R&B 200’s success story

Apt. 200’s R&B nights are drawing hundreds of people to the club—on a Wednesday.

There is an element of unpredictability that comes with getting people to go out on a Wednesday night. With its latest series of R&B nights titled “R&B 200,” Apt. 200 Montreal has accomplished exactly that, offering a unique setting that draws hundreds to the club in the middle of the week. 

Lou Celestino, a local artist and bartender at the club, first came up with the idea as a solution to existing problems: “Wednesdays were very inconsistent, without branding. People were simply trying to mosh and we’d get noise complaints.” He noted the overall lack of a strict R&B focus in other clubs on St. Laurent Boulevard, which made way for R&B 200’s differentiation. Starting from simply hosting and bartending, he now manages the event.

The format has essentially turned Apt. 200’s usual hip-hop banger formula on its head. It opts instead for a relaxed, lounge-like environment that focuses on mellow, emotional cuts and classic 2000’s R&B. With a DJ roster composed of Miggy, Nino, Arsy, and Spinelli, clubbers are treated to a seamless mix of modern R&B, vintage classics, and incorporations of adjacent styles like late ‘90s-2000s pop and hip-hop.

The event is powered by Diff Minds, a local content-creation trio. Diff Minds includes two Concordia alumni, Kyle “Dolla” Martel and Karim “Dream” Fall. Celestino called upon them personally, given his genuine friendship with Dream and positive experiences with having the duo host at Apt. 200. Through their video recaps, Diff Minds showcase a different side to clubbing, one that is atypical to the scene’s usual portrayal. Their visual style is simultaneously professional, stunning, and intimate, between Dolla’s warm, vivid photography and Dream’s crystal-clear videography. The inclusion of retro technology (polaroids and camcorder) gives their clips a homey feel, one that perfectly suits R&B 200’s throwback essence.

Above all, the intent behind R&B 200 is to bring people together, be it the team or the crowd. “We want to bring a vibe to the club that allows people to have fun, enjoy themselves, and be safe while doing it. We encourage creatives, entrepreneurs, artists, and more to come together and network while vibing to some good, nostalgic music,” Dolla explained.  

“It allows people to have a conversation. Most importantly, the vibes are immaculate; barely any fights or trouble, that’s what separates us from other places,” Celestino added.

This is exactly what you get from a Wednesday at Apt. 200: the bar fully lined up with people talking, a crowded dance floor before midnight, dance circles, attendees singing along to ballads in unison while waving their flashlights; be it a social gathering or a collective celebration of music, the heartwarming feeling of community truly fills the room and defines each Wednesday night. DJ Spinelli notes that it has become a sanctum for creative expression. “We’ve transformed R&B Wednesdays into a space where everybody can express themselves fully, through outlets like fashion & dance. Everyone is there to support each other and have a ball! It gives you the confidence to fully lean into your passion,” she explains.

Celestino prides himself on gathering a team built upon diversity. “When you look at the lineup of hosts and DJs it’s multicultural; I am absolutely proud of representation,” he said. “One thing that motivates me is opening doors for the next wave of talent. With every name on the flyer, I see the qualities that are important for hospitality and that make people feel welcomed. I’m proud that I got a group of hosts to become friends.”

R&B 200 continues to see increasing popularity and a steady turnout, both of which are impressive given the unlikely circumstances. Fall is glad to bear witness to this success and remains surprised by it. “I’m a very observant guy. I catch myself looking around the club and being like, ‘Wow, why are so many people showing up on a Wednesday?’ It’s a hard sell. Overall, I see the same familiar faces coming through and making the appointment to come every Wednesday.”

The success of R&B 200 is now driven by the name it has made for itself. “People know that Wednesdays are for R&B nights at Apartment,” Dolla said. “It’s something you have to see for yourself.”


Death of the theme party

Please let me wear my regular clothes again

Picture this: it’s a Friday night, and you’re either hunched over a computer trying to squeeze out the last bit of academic energy you have left in you, or anxiously procrastinating. The weekend is near and you’re ready for a night on the town — you deserve one, after all. But you’ve been so caught up in the academic haze that you forgot to make plans. 

You eagerly ask your roommates what they have planned. One has opted to spend the night with their significant other watching the 2006 critical flop (yet still beloved) film Aquamarine; the other has a date. Before admitting defeat, you rapidly fire off “what’s the move” texts to anyone you’ve ever had a remotely good time with — and some you’re willing to give a second chance to. 

It’s growing late and you’re about to give up when your cracked iPhone buzzes with hope. With a racing heart, you check your messages. 

“We’re going to so-and-so’s party on St. Dennis, you can totally come,” one of the fun friends has informed you. You run to the closet to pick out your best threads. When the phone buzzes for a second time, the text says: “It’s pirate-themed. See you there <3.” With a sinking heart, you hang your brand new navy blue Uniqlo chore coat back in your closet. Panic sets in. Do you wear an eye-patch? A funny hat? Do you need a parrot? 

This is the third week in a row you’ve been underprepared for a theme party. Time and time again you’ve been asked to dress for different themes, like goth, 90s night, like characters from the movie Midsommar, all in white, all in brown and one time even just like someone named John. 

You try to participate, but between the price of beer and the snack you know you’ll need on the way home, your budget is tight. How can you justify a whole new outfit that you will never wear again for solely this one night? 

You consider not going at all, but reluctantly, you grab a torn shirt, your roommate’s funky old striped pants and a bandana. You look nothing like a pirate. You’re dressed closer to Johnny Depp in real life than Jack Sparrow and you feel ridiculous. It’s not fashionable, not flattering and not fun. But dammit if you aren’t participating because parties have rules and you have to play by them. 

On your way, you stop at the depanneur to get the standard six pack of whatever beer is under ten dollars. The man behind the counter gives you a look of confusion and modest judgment. “Nice pants,” he says politely. But you know he doesn’t mean it.

You arrive at the party and see that, once again, everyone is outperforming you. 

People have eyepatches, fake parrots, and one person seems to have an eerily convincing peg leg (you do your best not to look directly at it). As you dodge questions about why you’re wearing a torn up dress shirt in an attempt to masquerade as a pirate, a sense of shame begins to creep in followed by resentment. Three weeks in a row, you’ve tried to look the best you could and tried to conform to the theme, but sadly, you just can’t keep up anymore. 

The TikTok-i-fication of your nights out has started to ruin the fun of it. With bring-your-own-cup parties and “summertime in the winter” parties, nobody had to feel left out. But, now it seems as though each week your friends try to outdo each other with a more convoluted and ill-conceived trendy theme that they saw a group of influencers attempt online. 

You and a group of other underperforming partygoers gather in the shadows, avoiding snide remarks. After a couple of hours, people begin to filter out and you decide to join. On the way home, you stop at A&W and chat with your friends recounting the night’s shenanigans. An appropriate amount of time passes and you turn to leave.

“Next week at my house: clown theme!” someone shouts as you begin to walk away. 

You bow your head in defeat. “Tonight might as well have been clown-themed,” you think to yourself. 

On the way home, you accept your fate and begin to brainstorm where to buy a red nose as the bag of buddy burgers grows colder in your hands.

Student Life

There’s more to pugs than their looks

Four-year-old Olaf and his younger sister, Greta, dressed up as ketchup and mustard for the annual Halloween party on Oct. 26. Competing among others, they won the award for best matching costumes. Their prize: a bunch of bone-shaped treats and squeaking stuffed animals.

The two pugs were among 25 others that gathered for the 11th Annual Halloween Pug Party at Girouard park in NDG, hosted by Montreal Pug Meetup Group.

“We’ve been coming for the past six years,” said Greta and Olaf’s owner, Francine Boyer. Her daughter was completing the trio as a giant hotdog. “The dogs just love it.”

Along with the two curly-tailed condiments, Lilou was awarded for having the funniest costume: he was dressed as a chicken. His owner, Julie Larivière, was delighted when her oldest of two was victorious. Lilou’s younger sister, Ciboulette, had to pass up the opportunity because she is too small to fit in any costume.

“Even the tiniest were making her tumble all over the place,” Larivière laughed.

But the event itself is far more than winning free bacon-flavoured treats in exchange for cute dog apparel. The Halloween party is just one gathering among many others from the online Montreal Pug Meetup Group.

“We gather once every month and the dogs play and have a lot of fun,” said Meredith Chatman, who coordinates Montreal Pug Meetup alongside her 12-year-old pug, Benny. “Owners come here and make friends, and the community just keeps growing and growing,” she said.

Over the years, the pug community in Montreal has grown significantly and it isn’t just a local phenomenon, Chatman explained. In fact, the native Chinese breed has gained huge popularity worldwide in the past decades. Back in the 18th century, they were introduced to European countries. They even became the mascot of a Saxon excommunicated group of masons, The Order of the Pugs.

Nowadays, their squished snouts, popping eyes and snoring habits make them popular on social media. Their online presence includes Instagram pages, such as Doug the Pug, that have millions of followers. Some of the most trending posts feature costumed pugs and short sketches like eating pizza and snuggling during a cold winter day.

But it isn’t always la vie en rose for most pugs. They are the product of generations of inbreeding resulting in numerous health issues.

“At some point, breeders thought ‘Hey! Those features are pretty cute on dogs,’ but they didn’t really know they were actually creating medical deficiencies,” said Tara Ogaick, former veterinarian technical assistant at Animal Health Clinic, and a pug lover herself. “If you keep breeding the same types of genes over and over again, those genes will carry through and, in some cases, they will develop more strongly.”

Over the years, pugs and other breeds like bulldogs have been genetically engineered to keep their popular physical traits. These breeds are said to be brachycephalic; in other words, they have flat faces. Added to their distorted physique, common obesity and squat necks, these dogs suffer from constricted airways. According to a study by the Universities Federation of Animal Wellness, only a handful of pugs actually breathe normally.

“This makes them really susceptible to weather conditions,” said Ogaick. “In summer they can overheat and, during the winter, their breathing becomes even harder.

But Pug Meetup prioritizes their dogs’ health over anything else. There are no meetups during the winter and they are postponed in summer when the weather gets too hot.

“Many people also join to talk about health issues on the Montreal Pug Meetup website, so people will post online and talk about certain health related things,” said Chatman.

Owners also take plenty of precautions to ensure their dogs stay safe. Boyer, for example, opted for a surgery consisting of cutting a small filament in the nostrils to slightly open up the airways.

“It doesn’t cure it, per say. They still snore, but it helps their breathing significantly,” she said.

Despite pugs having breathing problems, it is important to understand that each breed comes with their own issues. Ogaick explained that golden retrievers are also known to have hip problems because of inbreeding.

But it is possible to reduce issues, and by consequence, the cost of vet bills. Ogaick said that some breeders have started cross-breeding pugs with other elongated snout dogs in order to reduce airway constrictions. People can also choose dogs with more prominent snouts.

While this may contradict the century-old purity of the traditional pug, owners are not totally against it. Larivière explained that, if such changes may benefit the breed, she doesn’t mind losing a bit of cuteness.

“We choose dogs that fit with our lifestyles,” said Larivière. “Pugs aren’t like huskies; while you need to take them out for walks, they aren’t as energetic as others.”

So, while they will keep their reputation of couch potatoes, pugs will stay among the most popular breeds and bring smiles to their owners and their Instagram followers.

Photo by Jad Abukasm


Vote for this election’s socialist candidate

Québec solidaire is the most morally conscious party in the upcoming election

While the other major parties appeal mostly to the majority—the white, middle class of Quebec—Québec solidaire is dedicated to protecting visible minorities and lower-income people. They have been consistently open about the core of their plan: to increase taxes on corporations and the mega-rich, and increase social services for the lower classes. They’ve stated that they will raise taxes for citizens earning more than $97,000 per year, and lower taxes for those earning less than $80,000, while those between these income brackets would see no change.

With this new tax system as well as other initiatives—such as lessening our dependance on big pharmaceutical companies by buying drugs in bulk and selling them to individual citizens at a lower rate—Québec solidaire said it will free up $12.9 billion in taxpayer money to invest in public programs.

One of the party’s goals is to make dental insurance free and accessible to all. Their mandate is to offer a 100 per cent rebate for people with low income and citizens under 18 who visit the dentist. Other citizens will get an 80 per cent reimbursement on cleanings and preventive care, and 60 per cent for curative care.

The party will launch an inquiry into systemic racism in the province, and will implement a strict quota to ensure visible minorities represent 25 percent of new employees in Quebec businesses until an overall representation rate of 13 per cent is achieved. They also plan to gradually change the organization of our educational system, from kindergarten to university, to make it free for everyone in the next five years.

These are only a few of the party’s plans, but I hope it gives a sense of their core values. Other initiatives that I don’t have the space to list here have demonstrated the party’s unwavering dedication to issues of environmental sustainability, women and LGBTQ+ community, Indigenous peoples, immigrants and Quebec’s homeless population.

They believe that these ambitious goals are incompatible with the values and organization of Canada’s federal government, and so they are promising a referendum in their first term. While I am personally not sure where I stand on this, I would be very surprised if the overall vote was in favour of separating Quebec to be its own country, so it is not an issue that I am particularly concerned about.

Many of the party’s critics claim their figure of $12.9 billion in savings is an overestimate, but in my opinion the actual figure is less important than the intention behind it. The bottom line is that Québec solidaire is going to take from the rich and give to the poor. If you are among the higher-income classes, it is not in your self-interest to vote for this party. But self-interest is the very mentality that Québec solidaire attempts to confront. They are more interested in the communal good, and that is what sets them apart from other parties in the race.

Another common critique of the party is that they are going to drive wealthy people and corporations out of the province. Although, in my opinion, this is probably not true. Assuming it is: What makes that such a bad thing? Why do we insist on protecting the interest of the wealthy over the survival of the poor? To preserve jobs? Are we really so dependant on corporations that we need to keep their profits in the millions or billions so their CEOs can buy yachts, private jets or a Westmount mansion while we work all week to barely make rent?

If many corporations did leave the province under Québec solidaire’s government, wouldn’t smaller businesses step up and take their place? We should be saying good riddance to massive corporate hierarchies rather than begging them to stay.

The biggest problem Québec solidaire faces in this election is that the majority of its support comes from the demographic that is least likely to vote: young people. Our parents and grandparents will continue to vote Liberal as they always do, therefore it is up to us to go out and make our voices heard.

Quebec residents can vote in the LB building at Concordia on Sept. 25, 26, and 27, but only from their electoral district on Oct. 1.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin



Party in the 90s with fellow Concordians

Several student groups collaborate to host a 90s-themed party at L’Atelier d’Argentine

Concordia students and alumni can go back in time and experience a night in the 90s on April 29. Get out your best chokers and graphic t-shirts for an end-of-semester party called “Fullhouse: Long live the 90’s!” taking place at L’Atelier d’Argentine from 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“We wanted to throw an end-of-semester event where people can have fun and let loose from exams,” said Felicia Therese Da Conceicao, the public relations officer for the Concordia Caribbean Student Union (CCSU), one of the groups that organized the event.

Two DJs will be present—DJ Serius and DJ Caz. They will be spinning iconic 90s tunes from artists such as Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, Biggie and 2Pac. Party-goers can also expect to hear a mixture of dancehall, soca and afrobeat music.

“We thought that since all the 90s babies are grown up now, we should have a night of all throwbacks,” said Audrey-Lise Benoit, the CCSU’s VP event coordinator. “The 90s are slowly creeping back in style, and we wanted to do something to celebrate it.”

The CCSU collaborated with multiple student associations to plan the event, including the Nigerian Students’ Association Concordia, the Haitian Students’ Association of Concordia, Concordia Music Zone Out, Association des étudiants Africains de l’UQAM and Association des étudiants haïtiens de l’Université de Montréal.

Tickets are $10 until April 28—on April 29, they increase to $15. They can be purchased through any of the student associations involved, or online here. For more information, visit the event page.

L’Atelier d’Argentine is located at 1458 Crescent St., a short walk from both Guy-Concordia and Peel metro stations.

Header graphic by Thom Bell.


No one sat at the SAT’s Party du Jour de L’an

The Societé des Arts Technologiques’ New Year’s Eve party erupted with digital confetti and “unst unst”

SAT welcomed the new year by opening the whole building to party goers, who shuffled up and down the stairs in glittering gowns and tight tuxedos to taste the two party rooms. The top floor featured a dance floor under a dome-shaped screen, and downstairs, the smaller Espace SAT room with a candle-lit, speakeasy vibe where the music was loud enough for no one to actually speak easily. On the subject of music, party goers might conclude that there is not much to say about the music at all.

NYE party at the SAT. Photo by Sébastien Roy

Two words that best describe the night’s music would be “unst unst”. DJ’s, Harvard Bass, Bordello, Thomas Von Party, Iron Galaxy took turns DJ-ing the Stratosphere and taking selfies on the little stage. The DJ’s certainly delivered: the musical effect was reminiscent of Paris night clubs—the bar also served France’s popular 1664 beer. The highly popular electronic music, where musical layers are packed on, built-up, and inevitably dropped, pleased the crowd of people with eyes glazed over. Many pointed up to the ‘90s screensaver visuals of the Stratosphere, which shifted digital shapes, loosely matching the DJ’s music. When midnight hit, a countdown appeared on the dome screen, and digital confetti erupted. Couples kissed—some for too long—others texted their loved ones, and a few single souls suddenly found the dome visuals extra interesting as the minute of kissing passed. The dome itself had a dizzying effect if stared at too long. A cure for this was the igloo-looking hut set-up outside and frequented by shivering smokers.

Some hobbled down the stairs in heels to the Espace SAT, Prison Garde, Seb DIamond, Hatchmatik, Kyle Kalma, Jason Voltaire (VJ) manned the stage—the music and bass slightly louder than upstairs. Here, dancers were more loose and more apt to mingle. A large screen displayed a stagnant “2015” for some time (because a reminder of the new year was essential). One audible lyric could be deciphered from on the the DJ’s sets. It went “my body doesn’t lie,” or something to that effect. True to form, nobody’s body seemed to fib as elbows were flailed jauntily to the beat.

In all, the night was extremely “unst unst” which was appropriate because, now, in 2015, people seem to really dig “unst unst” kind of music.

Student Life

BYOH: Be your own host the next time your friends plan a get-together

You’ve finished all of your assignments, you’re sitting down to enjoy a budget-friendly bowl of instant ramen and you get a text: huge party at one of the hottest (and most expensive) clubs in Montreal and all of your friends are going.

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

You check your bank account, realize you don’t even have enough money to buy a Red Bull and come to the sad realization that you won’t be attending the night’s festivities. As students, we’ve all been in that dreaded situation.

However, there are student-friendly ways of getting together with all of your friends that will cost little to no money at all. The solution? Throw a dinner party.

Gone are the days when dinner parties were reserved for awkward family get-togethers and your great-aunt Ruth’s bridge club. Dinner parties are cheap, effective, and more intimate than a bar setting, and I’m going to guide you through the steps to have one of your own.

1) Planning

Every good party takes a bit of planning, and dinner parties are no exception. Make a guestlist and stick to it. Easiest way to send out invitations? Electronically, of course. Because it’s eco-friendly, free and effective. Ask a couple of your closest friends if they wouldn’t mind helping you out in order to make your party a hit. Adding a theme makes it more fun for your guests and helps with your decoration choices. A simple black-and-white theme can transform a dull party into an elegant night with friends.

2) Decorations

With more and more websites like Pinterest and Craft Gawker popping up every week online, making simple decorations for a party has never been easier. Paint twigs and sticks you find outside and put them in a simple water glass with a coloured ribbon wrapped around it for an easy centerpiece. If you have a couple of Mason jars lying around, throw some tea lights, which can be found at a dollar store in a pack of 25, in them and place them around the dining area and kitchen to create a mellow mood lighting. If you’re worried about messes and want to add a little panache to your seating area, cover your furniture with cheap cotton fabric, in keeping with your theme, and all of those little crumbs and spills will be that much easier to clean up. Decorate plastic cups using nail polish — it comes prepackaged with its own brush and dries quickly.

3) Food

I’ve always been a fan of a good, old-fashioned potluck. With a potluck, you don’t end up going over budget making sure all of your guests have full tummies. Make a list of the courses you intend to serve — appetizers, salad, soup, main course, dessert — and save them in a Google Doc that everyone attending has access to. This makes it easy for people to see what others are bringing and also cuts down on an inevitable abundance of chips. All of those black plastic Chinese food containers can suddenly be put to good use by displaying appetizers or holding cutlery. If potluck isn’t your style, there are still ways to keep your dinner fun and have your guests feel like they’re doing their part. A make-your-own-pizza party is a great way to allow guests to be as creative as they like. Pick up a package of frozen, pre-made pizza crusts, some veggies, pepperoni and cheese at the grocery store, lay it out on a table or counter and let your party experiment with different toppings.

4) Drinks

The easiest way for you to satisfy your guests’ needs in regards to drinks is to ask them to supply their own. There’s nothing wrong with a good old BYOB. If you want to serve wine with dinner, pick up a box of wine — they’re not all bad, but if it’s undrinkable, turning it into a spritzer with some Sprite or carbonated water is a good way to save the day. All of a sudden your cheap wine becomes a bit classier. Always have options for people who don’t drink alcohol; whether it’s a couple of bottles of soda, ice water or a homemade punch.

There you have it! A couple of elegant ways to throw a party on a student-friendly budget.


Passovah Productions celebrates three years with a two-day-long party at Divan Orange and Il Motore

Mozart’s Sister performing at Passovah Productions’ three-year anniversary. Photo by Cora Ballou

Thursday and Friday were big nights for local promoting company Passovah Productions. Hosting a two-part series of shows, the company celebrated its three years on the Montreal scene.

Founder Noah Bick started Passovah in 2007 and since then, it’s grown from producing small shows at local underground venues to hosting over 70 different gigs around the city. Having cut his teeth with local promoters Pop Montreal and Blue Skies Turn Black, Bick decided to use Passovah “to either help friends or make friends.” As he explains it, “I’ve made it my mantra to only book bands that I’m friends with or that I really respect.”

In that vein, last week Bick assembled an impressive cast of local talent. Beginning at Divan Orange, Thursday featured a three-part rock show, with local favourites Special Noise headlining the set. Following a hypnotizing performance by solo act Royal Palm was Ancient Kids, an all-star band featuring members of other local acts like Sunset Rubdown and Adam & The Amethysts. Speaking to Ancient Kids guitarist/vocalist Jordan Robson-Cramer before the show, he explained how Bick asked him to do a show, but he “was never ready.”

But after three years of offers from Bick, he & his co. finally took the stage to deliver a refreshingly straightforward indie-pop set that featured minimal reverb and synthesizer and Robson-Cramer’s clear, soulful voice, and no synthesizers. Unfortunately this didn’t last long, as Special Noise took the stage to deliver an ear-splitting show that was far too loud for Divan Orange’s limited space. A spectator after the show succinctly described the band as “music that promotes hearing loss rather than actual melody.”

Thankfully, the decibels remained manageable on Friday for the second part of the celebrations, which took place at Il Motore. Featuring an impressive lineup of new and older favourites from Montreal, the show featured seven local bands who came together to play cover sets.

The night demonstrated the communal goodwill between Bick and his artists. Each set was laidback, with musicians who seemed truly pleased to be playing. A welcome sense of lightheartedness filled the room as artists joked in between songs or cracked up at their own cover versions.

Bick, a fan of the Talking Heads, was looking forward to a cover of the ‘80s band by Play Guitar. His status as a full-time student means that Passovah is now producing less gigs. “It’s pretty exciting to be able to work with them,” explained Jeff Simmons of Play Guitar, in light of the scaling back.

In a city full of fledgling promoters, it can be hard to gain a proper foothold. Yet Noah Bick demonstrated that what Montreal needs is a little more fun. With a scene that seems to get increasingly affected by the day, a bit of youthful exuberance was a refreshing change of pace.

Check out Passovah Productions at

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