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From an old website, Alien in Montreal

I had visited Foufounes Electriques before, some years ago, when I first visited Montreal and the city and its layout, were a mystery to me. I remember that it was summer-time, and we sat in the courtyard, sipping unfamiliar beer from cold bottles. I stared at the graffiti that covered an entire wall across the street – a leering, comical face in bold purples and blues. I remember that I was nervous to be (so it seemed to me) so deep inside French speaking territory. I didn't venture inside the bar at all during our visit.

So, the graffiti face is still here, and the courtyard too, but it's chilly this time, and late evening, so only a few furtive looking people shuffle around here now. I pass them and head for the door where I am greeted by an enormous bouncer. He simply smiles at me as I pass by, greeting him, all friendly-like. I have learnt that it's best to be civil and friendly to bouncers (but not over friendly, of course).

It's a large room, with high ceilings. Much of the room is given over to empty space, but it's so large that there are also plenty of tables on one side too. I make my way to the bar and sit on an empty stool, deciding which beer to take.

Luckily, there is a gap in the service, which gives me a chance to look around. I'm here to see the 'Drummer Combat' semi-final and I don't see any drumkits lying around. In fact, there aren't many people. I sigh, inwardly, at the prospect of attending yet another 'event' when nothing actually happens (this seems to occur more frequently that you might think).

But one thing I have learnt is always to look to the new arrivals, and see where they go. And there they are, scurrying towards an innocent looking exit at one end of the bar. I get up and wander over, find a set of stairs, and climb them, tagging along at the back of the crowd.

On the stairs, UV lights glow, blackly, and expose a multitude of lint on my black clothing. I sigh, again, inwardly, realising that I'll never escape the curse of black light on black clothing, the nightmare of dating teenagers.

At the top there is a woman who is stamping hands in exchange for cash. Some boys ahead of me climb some more stairs, after a discussion with the bouncer. Other people go right, and the rest left. Hmm, I think. I consider my options - on the left is another bar, almost empty; up the stairs is a mystery; and to the right is music and some people milling around in another, large looking room.

I break out into my broken French.

'The Drummer Kombat, it is where?'

The woman points to the right.

'It is how much?'

'Dix dollar.'

I pay ten dollars and wander into the drumming area. It's a large, two level room, dominated by a stage, upon which is a mock-up of half of a boxing ring. Punks, goth types, biker-types, geeks, middle-aged men, women in mini-skirts with tattoos, all mill around – an eclectic mix of people.

I don't see a bar, so wander out to buy a beer from next door. There is nothing on tap, so I take a bottle of Boreale for $3.50 (the barmaid neglects to mention the special on Molson Dry for $2.50). The drumming hasn't started yet, so I make a tour of this empty level. Pool tables, TVs, skateboard ramps... woah! Skateboard ramps? I'm amazed to find myself watching a gang of skateboarders doing tricks and grinding their faces into the floor (a little of both). I stand and make little ooh! and aah! noises as they crash and burn.

I decide that I like the place.

Oh, and if there is any doubt in anyone's mind that graffiti tags and skateboarding culture are linked, you should check out the bathroom near the ramps.