22nd Black & Blue Festival attracts 5,000 people
Profits will go to HIV/AIDS and LGBT associations
Montreal's 22nd Black & Blue Festival came to an end Monday after 15 straight hours of partying.
About 5,000 people showed up to tear up the three dance floors set up in Montreal's Palais des congrès, a slight disappointment in comparison to the 7,000 people expected by organizers.
The annual festival began at 9 p.m. Sunday night and carried through until Monday at noon with more than 15 DJ's spinning throughout the night and the wee hours of the morning.
Caroline Rousse, communications director for the Montreal Bad Boy Club Foundation (BBCM), which organizes the event, said the foundation works closely with Montreal police and the venue's security team to provide a safe and drug-free environment by searching each patron that enters the gates.
No alcohol was served on the premises.
Still, some party-goers leaving the event in its final hours either admitted to being high, or appeared to be under the influence.
The BBCM states that the Black & Blue Festival was created to promote inclusion, respect of differences, open-mindedness, peace, equality, altruism and love.
Some of the profits from the event will go to organizations that take care of people with HIV and AIDS and also help community centres for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people.
Since its first installment in 1991, the Black & Blue festival has raised $1.8 million for LGBT associations.
This year, a third dance hall was added to differ from the usual blaring of house, techno and lounge music that have made the festival so popular. The third room allowed people to relax and listen to music with a lower tempo.
Volunteers with the local AIDS coalition were also in attendance to distribute condoms and offer information about HIV and AIDS.
"There will be no sexual relations on site," said Rousse. "But we can tell visitors 'don't forget... to protect yourselves!"
"At first, when we created the festival, people didn't know much about AIDS. People were dropping like flies around us, we lost many friends in the 90s," she said.
She added that now, twenty years later, people are "incredulous" when they see people, including youth, failing to protect themselves during sexual intercourse.
"I have the impression that many say that there's no such thing, that it's curable. On the other hand, it's very hard to live with AIDS," she said.
BBCM said Black & Blue is a "celebration and an acknowledgment of the lifestyle and unique culture of the gay community." The event was opened to everyone and organizers estimate that half of the people in attendance were heterosexual.