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February 21, 2012
Festival Fever: Bal en Blanc, Montreal QC
This is a series dedicated to PARTIES! For DJ Mag Canada, there is no place more natural to start this series than in Montreal, home to one of the most vibrant party scenes in world, and one of North America’s top electronic music events. Bal en Blanc has been a staple in the dance music scene of eastern Canada for nearly 20 years, and though rumours always come up around event time with people saying ‘this will be the last edition’.. it seems the night in white is as strong as ever, back with a star studded line up for their 18th edition in April, 2012. The amazing people at Playground Productions are working day and night to ensure this party will be the most memorable white party to date!
Merci David Giral pour le photo
Semaine Bal en Blanc (White Party Week) is an annual event which takes place from Easter Wednesday to Sunday in Montreal, Quebec. Every year many of the biggest names in the industry come together for arguably one of the most important social and cultural events in this booming metropolis. Not only does this Festival play host to the amazing music of our favourite artists but also includes many activities geared towards the new urban culture. Celebrating diversity and openness throughout the week, this festival features a substantial amount of talent from other industries such as fashion, dance, as well as design. All the festivities lead up to the dramatic Sunday finale which on its own currently is the largest annual electronic dance music event in Canada.
In 1995, a modest group of 800 people gathered together for the inaugural event at Club Playground which at the time was the first legal after-hours club in Montreal, Nikola T and Robert Ouimet resided on the turntables. A tradition which has stood the test of time, the costume contest, unrolled throughout the night on a 10 metre long podium. The second edition in 1996 featured renowned DJ Danny Tenaglia and Montreal’s very own Marc Anthony with a crowd of over 2000 fans dancing the night away. In 1997 co-presenters Hardcore Crew, Productions Playground and Rhythm is Rhythm offered several thousand dollars in prizes for the best costumes. In 1998 Roger Sanchez dropped a set for 5000 fans in a new venue and for the first time the Saturday night was scheduled with club events “The Resurection” and “Tease” to make it a full weekend of associated parties. With sophisticated setups and spectacular video projections, the sixth edition of the White Party was held at yet another new venue during year 2000. This exceptional environment was created at the Palais des Congres de Montreal and over 13,000 fans gathered for the first Bal en Blanc of this millennium. Appearances by Deepdish, Danny Tenaglia, Peter Rauhofer and Kevin Yost were highly anticipated and this edition helped propel Bal en Blanc into the top tier of electronic music events within the shores of North America.
A well put together production presented by ambitious promotion companies has forged astonishing memories for thousands of satisfied fans. Looking back through the years makes it easy to see why this event has blazed to the top of its class. Appearances from the biggest names in the industry such as Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, Above & Beyond, David Guetta, Deadmau5, Roger Sanchez, Paul Van Dyk and having several other huge international EDM headliners grace the decks has also boosted popularity. Bal en Blanc has progressively gained an immense and impressive amount of notoriety over 17 years, successfully branding itself as a leading-edge Dance Music event country wide, and has undoubtedly made a good name for itself internationally. It is no wonder fans flock to this memorable event every year by the thousands.
The week in itself is about more than just the music and dancing, community involvement has also become a part of this celebrated event. On a more artistic note, storefronts take part in the “White Tulip” contest every year. By decorating their store windows in white, they stand a chance at winning the Annual “White Tulip” trophy and the prizes associated to it. Over 50 businesses now participate in this pleasant challenge.
Many opportunities for an escape to the sound of music arise throughout the week. Each night leading up to the grand celebration is busy with an assortment of associated parties including DJ performances in clubs and live shows in numerous venues. However it is the critically acclaimed Sunday night party which will have you coming back year after year. After moving venues several times over the years, the immense closing celebration now takes place at the Palais des Congres de Montreal, a beautiful building in the heart of this bustling city with all the amenities required to host such an extravagant party. Well over 15,000 people now come from all around the world for the main event on Easter Sunday. The party and dancing go on from nine pm until long after sunrise, for roughly 15 hours the fans are treated to a display of amazing visuals and ear quenching beats. As the name says, Bal en Blanc meaning “The White Party”, and people are expected to arrive dressed appropriately. Standing in a sea of white as far as you can see, the crowd alone will have you mesmerized. Adding the heightened level of anticipation, the energy and most importantly the music into the mix provides an absolutely electrifying experience.
Last year’s 17th edition didn’t feature the incredible visuals we are expecting this year, but the lineup was just ridiculous, including Tiesto, Avicii, Hardwell, and Armand van Helden in the house room with Above & Beyond, Sander van Doorn, Markus Schulz, and Cosmic Gate headlining the trance room.. memories below.
This year, the main event’s line up is once again incredibly impressive. It seems almost like a “greatest hits” edition of the party, with heavy crowd favourites Armin Van Buuren, Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten returning to lay down captivating melodic sets in the trance room: energy levels are sure to remain high. On the house side, fans will be privy to hard hitting big room sets from another massive fan favourite Danny Tenaglia, who will be joined by Bal newcomers Steve Angello and Fedde le Grand. More headliners will be added to the line-up in the coming weeks, keep an eye out on the PLAYGROUND PRODUCTIONS facebook group for announcements. The 18th edition of this monumental spring event on April 8th is sure to make Easter weekend memorable for the masses in attendance and set pace for the Canadian electronic music events of the summer. Another treat for the 18th edition is the GodsKitchen Fusion cube. This over the top production piece will satisfy fans who missed out on the godskitchen that rocked the house at BeB 16.. Check the promo video below, I already have goosebumps.
Here is what the godskitchen looked like at BeB 16 with David Guetta, Markus Schulz, Ferry Corsten, Sander van Doorn, and Kaskade… what an epic party.
If you don’t want to live this year’s party through a highlight video, just buy your tickets here! This is one of few truly unmissable Canadian dance events.
Next week, as the first international edition of Festival Fever (the last edition of each month), we cover Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Florida. One of the world’s largest and most established electronic music festivals, Ultra takes place every year during the month of March and attracts over 100,000 fans throughout 3 days.
If you know of any Canadian or International electronic music festivals or events that you think we should be covering, please email festivals (at) djmag (dot) ca.
See you next week!
Check out Bal en Blanc featured in Tiesto’s latest edition of “In the Booth” – MTL in the house from 1:50-2:20