Montréal’s famed Black & Blue Festival turns 28

Richard Burnett

A star-studded line-up of international deejays will get thousands of revelers from around the world to boogie on the dance floor at the 2018 edition of Montréal’s Black & Blue Festival, which runs from October 3 to 9, during the Canadian Thanksgiving and American Columbus Day Weekend. This year’s all-night Black & Blue Main Event will be held on October 7.

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Dancefloor Divas

Montréal’s Black & Blue circuit party was founded in 1991 after the infamous 1990 police raid on the Sex Garage loft party in Old Montréal, which turned out to be Montréal’s Stonewall. The police raid on that underground party led directly to the creation of Black & Blue. “We thought Montréal needed a breath of fresh air,” Black & Blue head honcho Robert Vézina famously said.

After drawing 800 revelers to their first party in 1991—raising $3,500 for AIDS Community Care Montréal—Black & Blue quickly became the single most successful all-night dance party on the planet. Over the years, all-star DJs who have spun at Black & Blue include Danny Tenaglia, Victor Calderone and Peter Rauhofer, and performers have included pop and dance legends like The Human League, Jimmy Somerville, Martha Wash and Loleatta Holloway.

Pre-9/11 attendance peaked in 2000 when 18,000 partygoers packed the Olympic Stadium outfield dancefloor. Over the past 27 years the festival has donated two million dollars to various AIDS and LGBTQ organizations and community groups.

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Chrome!

The theme of this year’s 28th annual Black & Blue Festival is “Chrome.”

“For the first time in many years, we are using two big clubs – MTELUS and Club Soda, across the street from one another – for the Main Event,” Vézina explains. “Chrome is a wink at the club environment and club universe because it is a material that gives that sexy glam look to the top disco clubs on the planet. So in that spirit our artistic and production designers have prepared gorgeous visual effects and costuming, plus multiple mirror balls!”

Key events during the festival include Bal en Cuir - Édition Solid Gold at Montréal’s iconic Cabaret Lion d’Or, which legendary gangster Al Capone frequented during American Prohibition (there reportedly still is an escape tunnel beneath the artist dressing rooms), with famed DJ Tom Stephan on October 5, the Party Twinkle - Neon Glam, aimed primarily at younger partygoers, at Sky Club in the Village on October 5, and KODE: Chrome (with dress code) at the super gay-friendly Club ÖriGn in Old Montréal on October 6.

Black & Blue Main Event

The Black & Blue Main Event on October 7 is called Chrome and will be held in two big clubs – MTELUS (formerly Metropolis), from 5 pm to 3 am, and Club Soda, from 1 am to 10 am the following day (October 8). The headlining superstar DJs at MTELUS are Roger Sanchez, singer / DJ Ultra Nate – who topped the charts worldwide with her 1997 house-influenced gay anthem Free, which she will also perform – and Montréal’s very own DJ Champion. Over at Club Soda, the headlining superstar DJs are Angel Moraes and Abel Aguilera.

Gay and Gay-Friendly Black & Blue

Black & Blue started out as a gay party and justly earned its title as the world’s greatest circuit party with its lavish productions over the years. One of the key reasons for B&B’s longevity is it no longer is just a gay party.

The Black & Blue dancefloor is one of the rare places where nobody cares what your sexual orientation is. Gays and straights mingle together and there is no homophobia. 

“But Black & Blue has become much more gay in the last few years than it used to be,” says Vézina. “It’s a very gay party now, but everyone is welcome. However, this year, because we are at MTELUS with DJ Champion, we anticipate a varied crowd.”

Also, during the Black & Blue Main Event, the smaller M2 room (formerly called the Savoy) in MTELUS will feature many popular DJs, including Montréal legend Jojo Flores. Says Vézina, “We have Jojo, we have DJ Maus and DJ Mightycat – they have huge followings that cross over with the gay-friendly crowd in Montréal.”

Montréal’s 28th annual Black & Blue Festival runs from October 3 to 9, during the Canadian Thanksgiving and American Columbus Day weekends. For more information and tickets, visit www.bbcm.org.

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogger

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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