Groove Line

Tue. October 25, 2005 12:00 AM
by DJ Plez

My 2005 Black & Blue - Montreal Diary

Friday, 9/28/05 – I have finalized my plans to go to the Black & Blue Festival (B&B) in Montreal and I’m so excited. This will be my fifth B&B. I now need to get my fat ass to the gym in order to not embarrass myself in three weeks. What? I only have two weeks? Damn? The pressure is on.

Friday, 10/7/05 , 6:00 pm – I finally arrive at Montreal’s Trudeau Airport. Didn’t this used to be called Dorval Airport? Whatever the name, I’m glad to finally arrive after an almost three hour delay and change of aircraft back at O’hare. There weren’t that many obvious B&Bers on the flight but plenty of babies and their parents going home to visit family for the Canadian Thanksgiving.

8:30 pm – This is not fun, walking in the rain and cold looking for the new host hotel. The conveniently located Gouverneur Hotel has been replaced by the Delta Montreal Hotel, tucked away in the downtown area. All this rain has put a bit of a damper on the start of the weekend. However, as a good party boy I will adjust, adapt, and have a kick-ass weekend.

Saturday, 10/8/05
4:00 am – DJ David Knapp had a nice diversified groove for the Leather Ball at Club Medley, my first event of the weekend. The first song I hear is phenomenal: “Spanish Hustler” by Tom De Neef. The crowd has a great energy about it and this fine Parisian is flirting with me in French. I smile and blush. I haven’t been to the Leather Ball in quite a while, but it was definitely worth attending this year.

8:00 am – I’m in my natural element – an after-hours party at Club Stereo – enjoying Harry “Choo Choo” Romero. I’ve listened to and played his music for years but never heard him spin live. Instead of his more classically housey cuts from earlier in his career, he’s banging out more recent fare with a bit more of an edge. This is a nice contrast to much of what you hear at a typical circuit party. But he has pleased my dancing soul to no end with a terrific re-edit of “Reach” by Lil Mo’ Yin Yang and “FlyLife” by Basement Jaxx. Muchos kudos to BBCM (they are the organizers of the B&B) for adding Romero to the DJ line-up.

11:30 am – I meet up with friends from Los Angeles for brunch at Saloon (the food was quite good and the meal was free for B&B Party Passholders; another nice touch by BBCM). It’s so nice to talk to them at a normal volume and in complete sentences vs. shouting over loud music while on the dance floor. It’s also quite nice to watch all the talent walking up and down St. Catherine’s Street (Montréal’s version of Halsted Street) Wow!

7:00 pm – I’m staying at the La Concergerie Guesthouse, just a few blocks from The Village neighborhood, the focal point of B&B weekend activities. It’s a great place to stay and the hot tub in the basement provides a perfect ending to a night (or morning, if the case warrants) of dancing and partying. I’ve got three friends as roommates for the weekend and we’re finally all in town taking naps before the weekend kicks into full gear.

Sunday, 10/9/05
2:00 am – In previous years, the Military Ball @ Metropolis has been one of the signature events of B&B: a party that’s always well-executed with great music, great production numbers, and great energy. Oops! Something – no, make that many things – just aren’t clicking this year. DJ Manny Lehman is in standard good form, but other aspects of the party seem lacking. By normal circuit standards the Military Ball is far from a disaster; but by the higher B&B standards it’s falling well short of the mark.

11:00 am – Now, this is more like it! The Military Ball After-hours party is at Stereo and DJ Stephan Grondin is proving why he is one of Montreal’s leading DJs at the moment. His groovy progressive style has a fun sexy quality to it and is a nice compliment to the rather frisky crowd. So frisky in fact that one of my partymates is kindly escorted from the premises after getting caught with his mouth full in a bathroom stall.

10:30 pm – Is there anything more fun and filled with anticipation than the subway ride to the B&B Main Event at Olympic Stadium. All five of my B&B Main Event experiences over the years have been at the Stadium. It really is a cool venue for an event of this type and magnitude.

Monday, 10/10/05
8:00 am – I have been at the Stadium having a blast for the past nine hours, hanging out with 15,000 of my closest friends. The opening DJ, Eloi Brunelle, did a fantastic job with a groovy and energetic set. He was followed by the Spanish duo of Chus & Ceballos, who basically set the Stadium dance floor on fire with their underground tribal sound. Then a true house music pioneer and legend, DJ Danny Tenaglia, took the Main Event to a level not normally experienced by us American circuiteers. It was an intellectually challenging set filled with the familiar (“Music Is`The Answer” and “Safe From Harm”) and often presented in long form (15 minute odysseys bringing the acapella, dub, and vocal versions together seamlessly). While DT’s set confounded some, there were many, including yours truly, who understood and appreciated this master at work.

10:30 am – My roommates and I left the Stadium about 30 minutes ago and are licking our lips while standing in line at the McDonald’s in The Village. There’s nothing more tasty than a McMuffin sandwich and hash browns after 11 hours of dancing.

10:00 pm – Despite a logistics snafu, I was able to get some much needed sleep before starting my last night of B&B follies. I came here to the official Main Event After-Party at Club Parking to hear one of my favorites, DJ Paulo. Unfortunately his set was from 4 pm – 8 pm and my friend and I didn’t get here until 9 pm. That’s ok because this decidedly local crowd here now is quite friendly - and horny – and the unknown DJ is pumping out some really good stuff. I’ve never been to Parking before but this will be a must on my next trip to Montréal.

Tuesday, 10/11/05,
2:00 am – I finally arrive at Stereo for the Recovery Party and this place is packed. The energy level in here is off the charts and this music is completely on point. I find my friends on the dance floor – they’ve been here for a couple of hours already – and look up to the DJ booth expecting to see Victor Calderone. Instead I see that the opening DJ – Max Hébert – is still at the tables and he is whipsawing the crowd like there’s no tomorrow. And when he plays “Most Precious Love” by Blaze with hundreds on the dance floor singing the chorus while throwing their hands in the air, it becomes quite obvious that this night is about to be very special indeed.

6:30 am – Ever ready to step up to the challenge, DJ Victor Calderone took over from the awesome Hébert and like the superstar DJ he is, proceeded to take the Recovery Party up several notches. Touting a reinvention of his style to one that is more progressive and edgy, Calderone took no prisoners during his set. He was feeding off the energy from the sweat-drenched crowd and the dance floor was enthusiastically responding to his reinvention – it was perfect match made in dancing heaven. And that jolt of energy felt throughout the galaxy at about 5:00 am Eastern was the Stereo dance floor’s explosive response to those famous synth chords introducing the Razor ‘N Guido remix of “You Used To Hold Me.” This party has been an amazing end to a great weekend. Life really can’t get much better than this.

10:00 pm – After seven parties in a 72-hour period I wisely pulled myself out of Stereo before I collapsed from exhaustion, but at 10:00 am that party was still going strong. My 4:00 pm flight back to Chicago was filled with lots of tired B&Bers; happy smiles for us all but with clothes just hanging off our bodies due to the weekend’s weight loss. I’m now back at home and in my bed, so very much looking forward to the sleep ahead.