years, that moment just rang
really true for me.. Also appreciated whomever it was that was drumming along to the music. Hmm maybe next year I will bring my drums and drag a bunch of my Radical Faerie freinds along to see what they have been missing.. Looked for the chillout area which supposedly had a separate dj Charles Poulin, but all they had set up was a section of bleachers in the main stadium.. =( Also, next year, I recommend a bigger dance floor, as they only used about one third of the entire main floor. While I don't mind being molested on the dance floor :P at times there was not enough room to dance.. All in all though, I had a blast and look forward to next year..!