Don't bother heading to kensington Saturday night for this year's corporate-sponsored all-night art thingy.
While the Market hosted an ethereal party till dawn last year, the area will be eerily off the map this time around. Blame the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
In 2007, Shamez Amlani, owner of La Palette on Augusta and a founder of Pedestrian Sundays, organized a committee that included his Streets Are for People cohort Yvonne Bambrick and Toronto Free Gallery director Heather Haynes and put a call out for artists to exhibit as an independent project within Nuit Blanche.
They applied for extended licences for the bars that wanted to take part and also managed to get three small street closures, just enough to get people into the streets, creating a temporary pedestrian priority zone.
When he wasn't taking care of other artists or volunteers, Amlani was leading giant games of speed Scrabble in the street. "The long night was like living in dreamtime," he muses.
Though they feel free and dream-like, these events do draw the heat.
It's what the AGCO calls "risk-based enforcement," the commission's Lisa Murray explains. "At special events like Nuit Blanche, there is a high concentration of people, thus a higher likelihood of infraction, so we watch more closely."
Makes sense. The last thing anybody wants is for some art project to catch fire in an overcrowded bar, resulting in tragedy.
But there's the spirit of the law and the letter of the law.
"Nuit Blanche? It's just not worth the hassle," says Vickie Henton, co-owner of Ronnie's Local on Nassau, as she explains why her bar won't be participating.
"The portrait party by Alex vs Alex was fun last year, but we make more money on a regular Saturday without the added fear of liquor board inspectors."
They sure had a presence in 2007.
At 2:37 am, just as other bars were closing and the streets were flooded with tipsy Torontonians, the AGCO inspectors showed up and informed Amlani that they counted four too many people inside La Palette and eight too many on the patio.
Amlani immediately recruited the prep cook as doorman, and legal capacity was regained and maintained for the rest of the night. "I even thanked the inspectors as they left," he recalls.
Six months later he received a summons called a Notice of Proposal and faced a maximum suspension of 14 days.
La Palette staff are dancers, artists, and musicians who generally squeeze by with just enough tip money to pay their rent and do their art. They can hardly afford two weeks without pay.
After pleading guilty and avoiding costly lawyer fees, the little French bistro was allowed to close for only five days of their choice.
And what will the talented community organizer and activist-artist do for Nuit Blanche 2008?
"This year I plan to get royally pissed, trip around town and just enjoy the soiree."