Sometimes I can’t believe that Montreal’s massive outdoor electronic music fest and dance party Igloofest took until 2007 to get off the frozen ground – I mean, it’s just so very Montreal. Since the dawn of time, Montrealers have always been good at finding ways to party, sanctioned or not, during the darkest and deepest of winters…
What’s nice about Igloofest is that it brings together thousands of people in one place (at the Quays of the Old Port) over three weekends (January 12–14, 19–21 and 26–28 – yes, Thursday is part of the weekend now), in a month that isn’t exactly known for being party central (except on my birthday, which happens fall between the last two Igloofest weekends, meaning double the festivities!). It’s truly a phenomenon; get excited.
Igloofest is the wintery answer to Piknic Electronik, which takes place every summer Sunday over in picturesque Parc Jean-Drapeau, and whereas Piknic challenges us to wear as few clothes as possible, Igloofest encourages the flashiest, puffiest, ski-bunny-est winter outerwear possible. Neon 80s one-piece racing suit? Check. Rainbow-striped pom-pom’d toque? Check. Furry knee-high boots? Why not. Go for festive gold or just dress in your usual winter fare (maybe add a sparkly scarf or stick a glow-stick in your hat as an ode to rave days gone by), anything goes.
Okay, okay, so Igloofest is a great party populated by fun-loving people, but what about the music?? Well, the music is truly what ties this whole thing together, with some of the best DJs and VJs in the world willing to take the stage, even if they have to do it wearing wooly mittens. This year’s line-up, as in past years, appeals to all sorts of tastes, from eclectic melodic techno to steady four-on-the-floor beats to keep us solidly warm. With two stages of music – the main Sapporo stage and the local-talent Virgin Mobile stage – to wander (read: dance) between and food and beverages throughout the site, as well as warm-up stations, each night can truly be a unique experience.
During each night of Igloofest, the music starts nice and early, at 6:30 p.m. On January 12, Montrealer (now ex-pat) A-Trak, who recently blew up online with his bizarre and hilarious Barbra Streisand video, returns with a joyous set, along with the dubstep of UK’s Mala (DMZ). The next night, it’s electro funk with Tanner Ross and house with Tiefschwarz, while on January 14, Osheaga organizers bring Bambounou, Buraka Som Sistema and more. On January, Urbania mag brings us Tiga and Terence Fixmer, on January 20, it’s the Mutek party, with German artist D-Diggler just added, and on January 21, it’s Max Cooper and Sébastien Léger. On January 26, hold onto your fuzzy hats because M.I.A. collaborator and Major Lazer man Diplo is back – this night will be off the hook – with a weekend full of awesome (Green Velvet, Ostrich, Marcel Dettmann & Ben Klock) to follow.
And, lastly, a few Igloofest tips gleaned over the years:
- If you’re a serious electronic music lover and plan on being in town for more than one weekend, the $60 Igloofest pass is likely the best bang for your buck. If you’re just in town for the weekend and/or aren’t “into” electronic music, peruse the schedule, choose the nights that sound right for you and, if possible, buy tickets ahead of time or get to the site early enough (before 9 p.m.) that you won’t have to wait in line to buy tickets ($15). Though, to be honest, standing in line can be pretty great for making new friends.
- Each weekend is not like the other; check the temperature and dress accordingly. Sometimes it’s warm enough to warrant unzipping the coat and taking off the hat and sometimes it’s so cold that even the staunchest of non-dancers becomes a dancing machine. Indoor spaces and outdoor warm-up stations make for a pleasant break, of course.
- As for dancing, Igloofest is a low-key dancer’s paradise – when you’re wearing winter boots and a puffy parka, side-to-side shuffle action is your friend. Certainly, there’s plenty of flamboyant dancing going on but best believe lifting those Sorels all night means hamstring pain the next morning. Kinda worth it though.
- You can’t bring alcohol on site but there’s plenty to buy, from hot drinks to big cans of beer. On colder nights beer has a tendency to freeze, so (as if I really need to advise this?), drink it in a timely manner.
- Igloofest crowds are among the smiley-est around, so brush your teeth and ready your face for a good time.
Igloofest, January 12-28, 2012