By Hana Jama
In 2016 Babely Shades had begun making connections with DIY bookers in Montreal and Toronto, so when some members moved cities, we decided to continue growing the collective in all three cities.
The idea grew from members who were already booking mini-tours for U.S.-based bands with dates in cities such as Montreal, Peterborough, and Toronto.
Having a network of Babely Shades chapters in different cities also allows for people in those cities outside of Ottawa to contribute to a more localized version to their own city, using some existing frameworks.
Much of the reason Babely Shades became such a successful collective in Ottawa is due to an incredible need for a QPOC focused music/arts initiative where some other, larger cities such as Montreal and Toronto are deemed to be more “inclusive” in their arts scenes because of the more prominent PoC diasporas.
However, I have found other cities to be much the same—a sentiment echoed by other travelling members. Things just look more inclusive from the outside.
Yes, there are more queer people of colour in the arts scene being represented but, specifically in punk and other alternative DIY cultures, the scene is still alarmingly white. Unfortunately, representation and inclusivity is an issue that still needs to be tackled in bigger cities as well.
Creating a network of city-based chapters has other practical benefits, too. When Babely Shades books an act for a show in Ottawa, we’re also able to co-ordinate stops in Toronto and Montreal and co-present and promote for all of the shows for that artist. This is especially helpful when American bands are looking to do a tour in Canada but don’t have an official manager or booker and are straight up DIY-ing it.
DIY can be made easier if there is a sense of community that connects our respective cities and scenes. This way, we are able to share resources and intel on venues or other bookers/promoters if a band or promoter from one city wanted to do something in another.
One thing interesting difference about Toronto and Montreal over Ottawa is more space for parties. Whether it’s an underground warehouse party that goes until the morning or official venue/club parties that end at last call, there is more room for DJs. DJs from all over can be brought to those two cities and have a successful event based on the numbers showing up and the party cultures in Toronto and Montreal.
From here we grow: differently in different cities, but collectively, as one. •