This past Friday night/Vendredi soir I had the privilege of visiting Cat’s Corner located in Montreal, Canada. For those of you unfamiliar with Cat’s I am reluctant to say it is just a swing dance venue because it had a community atmosphere when I visited.
One thing that Cat’s especially does to help out with the community feel is that it caters to the unique co-exisiting Anglophone and Francophone cultures within the city.
Within my visit to Cat’s I noticed the instructors for the classes would ask at the beginning their learning language preferences and would teach in either English, French or both depending upon the results. For those aspiring to learn French or students more comfortable learning in their native tongue, the lessons at Cat’s create a welcoming atmosphere.
Another thing Cat’s does to foster this sense of community is networking with not just other swing dance venues in the city but with surrounding communities as far as Rochester. When I was hanging out the following Saturday with some Cat’s organizers in the studio office, they were actively looking for events in the surrounding area to promote while munching on some Fairmount bagels.
This contrasts some of the horror stories I have heard in the U.S. of venues almost bitterly competing against each other. Which ultimately in the end just hurts the local dance community because of the pyrrhic victories.
As in most places they featured in their spacious and beautiful main studio, not one but two DJs that went until around 2 AM. However in the other studio they had a blues room open as well around 11 PM. As shown in the first picture they offer not just multiple levels of Lindy Hop, but classes in Collegiate Shag and Blues as well. Not listed in that picture, but I am fairly sure they have instruction in Balboa as well. The best thing is the classes are free with dance admission. What this does is encourages new dancers to find their own personal niche in the Cat’s community by taking classes tailored to their pace and preferences.
What is Cat’s Corner?
This is my view as a visiting American, so take what I say with a grain of salt. Talking with local organizers and dancing at the places I get the sense that Cat’s Corner is not just a dance venue but a place to be involved or be a part of. The staff (offical and volunteer) seems endeared toward the idea of maintaining and improving Cat’s and the classes are situated to cater toward the preferences of the dancers.
I know it sounds slightly cheesy, but I think it is what great events in the swing dance community do. People go to ILHC or Herrang because they want to be part of that experience, there is a distinct attitude and personality that is associated with those events that attracts people.
So if you are in Montreal on a Friday, pay a visit to their fun community. If possible grab a Schwartz sandwich beforehand and some poutine after.