On Sunday night, while some of you were in the comfort of your home mesmerized by how Missy Elliott stole the Super Bowl half-time show or getting ready for the start of the week, a small crowd of courageous Montrealers headed to the Igloofest. With a similar amount of layers to an astronaut suit we headed straight to the dance floor. Igloofest presented to us J.U.D., Keys N Krates & Tiga on the main stage.

A few hundred people were present, some of them in full blown party mode, while others kept close to the heat stations, bars and fireplaces. The mood was good. Personally, I kept on telling myself, “You’ve got to do it for TIGA,” and honestly, it was totally worth it. While the MTL DJ himself kept the Grey Goose and the beats flowing, his fans were tripping out to remixes of Bugatti and many other songs.

Three weekends down, and one more weekend to go. If you haven’t gone to the fest yet, you have one last chance to attend next weekend. No matter how cold it gets, I assure you, it will be wild.

Igloofest TIGAIgloofest TIGA

To open the gallery, click on the picture above. All photos by Bianca Lecompte.

As you may remember, we recently covered the opening night of Igloofest. It was awesome, but freezing. They don’t call it ‘Igloo’fest for nothing!

If you don’t happen to have one of those epic 80s-90s fluorescent ski-suits, or a dinosaur onesie, you can still go to the festival, wearing a more casual attire, and hit the dance floor. So lets get right into it. image4xl

The trick? Layers. For all the new comers to the frozen lands, layers are a good – if not the best – way to avoid discomfort in harsh winters. If you have a pair of snowpants, put them on, and do it now! If you don’t, wear a pair of heat holders or “long-johns.” It will do the trick. This should keep you warm on a daily basis – and you will need this extra warmth six months per year.

A funky toque, a scarf, and a good pair of gloves – the classic winter attire, and voila! You are good to go. Another thing you can do is picking up some heat packs for both your hands and your feet at your local pharmacy, or purchase it at the festival.

The point is, layer up folks but don’t over do it, it could be counter productive if you do.

Keep the warm wine flowing, and get your dance moves on. Worst case scenario, they also play some music indoors. Canadian winter is no joke. So suit up, and get ready to dance!

It’s Igloofest in MTL – bang! It was fairly cold Friday night, so you know, I had running shoes on and no scarf, right!? I did on the other hand have a good homie hook me up with one of those fleece neck warmer joints, though. Respect. The scene was wild: people in full digital camouflage snowsuits, characters that looked like they’ve just walked off a ski resort, and these five or so dudes that were pimping full length fur coats. I was chilling in the heated area for a bit, they have these bleacher type structures – not comfy so one can’t stay long.

Time to check this party out though – finished my water and zipped the North Face up. We walked right into the Sapporo Scene. Diagraf, also known as Patrick Trudeau was spinning – great visuals too. That euro-house flavor, except the dude’s from here. The grounds really started filling up around 9 PM and I had to go for shelter again. There’s something disconcerting about big juicy bass lines and -20 with the wind chill.

Got some spiced hot chocolate and went to check out BBBlaster at the Videotron stage. It was bumping hard, people had become good and lubricated by then. I made my way to the front center, you know. Lol. Very good set, though. I actually sweated; then paid the price in chills after. At some point I got a text saying hold up your phone – and bang, one of the most exclusive dudes I know appears out of a throng of dancers and bear hugs me in the pit. Big respect. Classic session, was a lot of smoke in the crowd, everyone grooving. We know how to get down in MTL. I ended up at the Sapporo stage for Gui Boratto. The place was bonkers by then. I stayed and kicked it for about 20 minutes but could not regain an acceptable core temperature. Real talk, blue lips.

Igloofest is its own thing, unique vibes. The night was fresh. Cool people, some all city chillers even. For real, though, if you’re planning on going to Igloofest this year, bring a scarf. I’ll see you around one of those hobo cans filled with burning wood. Holla.

Igloofest Opening NightIgloofest Opening Night

Click on the photo above to open the gallery. All photos taken by Bianca Lecompte.

The creators behind Piknic Électronik never imagined their winter offshoot, Igloofest, would achieve the level of success that it has. According to general director and co-founder Nicolas Cournoyer, the idea of Igloofest came about as a joke during a post-Piknic meeting over eight years ago. The team were brainstorming ways in which they could take the concept of the weekly, outdoor, summer event further.

“Someone said ‘why don’t we do one in the winter?’ We started laughing,” Cournoyer said, “but then we said ‘hey, why not?’ That would be interesting, that would be original, that would be a good way to help people rediscover winter and tame it and stop complaining.”

It’s hard to believe that something that started out as a joke is now one of the biggest events of the year and has validated Montreal’s contribution to the electronic music scene on the world stage.

Just as in the early days of Piknic, the organizers saw Igloofest as a chance to showcase Montreal talent within the still-underground genre of electronic music. When electronic music broke into the mainstream several years ago, Piknic and Igloofest were primed for a surge in popularity as well and faced enormous opportunity to expand beyond the Montreal scene.

The current flood of musicians operating within the genre is a challenge for anyone to navigate but Cournoyer is happy with the balance the team has achieved in booking acts for Igloofest.

A focus on Montreal is still very much a priority for them. It’s one of the reasons they decided to expand the capacity of the smaller stage from around 200 to 700 people.

Igloofest © Bianca Lecompte

They also recognize that international acts can really draw in the crowds but they are very careful about avoiding a certain level of commercialization.

“Because the electronic music scene exploded in the last few years, there’s a lot more commercial stuff. We’re trying to target artists that are not in that class,” Cournoyer said, “first of all, because that’s not the kind of music we like. On the other side, it’s impossible for us to afford it.”

The popularity of electronic music has made it so that some of the most recognizable names in the genre are notoriously expensive to book. Artists like David Guetta and Deadmau5 can charge upwards of $50 000 to $200 000 for a single performance.

“When you go see those artists, tickets are $50 to $60. We’re not interested in that. For Igloofest, you pay $20 at the door,” he said, “it’s a question of philosophy as well. [The commercialization of electronic music] is something strange about what’s happening and it’s too expensive. That’s not how we created the event and how we wanted it to evolve.”

Keeping the price of entry as low as possible is important to Cournoyer since many Igloofest attendees are more interested in the overall experience than who’s providing the beats. It’s the experience that has captured the attention of fans and artists alike across the globe.

“The word of mouth travels fast,” Cournoyer said, “one artist from a label goes and tells everyone else and they all want to experience it. It blows their mind.”

Cournoyer said he’s met people from all over at Igloofest, describing one memorable fan who traveled to Montreal from Argentina for the sole purpose of attending the festival.

While Igloofest’s reputation transcends the borders of Quebec, what outsiders may not realize is that the event has changed the way many Montrealers feel about winter.

In a 2011 TEDx talk for HEC Montreal, Cournoyer described how most Montrealers view winter as a sickness:

As soon as the cold weather hits, many shut themselves indoors and hardly venture out beyond daily necessities like work and school. The cold seems to consume all of one’s being, turning even the most good-natured of us into crabby, incessant complainers. We all know: winters in Montreal are long, dark and horrible.

The key to enjoying yourself is to dress warm and find fun things to do outside that keep you moving, something that is exemplified in Igloofest.

Cournoyer refers to the growing trend of outdoor activities in the city, signifying the population’s willingness to change their feelings towards winter.

“We were thinking let’s make people love winter,” he said, “and that’s something that we’re really proud of, that now people are looking forward to winter.”

Igloofest closing weekend from February 6 to 8, Old Port of Montreal.   

Photos by Bianca Lecompte. See our Facebook album for more.

There’s this thing I do the second I get in the door: as soon as I’ve removed my shoes, be they oiled leather boots or burnished tan calfskin wingtips, I pull out the large Moneysworth 100% horsehair shoe brush I keep by the door especially for these routine instances and I vigorously, smartly, swiftly give my shoes a no-nonsense brushing.

Now, this, to the connoisseur, is a matter of simple maintenance. A properly patina-ed dress shoe or boot will shine back to life as dust and pedestrian hazards are effortlessly swept off the upper; the general muck, calcium or unmentionable whatever will part with a well-oiled shit-kicker with miraculous ease under a brisk hand. Every proper clotheshorse will tell you this simple bit of care will add years to quality shoes, whether they be dainty or heavy duty.

But everyone else—and there’s a lot of everyone-elses—will first wonder if I’m endearingly fastidious, or just compulsively weird. Never, though, will they doubt I’m being peculiar. And with those for whom the sight of the brush in my hand has become an expected one, I am more than a little familiar with the recurring eye-roll or sigh, not to mention the not-too-occasional snigger or scoff.

I don’t mind, of course. This isn’t ninth grade; I have no desire to pretend I don’t know better. But I wonder how they don’t realize I’m just efficiently ruggedizing for the vortex. If maybe they don’t realize their own spirit animals could use a little winter shellac. This wind-chilled port city of ours is a case study in emotional and physical decay a full five months a year, and surely you’ve noticed the signs yourself. It runs deeper than potholes—marks every foot, colours every bit of skin.

You may, for instance, have a friend, as I do, who schedules morning baths of Vitamin D light in his kitchen. He’s got a lamp for that; they have a spiritual bond, he and it.

You may, say, have spent all of December wrapped in blankets bingeing on Frasier. I know I did, with all of House of Cards, and Arrow’s heavy-handedness, too, for good measure. Lots of peanut butter cookies, for shame, and lots of late-night squats to repent (my ass got to hurting from all the sitting).

Needless to say, we all fall into and try to strike out of all that—me included, thankfully. Now, I’m braving the slush and black ice and anti-freeze-laced salt the city sprinkles over everything. And you know what makes it easier on the soul? Footwear that doesn’t look like it belongs in second grade, and leather that doesn’t look like gluttonous deposits are trying to eat their way through to the toes.

And so, shoe care is the balm to the well-prepared wintering soul, keeping winter’s teeth out where possible. A step-by-step meditation, you might say, with clear results.

Take a cold solemn night, for one, where I can literally see the heavy cold ghosting off the school across the way. Then, there’s nothing like a good shoe-shining session to keep the lid on the old mind. Imagine a little Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee for warmth, a little Trophy Wife, guilt-free, in the background. Picture those formerly calcium-eaten boots then sheening like big Blistex-ed lips, or a fine pebble grain cap-toe resplendently reflecting your silhouette. Take it in. Keep it with you.

My back always hurts a tad by the time I’m done shining, but I’m always greatly relieved knowing my feet’ll be ready for the upswing, the storm, the mess. I look over at a healthy-looking pair or two and I know they’ll get me wherever. I know ecstasy could indeed swell from the ground up, even on the cold front. And the elements can go screw themselves.

And the brush is a big help.

You know it when the temperature drops. Puddles solidify and soon the slush, sleet and snow come falling down upon us by the storm-load, sometimes dropping as much as two feet of snow at a time. Things die in this season. Things are buried and people suffer.

It starts with the massive force-feeding of irritating, annoying advertising. Lots of it. Holiday BS promoted and pushed heavily by the government, the church, along with various industries, all vying for your dollar until you’ve incurred so much debt you can’t climb back out of it. It is a season that starts with a lot of greed, avarice and debauchery, promoted and pushed and peer-pressured until you’re well past that boiling point. The advertising comes out in various forms. Some religious holidays seem to loosely coincide with this greed-fest, but they too, are a part of it.

The “Holiday season” is when right at the beginning of winter, we are encouraged to exhaust our resources, before four months more of winter. Some people pray to a fat corporate logo, which represents, in reality, the devil. The devil flying around the world and gives gifts to “Good” children and gives dirty coal and beatings to “Bad” children. “Good” children usually have generous parents and “bad” children usually have poor, stingy, or miserly parents. Children, choose your parents wisely. The powers that be have people pray off their greed and avarice and will their thrill seeking and wanton desires to be filled. They claim to pray for peace and try to guilt-trip people into giving much into various charities, while many of those who are in bad situations are only forced to worsen their own scenarios by giving in the few resources that they have to satisfy the needs and wants and desires of themselves and to make the wealthy remain so, cheapening their own resources in the process.

This is a season of death. This is a season of hardship. This is a season of disease. All of which affect us in various negative ways. It becomes harder to find food, particularly for animals that do not hibernate. Many creatures starve to death. The cold makes it harder to breathe and also stifles the immune systems. Pretty soon, hypothermia sets in,   while people start to develop often painful illnesses and begin to die of heart attacks and strokes.

The roads and sidewalks become slippery, holes begin to form in the road, causing breakages and sprains and injuries to axles and ankles alike. Vehicles require more fuel in order to warm up the engines so they can correctly run. Resources are sparse and people begin to get used to it, playing winter games, many of which cause other injuries, insults and upsets, all in a vain attempt to make the best of it, all the while freezing and complaining constantly.

…And then somebody throws a snowball with a rock buried in it right at my forehead. Don’t you just love winter!