Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Crafts and Drafts

Shanghai Restaurant gets in on the Nuit Blanche action with outdoor parking-lot party

Credit: ThinkStock

Folks in Ottawa love beer. They also love crafts. It was probably only a matter of time before these two bastions of urban hipsterdom found each other — and Nuit Blanche seems like the perfect place for that glorious pairing to begin.

To that end, Don Kwan, co-owner of the Shanghai Restaurant on Somerset Street, has joined forces with Eliza von Baeyer of Indie*Go Designs and Stirling Prentice of Winged Beast Outfitters to create an event that is part craft session, part night market, part beer tasting and all party.

“Actually it was at [Chinatown] Remixed that we came up with the idea that we wanted to do Crafts and Drafts,” von Baeyer says. “We started thinking about Nuit Blanche, and it was like, hey, maybe we should do it that night, and it sort of morphed from there.” The Nuit Blanche shuttle bus will be making a stop at the Shanghai, giving folks a chance to disembark and partake of microbrews and art installations. “For us, it’s kind of utilizing a space that otherwise would be just a parking lot,” Kwan says. “All over the world Chinatowns have had night markets, so this is kind of influenced by that, too.”           

Beau’s, Beyond the Pale and Kichesippi beers will all be represented. “The idea with the breweries is that there’s such a big movement towards craft beer and local breweries,” Kwan says. Drink tickets will be available for purchase throughout the night, and they can be redeemed at any of the breweries’ stations.

Nosh Nerds, purveyors of homemade confections, will be setting up a s’mores station for those who need something sweet, and the party will also include crafting stations manned by a number of local businesses. A pop-up T-shirt shop run by Sean Zio of Ravenswing and featuring the work of local artists Dan Martelock, Rob Friday, Andrea Emery and Stirling Prentice will also be on site, and DJs CPI and Lamb Rabbit will be spinning beats.

On the art side of things, Kwan has been working on an interactive postcard project. “It’s a big postcard that we’re designing, and then eventually we’re going to send it to the mayor,” he says. The idea is for people to add their own drawings on one side and then write messages emphasizing the importance of culture on the other.

Prentice is also planning an installation piece, titled I Didn’t Go to Paris, that incorporates digital photos, drawings and animated gifs. “People will be shown a series of twitchy looping videos on several TVs. It'll be a little chaotic and rhythmic and I hope also a little mesmerizing,” he says.  

And no event at the Shanghai would be complete without China Doll, the restaurant’s in-house drag performer and karaoke hostess. The Doll and her crocheted doppelganger, created by Justy Dennis and Jasmine Vesque of the O-Town Bombers, will be on hand for photo ops. If it’s a bit chilly outside, those who like to sing can head inside the restaurant for Shanghai’s regular Saturday-night karaoke.           

The appeal of having a beer while working on crafts is easy to see. “We’re a city that’s in our head a lot,” says von Baeyer. “People want to do stuff with their hands.”