BY SHAFAQ PARWEZ
There were crowds on the streets including teenagers, young adults and people with kids. All had come out to enjoy a series of colourful activities in downtown Kitchener. From art galleries to awe-inspiring dance parties, from pop-up art on the streets to performances in every nook and cranny, Kitchener was booming with energy. The reason? It was the occasion of the ever-popular Night\Shift Placehacking Festival Nov. 1 to 5.
Night\Shift is an annual nocturnal art crawl that has been attracting the attention of thousands of people ever since its inception in 2013.
There was no set theme this year, but that did not reduce the excitement of the crowds.
The event is a platform for all upcoming artists to showcase their talent in music, performance art, acting, singing and much more. The art crawl encourages artists to reimagine a range of venues with multidisciplinary shows and mind-opening interaction. This year it featured 18 downtown spaces reimagined by 23 original pieces of programming, 20 musical acts and contribution by another 40 plus multidisciplinary artists. People often make donations to help the artists in their endeavours.
The event took the crowds along a trail of 23 different locations, both indoor and outdoor. Some obscure venues, such as the very first audiovisual art piece, added further excitement. The kickoff for the chain of activities started with the awe-inspiring Infinity Tunnel at 44 Gaukel St. The LED lights in the tunnel were designed to mimic sound waves. Visitors enjoyed manipulating the lights by making sounds; an absolute hit with the kids.
When asked about this tunnel, Denise Baker, a visitor, said, “It’s great! It’s interactive … it changes colour. It’s artistic. It’s infinity! You look through the mirrors and it goes on forever and ever.”
She added that she greatly admired the artist for his creativity.
“I am very proud of Bernie Rhodes who created this piece. He is my neighbour.”
Two artists also performed live music here. One band, who was an instant hit, posed with fans and visitors for photos. The Charlena Russell Band, comprised of Russell, Shannon Soriya and Cathy King, played live music for an hour and a half. Using a variety of musical instruments such as the trumpet and the violin, the band captivated the attention of the crowd effortlessly.
A map was given out to help guide people to the rest of the activities downtown.
The energy of the crowd only seemed to go up from here. Analog Arsenal, Collage Party and Reconstruction were bubbling with people of all ages. Reconstruction, a Mobile Art Studio on the fringe of Carl Zehr Square, was a hit, particularly with women. Here, participants could add their own little pieces of art to contribute to a bigger comic.
The largest hustle and bustle was around Kitchener City Hall Rotunda. An event called 24 Hour Dolly was set up which took video of the crowd.
All cafes lining Kitchener downtown had multiple recreational activities including variety shows and musical performances. A number of DJs came to town from as far as Hamilton and Toronto to light up the night.
Visitors also had the opportunity to use their imagination and participate in Dance Your Own Adventure in The Oak Room at The Walper Hotel. The ambiance at this location was just right to not only enjoy the soul of the music but to dance the night away to meaningful tunes.
The event was funded largely by the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund, Zehr Group, Scotiabank and Kitchener Public Library as well as other festival partners and contributing organizations.
As the wee hours of the night approached, one could still see young people with maps in their hands as they set out in pursuit of one venue after another.