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30 years of Balattou: cultural anchor

30 years of Balattou: cultural anchor


Since 1985, the Club Balattou gives a stage to all cultures. The establishment of the famous Boulevard Saint-Laurent this month three decades of world music. We discussed with Suzanne Rousseau, who is the co-founder of the International Festival Nuits d'Afrique and began his career at Balattou alongside its founder Lamine Touré.


A native of Guinea, Lamine Touré was a dancer and choreographer in his youth. He has traveled extensively in Africa and Europe before settling in Montreal in 1974. He then head to radiate the richness and diversity of African descent music since they are at this time unknown in Quebec.

In 1976, he opened the Creole Cafe at the corner of Jeanne Mance and Ste-Catherine streets. "The Creole Café hosted African students who had just arrived, explains Rousseau. It was really a place for newcomers who were looking for a landmark. Often Toure guide them where to go when we just arrived, to his papers, etc. It was a restaurant and y'avait small shows on the weekends. It was done in a very "home" stuff. Meanwhile, he also presented concerts around the city, at Café Campus for example. There was no small bar-show at the time. There was also no street view. He did it himself. Before opening the Balattou, Toure had still things very significant in terms of culture and entertainment. "

30 years of Balattou: cultural anchor


The adventure of Café Creole expires in 1981, but Toure opens the Balattou four years later, at the request of the public who need a gathering place of exchange. It is acquiring a small club in the heart of the Portuguese district of Montreal, on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, and opens the Balattou, instead of all cultures. Suzanne Rousseau, a young vingtenaire, learned the workings alongside Toure elected Knight of the Quebec National Order in 2013. "I remember early on, there were people on the weekend. It was full to the opening and it was already a given. It was the first place that hosted many mixed cultures at once. Even for us it was all new. By choosing Balattou (Bal at all), he wanted people to understand that this is for everyone, of all cultures and that everyone feels at home. It really is a very friendly place where people meet people of their country. Those who have traveled this music found then the Balattou and those who have not traveled, well they travel Balattou! It has almost created the scene because there were not many in world music scene. From the beginning, we had groups that came from abroad and a local scene that began to create. "

30 years of Balattou: cultural anchor


Today, the local scene world music has a very good pulse, largely thanks to the contribution of Balattou. After 30 years, the challenge of the establishment is to remain relevant, says Ms. Rousseau. "The important thing is to stay up to date and seek new generations," she said, adding that luck here since Montreal is sometimes the only destination in the country for some foreign artists on tour.

To enlarge the already interesting offer of its establishment, Toure has created Les Productions Nuits d'Afrique, which enable it to produce shows for the year all over the city, and established the International Festival Nuits d'Afrique in 1987, now a major summer event in Montreal. "The festival is a bit like the Balattou. That's why the festival's recipe is also very strong, "said Mrs. Rousseau. Tiken Jah Fakoly, a regular at Nuits d'Afrique, come back to us in the festivities 30 years to the year on 6 May. If you feel that trust and loyalty between Toure and artists are palpable is that the Balattou acted as a springboard for many groups and is a beacon for the influence of world music.

30 years of Balattou: cultural anchor


"When you look at all the big names who played Balattou, today these names we know them, they play at Metropolis, but back then they were known in their country where they were playing in stadiums while that they played in Montreal Balattou. Baaba Maal, Ismaël Lo, Youssou N'Dour, for example. Everything was to be done but all these artists were playing Balattou. If they had come to play in Canada and that they had not played Balattou, their record was not credible! When they returned to their country, played on TV and they said they had played Balattou in Montreal. The Balattou is larger internationally as it is here. For them, Mr. Touré is a legendary man. "

And so it allows us, for 30 years, vibrate to the rhythms of the world.

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The famous film critic, who graduated from the Shchukin Theater School with a degree in film. Acute and always lively passages have become a recognizable stamp of the author. She leads his column in prestigious magazines and on TV.