Not so long ago, someone here on CPI (S(y) perhaps) said something
about how Black and Blue was the mountaintop of the circuit. And
that seemed an apt metaphor, given all the press and hype it's
received in its thirteen years -- and so that's how we approached it
last year: as if we were climbing the Everest of circuit events. And
that's how Black and Blue 2002 was for us: over the top.
And it was also mentioned that once you climb the mountain and see
the view, maybe you don't need to climb it again.
But no -- we had to check it out again, just to make sure. And even
though we knew the perspective was going to be different, and
especially once we started receiving the emails about the change of
venue from the main stadium to the loading docks, and though we know
that nothing is as good as the first time, we still went into
training mode (yoga, salads, yoga, gym) for the month prior to
arrival in Montreal.
And the first person we run into at the airport is Chris Geary (www.chrisgeary.com)
-- looking substantially more muscular than in his days of wandering
the beach during Winter Party with his camera. So you see, there is
value in returning to a place you've seen but once before.
Montreal, this year, was even more beautiful to us, thanks to an
Indian summer in full blaze. The city never looked better -- in its
own slightly tatty way. Victoria Square, not far from the Hotel St.
Paul (www.hotelstpaul.com) where we stay, has been completely
redone, and being at the St. Paul again was a kind of homecoming.
It's nice to feel at home in your hotel for a week like this one.
So we wandered the old Quarter the first night, making our way to
St. Catherine, and ultimately to Sky Bar, and then Jock Ball at
Stereo where Joe G. was playing. Stereo has been upgraded since last
year's BandB, and there's a much nicer crowd flow now and the sound
system seemed well-tweaked. But it was a first night crowd, not
overwhelming crowded, and while Joe played well enough, it wasn't
the night to go overboard. We met a photog from some gay rag and it
was his first time, and he seemed completely underwhelmed by the
whole BandB experience -- while we were thinking, Uh,huh, you
haven't seen anything yet.
Friday the sun blazed, and we trekked up Mont Royal, with all the
other dutiful tourists, cameras in hand. Lovely, now let's get down
from here. Back to St. Catherine where the boys were coming home
from work for a long party weekend. Sky Bar again. Boys from all
over. New faces, new bartenders. That Montreal pleasantness. A kind
of no-maintenance attitude. There's a kind of Thunderdome/Blade
Runner fashion sensibility about the city, and all the boys, and
girls, seem to wear a kind of apocalyptic fashion, all riddled with
stains and holes and chains, and then a pair of new jeans, or a
black leather jacket cut just so. They know how to dress, and in
that way, they seem way more European than North American.
Leather Ball on Friday night was at Medley, again, which was a venue
that appealed to us last year for its ramshackle qualities and its
seedy charm -- but this year, the mezzanine was closed, entirely,
alleviating any chance of decent sight lines of the crowd -- which
was hardly a crowd. Uh, oh, I remember thinking. Alex Lauterstein
was doing what he could, but after Inda Matrix did her number, solo,
there seemed to be a decided lack of energy, and we sat at the bar,
counting the minutes before we could escape to Abel at Stereo.
And there it was that the weekend turned around for me. Almost as
soon as we walked in, it felt as if we were in the hands of a
master. Someone who understood what needed to be done -- and did it.
The crowd at five a.m. was there, and getting bigger by the minute,
and by the time Abel whipped out "That Sound" (thought of you, Joe
Caro -- and toasted to Philly), that was it: we were all off and
running. For the next three hours, Abel made it letmehaveitable --
which was exactly what all of us wanted. Oh, what bliss to be in the
hands of someone who knows how to direct you to the right places.
Hit me there, and there, and thank you so much. We were dancing to
our main man, at Black and Blue, in Montreal, with hundreds of sweet
and hot boys, and men, and girls, in a club that knew how to care
for its patrons, with hospitality and politeness, and no attitude
was present, and no senes of menace,and really, what more does one
need from a night like that?
It was a joy, and when we left, I thought, Well, if nothing else
happens this weekend, I definitely got what I came for.
Oh, but Saturday was another sunny day, and so we walked the river,
with scores of other happy boys. And Sky Barred again. And then off
to dinner at Holder (right next door to the St. Paul), which was not
unlike Balthazar here in Gotham, a grand Parisian brasserie, and it
was the dinner for Black and Blue, and so the majority of tables
were men turning it out, eating well. Getting ready for Manny.
Metropolis, Saturday night: as someone else said, it's the
centerpiece of the weekend. It's Saturday night, for one thing, and
the night for all the locals to party, and when we arrived at one
a.m., the joint was rocking, so much so that standing on the first
balcony, just above the floor, the balcony was rocking so much that
I looked around for the exits, just on the off-chance that this
balcony might crash to the floor. The energy was off the meter.
Manny was in a box to the left of the stage, and the crowd never
left the floor. The boys on the boxes were indescribably delicious.
Riveting to watch. Maybe they work at Campus or Stock; maybe this
was their night off. There was so much eye candy, and so many happy
boys, and so much smiling and yelling and screaming and hands in the
air and sex on the floor and grinding and bumping and general
delirium. It was Rome in the best of times; it was Athens, it was
Paris, it was Berlin. It was Montreal: Military Ball 2003, and Manny
turned it out and took the boys where they wanted to go.
Sunday, we rested. Not. Not a chance. We did the brunch thing at
Mike's which came with the Bronze pass -- and how pleasant it was to
eat again. Food. Eggs. Oh, yeah, I remember. And then, we shopped,
and fell victim to consumer madness, buying into the Montreal
fashion scene, in a wickedly stoned moment, and then minutes later,
Ooops, what have we done? Should we take these coats back? Let's go
drown our guilt in beer. We sat in three bars, soaking up the sun
which was pouring across the intersection where Sky Bar, European
Cafe, and Milo all corner. Then we felt better, and wore our new
The Main Event. So we knew we weren't climbing the same mountain. We
knew we'd been banished to the loading docks. We got out of the
metro -- and walked. And walked. Where are we going? Crowds of
people are wandering with us. Finally we get to an entrance.
Everything moves quickly. There's no line to speak of for coat check
or ticket punching and the security check is mild enough. We pass
the chill-out area -- which is the main stadium -- and we stand for
a moment of silence, dedicated to last year's incredible carnival,
that run-away-with-the-circus event which was BandB 2002 --and then
we head to where we're going this year.
It's a long rectangular room. Maybe five football fields. The stage
across the front is maybe seventy yards long. The right side of the
room, about two football fields, is divided by white scrims the size
of stage curtains. There are white benches painted with the word NU,
the theme of this year. We wander the VIP which overlooks the floor:
already the floor is packed, and it's barely one a.m. We watch the
lights -- which already look exemplary. Rows and rows of color
painting the crowd, and then these confetti-colored lights which dot
the crowd impressionistically. Effective.
The opening show starts. "Are U Ready?" The crowd is definitely
ready. A roar fills the room when the words appear behind the stage.
A kind of head-exploding character in white lycra, with steroid
lumps all over his body, emerges -- and then dozens of dancers line
the front of the stage. The expectation soars.
But then, that's it. There's a little strip, and a lot of dancing,
and that's it. Nothing more. And this is the pattern for the shows
throughout the night. So..... I get it. It's not about the shows
this time. It's not about production values, in spite of what the
promoters told us. We're not at the loading docks because of better
productions. Or at least not because we're going to get better
shows. No. There's nothing like last year's Sun rising from the
floor, or the Heavenly Angels flying across the stadium roof, or
even the Dancing Couples -- and certainly NOTHING like the opening
number during which the Buddha soared and the Empress walked and
they met halfway while the videos of the world's people flickered
around them and the dancers from Thunderdome writhed on the trusses.
No. Nothing like that.
Okay, so we can deal. It's a different party. It's a new mountain.
Fine. We dance. James Andersen gets the crowd moving. "Appreciate".
Paulette works. And dances on the stage. She's got fans all over.
Then Tedd Patterson -- and his foghorn. We're on the far side by
then, watching the children in their trances, and thank goodness,
because the foghorn becomes a nightmare.
What's fun, however, is the number of people. The amazing number of
people. So many people. So many different kinds of people. It's
wonderful to dance with so many people who are non-judgmental. How
rare it is that straight people come to our party, to party with us,
next to us. What a pleasant switch from all the times we've had to
attend wedding parties, and frat parties, and keg parties, and pig
roasts -- in their name. Hallelujah, they're finally at our party --
and learning how we do it. Thank you very much.
So we dance with them, and smile at them. It takes a long time to
move around the floor. The floor is so crowded. There are sections
where the gay boys are packed impossibly close together. In some
places, at some times, it seems as if the floor is semi-segregated.
As if there's a straight section and a gay section, which is
something that last year's circular arrangement seemed to minimize
-- this kind of segregation.
Then Mark Anthony comes on, thundering forward, and the crowd goes
crazy. They've been waiting for him. He doesn't let them down. It's
easy to understand how he's their Junior or Victor or Abel. He's
their hometown boy -- and deservedly so. He knows what needs to
happen, and all that has yet to happen, and he corrects the
We leave around ten a.m. We ride the train back to our hotel with
all the locals who have to work on the holiday. It's a little
disorienting -- but it's not really a walk of shame. Montreal is too
tolerant for anyone to cast a stone.
As for the Recovery Party on Monday, well, it doesn't seem to be the
event it once might have been. It doesn't seem to have the energy
that people spoke about it having. The crowd on the floor, both
years we've been, has been much less than on Saturday night, and
while Escape worked his music, there were times when it seemed the
whole night was something of an effort. We were all still trying to
make it happen -- but we were definitely on our way down the
And now we're back in Gotham, with two new coats, and one coat that
got stained by a lap dancer at Stock, the name of Nick, and no, we
don't mind at all, not really. That's the thing about Montreal: just
when you think you might not want to do it all again, you see
something you hadn't noticed before. So yeah, it wasn't the same as
the year before, but then nothing ever is.
One other thing: the Palais des Congres is also finished, and
looking smashing. Right downtown. Very near the St. Paul. All those
colored squares on its exterior. And each time we passed it, all
weekend, we kept thinking, Hmmm, that's where Main Event is next
It's on the agenda.