There are some nights where you just have to go with the flow and see what’s where. Other times, it’s best to have your evening a little more planned out.
October 3rd was one of those nights. Granted Jasmine and I were doing a meet up (Black Expats in Paris) and hoped that everyone would know just what to do. But we ourselves could have done a better job of looking up what this night was about, what’s where, and what sites we wanted to see before the night was up. This was our first meet up with this group (and actually my first meet up ever).
We invited some girls that we met at our TAPIF orientation and met them and everyone else at the designated meeting spot. We weren’t too positive who we were looking for, but when we saw a concentration of Black people in one location, we were pretty sure we found them. After introductions and how do you do’s, Ebony, the trip organizer, explained the general path we would take and handed us her map. After quickly glancing at the map, I was already weary about how the night would go. The concentration of attractions was several blocks north of us and we had started in a smaller concentration of attractions.
Regardless, I was there for a good night and to meet cool new people. And that we did. Nuit Blacnhe just happened to be going on at the same time. We walked some ways and then stopped. Jasmine and I had fallen a bit to the back of the group and were chatting with two other girls. We had been standing at the location for a while and thought maybe Ebony and a few others were trying to decide where to go. Then we looked through the gates we were next to and there was a bunch of string strung through trees and some people messing with a computer in the corner. A sign read that it would not open until 8pm. “Oh,” I said, “I think it’s art. We’re supposed to be appreciating it right now.” We all laughed and tried to figure out what it was trying to say. I tried to talk about the geometric shapes caused by the intersection of the lines, but even I didn’t have anywhere to go after that. We concluded it was just a giant spider web. Others were sure it was just strung up string.
We walked about two blocks down the street and ended up at a movie. It was in Italian. Some lady, a market and an elderly man. Still not sure what it was about. But there were quite a few people standing around engrossed in the movie. I don’t like watching movies from the middle. Those of us in the Black Expats group took that time to chat and get to know each other a bit better. I asked if anyone else was as hungry as I am and with a few nods, I went to Ebony and asked if we could go look for food. She responded that she was waiting here for a few more people and that there was a cheese exhibit in the next street, we just needed our own bread. Free cheese? I was intrigued. I gathered those that were interested and headed down the street in search of cheese. With Ebony still in the movie plaza and everyone following me around the corner, I was dubbed the new group leader. It’s crazy the things we do for some free food. #foreveracollegestudent.
We walked to the location of the free cheese and low and behold, it was not open yet. We had passed a handful of eateries on our way there – most of them selling falafel and I suggested we get some. Speeding this story up just a bit, we took pictures with a bride and her groom (we had seem them near the string exhibit too), ate falafel and by the time Ebony met back up with us, the cheese exhibit was open. It was a mountain of what we decided was Philadelphia Cream Cheese and they actually handed out carrots and bread to eat it with. The cheese was sprinkled with something black (I’m sure edible) and was made to look like a mountain. After that location, we ended up at a church where they were singing opera. And finally we made our way to the Centre Pompidou where there was supposed to be a fire show. It you weren’t directly in front of it (lucky for me, I’m short and lots of people let me get in front of them) or in an elevated position, all you really saw was smoke and heard the music. If you were right in front of it, you still saw lots of smoke and some small lighted fires. When it finished, many people around me were saying, or looking around implying, “wait, that’s it?” Yes, my friends, that’s it.
So in conclusion, what was Nuit Blanche about? Honestly, I still do not know. Surely there was more to this night than humans eating cheese, strung up string and smokey fires with some color set to music. But that’s all we saw. One of my friends here in Paris, later told me that Nuit Blanche last year was significantly better and that he and his friends were sourly disappointed by the types of exhibitions they had this year. They apparently went to go see the “Melting House,” but turned out to just be a building built leaning a bit to the side. So clearly, we didn’t miss all that much by starting where we did. I did see on Facebook though that one of my friends went to a exhibition that was a light show where you were meant to feel like you were underwater. That looked pretty cool.
Despite the major disappointment, we ended up making the night worthwhile by finding a discothèque (night club) with dance-able music (aka, not techno and house that most discothèques in France play). And the friends that we met at Nuit Blanche and who took us to the discothèque have become good friends of mine and Jasmine’s. So not all was lost. Plus I ended the night with a delicious crepe: