author: quinn bell| a&c writer
Arts and Culture at it’s finest / Courtesy of Nuit Blanche
An event that you owe it to yourself to see
When I first heard that Nuit Blanche was coming to Regina this September, I was wary. In my somewhat bilingual brain, I correctly read “white night.” Unsuccessfully, I assumed this was the same as White Night, a colloquial name for the pompously over-priced Dîner en Blanc (“Dinner in White”), the too-chic social event that’s taken the world’s big cities by storm over the last couple of decades. Le Dîner is a major status symbol in some cities: everyone wants to be able to say that they’ve been to the Dîner en Blanc.
Originating in Paris over thirty years back, le Dîner en Blanc is admittedly a pretty cool concept. The location of the supper is kept secret from everyone, including guests and the city’s government. Everyone who registers is given a meeting point and a list of things to bring: all-white attire, a white folding table, two white chairs, a white umbrella, and a white picnic basket. The event then temporarily takes over a popular and beautiful space with a picnic, and everyone enjoys themselves respectfully, clad in white.
Everyone who can afford it, at least: registration (they say) is only around $30 USD, but there also seems to be a load of invisible fees… such as for the food and wine sold on-site by the event’s luxury partners. I’ve been told it can cost up to $100 to attend in Vancouver (and that’s if you can get past the waiting list; naturally, it’s easier to get in if you’re nominated by a registered friend). In some cities, there also seems to be a strict gender policy in place, where guys and gals have to sit across from each other — your guest, then, must identify as opposite from you, or else you might not get to sit together. Uncomfortable.
So surely you understand my initial wariness: I didn’t know why Regina needed to host such an inaccessible and elite event (even if the picnic idea was kind of fun). Well, let me share my relief: Regina’s Nuit Blanche is NOT Le Dîner en Blanc, but something much, much better. The event self-describes as a “free, accessible, nighttime festival showcasing art installations by Saskatchewan artists on Treaty 4 territory.” That’s an art event that’s free, accessible, local, and acknowledging of Treaty territory: win, win, win, and win. Furthermore, Regina’s White Night event will be happening on the same date as Saskatoon’s, Winnipeg’s, and Toronto’s – so there will be a sense of greater community as well. Art should connect people like that: this is the art event we need.
What can you expect to experience at Nuit Blanche Regina? There’s a hint in the name: it’s all about lighting up the night, about brightening up Regina’s downtown space. On September 29 from 7 p.m. until midnight, the City Square Plaza in Victoria Park will be transformed into a bustling and welcoming artistic space filled with light, allowing everyone to wander about, witness some really cool pieces, and meet like-minded people.
All the art installations at Nuit Blanche will centre around the theme of light. You should expect the likes of funky lanterns and electronic sculptures, shadow puppets and analog projections, and spoken word performances by local indigenous poets. There will also be music, dance, and theatre productions, all centred on light. Works will be playful and experimental, some will be intimate and touching, and others promise to be very political and relevant.
As this is the first Nuit Blanche in Regina, those who are unsure if it’s the place for them should look to other cities for a taste of what the night might look like. Saskatoon, for example, has been hosting the same event (NBYXE) since 2014. Their website hosts a load of photos and videos from years past, so go give it a look! Their event has been growing quickly in popularity, from just 6000 people in 2014 to over 10,000 in 2016. Attendees from NBYXE 2015 called the show “inclusive,” “brilliant,” “weird,” “magic,” and “awesome… super awesome.” I expect nothing less from Regina. If all goes well in YQR this September, hopefully Nuit Blanche Regina will also be around for years to come.
So, get out there and support the community. You don’t need to know anything about art, it will still be tons of fun. Need an excuse? This is the perfect date night: imagine walking around downtown with someone you like, surrounded by mood lighting and calm vibes. Or else bring your friends, and make it a party! It is a Saturday night, after all.