For seven years, there were no Sundays, just one endless weekend night. Now, Sundays disappear less often. But sometimes I still need to go out, to escape, laugh, dance, flirt and surrender to spontaneous adventures that unfold like a comic book hiding in your pocket.
Like tonight. Tonight, I hope, will remind me how special Montreal nightlife can be: cutting-edge, sophisticated, full of nutty characters and not afraid to let loose.
At 10 p.m., I meet Stephanie at Sala Rossa, a terrific old ballroom in the artsy Mile End. We're here to catch a show by a local buzz band. The indie-rock hipsters filling the hall give each other doe eyes, beers in hand, and everyone's taking pictures with their cellphones. Stephanie and I share brief existential discourse about "being in the moment" versus "observing the moment" until we realize we're making no sense and it's time for a drink. Vodka soda, and tonight they cost just $4.50. Salut!
The band takes the stage, and wow, they're really good. I get lost in the songs, the crowd hoots and hollers. We skip the encore and head outside, where pastel-coloured bicycles parked every which way look like candy. Smokers linger by the door. We jump in a cab, as Saturday-night fireworks grind through the sky. " Ouai," as say the French, " c'est samedi soir."
At breakneck speed, the taxi spirits us down to Old Montreal to Garde-Manger, a tiny upscale restaurant hidden on a cobblestone street, packed with familiar faces, show-business types and visiting celebrities (nobody bothers them here). We two-cheek kiss hello everyone we know, and some peeps we don't. Things get messy after midnight, tables pushed aside as the DJ squished behind the bar plays iPod hits at deafening volume.
Almost 1 a.m., time to hit Velvet, hot spot of the moment in the basement of the Auberge Le Saint Gabriel. The small, humid club is debauchery and dance music headquarters featuring popular underground club DJs. The lurching crowd is diverse, bilingual and sometimes bi-curious as dress-shirt guys share sweat with club kids young and old, beautiful barflies and every scenester in town. These days, the trannies are 18 and wear Versace high heels. Like that dude, draped in some sort of chic burka, eyes blackened with charcoal smear, dancing up a storm as his voluptuous sidekick ferociously humps the speaker.
Lurking in the shadows, too, are ghosts: former cronies and ex-lovers from back when I mistook those party connections for something real. Kapow! What can I say? I was naive. Luckily, I still kind of am.
We escape to the dance floor. It's magical, hot and sweaty. Need air. I glide through the cartoon bodies and strike a pose in the corner under the air-conditioning vent. That's when I spot him. Leaning on the bar. Tall. Dark. Slightly awkward, in that irresistible way.
He smiles. Feeling brave, I sidle over. We talk. Laugh. Time passes. He's touching my face and kissing me. Nice. We kiss again and I never want it to be Sunday, never want the chance of a happy ending to disappear.
Simona Rabinovitch writes about pop culture, travel and arts and entertainment.
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