It's full on street festival madness here this weekend. The bigger one is the Nuit Blanche on Mont-Royal which expands from St. Laurent to past de Lorimier (we didn't make it farther east, but the street was still closed). But they also closed down St. Laurent from Pine to Sherbrooke for the Grand Prix. One of my favourite activities is to walk up and down this strip and check out the decadent, trashy, statusy madness. The biggest groups in this zone are gangs of boringly but smartly dressed males, either of the American or Euro persuasion and gangs of women, all wearing the requisite uniform of tight, sheer dresses and stripper-high heels (this year there were a lot of heels with ribbons on the toes, some new addition that they all seemed to have adopted at once). There are a few truly sophisticated, moneyed types hanging around the back tables on the most elite patios or sometimes walking on the street, but most are pretty tacky. It really looks like a giant slut-fest and there are definitely some working girls in there. I even saw one clearly propositioning men on the street, which is a first. I imagine they would get rousted pretty quickly from the Main if they are doing it openly there, but maybe because of last year's Gran Prix no-show, they have some revenue loss to make up.
But here is what I don't get. Where do all these women come from? Because there are a ton of them. Now I know Montreal is famous (and rightfully so) for its beautiful women), but they are not these type of women. Yes, you'll see them lining up on a Saturday night outside Macaroni, but they are clearly west islanders or downtown-types. But the sheer numbers that hit the Main on Grand Prix weekend is astounding. Even weirder, I saw them as far east as Baraka on Mont-Royal, which is normally just a semi-nice local bar. All of a sudden on Thursday night it is filled with vampiric coke whores and the tight-euro-shirted men they seem attracted to. A lot of them are french-Canadian as well. You seem them on foot coming from the residential neighbourhoods to the east heading to the fray. These are not the Québécoise women I know and see in and around Montreal, or if they are they certainly go for a major makeover and severe change in cultural interests.
I'm totally speculating, but are these women who get dressed up and go to the scene in the hopes of meeting some cool guys? Is the draw the money and flash of the Grand Prix? Obviously, chicks dig rich guys and scenes, but the Grand Prix just seems particularly soulless. Nobody seems to be having fun at any of the patios that are the hip spots to be at. They are all pressed up against each other in the giant waiting lines and those who do get in seem to spend most of the time looking out at the people going by or staring into space at their tables.
I do enjoy the choas of the scene down there (though the terrasses on Mont-Royal seem genuinely more congenial and happy) and there are some truly top-shelf, Maxim level chicks walking around in next to nothing. So as an outside observer, the Grand Prix is always a great weekend for me. But I still find it a complete mystery what is the draw for all the other locals who go there.