Black & Blue Festival and Carnaval des Couleurs

Richard Burnett

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.

Montréal’s famed Black & Blue Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary, as well as the 3rd edition of its accompanying Carnaval des Couleurs, from October 8 to 10.

Note: Due to current public health directives, some businesses and attractions may be temporarily closed or may have reduced hours or services. We recommend that you call or visit their websites to get the most up-to-date information. For more details on the current situation in Montréal, click here.

COVID health guidelines

Québec public health authorities have mandated a COVID-19 vaccine passport and wearing a facemask for indoor events. Numerous measures have been put in place at all venues to ensure the safety of visitors and employees.

After the festival’s 2020 cancellation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black & Blue’s 2021 dance parties have been postponed yet again because Québec public health authorities have banned indoor dancing during the pandemic. That means all of the Bad Boy Club Montréal Foundation’s themed dance evenings such as the Twinkle Party, the Leather Ball and the Uniform Ball, as well as the Black & Blue Main Event, cannot be held and will return in 2022.

However, BBCM Foundation’s All-Star Gala concert honouring the 30th anniversary of Black & Blue will be held at the Olympia Theatre on October 10, and Carnaval des Couleurs events will go on as scheduled.

Powerful history and legacy

Montréal’s Black & Blue Festival was founded in 1991 by BBCM Foundation. After drawing 800 revelers to their first party—held in an abandoned bank, raising $3,500 for AIDS Community Care Montréal—the Black & Blue Main Event became one of the most successful all-night dance parties on the planet. Since its humble beginnings, it has raised $1.4 million for AIDS support organizations and LGBTQ+ community groups in Montréal.

What started out as a gay-male circuit party has also grown into a mixed event: The Black & Blue dancefloor is one of the rare places where nobody cares what your sexual orientation is.

Over the years, all-star DJs who have spun at Black & Blue include Danny Tenaglia, Victor Calderone, David Morales, Hernan Cattaneo, Susan Morabito, Angel Moraes, Roger Sanchez and Chus & Ceballos, as well as Montreal’s own Misstress Barbara and Mark Anthony; while live performers include international pop and dance legends The Human League, Jimmy Somerville, Martha Wash, Ultra Nate and Loleatta Holloway, as well as Montréal divas Michelle Sweeney, Kim Richardson and Stéphane Moraille.

BBCM’s 30th anniversary Gala concert on October 10 will be hosted by Varda Etienne and feature many performers, including Richardson, Moraille, Lulu Hughes and Johanne Blouin; drag entertainers Barbada de Barbade and Jimmy Moore; circus acts and the famed BBCM dancers.

Carnaval des Couleurs

The 3rd edition of the Carnaval des Couleurs—which celebrates inclusion and diversity—runs October 8 to 10 with a variety of free indoor and outdoor events. There will be live performances at Place Émilie-Gamelin (October 9 and 10) by Corneille, Johanne Blouin, Jimmy Moore and Cirque Kalabanté; as well as themed performances and panels (about racism, serophobia and transphobia) at Complex Desjardins (October 9 and 10), as well as an October 8 VIP launch with Carnaval des Couleurs ambassadors Elizabeth Blouin-Brathwaite and Normand Brathwaite. There will also be street entertainment in the Gay Village.

For more information, visit bbcm.org and carnavaldescouleurs.org.

Richard Burnett

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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