Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bal en Blanc 13 @ Palais des congrès de Montréal - April 8, 2007

Review posted originally at

Disclaimer: this is how I spent my Sunday/Monday.

Super Heroes are always needed in the cities, and once in a while someone comes up with an idea, in which the “League of the Justice” is invited to party in Montreal. In order to celebrate the purity of their actions combined with the Easter long weekend, white is the colour of choice, and the rest is all in your imagination.

Montreal is known as a party place in North America, and perhaps the city [read city officials] has decided that it may want to shred somehow this image. Due to incident that occurred at a well known Afterhours, in the weekend previous to the Bal en Blanc, I decide it was in my best interest to arrive early to the Convention Center. I couldn't see the Fire Marshals shutting down this party, but anything else was a possibility.

It was around 10:30pm when I made it - quick process - to the middle ground of the good and evil, between House and Trance. It didn't take me long to realize which room was which. To the left House and to the right Trance, and I was surprised to see how many more people were already in the Trance room compared to the House one. Looked briefly to the jumping people in trance, and moved on to the left, to my new house for the next 12 hours, my new big home away from home.

My second surprise of the night, “what was that big area, walled by giant curtains painted with figures of my super heroes, doing right in the middle of the dance floor?”. Had the Bal en Blanc people decided to put more emphasis in the jumping side of the party? Or where they planning something bigger later on in the night? Regardless of what they were planning, it took some space and connectivity off the people in the House room.

Looked around and beside the walled area, which was making me mad by the minute, you could see more giant hero figures placed in the walls of the convention center. If you looked closely, it was like you were looking at the symbolic representation of Metropolis and Gotham city combined in one.

Before I continue, please remember I'm not a professional music critic, I'm far away from it, I'm just someone that loves music, enjoy dancing, and like to share my experiences with you. Today there are so many electronic music genres, that it is getting harder to correctly identify what I have just heard, I will try my best, but please forgive me if I make a mistake.

Cesar “Bass” Romero was in the decks, spinning some house beats, and warming up the crowd for what was to come. To tell you the truth, I would lie if I said I paid too much attention to his set. I used this time to find my way around “toilets are over here”, “just saw some friends near the balloons”, “want to be friends with those over there”, “evil section at the other end of the room”, “VIP section here, there, and that over there is for the Ultra-VIP people, unless the security person was too busy discussing with a no so VIP individual and overlooked my casual entrance to the area”. Nevertheless the party had started and Bal en Blanc of the Heroes was already in full swing. Romero noticed 3 percussionists in the dance floor, and momentarily followed the tunes of their bongos. It was cute at the beginning, but later on those guys got in my nerves.

Moving forward, and it was a little bit passed midnight when Stephan Grondin decided to take us under his wings, and direct us into a new powerful sexy tribal trip to the unknown. Right from the beginning, he made us move with his hard and enjoyable music. I don't know how many times I've danced under his command, and one thing I will say, I always expect more from him, and he almost never fails me. Tribal with vocals, vocals with Tribal, dark and happy music. I probably won't make sense to many of you; I know I was home, but Grondin really made me feel I was at home.

The place had already started to fill up, not just in front of the stage, but also in the sidelines of the walled rectangular area, and behind it. Many times I found myself strategically standing somewhere, and just admiring the view of gorgeous bodies of both men and women. Some people had really gone out of the way to create their white costumes, some matching their exquisite body features, and other just showing their best assets. Then Grondin would start playing a classic song, snapping my eyes and thoughts back to the dance floor, making my body move until another excellent DNA combination would walk right in front of me.

Shameful that Grondin was only asked to spin for 2 hours, he deserved more, actually we deserved more time with him, even if it meant to reduce the number of DJs by one from the official line up. By this time, I was ready to uncover the rectangular stage by myself, I didn't do it because a friend reassured me the curtains would eventually be brought down.

Usually in events of this magnitude, one of the problems is to walk from one side to the other, without disturbing too many people. Somehow two invisible single lines were created in front of the stage, one moving from right to left, and the other from left to right, and it worked pretty well for most of the time. As long as people stayed in the invisible path, they didn't get smacked in the head, or stepped on by the sexy and crazy dancers, and if they were, they usually got the “…sorry …excusé…” followed by a smile. Many times I found myself right in the middle of those lines, and as far as I remember, nobody got injured by my moves.

I had just returned from my little house tour, when Peter Rauhofer took charge of the night. Always so concentrated and focused in what he does, sometimes it feels as if he doesn't even look at the crowd, but secretly he knows how to talk to his people. To be honest, I wasn't expecting too much from Rauhofer, I used to love his style, but at one point in time, I felt as if his sets had become predictable and dare I say, not too much excitement.

He proved me wrong at the Bal en Blanc, the transition from Grondin was very smooth, and then he started to drop some dark deep beats. Very intense and moving sounds, even explosive sometimes. Loved the anthems, the vocals, and the fact he surprised me with this new language of his.

The combination of music, the lights show, and the vibe of the crowd was enough to make you smile, and I kept telling myself there was no other place I wanted to be but there. Thought about my friends that decided not to come, but then I looked around and seeing some many beautiful people dressed in white, that was an incredible feeling, I felt a rush of energy,

I ventured to the VIP area, which never got overcrowded, there was always enough space to dance. Looking at the crowd from behind the DJ is very uplifting, a sea of white moving in waves, but I have to say, it is even more uplifting to be in the middle of the ocean, so back to the dance floor I went.

It was past 4:30am when I finally realized Offer Nissim was already set in the decks, and the rectangular area in the middle of the dance floor had been uncovered. This is when they announced Maya, and the crowd when wild. Amazing voice this woman has, unfortunately I cannot say the same about the skipping track that was used at the beginning of her performance. It happened a couple times, then I turned around to look at Offer Nissim, and this is when he was gesturing to Maya to stop singing, and stop she did. Nevertheless, she put herself together, and started to sing again. I think she spent almost half an hour in the stage, being “Alone“ my favourite part.

Maya finished her singing and Offer Nissim lifted up his hands, red spot lights on them, and this is when he began his theatrical diva performance. What a contrast between Rauhofer and Nissim, one project this quite and almost shy image, while the other wants the attention of the whole world.

Although Nissim didn't play anything that pushed the boundaries of the party, and most of the remixes used are well known by the house community, this guy knows how to move his dancers. The display of energy was unbelievable, and he brought out all the divas to help him out. I love vocals and he gave me enough to last for the whole night. After a while I wished he concentrated more in his mixing than lifting his hands in the air.

Anyhow, what Nissim did was to push the vibe of the crowd to almost Stephan Grondin’s level. Perhaps not because of the music, but due to a combination of vocals, theatrical moves in the deck, and the fact the place was packed with sensuality of t-shirtless boys and hot girls, with some suspicious fully dressed boys in white.

The middle stage had been uncovered, and I thought it would allow a free flow of connection between the whole room. It didn't happen, the fenced area was large, and I think even the dancers on top of the stage got somehow lost in the structure. Maybe it would had been sexier if the crowd had been allowed to take over this area. Nevertheless is all about security of the people eh? Talking about security, I only saw them in the VIP area, where there enough for the crowd we had at the convention center?

After a satisfactory performance by Offer Nissim, and after having met some many different people in the dance floor, it was time for Sultan to grace the area with his presence. Didn't know what to expect from his set, and by the end I kept telling myself, his electronic music could have made more sense if different DJs had precede him. The vibe of the crowd changed to a more relaxed mood, but I personally felt as if I had energy for much more, and I was ready to be abused. I danced a lot, but instead of focusing in the music, I decided to enjoy the company of people I knew and the ones I didn't know.

Moved myself around the room, and went back to the toilets after briefly visiting once again the VIP area. I thought about going to the general toilet area but I had no idea where to go. Didn't find any problem or major delay in the VIP area, nice smiling security guy, and fast moving lines for both fill up with water and releasing liquids. Tried to sneak again into the Ultra-VIP area, but the bouncer told me I had a M in my pass, not the right letter of the alphabet. Never mind, I can show my Latin moves somewhere else, and there I went back to the ocean.

Don't know what time it was, but for sure it was passed 8:00am, when Dubfire from Deep Dish was announced. Very dramatic transition of tunes, moving from a linear set to a deep progressive hard tribal music. Come on Dubfire, at least you should had give me some vocals at the beginning, where was Stephan Grondin when I need him?

Progressive, hard proggy, whatever you want to call it, there is so much I can take of it before becoming cynical. It was a very hard set, very intense, so intense that even the lights had to move faster. I kept my cool as much as I could, and once again I immersed myself in the ocean where mermen and some mermaids were the rule.

After a while I decided that I didn't want to stay in a semi-trance room, if I wanted hard strong beats, I could go to the evil side of the party, and this is where I went, to hear I believe some Preach, it was already passed 10:00am.

The first impression of the trance room was “how come this room is so dirty compared to the other one?”. There were empty water bottles everywhere in the room, and everyone was facing towards the DJ. It was actually funny to see that, but it is for nothing that is called Trance eh? I actually enjoyed what I heard of what I believe was part of Preach set, and I was able to show the Trance boys that I can adapt my Latin House dancing into Trance Latin moves.

After spending 30 minutes in the Trance room, I return to my second home for a final check up. Don't know if Sharam had already took over, but the beats were still kind of too progressive to my taste. Said good bye to some people, and started my walk to the exit.

Some people found Super Heroes during the night, others were Super Heroes themselves, and some are wishing today they had become one. The combination of different talented DJs, the sexy people of Montreal, tourists from all over the continent and more, and the peaceful energy our community is able to radiate, made a positive impact to whoever was able to make it to the party.

Officially there were 13,000 people dancing at the Bal en Blanc, and with so many people, I expect many of you will disagree with my views of the night. This is why I encourage you to give your side of the story. There are so many different variables in place, and personally, Stephan Grondin was the show of the night, too bad many of you did not have the pleasure to party during his set as I did.

Finally, even though I had nothing to do with the organization of the party, my apologies to you if you were one of those that were not allowed into the party because “capacity issues”. Please do not take this against the people of Montreal, specially if you are someone from out of town. I cannot promise you anything, but I hope our community get together and force some type of clear definition to what is acceptable for the city officials and to people that love to party as peacefully as we do.

No comments: