The Fyre Festival in Montreal

The Fyre Festival in Montreal

‘It was an absolute Fyre Festival.’ Before Miami contestants were enlisted to save the world, another group signed up in Montreal. But where were the cameras?

Some cities are famous for their festivals. For the first week of February in Montreal, the city’s streets were awash with brightly colored lights, and the sound system blared pop music. The organizers promised carnival rides and performances, food stalls and live music, workshops and a dance-with-the-fireflies program, and even a contest with raffles for luxury hotel stays. For many in the city, the ‘Fyre Festival’ was a cultural as well as a commercial success, but organizers say they can’t be held responsible.

“The festival was great. It was an absolutely Fyre Festival,” said Benoit Dorais, a 26-year-old Canadian who had hoped to start a career in advertising at the event, but said he got discouraged when he realized there was no guarantee he’d have work.

“I’ve had a few interviews when I’m stressed,” he told me later, while walking through the streets of Montreal, “and I’m thinking, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this.’”

Dorais, who is a social worker who works at a hospital, and his friend Yoan Delorme, a photographer, were part of a crowd that would be swelled by the hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic festival-goers.

One woman who’d arrived early got so excited she started jumping up and down, while the musicians played. Another man got to the front and started dancing, while a girl stood on his shoulders and he swung around like a trapeze artist on a tightrope. (One woman on the ground grabbed a friend to keep her from doing a backflip, but it was unclear if the man actually did it successfully.) One man danced awkwardly but in time with the music. Another man made the mistake of throwing up on himself, but later made a good impression on a girl who was sitting in a booth: “That’s really good,” she said.

The organizers of the festival were trying to prove they

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