Now celebrating its 10th year, Toronto’s Nuit Blanche has always been a bit like New Years, Pride and Halloween combined. Equal parts highbrow art extravaganza and debauched party, the all-night cultural event gives Torontonians a chance to check out some world-class creativity, while dodging puddles of vomit and clouds of pot-smoke.
This year features over 110 official projects and more than 20 “renegade” events not included in the official program. While it’s impossible to see it all, we’ve assembled a list of quirky picks you should definitely try to squeeze into your 12 hours of insanity.
If you’re one of those types who likes to hook-up with friends, get blasted and stick something sharp and metallic into your body, the kind folks at Adrenaline have your back. The Queen West purveyors of pain will be open all night to cater to your whimsical desires for body modification. The music will be pumping, piercings are $10 off and ink starts at just $80. Pay them a visit and you might end up remembering this Nuit Blanche for the rest of your life. Or at least until you save enough money to have the cast of South Park lasered off your butt.
We live in a period of near constant documentation, snapping and uploading photos at a rate of over 1.8 billion per day. But how often do we actually take the time to look back at these moments we’ve collected? Miro Oballa’s installation treats viewers to a solitary journey through their own memories. Sitting in a remodelled cube shipping container, visitors will have their Facebook and Instagram accounts turned into an immersive installation, bombarding them with their own digital records. Whether you’re obsessed with cat GIFs, exotic tourist destinations or drunken selfies, Memory Cube gives you the chance to rediscover yourself.
Some folks will try to see as much as possible during Nuit Blanche. Others would rather spend the entire evening in one place, bound in ropes, unable to move. If you fall into the latter category (or just want to gawk at those who do) MBE is where you want to be. Coordinated by New York-based writer and sex educator Lord Morpheus (who’s penned such helpful tomes as How to be Kinky: A Beginner’s Guide to BDSM and Bondage Basics: Naughty Knots and Risque Restraints You Need to Know) MBE features a whopping 96 performances over 12 hours with kinky guys and gals tying each other up good and tight. Drop in to learn some basics, pick up advanced techniques or just show off what you learned in Boy Scouts.
Travis Freeman and Manolo Lugo
Most projects are easily located by turning up at an event’s specified time and place. But Procession is not one of those. Freeman and Lugo’s piece travels through the city, meaning viewers won’t actually be actually be able to find it so much as they might happen to stumble upon it. Starting on Centre Island at the Gibraltar Point lighthouse and ultimately arriving at Queen’s Park, their mobile video and performance installation will float through downtown streets and alleys on an unspecified route. Equipped with two digital projectors mounted on media carts, the pair will pop up at different locations to beam images of seminal artistic works on buildings and structures, as well as occasionally re-enacting segments of influential performances.
Mike Pereira and Brandon Gibson-DeGroote, in collaboration with Wavelength Music
All right kiddies! Pull out your phat pants, put in your pacifier and crack those glow sticks! DJs Mike Pereira and Brandon Gibson-DeGroote are bringing you back to the golden age of raving with their all-night interactive dance party. Named for the homemade cassettes of DJ mixes kids would pass around back in the day, the event takes you on a fun-fur draped stroll down memory lane. Along with kickin’ it on the floor and tumbling into E-induced cuddle-puddles, partygoers will be invited to participate in the music making. Whether you end up longing for a time when you heard about that night’s hotspot through a secret hotline, or get inspired to wallpaper your room with party flyers, Ravetapes is sure to provide some good mashy fun drenched in mid-’90s nostalgia.
Ritual of Remembering
Jah Grey and Others
Toronto photographer Jah Grey has made a name for himself with portraits that challenge social norms around race, gender and sexual identity. In the last year alone he’s been part of more than 10 exhibitions in the city including his solo outing for Nuit Rose and the AGO’s Scratch and Mix show in August. But for Ritual, he’s shifting mediums to create a performance paying homage to queers, sex workers and the homeless. Running for 10 minutes each hour on the hour, the event assembles a diverse group of artists and curators to create a “multisensory spiritual-arts experience” that asks us to rethink the plight of some of our city’s most marginalized populations.
Take Back The Nuit
The Artist News Stand
Unless it’s pissing rain à la 2013’s soppy edition, the best way to tour the fest is always on foot. But even if you don’t step on transit all night, Jess Dobkin and company’s east-end offering is a definite reason to pay the TTC a visit. Hosted at the collective’s hugely successful re-purposed Chester Station kiosk, this 7pm–midnight “political dance party” is jam-packed with queer goodness including DJ sets by Sasha Van Bon Bon and Nik Red, as well as performances by the Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers, Judy Virago and Dobkin herself. Forecasts put the POP at 40 percent for Saturday, so cross your fingers the weather gods will smile fondly upon us, and hopefully the only wetness you feel will be in your pants.