Black & Blue 2009 at the Palais de Congres and not at the Olympic Stadium, should I go? Or should I go to Stereo instead? Or just take it easy and stay home?
When you have friends coming over from New York City, just to be in Montreal for the B&B, it was clear there was no reason why I wouldn’t go eh? There was just a small problem, due to some scheduling issues I was required to be at work by 7:00am on Monday morning, which meant I would only able to dance to the tunes of Franco Fabi, Sasha and John Digweed, but I’m sure Dave Seaman and Stéfane Lippé were going to forgive me for missing their sets, the question was would I forgive myself for missing them?
11:00pm and I was at the door, picking up my media pass, and I must say I was treated as royalty by the volunteers working at the reception. They even walked me upstairs to show me around, and the girl was actually surprised I was media but I was not carrying a camera like the others before me.
Quick security check, and welcome to Bal en Blanc 2009, which due to the recession was scaled down to fit in one room of the Convention Center, unlike the two rooms people are used to see for the Bal en Blanc. There was nothing special about the décor, looking from the entrance you barely noticed the DJ booth, which was located at the right hand side of the room, but you did notice a major stage at the end, with a giant screen behind. At first the lights (single bulbs) hanging from the ceiling looked like something you would see in an outdoor Italian festival or something in the style. Then with time, the lights started to looked more like light up microchips, and at the end I actually liked what they had done with the lights, not overpowering the rest of the almost inexistent décor.
The DJ booth was simple, almost as if the idea was not to have the booth as the center of the party, which is fine with me, but I’m sure the equipment up there were good, at the least the music sounded great, specially in a big space not built for good acoustic like the convention center.
If I’m not mistaken, there were 4 small stages in the middle of the crowd, were people could come up and dance, and were also used during the evening for the min shows created for the night. I actually like those mini stages, it gives a different feeling to the party when you have the crowd dancing on them. Someone once told me, in some massive parties the organizers don’t allow this to happen due to liability issues.
Air Canada was very present all over the place, having a special lounge area at the end of the room, next to the main stage, which let me tell you it got super busy with the passing hours. I cannot talk about the bathroom situation in the general area because I did not follow the people upstairs, but I don’t think it was an issue this year.
It was nice to have access to the VIP area, but not really sure if it was really necessary. It was nice to have an area to sit down, but the Air Canada lounge looked nicer, and it was handy to have snacks through out the evening, great guacamole by the way, but other than that, didn’t find anything special about this specific area.
Franco Fabi played progressive electro, with some vocal house added in the mix, which I think went okay as a warm up for Sasha and Digweed, and I actually enjoyed his set, I only think his set should had ended right before the first show. Lot of people, including me, thought that’s when the next DJ was going to take over, but after looking at my watch I realized we had to keep waiting for them a little bit longer.
Finally the expected duo of the night was announced, Sasha and Digweed, and I was told to expect a gradual built up in the music, and that was exactly what happened. Out of the two, my favourite was Digweed, he played exactly what I wanted to hear, a hard sexy proggy, with minimal influences, and splashed with nice techy tunes, which progressively got better and better. Sasha on the other had, which I expected to be better than Digweed, went a little crazy by the end of his set. I also liked the fact those two gave even some diva-tribalish type of music to the crowd, I guess you can’t go wrong in dropping some of those tunes to this crowd eh?
Can’t talk about what Dave Seaman and Stéfane Lippé did because I was no longer in the premises of the building, but my understanding is that Dave Seaman might had stolen the show, and that Stéfane Lippé was actually able to keep up the energy.
The crowd was interesting, much more diverse that previous years, and there were less customs as well, but there was no lack of beautiful people, both men and women. In general it was a nice vibe all along, even coming from those that were not enjoying the music because it was not their expect Black & Blue music style.
You must have noticed that in the last 2 editions of the Black & Blue, there was a tendency of introducing a type of music that usually is not associated with gay events (non diva, non vocal, not too happy), and this year is probably the first in which musical talented invited is totally concentrated in the “straight” side of the business. Yes, I understand there are some people that don’t like to label music as being gay or straight, but the reality is that there is still that divide, which I hope will keep blending more and more into one. I applaud the BBCM for taking a risk in moving their event into new directions, and I just hope their crowd is able to understand and follow their new vision, otherwise I can see the House Room at the Bal en Blanc becoming bigger and bigger. Just make sure to add some décor next year okay BBCM?
Overall, I had a good time, and did what I do when I go to a party, I danced. The event did not leave with a wow in my mind, neither inspired me to say great things about it, but I enjoyed it, and for the looks, there were another couple of thousand people that thought the same, and it was nice to see many first timers this year.