Bal En Blanc 17th Edition – Palais des Congres de Montreal
By Michael Sherman
If you walked on the popular St. Laurent Boulevard early Easter Sunday afternoon, home to the Famous Schwartz’s Deli and Moishe’s steakhouse, one would say it seemed pretty quiet. Well no surprise really, it was Easter Sunday. But we really knew why..
We got to Montreal after making the 5 hour drive from Toronto and could tell there was a subtle buzz in the air. Welcome to the annual Bal En Blanc.
Every single Easter weekend for the past 17 years has meant one thing and one thing only to about 15,000 people. No it’s not searching for Easter eggs or eating a nice family dinner. In fact, it’s not even about Easter; it’s all about Bal En Blanc.
Come dinner time Easter Sunday, these party revelers aren’t concerned about anything except perhaps resting their legs and doing last minute preparations to the extraordinary outfits that most people wear to the annual Montreal White Party.
Not to outdo the music and visuals, but almost all attendees usually put tons of effort to extremely elaborate, sexy and risque outfits to dance the night away.
This year’s event took place in the same venue as last year, the Palais des Congres in downtown Montreal. Usually accustomed to holding conferences, trade shows and seminars, on this special night, it’s transformed into an Electronic playground for 14 straight hours.
Beginning at 9 pm Sunday and going strong until 12 noon Monday, the Palais becomes filled with heavy, deep beats and intense visual displays, basically an orgiastic feast for the eyes and ears.
As is the case in most years, the large hall-style venue is divided into three areas. One side is labeled the “Main” room, the other “Trance” and a common chill area between the two filled with vendors, concessions, and some areas to sit.
“There was a main Room and a Trance Room instead of House Room and Tech Room in the previous years. The Main room was bigger this year as it stage was set up to be perpendicular to the Trance stage instead of facing it. The result was a wider space and less depth in front of this stage.” Says Paul Gilbert, President of Mixcom.ca, the Public Relations Company responsible for Bal En Blanc and Playground Productions.
This year’s main featured world famous Dutch DJ Tiesto (www.tiesto.com), Armand Van Helden (www.armandvanhelden.com/), Hardwell (www.djhardwell.com), and Avicii (www.avicii.com/).
The Trance room featured British trio Above and Beyond (www.aboveandbeyond.nu), Markus Schulz (www.markusschulz.com), Sander Van Doorn (www.sandervandoorn.com/) and Cosmic Gate (www.cosmic-gate.de).
With regular entry fee at around $130 + service fees and an extra $40 for VIP (faster entry, exclusive-use bathrooms and private raised platforms with excellent sightlines to the DJ Stage), one can imagine what a giant scaled production this entire event is.
It takes Playground Productions the bulk of the year to get everything ready for this one spectacular night. With over 100 security agents, 75 security support personnel, 40 police agents hired by the promoters, most of the 15000 attendees were in the venue between 11pm and midnight.
After an emptying of pockets and purses and rather thorough pat-down to gain entrance, each guest feels safe, secure and well lets face it, maybe a little lighter in the pocket when it came into smuggling in some “party favors”.
No one will deny that drinking and drug use is very apparent and accepted when it comes to massive events like this. With only one arrest during the entire evening, supposedly for intent to deal, it’s amazing and quite impressive that the majority of the party goers make it through the entire evening safe and sound.
Tiesto’s set was 3.5 hours long and filled with Trance, house, electro and even some dubstep beats. Most of the crowd in the Main room seemed to enjoy his set, which was highlighted with some of Tiesto’s own classics and his new mixes as well.
Currently on tour promoting his “Clublife Volume 1 – Las Vegas CD”, Tiesto did not disappoint the masses. One interesting note was that no one was allowed to use and vendors were not allowed to sell glosticks, props extremely popular with these types of events. There are a few dwindling rumors about why Tiesto doesn’t like them while he’s performing.
Following in the footsteps of one of the biggest and most popular DJ’s in the world, was a young up-and-comer Swedish DJ known professionally as Avicii. With a full room waiting on his opening song, Avicii came out a little light.
It is of utmost importance to electronic DJ’s these days to take the party goers through a musical journey, so when approximately 7000 people were waiting in the wings of Tiesto’s last song, Avicii looked a little bit like a deer trapped in headlights.
For the next 2 hours, even though he was only supposed to spin for 1.5 hrs, Avicii became a well known name to many who perhaps had only just heard of him. His unique blend of vocal house and progressive house music delighted the crowd.
“Checked out the trance room for A&, was just poor bespectacled birthday-boy Pavo (Jono didn’t make it) who had some technical issues, but the visuals were great and the tunes were powerful, good stuff.
Markus Schulz tore a hole in my left ear. 2 words; Dirty and Dark. He went ape shit, it was amazing, I could hardly keep up. He obviously enjoyed playing whatever the hell he wanted to play 7 in the morning.” Says one reviewer from tranceaddict.com.
We had to call it a night around 6:30 am, although we were told there were over 1500 people there until the bitter end when the lights came on.
So another Bal en Blanc has come and passed. Was it as successful and well-reviewed as previous years? It seems to be the consensus that this year had some highs and lows and generally went over well with most of the partiers.
Come to the Palais less than 24 hours after 15,000 people danced the night away and you won’t find any shred of evidence of what went down. As quickly as it came, it was over.
We all have to wait a full year for the next installment, but that’s ok, it gives us 1 year to put together our new outfits.
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