Montrealers sometimes say that this is a small town - a large village, really - where everyone knows everyone and where the denizens are preoccupied by petty matters (such as, most recently, the chosen location of an upcoming rodeo). Why, just the other day, while lounging on my slanted balcony during a rare and precious burst of sunshine, I overheard my neighbour say that if you want to learn something about someone in Montreal, it will only take you about five minutes to identify someone you know personally who knows them personally - or at least someone who knows someone who knows them personally. Like a friend of a friend of a friend.
I beg to differ, and the proof is in the pudding: the monthly bareoke at Cabaret Cleopatra on St-Catherine's Street, which I inspected a year ago, and which appears to still be going strong. It is as simple as the name suggests: people walk on stage to sing their very own rendition of Living on a Prayer and remove their clothes in the process. All I saw (well, not all, but mostly) were ordinary folk: all ages, all genders, all shapes and sizes, all sexual orientations, and even some couples. The audience seemed pretty normal, too. No pics or videos were allowed, and everyone got an approving howl.
Naked karaoke. We've got that going on monthly and it is well attended. If a single man were so much as to approach a single woman in a bar in my East European hometown of half a million residents and be rejected, he would be banished from society forever on account of public humiliation (which is why single people there only ogle and wither - the coupled ones are born that way).
I often say that in Montreal one can truly breathe. But this is clearly not a sufficiently generous characterization. One can also publicly undress on a Saturday of every month and then rejoin clothed society unscathed and chive on.
This is no village. We live in a metropolis.