Some people rue
the end of summer. Not us. What’s to miss about the nightly wheeze
of the air-conditioner? Or the stench of street garbage sunning in
black plastic. Nah, there’s little sadness for us when Labor Day
rolls around. And here’s one good reason why: Black and Blue’s up
Oh, sure, there’s a whole bunch of
other stuff to focus on once September hits New York. Fashion Week,
for example, whose primary purpose for a circuit boy is to showcase
what you might wear to the party if you weren’t already
half-naked on the dance floor. And all the glossy magazines fat
with ads for the latest restaurant where you might eat if you
weren’t spending so much time at the gym and watching every
calorie. And the papers selling the latest crop of B’way shows
starring Hollywood actors in need of career resuscitation – for
which you might consider dropping two hundred dollars for a
pair of seats, if you hadn’t just ordered passes for Black and
September is all about priorities. We’ve got to download the latest
Joe Caro and we’ve got to find out
if Kat C. is having her annual Black and Blue party. And call and
make sure that the
Hotel Gault has got our room in
order: the one with the free-standing bathtub which fits three
(because you never know....). And reconfirm our flights and call
the cat-sitter and brush up our French. Comment dit-on “dick
dancer?” Busy, busy, all September.
Because, as anyone who has ever
been to Black and Blue knows, Black and Blue weekend ain’t no little
thing. Occurring during the Columbus Day holiday (also known as
Canadian Thanksgiving – which seems more appropriate, given that
there’s so much to be thankful for in Montreal that particular
weekend), this is the Everest of circuit weekends, the one you have
to climb, all the way to the top, before you can say you’re a
full-fledged and proud circuit boy/queen.
For sixteen years, the non-profit
and volunteer-based organization
BBCM (Bad Boy Club Montreal) has been distributing monies
– over one million dollars thus far – to groups providing direct
care to those people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as to gay and
lesbian community groups. Starting with a single party in 1991
which attracted 800 revelers, Black and Blue has evolved into a
week-long festival with over 60 cultural events and parties and more
than 80,000 participants from all over the planet.
The theme for this year’s Main
Event, the showpiece of the entire week taking place once again in
the center field at Stade Olympique, is Supersonic, and once again,
the artistic director is
Jean-Pierre Perusse whose
conception of Xtreme, last year’s Main Event for Black and Blue’s 15th
anniversary insured that there was a party for the annals. Expect
nothing less this year – for Jean-Pierre’s personal motto is: “Don’t
be shy; be radical.”
Okay, so we’ve all been to a lot
of parties by now. But no matter how jaded you’re on the verge of
becoming, there’s nothing quite like Main Event at Black and Blue.
This year’s Fringe Festival in New York had a play called
Rainy Days and Mondays, written
by Andrew Barrett, with each scene taking place in various hotel
rooms at circuit parties around the globe – but the most riveting
scene was a nearly ten-minute monologue during which the protagonist
detailed in spellbound wonder his awestruck entrance into Stade
Olympique at Main Event for Black and Blue.
There’s nothing else like it. And
why? Maybe it has something to do with the combination of people.
People from all over the globe who’ve flown into Montreal – to
dance. To party. To help raise money to fight AIDS. So already
the spirit is right. And then there’s the fact that Main Event is
about forty per cent heterosexual: and without a doubt, these
heterosexuals are some of the coolest people on the planet, and
seeing them, you have to wonder if the world would be in less dire
straits if all straight people were as open-minded, loving and
tolerant as these appear to be. Beautiful people. Really beautiful
people. People who know how to dress. They love to dress. Fashion
as an expression of freedom. The freedom to be who they want, who
So there’s that, the attendees.
About 10,000 of them. And then there are the production values.
It’s not for no reason that Cirque de Soleil hails from Montreal.
Those long winters promote creative genius. BBCM has a reputation
for shows that are technical marvels and emotional roller-coasters.
Seal’s performance last year, for example, singing “Solitary Lover”
atop an eight-story scaffold as AIDS tallies flashed on video
screens, and the year the Buddha soared overhead, and the year of
the AIDS ribbon made manifest by thousands of candles – each
performance piece leaving an indelible mark in the memory bank. So
that later, when you see footage from the party, or photographs, the
vibe sweeps over you again, and you shiver with happiness that you
were there. You lived it.
It’s hopeful. Being at Main
Event, and being in Montreal for Black and Blue, restores your faith
in what we, as a community, can do together. One year a
French-Canadian reminded us that there were three things that set
Canada apart from the United States: gun control, gay marriage, and
no capital punishment. It makes you think. It’s more about love.
And to be in Montreal during Black and Blue is to see a world where
people get along and watch out for each other.
Sometimes we, on the circuit, get
caught up in holding on to what the circuit used to be, or believing
that the circuit has seen better days. Black and Blue can be a
reminder of how the circuit has evolved – for the better. In spite
of the loss of several prominent American circuit events, there are
still more of us partying worldwide in the name of love. And during
a time when the world seems rent by sectarian violence, it’s a joy
to see people dancing as one.
In the end, Black and Blue is a
true holiday, a gay holy day reminding us that what’s most holy is
loving each other. The BBCM dancers, all of whom are exceptionally
talented, and as they also like to say, extremely kind-hearted, have
a prayer they share before each peformance, and it goes like this:
“We men and women, gay, straight, and bi, seropositive and
seronegative, from all walks of life, join together to remember
those who are gone, and to offer support to those who continue the
fight.” In the end, this is what Black and Blue celebrates: we’re
all in this together: one planet, one love.