The notorious summer city that reinvented itself to embrace the cold
Nothing quite screams "winter" like hearing Paul Newman dubbed in Quebecois French talking about "old-time hockey" as a freezing wind rakes across your face. So standing on the end of the Old Port of Montreal behind two guys dressed up like the Hanson brothers for a subarctic outdoor screening of Slap Shot gave me a new appreciation for the sheer creativity Montreal has with the cold.
Any place can have summer outdoor movie nights. But creating a veritable Rocky Horror Picture Show experience for the greatest hockey movie of all time? THAT is why Montreal has crafted itself into a destination equally fantastic in winter or in the summer.
As the dubbed Quebecois version of Slap Shot (far more vulgar than in English, btw) played on the giant screen, guys dressed as characters from the movie slugged beers and posed for selfies. Meanwhile the audience yelled along with some of the movie’s more memorable quotes. I now know how to say highly unprintable stuff in French Canadian.
The film is part of the annual Igloofest, a sort of cold-weather Ultra where EDM fans pack the Old Port for three weekends of raving outside in frozen-solid temps.
"The idea," says organizer Francois Fournier, "is that people have to dance to stay warm. You can’t just stand around here, or you’ll freeze."
As the movie ends, the Ogie Ogilthorpe jerseys leave and the DJs come on as a new audience emerges in front of the stage. Atop the catwalks surrounding the pier, the crowd glows bright purple, then green, then floodlight white as the 350-year-old waterfront behind it illuminates with their shadows. The buildings behind them are capped with snow, and the pulsing bass line makes the whole scene feel more like somebody had a little too much brandy and decided to throw a whopping street party, rather than North America's biggest cold-weather outdoor music festival. But dance they do, because in Montreal, winter doesn't mean the party has to stop.