Putting the POP in Montreal


The 7th Annual POP Montreal festival wrapped up on Sunday, and, as has been the habit over the past few years, the biggest star of the festival ended up being the city. POP Montreal is known for juxtaposing pop shows with unconventional urban spaces, and as a result it’s a great way of discovering new parts of the city. As part of the effort to limit the ground festivalgoers need to cover to go from show to show, each year festival organizers dig deeper into unexpected locations to maximize venue use. In the past, places like the Ukrainian Federation and l’Eglise St. Jean Baptiste have been introduced to a whole new audience through POP. Here are my top spaces discovered this year at POP Montreal:

1) Cinema L’Amour

This gorgeous former Yiddish theater on St. Laurent and Duluth is now a Porn cinema, and two separate shows in this year’s POP utilized the space, although only one used the…ahem…functionality of the space as it currently exists (I’ll give you a hint: it was called PornPop). If you’re not squeamish, this theatre is definitely worth a look.

2) Notman House

Pop’s administrative and ticket sale headquarters were housed at this old mansion on Sherbrooke and Clark. I honestly don’t know what this space is used for, although it seems to be semi-abandoned. A bonus for all you urban explorers is a hidden passageway that allegedly leads to an abandoned dormitory

3) Mainline Theatre

A POP afterparty on Friday night introduced me to this cozy little theatre space on St. Laurent. There is nothing overwhelming about its aesthetics, but it was a pleasant surprise to find an innocuous second floor theatre space tucked in amongst the nightlife on the Main. Word is that the theatre company puts on some interesting pieces.

4) Masonic Temple

Though I didn’t actually make it to the Masonic Temple, apparently Montrealers The Dears put on a spellbounding if somewhat creepy show at the home of the Free Masons, at 2295 Rue St-Marc.

5) Portugese Association

Again, not an architectural masterpiece, but the late night shows stuffed into this tiny community space in the middle of St. Urbain had an intimacy that most music venues would kill for.

Post your favourite POP spots in the comments below.

photo from www.hippocampe.org


  1. well i have yet to hit up many of the amazing after parties, i definitely appreciate viewing the increasingly expanding venue list this city has to offer the past few years…
    shows that were traditionally restricted to metropolis, club soda and spectrum (deceased) has expanded to include the intimate la sala rossa, ukranian hall, the national, la tulipe

    hopefully some of your discoveries will open the door further.

  2. Hope cyberporn kills the wonderful old theatre’s porno cinema vocation. Not that I’m a prude – Yiddish theatre could be raunchy indeed – but with a much funnier and more appealing ethos. That little theatre is a gem – I had no idea it was such a beautiful small space. For many women it just makes that corner a very uncomfortable place to wait for the 55 bus late in the evening.

    I imagine there was a lot of (amateur) action up on the balconies way back when!

  3. Used to be a little theatre on Saint Laurence on the west side between St. Viateur and Bernard. I remember (maybe incorrectly) rep or experimental films shown there, and there was a “performance art” fest in the late 80s which was fun, but the performers complained about (hope they were paid!) Nice red velvet seats, inside box office, and cozy white walls.

    Anyhow, it’s now a Portuguese pentecostal or baptist-style (I think) church, which pretty much takes it off the alternative culture map. A lot of small spaces with seating become these. At least there are a couple here, on rue Frontenac above Ontario.

  4. The Notman House belonged to William Notman, a Montreal photographer (and the only) in the late 19th century. The McCord Museum has an online exhibit of his life and work here: http://www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/en/keys/virtualexhibits/notmanstudio/ The building has been for sale for the last few years…
    The dormitory in the back was an extension of the mansion and was a hospice for women.

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