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Montréal gatherings

  • 27th Oct, 2006 at 5:13 PM

Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

It occurs to me that Montréal doesn't have enough public gatherings.

Oh sure, Montréal has its festivals during the summer. We're famous for them. In fact, that's one of the reasons as to why I moved to this city. Our vibrant street life is very attractive and very healthy.

But sometimes, this seems too organized. What happened to just getting together to do something fun, without having to pay a fee or get a programme? What if you could just pop in and participate? What if you were roped in, as you were walking down the street?

I'm thinking we could use the Tam Tam Jam as a staging area for some of the public events. It'd be easy to get people interested in a party we hold in a corner of the park.

Here are some of ideas for things that I've been kicking about:

DemoCamp — An idea started by TorCamp, you show up and have fifteen minutes to demonstrate something you've made. I think TorCamp people demonstrate programs, but I don't see why you couldn't show off something you've built, or some art you've done.

TuneCamp — In a city that's so full of music, wouldn't it be great to have a collection of people who are enthusiastic about it show up and just play? I suppose it'd be a disorganized concert, much like one held at a house.

Métro party — Get on the last car at Côte-Vertu, decorate it, and ride it all the way to the other side, picking up party-goers along the way.

Picnic in the park — Get a massive, red-checkered cloth and spread it out on the grass. Have people show up with picnic food and have the biggest potluck we can find.

Ice disco — In the winter, they flood bits of Parc Jeanne-Mance to make ice rinks. Wouldn't a skating dance party be just the thing? I think arranging some hot chocolate would be good too.

Pillow fight club — A classic event, we should find a sunny day to do it next year.

Disc swap — How about an impromptu music swap? Have people show up with CDs and DVDs they are bored of to exchange with a random one. Setting up players with speakers would be good, so people can enjoy the music together.

Dancing in the street — On the next car-free day downtown, we should try to get people to just dance in the streets. You know, "a chance for folks to meet?"

Strawberry social — People meet in the park bringing strawberry-themed treats. I think dressing up in hats and gloves would also be appropriate. And maybe horses.

Masquerade — A ball! Where everyone has to show up in costumes and masks.

Santa Claus parade — Doesn't dressing up as Santa Claus and going around town giving people candy canes sound fun? How about going on a pub crawl while we're at it? This shouldn't be restricted to the Christmas season, after all, candy canes go on sale on boxing day.

Free hugs — Get a few people, lots of signs saying "Free hugs / Câlins gratuit", and stand on Ste-Catherines giving people hugs as they go by. We could even augment this with buttons, that we could give away.

Guerrilla gig — Arrange for a band or two to hold an impromptu concert in one of the gazebos at public parks. Just show up with an amp, plug in, play a short set and leave.

Snapshot — We organize a tableau somewhere in the downtown core, where people show up dressed a particular way to do particular things. Then photographers show up to take pictures.

Flash rave — Invite some people to show up with their portable music players, take over a building and dance. We should look for a place that can provide free water.

Theme days — No pants day, Talk like a pirate day, whatever zany day comes up, let's set up a little zone in the city where this kind of behaviour is normal. Most of the time, people saying "yarr" are irregular, but what if we turned the tables?

Who thinks these might be fun?


( 46 comments — Leave a comment )
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27th Oct, 2006 21:27 (UTC)
A lot of those sound most classy, sadly I'm not in Montreal. Best of luck though :-)
27th Oct, 2006 22:47 (UTC)
When are you moving here? ;)
(no subject) - holdenk - 27th Oct, 2006 23:08 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sfllaw - 27th Oct, 2006 23:10 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - holdenk - 28th Oct, 2006 02:07 (UTC) - Expand
27th Oct, 2006 21:30 (UTC)
I am all over these ideas! especially the hug one. The hug giving guy in the old port changed my life :)
27th Oct, 2006 22:48 (UTC)
Would you like to help out? I could use a hand giving hugs.
(no subject) - von_zombie - 29th Oct, 2006 23:55 (UTC) - Expand
27th Oct, 2006 21:38 (UTC)
Another one that I've heard of that differs slightly from a few of these would be to have people on a corner with signs that say "Talk to me". Basically to encourage strangers to start dialogues with one another.
27th Oct, 2006 22:49 (UTC)
That's a marvellous idea! Would you be up for participating?
27th Oct, 2006 21:58 (UTC)
Oh, wow, those sound like *so* much fun. Particularly dancing in the streets. :) If you have some notice before you do one of these, I'll see if I can hop a bus to montreal and join you for an afternoon!

One that I have seen randomly happening in ottawa is drumming circles. A few friends show up in a park and start drumming, and I guess more people run home and get drums and show up, and soon they've got a big group. I'm not a huge fan of african drumming for hours, but it certainly seems fun if you're one of the ones drumming!

I've been meaning to try that by just getting a pile of rubbermaid-type containers and maybe some cheap drumsticks and having a percussion party out of random stuff, then I'd be able to get anyone joining rather than just those people who have nice-looking drums.

One thing I do is make little bubble parties, usually with whatever kids happen by. I bought a pile of wedding bubbles and I carry 6-7 of them, then start blowing at an outdoor festival or canada day or whatever -- as I attract little kids, I hand out bubble stuff and we can get quite the number of 'em going. :) It'd be awesome to have a whole case of bubbles and get a really large number of people... especially if the wind's just right!
27th Oct, 2006 22:50 (UTC)
You should organize a Bubble Battle in Ottawa. I think that would go over quite well.

As for drumming, we have quite a bit of that. The Tam Tam Jam always has some drummers, and we often have the plastic-bucket variety busking in the downtown core. So I don't think a spontaneous one would do so well. But Ottawa sounds like a good place for this.
27th Oct, 2006 22:25 (UTC)
Sounds fun to me :)
27th Oct, 2006 22:51 (UTC)
If you come up here, you'll have to throw one with me.
(no subject) - moomlyn - 27th Oct, 2006 23:01 (UTC) - Expand
28th Oct, 2006 01:10 (UTC)
McCurdy has a music party in mind, but it's not quite what you've proposed here.
28th Oct, 2006 01:18 (UTC)
What kind of music party?
(no subject) - angorian - 28th Oct, 2006 04:57 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cpirate - 28th Oct, 2006 06:07 (UTC) - Expand
28th Oct, 2006 01:41 (UTC)
Sounds fabulous. I'd be up for helping with the metro party, pillow fight club, strawberry social, masquerade, free hugs, snapshot... and I could probably be convinced for other stuff as well.

Let me know! For the next two weeks I don't have time to do anything, but after that I'd be happy to lend a hand.
28th Oct, 2006 02:03 (UTC)
That's fine, since I will be quite busy for the next three weeks.
28th Oct, 2006 01:58 (UTC)
Lots of excellent ideas here. I'm interested in helping, when I can. Though I'd be wary of some of the more legally iffy events, such as those which might involve noise ordinance violations ("Guerilla Gigs").

In many cases, a few simple, sensible rules may need to be spelled out, along the lines of the Santarchy Suggestions ("Don't mess with law enforcement" etc.).

Might it be possible to team up with the NewMindSpace folks for these events? Do they have an official Montreal presence/representative?

28th Oct, 2006 02:03 (UTC)
I'm thinking the ones that might be legally iffy should have signs like "J'♥ la STM" and we should err on the safe side of politeness. That means not having the amp turned up to 11, but just loud enough to get over the sounds of traffic.

I'll look into contacting Kevin and Lori to see if we can be an official sister city. I really like the things they do.
28th Oct, 2006 02:08 (UTC)
The first rule of pillow fight club is: you do not talk about pillow fight club.

28th Oct, 2006 02:24 (UTC)
You have got the rules all wrong, my friend.
28th Oct, 2006 02:10 (UTC)
Another idea (probably not original) : a "Silent Dance Party". Each participant must bring a portable FM radio with earphones; the music is transmitted at a certain frequency -- presumably through a laptop equipped with one of those local-area FM radio relays. Everyone tunes in to that frequency and dances to the shared beats that only they can hear. Crowd noise would be kept to a minimum because nobody needs to raise their voices to be heard over the music.

Of course, the dancers won't experience that "body-beat you feel in your sternum" effect you get with a big-ass sound system, but it might be a fun thing to try.
28th Oct, 2006 02:24 (UTC)
I've heard of people doing those in flash mobs, but apparently people don't talk very much with those. They're immersed in their own bubble dance parties.

That defeats my idea, which is to bring people together.
28th Oct, 2006 04:47 (UTC)
These sound like great ideas! A friend helped organize a disc swap, as part of the annual Buy Nothing Day celebrations with WPIRG at UW. It was held alongside a similar clothing swap, and both were hugely popular. I've also seen clothing swaps work really well at house parties (fittingly, they were potlucks). My only logistical suggestions are to make sure there's somewhere people can change, and to have a plan to deal with the mounds of CDs and clothes that are inevitably left over (ie, find someone able to cart them to the Salvation Army).

As for publicity, obviously the blogosphere is a wonderful thing, but in my experience nothing beats plastering a city with posters. If you wanted to keep the location secret for legal or other reasons you could just give out a URL that will be updated the day of, or some such.
28th Oct, 2006 12:59 (UTC)
Well, clothing sales on the street are done by Santropol Roulant, and they don't have any change rooms. People just haphazardly try things on.

But the logistical problems with a clothing swap are probably more than a CD swap. Which is why I prefer the CD thing instead.

Would you be willing to help with postering? I'm thinking that I need someone of an artistic bent to draw them, and then a team of people to slap them up.
(no subject) - mynatt - 28th Oct, 2006 21:36 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sfllaw - 28th Oct, 2006 22:09 (UTC) - Expand
28th Oct, 2006 06:13 (UTC)
I'm sure I've heard of some of these happening elsewhere; probably at least a few were done by the awesome Improv Everywhere people. I also seem to recall hearing about a Metro Party on the TTC.

I've also heard of a variant of the Snapshot idea, where people get together to recreate classic paintings of crowd scenes in real life. The one I heard of was a famous impressionist painting whose name escapes me at the moment. Or was that what you were referring to?
28th Oct, 2006 07:42 (UTC)
Sorry, to be clear, my reason for pointing these out is not to say that you shouldn't do them because they're unoriginal; rather, they might have useful logistical suggestions.
(no subject) - sfllaw - 28th Oct, 2006 12:58 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sfllaw - 28th Oct, 2006 12:57 (UTC) - Expand
28th Oct, 2006 12:44 (UTC)
I've wanted to have a mass pot luck in Toronto for ages!

When Nuite Blanche was happening in T.O. I really thought it was missing a pot luck. Always thinking about food though.

Those are some really good ideas. I think you could certainly get those started. Especially in Montreal.
28th Oct, 2006 13:00 (UTC)
You should totally have a potluck in Toronto. I think it would go over well.
28th Oct, 2006 19:54 (UTC)
TuneCamp just sounds like an open-mic night. It might be fun to do a challenge similar to Song Fight! where each person has to write a song for a title announced in advance or some other restriction.
30th Oct, 2006 00:31 (UTC)
I have been thinking more about TuneCamp and think that it would be a good chance for artists and listeners to get together to talk about things.

Maybe you could go up and make some music. Or present a bit of technology? Or show a new way of doing post-production? Something easily done in fifteen minutes.

A Song Fight also sounds like a good theme for one of these.
28th Oct, 2006 21:03 (UTC)
Wow, the metro party is a really amazing idea. Because you're on a time limit, everything is more fun. It's like 11-second dance parties, only crazier. And of course the cleanup phase would be the biggest challenge...
30th Oct, 2006 00:31 (UTC)
At the last station of the party, you ask everyone to pick up as many pieces of trash as they can. You don't want to leave a trace.
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( 46 comments — Leave a comment )