When I think of the term "all-nighter", I think of staying up until well past sunrise. I think of fighting off sleep and cheating it out of a day. I think of a desperate compromise with one's own body in order to accomplish something important.
Two weekends ago, Montreal had its annual Nuit Blanche, with things that would normally only be open during the day staying open well into the night. A novelty, perhaps, but a way to drive people - particularly young people - to go to places they wouldn't normally go.
I was working that night, but only until midnight. With hours to go between that point and sunrise (by definition, it was literally the middle of the night), I had no worries that I would find some fun stuff to do that would keep me entertained for hours.
But unfortunately, "all-nighter" has a peculiar definition a city so well known for its night life. Going through the guide (my first time using its smartphone app, which was pretty good), I found so many activities I would have liked to try closed their doors at 3am or earlier. Some didn't even go past midnight.
Looking through the guide online, I did a count. Of all the activities mentioned:
- 27 ended at or before midnight
- 13 more ended at or before 1am
- 39 more ended at or before 2am
- 75 more ended at or before 3am
- only 17 extended past 3am, plus two outdoor installations, plus the Art Souterrain underground installations
By my count (which might be off by one or two, and also includes some activities that were later cancelled), the 174 activities included 154 - 89% - that shut down by 3am.
So instead of wandering around downtown enjoying hours of fun activities, I spent about an hour and a half having fun and then the rest of the time looking for whatever scraps were left.
Eventually I gave up and went through the Art Souterrain, a collection of art installations accompanied by artists' statements that are in some cases unintentionally hilarious or too optimistic about the effect they will have on the viewer.
But even then, I was stopped going from Place Bonaventure into Central Station when an iron gate met me at the top of the staircase. I had to abandon my underground city trip halfway through because one of its parts didn't want to stay up late.
I'm not expecting that every Nuit Blanche activity must keep going until 6am. And if the choice is between presenting something that ends early and not presenting it at all, then by all means put it on the program. But it wasn't so long ago that this night ended with a free breakfast at Complexe Desjardins at 5am, something that thousands of people gathered for.
Now it seems to end with people giving up on finding interesting things to do and going home on that all-night metro.
Hopefully something can be done to make Montreal's all-nighter last through the night.
Art Souterrain continues until Sunday through Montreal's underground city from McGill metro through Place Bonaventure and the Palais des Congrès to Place des Arts.