Cupcakes and Beards
25th Anniversary of Black & Blue – Montreal, October 7 to 13, 2015
It’s approaching that time again, when Montreal hosts one of the biggest circuit parties in Canada. That’s right boys and girls, it’s time for Black & Blue! This year marks the 25th anniversary of what started as just another huge dance party, and has become a unique event that is part of it’s own non-profit organization.
The history is quite a great read and there is so much to speak about with regards to this great event. According to the website, the story starts as follows:
“Twenty five years ago, when Montreal had not yet achieved its status of House Music Mecca and the city with the most international festivals it would become, a small group of friends dreamt of an event that would gather their friends from Montreal, the rest of Canada and the United States East coast. Back in 1991, Robert J. Vézina and Christian Beaudry were partying across the gay circuit and were thinking of organizing, in Montreal, a similar event to the ones they were attending. Nothing like this had ever been done before in Montreal so they had to start from scratch. It took their enthusiasm and their know-how for their project to take shape. After inviting many of their friends, 800 people showed up for the very first Black & Blue Party edition during the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend (at the same time as the American Columbus Day weekend). Yet, they didn’t know that they were writing a Montreal piece of history.”
Today, more than eighty thousand people show up for this seven-day event from all over the world!
However, the creation of the Black & Blue coincides with less happy times : the AIDS epidemic. Back in the 90’s, the gay community was harshly affected by this plague, but reacted to it by creating closer links to one another and by trying to help people who were affected by the disease. A series of fundraising events for people living with AIDS or for treatment research was created in the United States, and, it’s with that in mind that the Black & Blue co-founders decided to give back the profits of their event to organizations providing direct care to people living with HIV / AIDS.
As Robert Vézina explains, “At the time, we had already lost several of our friends and we needed to find solutions to help the people of our community affected by AIDS who were ostracized. We thought that we could help by giving the profits of our event, and this is exactly what we did: we made donations to ACCM (AIDS Community Care Montreal), because we were able to raise money following the success of the first edition. Yet, the BBCM Foundation was directly touched by AIDS as my best friend and co-founder of the Black & Blue, Christian Beaudry, lost his own battle against the disease in 1994. Following that, several other committee members have passed away and others have been affected by HIV/AIDS and continue their fight.”
In a way, this misfortune was also what kept the community together with good values such as mutual aid, compassion and empathy. Black & Blue is the living example of that, since the BBCM has donated more than 1.5 million dollars, and on top of that has provided complimentary tickets to community groups, and other services to help the community. Furthermore, the cause has always been at the centre of the shows presented at the main event, as the BBCM team always wants to remind the participants what they are dancing for.
For instance, who doesn’t remember the great AIDS ribbon made of 25 000 red lanterns at Montreal Olympic Stadium in 2000 for the 10th Black & Blue anniversary?
This year’s event is “District Red Light Montréal“.
The Black & Blue Festival 25th anniversary will take place from October 7 to 13, and the all-night main event will be at the spectacular Pierre-Charbonneau amphitheatre (located in the Olympic Park at 3000 Viau Street) on Sunday October 11 from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. the next morning. This year, Black & Blue presents a theme inspired by the “Red Light District”, while at the same time highlighting Montreal’s nightlife reputation over the years. Starting with the prohibition days, the roaring twenties and the cabaret heydays of the fifties for example, Montreal obtained an enviable reputation as a festive city and one of the world’s hot spots, recognized for its clubs, its bars and its cabarets. This made the metropolis the queen of entertainment and nightlife, some features that still define Montreal today.
The 2015 Black & Blue theme, and the shows that will be featured during the main event, will be inspired by the burlesque, variety shows, glamour, sensuality and everything that has to do with “sexy”.
About the Author
Brandon Michael Lee is a Toronto based Award Winning Event Designer, Writer and Filmmaker. He spends his days surrounded by his two dogs, cupcakes and coffee and one day dreams of having a big fat gay wedding. While on the outside, he is a fabulous and stylish gay man… on the inside he is a tool belt wearing, shelf building, Tori Amos listening lesbian. Oh and he loves beards and tattoos. http://www.brandonmichaellee.com http://www.style-me-manly.com