Braving the cold for the sake of culture: NightShift 2014

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There’s nothing like a cultural event spanning downtown blocks to elicit warm and fuzzy community togetherness.


For the second year in a row, Kitchener-based <em>Alternatives Journal </em>curated the nocturnal art and culture festival sprawling downtown Kitchener and lighting up the blocks after dark.


The exhibits, some indoors and others forcing participants to brave the cold outside, ranged from a short film looped on the side of a building to wishes popped into balloons by willing participants while interpretive dancers gracefully moved about the room. King Street was bustling with outdoor activity including <em>Occupied</em>, an outdoor fashion and art installation, scooters made of old water bottles and Christmas lights, and food trucks.


Some displays evoked pure interest and mild confusion like <em>LUNA</em>, an hour-long mash up of NASA footage from the <em>Apollo 11 </em>mission and clips from <em>2001: A Space Odyssey. </em>The film was weird in the coolest sense of the word; I was completely captivated and am still reliving the feeling days later.


<em>The Empty Shoes Project</em> was an incredibly moving demonstration about death at the hands of drunk drivers in Ontario. A downtown courtyard was filled with thousands of shoes to represent the number of people killed in drunk driving accidents every year. Julie Wynen started the project to honour her daughter Gracie, who was killed by an impaired driver.


The YWCA decorated their lobby walls with positive messages written by young girls who participate in activities at the centre. Visitors were invited to take a card and make a new one to leave behind.


Most of the exhibits were interactive to some degree, encouraging participants to not just view them but get involved. A giant game of pong, a life-size kaleidoscopet, and a late-night reggae dance party at Cafe Pyrus were all part of the 40 unique events.


Hundreds of people took to the streets despite the cold temperatures and wind, making this year&rsquo;s nightshift a success and proving that KW residents don&rsquo;t need to go to Toronto for a little culture.