Divers/Cite: All Together Different, July 28 - Aug. 3
No city knows how to put on a party like Montreal, the nightlife capital of North America, and no event is bigger or more wide-ranging than Divers/Cite, the city's annual summer mega-celebration.
The English cognate of Divers/Cite is "diversity," but it's also a pun meaning "diverse city." This week-long city-wide party is Montreal's dance-filled tribute to the unique way the city has brought together all of its ethnic, linguistic and, above all, sexual communities. As befits a city that has so successfully managed to straddle its English and French constituencies, this Pride is open to everyone who wants to party hard.
Montreal is so gay friendly that it goes way beyond gay friendly into gay embracing, but also straight friendly. That is, its Pride encompasses all people. Think of it as "LGBT-plus-S." There has been a lot of talk about how the old Circuit is evolving into something new, something for a new generation that is as comfortable partying with straight friends as gay boys. Montreal leads in this as in music and clubs. These are not only the coolest straight folk you'll ever see, they're easily the most gay friendly. Wait, let me amend that: Gay positive. It also helps that the Quebecois men are among the best looking on the planet (chiseled Gallic faces and worked-on North American bods).
First of all, there is the weather. Montreal in August is a pleasant escape from the Lower 48: warm, sunny days and cool nights. Second, there are all of the outdoor dance parties. Notice I use plural. The City of Montreal, which effectively funds this, along with the Province of Quebec, isn't content to give partygoers just one huge dance party. DJs play throughout the day into the evening, for days on end and well into the night. If you're a hardcore dance fiend, and you've been very, very good, this is what heaven is going to be like.
There's a stage set up at the Old Port of Montreal where local and imported DJs of every stripe play everything from reggae to electroclash, tribal to House, diva anthems to drum-and-bass. If there is a signature sound, it's probably electrotribal House - pretty inclusive, n'est-ce pas? The legendary nightclubs in town all piggyback on Divers/Cite, with night parties, after-parties, morning parties and tea parties.
It's 24/7, so plan your danceathon according to the DJs and venues and be sure to pace yourself or you'll miss out on the capper, La Grande Danse. The organizers describe this as "one of the most imposing House music events on the East Coast," and for once, the hype is justified. Even the woman's big dance event is inclusive, with men straight and gay happily dancing beside the gals.
Leading up to the big dance are many dances that anywhere else would be considered the main event and then some. There are way too many to mention here, but check out the website's schedule for a complete listing. Give yourself plenty of time to walk through the Old City; scale Mount Royal, the imposing hill that dominates the heart of town; the Gay Village, which is exactly what the name says; and the incredible food (treat yourself to at least one meal in a good restaurant).
Montreal is the creative capital of Canada, the center of the dominion's music, fashion, visual art, video gaming and Web design industries. The whole vibe of this wonderful town comes together at Divers/Cite, a unique event that, once sampled, will become a permanent part of your summer schedule.