White Parties in Davos vs. Montreal: Igloos Play Differently!

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David Roth Swiss Social Democrats OccupyWEF Reuters.jpg(Swiss Social Democrats JUSO President David Roth inspecting first igloo at OccupyWEF camp at Davos World Economic Forum encampment; credit: Reuters)

This past week, Davos saw that a well organized group of turbo-charged style globalization protesters, OccupyWEF (Occupy the World Economic Forum), set up shop in igloos in the smallish village where the world's economic and political elite flock to the end of January each year.  My hat is off to the protestors whose blogging in the icy cold was great and unforgiving of those who tried to shrug them off.  OccupyWEF have pushed out the boundaries of what comes to mind when one thinks of "white party."

And whether they were 'actually invited' to participate in the World Economic Forum meetings or not, they ultimately achieved the attention of the WEF Maestro himself, Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, and were told publicly that they were invited.  I can think of a lot of other groups and individuals who would like to wrangle an invite to this ultimate economic policy insiders club.  So, if OccupyWEF really did not get an invite this year -- better demand entry for next year's meeting before decamping from the Igloo mother base.

MIGLEGO_IGLOOFEST-2011-01-22_5592jpg_5396188703_l.1.jpgBut igloos play differently where I was last night -- Montreal.  The White Party up here is called the "Igloofest" which draws more than 60,000 people over three weekends of fun, intense, thumping, out in the freezing cold and open night air of Montreal's old port. (image used with permission; credit: Miguel Legault for Igloofest; click image for larger version)

Here is more info on the fun that happens here -- and the organization's website, which at the time of this writing has crashed most likely because of too much traffic -- and this is the morning after the final night (!).

I stopped by the Igloofest mania last night -- and the gathering was packed, sold out capacity crowd -- thousands of people in parkas and mukluks dancing to techno music that blared across the St. Lawrence.

I didn't get the sense last night that the young folks dancing and happy amidst an igloo-themed rave had any idea that others of their age group were fighting against a global corporate take-over (probably many of the companies the OccupyWEF were taking on were simultaneously sponsors of Igloofest but just speculation on my part).

But I think it would be quite a global party -- all during the same week for those protesting and those dancing around igloos to get together.  Perhaps OccupyWEF could have an Igloofest night -- and the Igloofest Montreal folks can pay tribute to those working hard to get people to think through what is happening in the lives of the world's 99%.

And while I am on Montreal, some other things for those who, like me, enjoy getting to know the little things and big in cities.  (By the way, do check out my buddy Richard Florida's brilliant work at The Atlantic's new sister site, The Atlantic Cities.)

After the Igloofest, go stop by the W Montreal -- and while bars and clubs abound in the place, just go straight to the second floor to the Plateau Lounge for the slightly psychadelic maple leaf covered bar. 

Karim Terouz.jpgOn a weekend night, there are four plus bartenders making specialty cocktails -- but ask for the bartender who is not from Montreal and not descended from one of the 1000 women that Louis XIV provided dowries for to get the population of French Canada going in the mid-17th century -- but rather is from Cairo.  His name is Karim Terouz, a former Egyptian-based art director who moved to Montreal and decided to take his obsession with making the perfect drink to one of the higher end bars in the city, so as "to try and better under the people of Montreal" he told me.

He said that lots of drink and bar critics sneak in to write about the place and test them -- and that he always has to be ready for the ultra-demanding client, which I am in a passive aggressive way.  I rarely know what I want in a bar -- but when I get it, I know whether it's quality or not.  Usually not.  This shout out is not bartender infatuation -- it's just Karim adjusts drink recipes to fit what he thinks works, he is burning lemon rinds and adding stuff I've never seen go into drinks made at any of my DC haunts. My friend and I sitting there agreed that we had not seen anyone so obsessed with making a perfect cocktail except in Japan -- and those cocktails cost about $100 each.

I've had my share of the very best versions of an old fashioned and sidecar -- and even a mint julep that would have kept Tennessee Williams there all night.  He has a Cirque du Soleil drink mixing move and the women and men at the bar seem to realize that that is what they are really paying for.

Anyway, The W Montreal's Plateau Lounge is highly recommended -- particularly as a midway stopping point from the Igloofest to the Le Centre Sheraton which every late January is the site along with McGill University where 2,000 college students from around Canada and the US gather in what is known as McMUN to engage in Model United Nations mock diplomatic battles.

john bolton finger.jpgI really think that McMun should invite former recess-appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton (who was embraced by Newt Gingrich as his likely Secretary of State until perhaps Bolton endorsed Mitt Romney. . .ouch!) and me up here to debate the value of what they are doing -- and make it part of Igloofest.

Last note.  If you stay at the Le Centre Sheraton and don't have your room serviced, the coffee replaced, and the towels and sheets turned over -- they give you a $5.00 credit for other stuff at the hotel.  Environmentally designed incentives can work.  They did with me. 

News you can use.  Now back to igloos. . .

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Steve Clemons is Washington editor at large for The Atlantic and editor of Atlantic Live. He writes frequently about politics and foreign affairs. More

Clemons is a senior fellow and the founder of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, a centrist think tank in Washington, D.C., where he previously served as executive vice president. He writes and speaks frequently about the D.C. political scene, foreign policy, and national security issues, as well as domestic and global economic-policy challenges.

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