Arts and Culture

Quebec government tuition hikes put Italian cultural hub at risk

Concordia’s Cineforum Italiano is grappling with budget cuts.

Concordia’s Department of Classics, Modern Languages, and Linguistics put out for the second year the Cineforum Italiano, a series of film screenings peppered throughout the semester followed by discussions of gender and sexuality in Italian film. 

The most recent on Feb. 23 was a screening of Una Giornata Particolare, attended by a small but dedicated group. The story tells of the friendship between a housewife and a gay man in fascist Italy. While everyone in their apartment block attends the historic meeting between Mussolini and Hitler, the two grow close despite stark political differences. The man is taken away by military police at the end of the day, leaving the housewife to continue living a dull life, forever changed. 

This film screening and many before it have been gathering places for Italian in Montreal. At the Cineforum, attendees converse in English, French and Italian alike. However, due to tuition hikes and budget cuts, the future of the initiative has become uncertain. 

Starting off last year with three winter screenings, the event’s popularity led to three more showings this fall term, and finally six this winter term. 

Cineforum Italiano has a distinctly Italian air. Most of the attendees come from Italian backgrounds, some with Italian parents and some first generation immigrants themselves. But due to the stagnating immigration rates from Italy and the passage of time, these Italian spaces are few and far between.

Lorena Serragli, a retiree with Italian parents, first took an Italian cinema class to reconnect with her roots, then began attending the screenings. She said that Italians in Montreal used to be concentrated in the east, but as the second generation grew up, they dispersed. 

“I don’t find there’s an area now that’s really remained predominantly Italian,” Serragli said.  

Due to this decentralization of the Italian community, many attendees only speak Italian and interact with Italian culture during the Cineforum Italiano. 

“I don’t really interact with the Italian community,” Serragli said. “My parents, my aunts have passed on and the cousins that I have now, we all interact in English. We’re all more Canadian than Italian. And so it just felt kind of nice. It’ll put me back in that atmosphere and that culture and that mode.”

Though it started out as an educational initiative about film, it also serves as a hub for the Italians of Montreal and is one of many small events in the city that keeps Italian culture alive. 

Additionally, Concordia university itself is a gathering place for second and third generation Italians. Through the university’s Italian language program, it is drawing in Canadians and Americans with Italian ancestry in order to connect with their heritage. 

As a teaching assistant, Meneghin has seen many students get engaged through Concordia’s Italian program and related initiatives. 

“I notice a lot of Italian surnames. The successors of those immigrants or those people that scattered all around the city, they kind of congregate here,” Meneghin said.

The film screenings and the Italian program welcome Italians and non-Italians alike. However, the film screenings are at risk of being another casualty of budget cuts born from tuition hikes. Since they are free, they rely entirely on the departmental budget, and they might not be able to continue, according to Elena Benelli, the director of the Italian program, due to an almost eight per cent cut to the university budget.

“I don’t think universities give enough space, resources and importance to the humanities in general,” Benelli said. “I think that the humanities have their place in this world.”

Arts and Culture

This week’s opportunities for fine arts students

Check out these upcoming opportunities for emerging artists, including callouts, job listings, networking events and more!


Espace Loulou (185 de Louvain O. #402) will be exhibiting the work of Marie Bilodeau and Kali Catterall in a show called Bodies without organs. The vernissage will be held on April 12 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

From March 23 through April 20, Espace Maurice (916 Ontario St. #320) will be hosting their final exhibition of the year, entitled The Triumph of a Lonely Place. The show was curated by gallerist Marie Ségolène C. Brault and features the surreal work of Genevieve Goffman. Learn more about the show at the gallery’s website.

Be sure to check out the VAV gallery’s current exhibition, entitled Komorebi, on view from April 1 through April 12. The title is a Japanese word that, according to the gallery’s recent promotional post on Instagram, “embodies the very essence of nature’s tender embrace.” 

Open Calls

ESSE, a Montreal-based arts and opinions magazine, has put out an open call for papers for their next issue, “Plastics.” Writers are encouraged to consider how artists are thinking about plastic and its impact through their work. The deadline for abstract submissions is Sept. 1. Learn more about the theme and the guidelines here.


Vidéographe, an artist centre that is dedicated to the dissemination of experimental film and the moving image arts, is now hiring a sales and festivals coordinator. This position involves assisting the team develop distribution strategies, managing submission platforms and more. Deadline to apply is April 15. Learn more about the requirements for the role here

Concordia’s Leonard and Bina Ellen gallery is looking for part-time gallery attendants. As part of the university’s work-study program, bilingual students who are enrolled in the Faculty of Fine Arts are welcome to apply. There is no deadline to apply, but it is first come, first serve. Read the guidelines here.

The FoFA gallery is hiring summer gallery attendants for bilingual students in the work-study program. The gallery is particularly interested in candidates who have a strong interest in anti-racist and anti-oppressive ways of working. The application deadline is April 15, so be sure to check here for the guidelines.

Arts and Culture

Poetry Spotlight: Jessica Wood

I Know I Need to Move Out

I had wanted you for such a long time. 

Could have been perfect, me and you, alone. 

Don’t you know you were supposed to be mine?

My clothes in your closet, hung in a line, 

the very first day that I called you “home” 

I had wanted you for such a long time. 

So how could you let my clothes, in your confines,

be eaten by the mold your dampness had grown?

Don’t you know you were supposed to be mine?

I tried to convince myself we could be fine, 

made excuses to my mom on the phone.

I had wanted you for such a long time. 

I wish that I would have known when I signed 

your lease that you would wear me to the bone. 

Don’t you know you were supposed to be mine?

I thought living alone would be divine.

All you had to do was be my new home.

I had wanted you for such a long time.

Don’t you know you were supposed to be mine?

Arts and Culture

An interview with Heather O’Neill

The celebrated novelist sat down with our Editor-in-Chief to discuss her published works and an upcoming novel. 

Montreal is ripe with celebrated authors, like Leonard Cohen, Mordecai Richler, and Heather O’Neill. On a sunny Tuesday morning in March, following a win on the Canada Reads game show, O’Neill met up with The Concordian to discuss her literary journey. 

The Concordian: Thank you again for sitting down with me. Let’s start by learning a little more about you.

Heather O’Neill: I was born here in Montreal and then my parents got a divorce. My mother took me to the American South, which is where she is originally from and I lived there with her for a while. After some years, she decided she didn’t want to be a mother anymore and sent me back to Montreal to live with my father.

TC: I’m so sorry to hear that. Through all that, when did you discover your passion for writing?

H.O.: I remember it started when I was in elementary school. I remember back when I was eight or nine, I got a journal for my birthday. I started journaling and I loved doing that. It was my favorite part of the day, getting back to my journal and describing my day. It was like the journal was the only person on my side. Afterward, in grade five, I had a teacher who was very excited about my writing. I remember she gave me this little folder and she told me to keep everything because she told me I’d be a great writer.

TC: I love that. Going into your young adult life, what was the first major inspiration for your first novel?

H.O.: Funny enough, I was in a workshop at Concordia. I wrote a short story with the characters that ended up in Lullabies for Little Criminals, Baby and Jules. I noticed that story in particular got a lot of attention and seemed to capture the attention of the readers. So I sent it to a magazine and it got published. After it got nominated for the Journey Prize, I told myself, “Okay, I have something here.”

TC: How do you feel now that your written works are now being studied in courses, like an English class that I took at Concordia?

H.O.: It’s funny because it’s just starting to hit me now, that sort of appraisal. As an artist, you don’t have a sense of the outside world. Now, turning 50 this year, I think I am slowly starting to see that impact. I have so many young women writers who have come up to me and told me that they have read my books.

TC: Which of your books do you find people come and talk to you about the most? 

H.O.: It’s hard to say, but Lullabies for Little Criminals has been around for the longest. I would say The Lonely Hearts Hotel has really struck a chord in people. 

TC: What would your advice be to young writers who are just starting out?

H.O.: I don’t know what exactly my advice would be because a novel is such a strange beast. I think people just get gripped by it and you can’t stop the writing until you finish it. It’s a lot like Narnia, you get into a novel and you don’t know how much time you’ll spend on it. When you finally finish that novel it could’ve been over a span of 10 years or even six months. The madness is real for sure.

TC: What does your writing process look like?

H.O.: I write in a very rough way, where I already have the idea of the novel in my head. It always changes as I go along. When I start the novel, I write the different scenes from different parts of the book to kind of get a feel of how it’s going to look. After that, I piece everything together into a legible book. Then I send it off to my editor and it goes back and forth four to five times.

TC: Do you currently have anything in the works?

H.O.: I have one coming out in September. This novel is my first that is not set in Montreal. It’s set in this little imaginary country and in this country, they base their entire identity on the arts. They have this incredible arts culture, but then they get occupied by another country. It’s sort of how occupying forces first destroy the artists.
Fans have been eagerly awaiting O’Neill’s next novel since her last release in 2022, When We Lost Our Heads. For updates on O’Neill’s newest creation, have a look at her Instagram account, which she shares with her daughter, @oneillreads.

Arts and Culture

This week’s opportunities for fine arts students

Check out these upcoming opportunities for emerging artists, including callouts, job listings, networking events and more!


Be sure not to miss Toronto-based artist Shary Boyle’s current exhibition “Vesselling” at Patel Brown gallery (372 Rue Ste-Catherine O, #410). Boyle’s idiosyncratic works combine painting and sculpture to create surreal and fantastical compositions. Each piece is full of color, texture and curiosity. The show will be on view from Feb. 29 through April 20. Learn more at the gallery’s website here.

Articule (6282 Rue St-Hubert) is now exhibiting the work of Montréal-based artist Yen-Chao Lin and Concordia alumnus Justine Skahan in a show entitled “Host.” According to the gallery’s website, their work explores  “notions of home and displacement.” The show will be on view from March 8 to April 20.

It is not too late to catch the group show “Catalog of Ruins,” currently on view at Centre des arts actuels Skol (372 Rue Ste-Catherine O, #314). This show features works from Samuel Bernier Cormier, Lauren Chipeur, Kuh Del Rosario, Xavier Orssaud and Elise Rasmussen. This group of artists draws on notions of the archive and found materials. Learn more about the show here. “Catalog of Ruins” will be on view from Jan. 18 through March 30.  

Concordia’s 4th Space will be hosting a one-day symposium entitled “Expanded Practices: Composition in the post-secondary fine arts classroom” on March 25 from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. Learn more about this writing-focused symposium and register at their website here.

Open Calls 

The bilingual lecture series by and for art history graduate students, Hypotheses, is looking for applicants for its new team for the 2024/2025 academic year. This is a volunteer opportunity for students from Concordia, McGill, UdeM and UQÀM. Members will be responsible for organising six conferences each year as a team. Learn more and apply at this link by April 15!

Concordia’s Art Education Graduate Student Association (ARTEGS) is looking for researchers, educators and artists for their upcoming exhibition for graduate students, entitled “Bold, Italic, Underlined.” The exhibition will take place at Galerie Popop from May 13 through 20. Submit images of your work and a description of your practice to before April 1. Learn more about the exhibition’s theme on ARTEGS’ Instagram.

Orangepeel literary magazine has put out an open call for forward-thinking prose, poetry, visual art and comics for their upcoming issue that focuses on the future. Learn more about the submission process and guidelines here.

Room magazine has put out a call for submissions for issue 47.4! Their recent post on Instagram reads, “Room 47.4 is open for unthemed submissions! Send us your dreamiest & most daring & everything in between.” Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis and will close when full, so the earlier, the better! Learn more about the submission guidelines for art and writing here

Concordia Photo Collective has released a call-out for their five-day exhibition at Tiers Lieu Montreal from May 12 through May 16, entitled “Despite the noise I see.” They are looking for photographic works that speak to moments of lucidity amid chaos, and urge photographers to consider keywords such as grief, liberation, contemplation, noticing, longing and connectivity. Complete your application here by April 15!

Opportunities at The Concordian

As the semester comes to an end, we are still on the lookout for artwork submissions for our final digital issues of the academic year! 

Our Artist Spotlight series provides a space for Concordia’s fine arts students to showcase their recent artwork. Send your poetry, short story, photography, digital art, film, documentation of physical works, or performance along with a brief biography (100 words) and an artist’s statement (250 words) to

Email our Arts & Culture Editor Emma Bell for more information at

Arts Arts and Culture

Poetry Spotlight: Jessica Wood

Prayer to Saint Anthony

my dad sent a package to me that I never received. maybe it got lost, maybe he sent it to a thief. 

I call my mom and mention it, and I don’t know what I am hoping she’ll say. she sighs his name on the phone, like it was his fault. a heavy sigh, knocks the wind out of me. 

like it was his fault.

somehow it reminds her to tell me—one lost thing leads to another, in her mind— the tree in my backyard fell yesterday. 

everyone is fine. 

my cat’s old aching bones can climb the branches once more– they fell down to the earth to meet her, they missed her enough to come kiss her hello. 

the hot tub, where I dug my wrinkling, boiled fingertips into my palms for so many evenings, and so many years, is still intact.

the gazebo, where I slept in the summers, covered in beach towels and spiders, where cigarette butts steeped like tea in jars full of rainwater, is only banged up a little bit. 

the old tree, arm choked by a rope swing tourniquet, is plunged into the earth below. grave and grave marker. branch become root. 

it was the wind that did it. a heavy sigh knocked it over, knocks the wind out of me. I sigh, my breath echoes in the phone call feedback loop, my aching lungs passed down from my mom. she sighs back. 

like it was his fault.

Arts and Culture

From dice to devices: Exploring the digital renaissance of board games

In-person or online, gaming experiences are multiple in player perspectives.

Board games have undergone a resurgence in the digital age in the past twenty years, bridging the gap between traditional experiences and virtual platforms. For example, games like Catan (1995), which got an online version in 2005, the old and popular tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons (1974), with its first digital platform came out in 2006, and even ancient chess exemplify the successful transition of classic games into immersive digital formats. 

This fusion of technology and board gaming not only preserves the essence of beloved titles but also introduces innovative elements, ushering and unlocking an era of interconnected play. The perspectives are plural. Three professionals from the gaming industry shared their perspective about the renaissance of these games and their impact in game culture.

“I play Dungeons and Dragons with my high school friends. During the pandemic, for example, most of us were living together in the same apartment, so it was a great escape from all the weirdness and great pretext to see each other,” Simon Gervais said. 

To Gervais, online board games or tabletops don’t necessarily threaten any gaming experience; they can allow people to practice when an in-person meeting is not accessible, for example. 

“Online versions truly make it more accessible for people that may not have a group of friends, or don’t have a group to play, or simply don’t want to leave their home. There’s no bad side—it’s more time management related,” Gervais said.

Stanley Gee-Silverman, who plays online chess and Catan with random people almost every day, believes that games like chess create their own desire to make time, as opposed to being a time fill. 

“It lets you play many more games than you normally could, against many different people,” he said. “It allows you to share your hobby with people around the world, who are similar to you. They are from everywhere: Brazil, Turkey, China, France, the U.S., Germany…” 

Gee-Silverman doesn’t think that these new online versions will threaten friendly gatherings. “It can make people do it more. And like most things, if that feels [playing online] like it is happening, you can evaluate your experience to keep it or not. They are two different things, two different perspectives and experiences,” Gee-Silverman said. “It’s opened, one doesn’t replace the other.” 

Faris Musallam believes that board games turning into online versions sound great. According to him, people normally want to play board games for their social aspect. If they are into the game more than the social aspect, it’s cool for them to have a way to play without finding people to play with. 

“If I don’t have real people to play with, I just don’t play them. That’s because I value the social aspect. People would only be drawn online if the social aspect wasn’t important to them, or if certain constraints prevent them from meeting physically,” says Musallam.

In essence, the shift of board games to digital platforms over the past two decades represents more than just a transition; it’s an expansion of the board gaming universe and culture, enabling a diverse range of experiences that cater to both traditionalists and those seeking the convenience and connectivity of online play.

Arts and Culture Student Life

Concordia Arts students collaborate to produce a brand-new exhibit out of a recycled one

The students of the special topics art course ARTT 399 get a hands-on learning experience about sustainability in art.

On Feb. 14, a group of 45 students brought their class to Concordia’s 4th Space to work collaboratively and display the making of their project to the public. They are making a book using materials they’ve recycled from a previous Public Art and Sustainability student exhibit at Place des Arts Aiguilleurs in Griffintown.

Straw sculptures, financed by the Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM), were erected near the Griffintown REM station in an original student exhibit produced by a cohort of students from multiple universities last summer. This transformation will culminate in a book of poetry and drawings in response to the original student exhibit, commemorating nature lost to city transformation in Griffintown.

Course Teaching Assistant Sabrina Rak said this process imbues the project with transformative power.

“This is really a metaphor, taking the actual straw from the other structure, boiling it with soda ash, and blending it to make paper pulp and making the basis of a book which is paper,” Rak explained.

Sabrina Rak and two students enjoy the messy process of their art over tarp floor lining at Concordia’s downtown campus. Photo by Julia Israel // The Concordian.

Studio Arts student Ramona Hallemans registered for this course to learn practical skills to work in the art industry once they graduate. The class works in collaborating teams on book design, communications, documentation, and grant writing. Hallemans describes this project as one with community collaboration as a central value. 

Ramona Hallemans pats down straw pulp to make book paper at Concordia’s downtown campus. Julia Israel // The Concordian.

The ARTT 399: The Artist as Multi-Hyphenate class will present the exhibit in Concordia’s Visual Arts Visuels (VAV) gallery from May 5 to 11. For updates, follow the course on Instagram at @45_passersby.

Arts and Culture Exhibit

Step back in time: Immersive VR experience recreates rave culture at Centre PHI

Experience the thrill, music, and underground atmosphere of 1980s illegal raves within the confines of virtual reality.

How did it feel to attend a rave with thousands of other people in the United Kingdom during the 1980s? Such a unique experience is unparalleled, but artist Darren Emerson has recreated its essence in his interactive VR experience In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats, which is currently open to the public at Centre PHI. 

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats is both a documentary and an immersive experience. The player embarks on an adventure that brings them back to 1989, when illegal raves were regularly organized throughout the country in uncanny locations, such as abandoned warehouses.  About 40 minutes long, the VR experience is both informative and entertaining. The player is provided a headset, headphones, and a sort of backpack that vibrates to the rhythm of the soundtrack.

The playroom is located on the second floor of the museum. Adorned with blacklights, the room is divided into six sections where players can move around during their experience. Once the headset and headphones are on, though, it is impossible to tell that there are other people in the room. It is an individual adventure and the VR setup makes the player feel cut off from reality completely. 

The graphics are breathtaking. At the beginning, the player sits in the car with ravers, watching the road roll by in the darkness of the night. Then, the player hangs out with these same ravers in a bedroom with walls covered in posters of 80s bands before getting sucked into the radio and surrounded by colors, vibrations and music. After visiting the police precinct and learning about the investigations that illegal raves led to at the time, the player enters a warehouse and experiences a rave in the fashion of 1989. Throughout these different scenes are scattered testimonials from important actors of the rave scene in the 80s. 
Interested? This VR experience is featured at Centre PHI from Feb. 7 to April 28. Centre PHI is known for the diversity and uniqueness of its exhibitions and displays. It showcases art pieces from underground artists and allows the public to experiment with all types of mediums and technology. Colored: The Unknown Life of Claudette Colvin is another VR experience currently featured that will be open to the public until April 28.

Arts Arts and Culture

Poetry Spotlight: Jessica Wood

Jessica Wood is a second-year student in creative writing at Concordia University. A writer her whole life, she particularly enjoys writing creative non-fiction, poetry, and autofiction.

Hopeful Romantic

it’s the arms in my heart reaching out to hug the unfamiliar shape of a new friend. 

it’s laughing so hard my “waterproof” mascara runs down my cheeks in the shape of joy.

it’s standing with a friend on a train platform, singing along to the busker playing Sweet Caroline. 

it’s a lipstick shade named Caroline! 

it’s nodding, listening, as my best friend speaks, as her thoughts cross her face. 

it’s learning that hope is a strength. poison is bitter, but so is medicine.

it’s reaching out to new people. 

it’s not reaching out to someone you thought you’d always need. 

                                                (I wish I had two hearts. 

                                                one for the good times I have had, 

                                                and one to keep in a box and only use on special occasions, 

                                                like the fancy soap I bought in Paris when I was fourteen 

                                                and only used for the first time last month. 

                                                one heart that stays safe from the wear and tear of everyday use,

                                                and one to run ragged.)

anyway, I don’t know what it is, but it’s nice. 

I’m a hopeful romantic!

Arts and Culture Photo Essay Student Life

Where I am Writing From

These are the desks I wrote my graduate thesis on.

​​Caro (Caroline) DeFrias is an emerging academic, artist, and curator currently based in Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang/Montréal. They are currently in the final stages of their graduate thesis in art history at Concordia University. Previously, they achieved a Combined Honours with Distinction from the University of King’s College in the historiography of science and technology and anthropology, with a certificate in art history and visual culture, and an unofficial minor in contemporary philosophy.

Their work, through a variety of mediums and forms, explores the embodied politics and poetics of queerness, anticolonial art histories and practices, and notions of inheritance and identity in relation to immigration and (re)settlement. As well, they maintain a critical interest in the construction of the gallery space, the politics and history of display practices, embodied and queer phenomenologies of encounter, and the ethics and pathos of the archive. 

Where I am Writing From, July 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, August 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, September 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, October 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, November 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, December 2023. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, January 2024. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Where I am Writing From, February 2024. Photo by Caro DeFrias.
Arts and Culture

Montreal’s sexiest subculture: fetish & kink

A deep dive into one of Montreal’s most secretive scenes and the community surrounding it.

Poutine, the Habs, French, and Mount Royal are the things that might generally come to mind when someone from outside the city thinks of Montreal. How about chains, whips, floggers, leather, and latex? 

Montreal is widely regarded as a global kink capital, featuring one of the largest fetish conventions in the world, a secretive yet growing kink scene, and an active passionate community. In 2024, just a short time after the scene mostly shut down and reopened following the COVID-19 pandemic, it is quickly evolving. 

What was once a largely secretive and private scene is increasingly becoming open to the public. A community that struggles with fracturing and drama is adapting to new values, as kink culture increasingly begins to intersect with queer culture. Behind all this change are venues and events that have revolutionized the scene by being open to the public and relatively affordable. 

Every year for the past almost two decades, fetish culture has taken over the streets on Labour Day weekend. Attracting thousands of local and even international fetish enthusiasts from the United States and Europe, Montreal Fetish Weekend (MFW) is the city’s largest fetish event. The event consists of workshops, expos, film screenings, social dinners, cocktail hours, and scandalous parties with music, dance, kinky play, and fashion shows, that take over Montreal’s nightlife. The event finally culminates on Sunday with a photo walk that dominates the streets with lingerie, leather, and latex fashion.

The large-scale event is produced by Eric Paradis, aged 58. Paradis has been active in the local fetish scene for the past 35 years and debuted the MFW in 2004. He believes that the local scene would heavily benefit from more political and media recognition. 

“It’s healthy, but it’s very underground when you compare it to other cities,” Paradis said of the local scene. 

The MFWd will be returning for its 20th anniversary this year, and Paradis teased some ambitious ideas. A fashion show led by the attendants of the event, a welcome dinner atop Place Ville Marie, and a kinky cruise touring the city from the St. Lawrence River are just some of the things attendants may potentially expect this year.

While the MFW has been a staple of the local scene for the better part of the last two decades, it has a significant barrier to entry with its pricing. The weekend trio pass costs around $200, while the V.I.P passes are upwards of $300, pricing out lower-income fetishists from many of the weekend’s events. It is also only held once a year. Certain newer public venues and events are lowering this barrier to entry by being much cheaper and running all year round. 

A portal into the world of kink can be found in a humble doorway in Montreal’s Gay Village, with a simple sign reading “TENSION.” Past the welcome area, visitors will find a large open space with a wooden floor, often covered in Japanese tatami, adorned by a massive “rope tree” in the center, its “branches” interconnecting and knotting with each other throughout the ceiling. 

Tension is a venue with a focus on teaching shibari (Japanese rope bondage), but also offers yoga classes, workshops on rope, as well as other elements of BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism) play, social communal events that bring like-minded people together, and even occasional parties. Founded originally in late 2017 as a smaller venue, Tension moved to a much larger venue on St-Catherine Street in March 2019. 

According to 33-year-old Christophe Bolduc, one of the owners of Tension, shibari has appeals for both the person doing the tying (the rigger) and the person being tied (the bottom). This and other forms of rope bondage involve using rope to restrain someone and restrict their movement, though it can potentially be very artistic. 

Bolduc was introduced to the ex-owner of Tension and was first tied upon his visit to the venue. It was then that he realized the depth of the craft, and his interest in rope was sparked. He began taking classes in 2018 and joined the Tension team in late 2019.

While shibari offers a new form of artistic expression to those who practise it as riggers and a unique immersive sensory experience for bottoms, it is not entirely safe. Bolduc stressed that shibari could be dangerous when not done safely, with risks such as nerve compression & damage. Physical safety is emphasized in the classes taught at Tension.

Tension calls itself a “safer space,” and the team is constantly trying to improve for its community. The staff accomplishes this through various methods, including community talks, teaching classes on consent & negotiation, placing an emphasis on emotional safety, and accountability circles, where clients can contact a neutral party with issues or conflicts.

After struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic like other non-essential businesses, Tension is now finally seeing some solid growth. “It’s reassuring that the community has been managing to constantly show up,” Bolduc said. 

In stark contrast to the Zen atmosphere of Tension, a monthly event features strobe lights, lingerie, a dungeon, and the ear-splitting hard bass of hardcore techno music, LATEX is Montreal’s most trendy kink event right now. The event attracts hundreds of ravers every month and, most recently, international DJs from Germany and Iceland. It will be returning for a special edition in collaboration with the Pornceptual collective on March 15. 

Held monthly at Union Française de Montreal on Viger Avenue, LATEX has a strictly-enforced kinky dress code. The event features performances including shibari, pole dances, and other kinky performances. The event also includes a dungeon equipped with large restraints such as X-crosses, as well as sex toys like plastic floggers and paddles, allowing attendants to play.

Juliana (Jules) Schlamp, aged 20, is a regular at the event. She’s been to six events so far, having attended her first LATEX in April. She was introduced to the world of kink through a chance discovery after leaving Stereo nightclub and seeing people in their outfits lined outside the event venue. 

“Unreal,” Schlamp said of her first experience at the rave. “It was truly extraordinary. To see the level of comfort, what people were wearing… and nobody was hitting on each other, it was so consensual and such a respectful space.” For Schlamp,  the event feels like a safe space where, if ever she were ever in danger, her fellow ravers would help her. 

Former dungeon monitor, photographer, and DJ at LATEX, Ben Ohayon (known in the scene as warmrubberette), quit the event back in September. He cited safety concerns due to mixing kink with loud music, drugs, and alcohol. Schlamp expressed a similar concern, saying  that as the event attracts more people, it becomes harder to filter out bad actors, and the event becomes less safe. 

Ohayon is the organizer of Rubber Regalia, Montreal’s only latex-dress code party, as well as Dirty AF, the kink scene’s newest addition and the first-ever hip-hop/Y2K-themed kink party, hosted at Cabaret Berlin.  Dirty AF returned for its second edition in January, and Ohayon plans to continue hosting the event every few months, with the next event being scheduled for May.

As Ohayon recognizes, Kink culture in Montreal has begun to increasingly intersect with queer culture. Referring to concepts such as switching (when one switches positions from top to bottom or vice versa) that have been imported from queer culture, Ohayon said: “That makes kink even more accessible because there’s less constraints associated with it. There’s more possibilities, more labels. You can explore it the way you want to explore it without being judged.”

Organizers of the community are generally optimistic about the future of the local scene. As Paradis said: “Montreal will always find a way to express its creativity and its kinkier side.”  

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