Convince me… that party people should go to bed at 3 a.m.

Exchange with the bearer of a disruptive idea. Will our columnist be convinced?

Montreal would like to allow bars in certain areas to stay open all night and serve alcohol at a time when most of us are preparing our first coffee.

A “nightlife policy” has just been tabled on this subject and consultations began this week. That this raises concerns is quite normal. What I find more surprising is that the strongest opposition does not come from the Club des Gens Tranquilles Wishing to Bed Early, but from several bar owners themselves, as reported by my colleague Nathaëlle Morissette1.

Whether a bar owner judges that he has no money to make by extending his opening hours or that he lacks employees to do so, I understand perfectly. But the idea of ​​the City was never toto obligate bars open all night!

Why don’t those who aren’t interested just pass and let others do their thing?

I spoke about it with Alexandre Besnard, co-founder of A5 Hospitality – a group behind around twenty Montreal establishments, including Flyjin and Apt. 200. I had heard him criticize city policy on Paul Arcand’s microphone and I wanted to understand.

I discovered a talkative guy who defends last call to 3 a.m. with fervor.

“It is not up to municipal elected officials to change the morals and laws of Quebec which are based on public health and safety,” he tells me, keen to point out that he is speaking not only as an expert in industry, but above all “as a simple citizen and father of a family”.

It should be noted that the City of Montreal has not yet chosen the areas where the party would be permitted until the birds sing, but would like these to be “in the center of the city” and well served by public transport.

Some of Alexandre Besnard’s arguments left me speechless. This is the case when he invokes the “circadian rhythm” of the Montrealer, who would tend to eat dinner and go out earlier than a European and should therefore go to bed earlier.

It seems to me that everyone should be free to manage their biorhythms as they wish.

Alexandre Besnard is far from being kind to the City of Montreal’s nightlife policy, which contains words like “culture”, “vitality” or “inclusion”. I agree with him that the document is a little thick and thin, but I have difficulty explaining the denigration he displays.

“A DJ is a dude who plays music created by someone else. Not sure that Flyjin is a cultural place because we bring DJs,” he says.

It’s easy to make fun of the whole thing, but I think that there is a real culture around the electronic music that Mr. Besnard is talking about.

Where my interlocutor brings real reflection is when he points out the role of alcohol in the politics of nightlife. He points out that establishments open all night already exist in Montreal. And the craze is far from overwhelming.

“There are no more MP3s. The Circus closed, as did the Sona. All that’s left is Stereo,” he observes.

Under current rules, these establishments cannot sell alcohol after 3 a.m. Alexandre Besnard points out that this is the essence of what the City wants to change.

“Everything that is disguised in the cultural ends with: we have to sell alcohol until 8 a.m. otherwise there is no money to be made,” underlines Alexandre Besnard, who says he fears that the establishments do not promote alcohol since their viability depends on it.

In its policy, the Plante administration emphasizes the idea that allowing the sale of alcohol beyond 3 a.m. could make Montreal a hub for nightlife. She goes so far as to promise additional annual benefits of $676 million if the “proportion of night tourists” in Montreal reaches that of Berlin or Amsterdam.

Let us agree with Alexandre Besnard that we are pushing the envelope quite a bit here, even if it seems to me that we lose nothing by trying to develop this market.

The other “elephant in the room,” according to him, is drugs.

We’re going to stop lying to ourselves, there is no one who dances for 12 hours in a line on water and vitamins.

Alexandre Besnard, co-founder of A5 Hospitality

“I am not the preacher in Footloose, I’m not the father who doesn’t want his daughter to listen to rock and roll. But does anyone think it’s a good idea to mix drugs and alcohol? », continues Mr. Besnard.

I point out to him that in a city like Paris, to take just one example, nightclubs can serve alcohol until 5:30 a.m. and close their doors at 7 a.m. However, according to the latest news, the City of Lights had not imploded.

I also remind Alexandre Besnard of the chaos that occurs on certain Montreal arteries when the bars all empty at the same time at 3 a.m., the tipsy revelers fighting over the same poutine and the same taxi.

Alexandre Besnard responds with a counter-argument on the dangers of date rape drugs, greater according to him with late closures.

“A girl, at 2 a.m., she’s still with her 12 friends that she went out with. At 5 a.m., there are three left and they are burned,” he says.

I have no choice but to ask Alexandre Besnard if, beneath his public health arguments, there is not hidden the fear of seeing bars located in other sectors of the city gaining a competitive advantage over his own.

“I can’t say that there would be no impact for us,” he replies. But I don’t feel threatened because I don’t think we’re meeting the same needs. Bars and taverns are places for social gatherings. An afterhour offers another activity, almost sporting. It’s not the same niche. »


I guess, dear readers, that many of you will support Alexandre Besnard’s arguments.

For my part, I find it hard to believe that we are running a great danger by allowing certain revelers to go to bed later. The City is proceeding gradually and cautiously.

For two years, several establishments have been able to serve alcohol all night as part of pilot projects. The feared chaos did not occur.

Alexandre Besnard, however, raises interesting questions about the central role that alcohol would play in Montreal’s new nightlife policy. His concerns about date rape drugs also seem legitimate to me, even if it is agreed that the extended opening of bars would be accompanied by raising awareness among those involved in the night.

1. Read our article “Bars open all night: owners say no thanks”

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