MONTRÉAL AFTER HOURS: Canada gets crazy after dark

If Montréal is Wonderland – as I so motion that it is, see art, the after hours clubs are none other than the Mad Hatter’s tea party. A lot of cities (see: Manhattan) have rules about when clubs and bars have to close up shop for the night – and while these rules are often broken (again, see: Manhattan) the laws certainly limit the establishments that can be in full swing @ 5 am. Montréal, bless its quebecois soul, has no such rules (although they do have that absurd no alcohol sales after 11 pm rule – but that’s a rant for another post,) and the (in)famous after hours clubs Stereo and Circus take full advantage.

Much like tea chez le Hatter Fou, after hours clubs make the opposite of sense, in the absolute best way possible. They open up when everything else closes down (3 am) and close around the time the productive members of our society typically start the day. Let me tell you, nothing makes you question your life choices quite like stumbling out of club at 9 am, smudged mascara and all, to be nearly being run over by someone out for their morning jog. 

Actual footage me leaving Circus last weekend.

Like in Wonderland, the only rules in place are those that don’t make sense. While the laws governing drug use in the outer world don’t seem to apply within the doors of the club, gum use is strictly prohibited. Any packets of chewing gum found after your pat down at the door will be immediately confiscated by the bouncer along with a suspicious glare. Honestly. I asked the WHY and they just stared at me in utter shock, not speaking until I just silently crept away. 

Everyone inside is completely bonkers, either incredibly friendly or lost in their own world. Feel free be dancin on your own or just lie on a couch and like, look at the LIGHTS. I promise you, no one will care, judge you, or even notice unless they plan to join you. 

Circus

Circus is my personal fave because of the swings. Giant wooden boards suspended from the ceiling by bungee cords aka the most fun you’ll ever have. Every time I go here I spend an hour MINIMUM on the swings by myself and I have never regretted anything less.

Circus is bigger than Stereo to accommodate all the jungle gym infrastructure, which is actually a con in my opinion – when the night turns to early morning and people start to leave, all the empty space is kinda creepy. But you can probably get away with smoking a cig in the corner if thats your jam without some terrifying security guard pouncing on you.

Also, the people who run Circus aren’t as uhhhh formidable as those in charge of Stereo – more on that later – so sometimes they get casually raided by the police. It’s a TRIP let me tell you, when you’re dancing around and they roll in and no one even BLINKS. My new best friend, who I’d just met in the club bathroom, literally started dancing on one of the officers. They are circled menacingly for 15 minutes, arrested a couple people, and then left. And everyone thought it was HILARIOUS how freaked I was. Canada’s so weird man.

There are also bath tubs available if you want to cuddle with strangers.

Have u tho

Stereo

Stereo’s, like, more ~aesthetic~ than Circus. One big dance floor with an overlooking level. They’ve got cool floating lights and the best staff, who I am both proud and embarrassed to say know me by name (#college amiright?!)

Stereo is run by the mob. Not touching that fact with a ten foot pole, even though I doubt they are reading my blog.

The major downside to Stereo is the location. It’s terrifying, even the door men will not leave the safety of the front entrance. A known drug trafficking area is full of screaming people no matter what time you leave. To make matters worse, the street is closed off thx to some of Montreal’s endless construction, so you will have to walk to the end of the block to catch your Uber. Do NOT do this solo.

After hours are a weird little cult. Expect to run into the 50 year old man who owns your corner dep or happen upon a candlelit vigil and be asked to join. But stay smart and open and you’ll have some unbeatable experiences.

Weird Drugs Worldwide: Hippy Crack in Korea

In preperation for my latest adventure, in none other than Vietnam, I have been doing as much research as possible on Asia, and all the wonderful and crazy things I might come across. Of course, I checked out a pile of books from my local library that promised the BEST of Asia. But in my personal experience, these tourist guidebooks, while valuable for finding some of the must see spots in your destination, do not include many of the more fantastic and fascinating, but lesser know elements of the culture. Often times, the only way to find the best spots to have a good time are to gather recommendations from old friends who’ve already been and new friends you meet upon arrival.

I first became obsessed with the idea of going to Asia after my brother regaled me with tales of his own trip. I was living in NYC at the time, and he (being much cooler than me) was touring Asia with his girlfriend. When he landed in JFK after his trip, he crashed at my apartment and shared stories and photos that made me fall in love with the idea of following in his footsteps.

One of the best stories he told me was about “nos balloons,” which are a phenomenon at Korean nightclubs. Colorful balloons filled with laughing gas are super popular for the instant little buzz they give. If you’ve ever gotten a cavity filled at the dentist, or like, did whip-its from a whip cream canister in middle school (we don’t judge here), you know the feeling: short burst of euphoria, light headedness, and hilarity – hence the colloquial Western term, “laughing gas.”

This drug is also called “hippy crack” in some cultures which is hilarious, and a term I now plan on casually dropping constantly. @ me if you have any experience with this ridiculousness or any other weird drugs abroad worth looking into.

Skin care secrets from around the world

Just like cuisine, every region has its specialty when it comes to skin care. These are great to know whether you plan on stacking your beauty supplies while travelling, or just want to know what ingredients to look for next time you’re shopping at Sephora

Korea

Koreans are known for their flawless skin and correspondingly meticulous skincare routine. The secret ingredient in every 10 step Korean skincare regimen is ampoule. This super concentrated serum is most often sold in tiny bottles or even one time use capsules because of how powerful it is. They have extremely high concentrations of their healing ingredients and are most popular for combatting skin care crisis or giving your complexion a quick boost. Ampoule combats dullness, dryness, and find lines and literally infuses your skin with a youthful glow.

India

Amalaki, also known as Indian gooseberry fruit, is a great antioxidant to cleanse your system. Eat this to flush out toxins, thus rejuvenating your system and your complexion. It also delivers nutrients and support to your skin, as well as your inner body – who said beauty was only skin deep?!

Greece

Greece is the second largest Saffron producer in the world, topped only by Iran. Saffron is a spice derived from a flower that also doubles as a skin remedy secret honed by the Ancient Greeks. There are tons of recipes online for incorporating saffron into DIY skin care formulas and the benefits to your skin are endless, including but not limited to toning, exfoliating, brightening, hydrating, cleansing, healing and softening. Or you could add a few drops of essential saffron oil to your bath, and bathe in it like Cleopatra used to do before meeting her male suitors.

Morocco

Morocco is low key skin care capital of the world. Obviously, their argan oil is the best out there for both your skin and your hair. But there are also two lesser known skin care secrets originating in Morocco. Ghassoul, also “Moroccan clay,” is exclusive to this country as it is comprised of minerals from the Atlas Mountains. It delivers deep cleaning and smoothing benefits for both your skin and hair.

Moroccan Black Soap is also locally produced according to a secret recipe. It contains natural oils, black olives, locally grown plants, and glycerol. This product should be applied as a face mask but only left on for a couple minutes because of its strength. After rinsing it off, your skin will be softer, exfoliated of all dead skin cells, and highly moisturized.

Bali

Coconuts are good for more than just sipping rum out of. Bali’s organic virgin coconut oil is superior to what you can find anywhere else in the world because it is handcrafted from fresh, locally grown, native Balinese coconuts. The well honed process by which the Balinese make their coconut oil doesn’t use heat, machines, or chemical solvents, making it healthier and safer for your skin and richer in antioxidants, vitamins, and medium chain fatty acids (which are amazing for your skin.) Coconut oil is a great moisturizer and can also be used to treat acne and heal scars. It also has protective benefits, acting as a shield for your skin against the sun and bacteria.

Brazil

Cupuaça is a fruit that grows off of tropical rainforest trees in this country known for its beautiful women. This fruit is full of tons of nourishing acids, antioxidants and vitamins. It’s one of nature’s most powerful moisturizers, leaving your skin extra smooth, silky, and hydrated for up to eight hours after application. It also improves elasticity and firmness. You can get some of these benefits just from eating it, but for best results try Cupuaça butter or a Cupuaça infused Brazilian skincare product.

Venice’s best mask shop

Venice’s best mask shop

Venice is an amazing city for a multitude of reasons. The twisty, maze of streets makes you feel like you’re in some sort of fairly tale (or horror movie.) It’s easy to fall in love in Venice, and even easier to get lost. But without a doubt, you cannot leave Venice without purchasing one of their famous masks. These are for sale everywhere, hanging in the windows of shops and off the carts full of souvenirs and every other tourist traps. While these mass produced items are fun, it’s definitely worth the splurge to get a handmade mask from the best mask shop in Venice. 

Cà de Sol is hidden away in an alley (like pretty much everything in Venice) and absolutely stuffed full of gorgeous masks. I’m obsessed with the one I got there. It’s actually hanging on my wall but sometimes I don it for special occasions. 

The masks are all unique, handmade, and absolutely beautiful. The space itself doesn’t look super luxe, but when it comes to quality, trust me – it’s top notch. This store was opened in the 80s and employs a group of artists dedicated to creating these works of art. Just like the city in which it’s situated, Cà de Sol is perfect to get lost in, with shelves full of the intricate masks crowding the tiny shop.

Make sure sure to add this to you Venice itinerary alongside a ride down the canal, treating yourself to some mandorlato, and finding a new boyfriend.  

Sources: http://www.cadelsolmascherevenezia.com

Paris’s secret legendary (and illegal) party is literally underground

Paris’s secret legendary (and illegal) party is literally underground

Sitting firmly atop my travel bucket list, alongside Tomorrowland in Belgium and Carnival in Brazil is a party that I can’t attend by just purchasing a ticket: one of the Cataphile’s legendary all night raves in the Catacombs underneath Paris.

The Catacombs are a series of wide tunnels and interconnected rooms that were constructed underneath the city in 1774.  The original reason for their construction was to be ossuaries (i.e., a final resting place for skeletal remains typically constructed when burial space is scarce, don’t worry I had to look it up too, thx @ Wikipedia) So basically, the Catacombs are like a graveyard except instead of burying the bodies Le Francais just stacked all the skeletons on top of each other.

While in Paris, I visited the official part of the Catacombs, and it’s super cool in an extremely creepy sort of way. Stacks of skulls line the underground like the walls of a maze and there are some rather chilling messages inscribed in French on the wall.

The Catacombs is open to the public but only a fraction of their entirety is included in the tour. The tunnels are actually must more expansive, with most of it being closed off and illegal to enter. 

Down the rabbit hole…

Enter the Catophiles, named for their obsession with breaking and entering into the Catacombs to throw huge, secret, parties and and paint gorgeous murals on the walls.

There’s even been rumors of a magic ~shroom~ garden in the Catacombs,
in which the dark, damp conditions are perfect for growing them.

One of my brief flings in Paris let me in on this little secret, and even passed on some ~illegal~ maps of the formally undocumented Catacombs. (Which he REFUSED to let me post here for fear of legal consequences. Whatever Xavier. The French are just a little bit dramatic.) The maps of the entire underground network are not available to the public and the original founders of the Cataphiles actually STOLE a copy from French officials, which is pretty savage and says a lot about French government security. 

The work it takes to make this magical event happen is significant. Breaking into the unofficial Catacombs requires wading through large amounts of water with heavy DJ equipment, evading the authorities, and lighting lanterns to dance around in tunnels lit only by firelight.

ayeeee it’s lit! (literally)

One branch of the Cataphiles have a mission beyond just having a good time: Les UX (the Urban eXperiment) work to secretly improve hidden, yet historically significant areas of Paris that are underfunded or overlooked by the government. They set up a secret, underground bar, restaurant, and movie theatre within the Catacomb tunnels. These were infiltrated by the police in 2004, following the tip of  a revenge-bent ex-girlfriend of one of the group’s members. (Lol, these people are savage.) The police found a camera installed to record everyone who entered and motion sensors that triggered a recording of barking dogs to ward off trespassers.  

Telling the police to piss off like

But the authority crackdown hasn’t stopped the Cataphiles. They still secretly enter through manholes and tunnels off the metro and party all night.  Every member of the group is sworn to secrecy and it’s impossible to attend unless invited. 

After Party: Catacombs Edition

The whole endeavour is not without the thrill of a bit of danger: cave ins are possible (although rare) and it’s easy to get lost without the proper (unofficial) guide. However, I draw the line at entering through any of the manmade tunnels only big enough for one person at a time, which is literally a scene out of The Descent. Hard pass.  

 This probably says something unsettling about my psyche, but I am DYING (lmaooooo no pun intended) to party within La Porte de l’Enfer (The Gates of Hell) next to a bunch of skulls. 

Sources: (28dayslater.co.uk: user "dweeb"),  https://www.unbelievable-facts.com/2017/01/secret-underground-theater.html, http://www.brain-magazine.fr, nationalgeographic.com,http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en

How to stay skinny while still enjoying the world’s best food

23753_521877124500819_634881740_n.jpg
Picking my lunch in the Galapagos Islands

Staying fit while traveling can be challenging, especially if you’re a total foodie like me. But that’s no reason to miss out on exotic delicacy or spend time in your hotel’s gym (also – why’re you even staying in a hotel? hostels are where the parties @.) Instead, incorporate these simple tenants into your lifestyle while abroad – and drink lots of water – to avoid packing on the pounds.

1. Choose your moments.

If I’m headed to Italy, you best believe I am planning on trying every pasta dish the city has to offer. Sure,  I like to maintain my figure – but in a candlelit, hole in the wall in Florence, cellulite doesn’t exist. It’s a steadfast dieting principle that while travelling,  calories only count when the food sucks. I’m looking @ you. Airplane meals – don’t eat them. Have a KIND bar and a large glass of shitty (albeit hopefully free, ayyyyy overseas flights) wine and save your calorie bank for the best restaurants in your destination.

IMG_0465.jpg

2.  Never go to the gym.

If you have time to hit the gym before breakfast, you’re not hitting the clubs hard enough. Go for a run along the beach, take a yoga class in a temple, go shopping and sightseeing, take tours, climb every monument and hike to every breathtaking view. Play in the ocean, ride a horse or a camel or an elephant, and dance until four in the morning. Do.  Not. Go. To. The. Gym.

63402_1726758611115_1528053_n
Hiking in Zermatt, Switzerland, definitely beats the treadmill.

3.  Share food with your friends.

This is a pretty obvious one, but a great way to sample all the city’s best food is to share with everyone at your table. My friends and I will strategically plan our orders together (often with the help of the waiter and other third party recommendations) to ensure that we are collectively ordering the best dishes and drinks available and then we all share our orders.

11750718_1617166278559897_8248303235453340182_n.jpg
Paris, France – where calories don’t exist.

4. Avoid beer and specialty drinks (except when it’s like, really good).

Take this tenant with a grain of salt because it obviously doesn’t always apply. (i.e., sipping a vodka soda @ Oktoberfest is just not ok.) Definitely drink the cool Asian beers if you’re in Japan or the eclectic, craft beers if you’re visiting Vermont. (Refer to rule #1, same principle) But when you’re at a bar five drinks deep, you’re not going to appreciate the subtle lemony finish of an IPA fermented for 80 years in gooseberry barrels or whatever. Switch to a vodka soda to save yourself the calories.

5. Avoid cocktails (except when its like, really good).

This is the same rule as above except instead of facetious, overpriced beer I am talking about facetious, overpriced drinks. I never drink cocktails unless the place is known for them and/or I’m not footing the bill. Then I always drink them. Choose your moments, people.

img_2317
The Shard in London, famous for the breathtaking views and overpriced cocktails.

If all else fails, and you end up eating an entire plate of fettuccine alfredo, follow it up with a bottle of wine, go out, and spend all night dancing – you’ll burn it off/stop caring.

Montreal Fetish Weekend

My first week back in Montreal after a summer interning in Manhattan and I was already homesick for New York. I needed something that would remind me why this city was so great: a whimsical, insane event that could only happen in MTL. I needed to remember why I fell in love with this city in the first place. 

When my friend told me about Montreal’s notorious annual Fetish Weekend, I was instantly intrigued. Fetish Weekend in Montreal is a huge, drawing people from all over the world. The event was created to celebrate sexual practices that many consider taboo, such as role playing and cosplay. For 2018, Fetish Weekend – which is really about a week, lasting from Wednesday through Tuesday – featured a Beat & Greet “Kinky Cocktail,” sex workshops, and a LATEXTACY Showtime Ball. And of course, there after-hours parties scheduled for every night beginning at 2 a.m. with themes like “Exotic Circus” and “Witchcraft All Night Play Party.” This is exactly the type of event that could only flourish somewhere as open minded as Montreal, and I knew I had to see it for myself. 

Tickets for the entire weekend range from $100-$500 but some of the events are free – including the “MODE EN FOLIE” fashion show at St-Hubert Supper Club. Honestly, this combined two of my favorite things (sex and fashion!) and I really couldn’t have asked for more. 

Upon arrival, I was first struck by the location. Montreal’s Gay Village is super cute, with rainbow baubles hanging across the street. And the street is always closed off to all traffic, which was perfect for the show set up: a red-carpet runway looped through the supper club and out into the middle of the street where the models ended their walk amidst a large crowd. 

The Looks: 
IMG_0315.jpg Credit: @ericlephotographeur

The looks in the show ranged from glorified lingerie to truly shocking getups. There were far too many bedazzled bustiers and a woman wearing only a black g-string and a latex slip. One woman wore pigtails and plaid school girl outfit made entirely of pink latex. There were also a lot of women channeling dominatrix vibes with high ponytails, mesh and studs paired with male counterparts in nothing but tight leather briefs. The biggest shock value came from the man wearing a full leather body suit – covering everything including his face, who came out crawling behind a woman leading him on a leash. And many of the attendees were just as decked out as the models in the show – if not more – with their own fair share of latex body suits and leashes. 

IMG_0318.jpg

Credit: @levillagemtl

IMG_0317.jpg

Credit: @sir.master.marc

Check out my Instagram stories of the show here: 

https://www.instagram.com/s/aGlnaGxpZ2h0OjE3OTYzOTI3OTgwMTM1MDk1/ 

The best part of the show was the energy, which was truly incredible. Lots of people had come in from different provinces or countries just for the weekend. Everyone was here to celebrate sexual kinks and fetishes that are often deemed unusual or even condemned by mainstream society. So the entire crowd had an aura of total acceptance and welcoming nature. No one was there to judge; everyone just wanted to have a good time. 

As for me, I took the opportunity to sex up my look as much as possible without going full on fetish wear. And I couldn’t help but indulge myself because who knows the next time I’d be able to wear lingerie in public and not be arrested. I have been dying to wear this sweet little bralette ever since I snagged it from LF in NYC. I paired in with my favorite pants of the moment: white culottes from Yumi Kim. My glittery, lace up stilettos were the obvious choice to complete this look. 

My night ended at a drag queen cabaret show, because of course it did. Shout out to Mado and her equally fabulous co-hosts at Cabaret Mado for being truly iconic. See my instas of her here, she’s such a treat: https://www.instagram.com/s/aGlnaGxpZ2h0OjE3OTMyMTc0OTI0MjAzMTkx/