The Nuit Blanche 2015 Survival Guide
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The Nuit Blanche 2015 Survival Guide

The key to a successful Nuit Blanche is knowing what to avoid. We provide some helpful tips to ensure you make the most of your night.


Getting through Nuit Blanche can be something of a challenge. After all, the event challenges art-thing participants to stay up all night, try to withstand overwhelming crowds, and appreciate some art along the way.

Luckily, your friends at Torontoist understand your plight, and we prepared some tips to minimize the hassle and maximize the fun.

1. Avoid peak hours

There are two time periods to best attend Nuit Blanche. Either show up bright-eyed and ready to go at 6:00 p.m. or take a nice long nap and make your way out around 4:00 a.m., when the masses are mostly safe in bed. Your best experience will be low on people, so as to better appreciate the art.

2. Accept that Nuit Blanche time is relative

At some point, your friend will text you something like, “I’ll be there in 10. Meet me by the experimental light installation.”

This poses many problems. First of all, there will be thousands of people between your friend and the rally point, all trying to establish their own nebulous text-meet-up plans.

Then there’s the fact that at Nuit Blanche, “experimental light installation” isn’t actually that descriptive. Is it the conceptual piece meant to challenge notions of spacetime? Is it the project made out of discount items from Active Surplus? Who knows.

But there is something to be said about spacetime at Nuit Blanche: every time estimate during peak hours will take three times as long, meaning you’re unlikely to see your friend for at least half an hour. Try to enjoy the experimental light installation in the meantime.

3. Prepare for the survival of the fittest

This being said, sometimes your friend won’t be able to make their way through the drunken masses to find you. You want the truth? Sometimes, in order to see anything, you have to leave him or her behind. You have a choice: spend your night trying to maneuver the world of textual communication with dozens of people, or move on and actually see some art.

Photo by negzZz from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Photo by negzZz from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

4. When it comes to friends, less is more

It’s a lot easier to keep your friends together when it’s a group, not a mob. Going to Nuit Blanche with too many people is asking for trouble—you’ll have a much less stressful time with four or less. If you want, break up into groups, and each see different parts of the festival. Then arrange to meet up for 4 a.m. pancakes where you can regale each other with your separate adventures.

5. Don’t pretend to be a know-it-all

We get it, you took an art history class that one time. If you happen to be the one person who actually read up on the festival beforehand (hi!) and want to share this valuable resource with your friends, more power to you. But don’t be that guy telling anyone who will listen about your personal take on everything in sight. “Obviously a commentary on the banality of our capitalist society,” you remark about a pile of rags that may or may not actually be an art installation. Unless you enjoy human interaction only through the medium of sighs and perpetual eyerolls, please save pretentious musings for your Twitter feed.

Up in the Sky High, 2015 (Artist Concept Design), Faisal Anwar. Courtesy of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche.

6. Don’t trust the crowds; forge your own path

It’s easy to be drawn in when you see a mass of people moving in any one direction during Nuit Blanche. Easy to think, “Ah, perhaps all these people know what they are doing, or where they are going.”

They don’t. As a general rule of thumb, most people at Nuit Blanche have wandered out into the streets to see “what’s good” and as such, you should not trust them for guidance, lest you follow them to such glamorous destinations as an alley they thought contained an experimental art, or Smoke’s Poutine.

7. Whatever you do, do not enter Yonge-Dundas Square

If you don’t heed our warning and follow the hordes of people making their way through the streets, you will inevitably find yourself drawn in one particular direction. Where, you may ask? Perhaps towards fried food of some sort? A giant, art-inspired dance party? Maybe Drake has arrived and is taking group shots?

No, my friends. They will lead you to disaster. And disaster’s name is Yonge-Dundas Square.

Let us be perfectly clear: Yonge-Dundas Square is the Hellmouth of Nuit Blanche. You will find nothing there but a wasteland of vomiting teenagers, overflowing garbage, and your own existential crisis.

For your own sanity, do not attempt to traverse this vast expanse of humans. You will inevitably lose several members of your party in the attempt, at which point please refer back to tip #3.

8. Don’t try and keep up with the kids these days

Teenagers are objectively awful. This is a fact accepted by everyone except the teenagers themselves, and perhaps their parents who are required to love them. You are under no such obligation, and so should avoid them at all costs. Spot them roving in packs with that signature “I just finished off a mickey of Smirnoff for the first time” stagger.

That being said, don’t feel like you have to go all night the way you might if you were 16 and “going hard” for the first time. If you get to 2:00 a.m. and you are cold and just want to go home to Netflix-and-chill, you do you man. You do you.

9. Bring snacks

Sustenance will be scarce, so be sure to pack some granola bars or your snack of choice. Lines will be long, crowds will be rowdy, and no item on the Tim Hortons menu is worth a half hour wait.

10. Avoid hypothermia

Nuit Blanche is inevitably a cold and even sometimes rainy affair. While previous festivals have involved installations that incorporate heat or fire, you shouldn’t relying on these to stay warm. Layer up, and don’t be the person asking for rest stops every 15 minutes.

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