Photos by Ming Wu/Photogmusic

After years of those big eyes, peering into my soul every time I drive down Argyle Avenue towards Elgin Street, I was finally able to abide the big owl’s hypnotic call and attend the Nature Nocturne event this past Friday. For those who don’t know, every fourth Friday the Canadian Museum of Nature holds an after hours party, complete with food, DJ, bars everywhere you turn, and dinosaur fossils.

The doors open at 8pm and they start to kick everyone out around midnight. Tickets are 25 bucks a pop, and the price of admission also includes “one food item.” The theme of this month’s party was the Chinese Lunar New Year, which actually takes place on February 8. We’re going from the year of the Goat to the year of the Monkey – the year I was born coincidentally – and next is the year of the Rooster. There are 12 different mythological beasts associated with the Lunar New Year in traditional Chinese culture… but I digress.

The immediate shocker is walking up to the museum and seeing a massive line almost all the way to the northern parking lot, but it moved quickly and we were inside in no time. I wish I could say the same for the coat check line (an ongoing issue with Nature Nocturne), but once we were settled the party was most impressive. Beside the fact that it’s just cool drinking in a museum at night, one could dance, karaoke, appreciate the many natural history exhibits and enjoy enlightened conversation with your peers, because it’s a relatively high profile event in Ottawa, you are almost guaranteed to run into someone you know or at the very least meet someone new and interesting.

gloria guns, nature nocturne, ottawa, music
Gloria Guns on the decks at Nature Nocturne. Photo by Ming Wu/Photogmusic

The “food item” a ticket entitled you to this round were two spring rolls served on a cardboard dish and drowning in the sauce that came in the freezer box with them. Despite me being dramatic, however, they were an excellent finger food to munch on while drinking and certainly hit the spot, as my dad would say. The multiple bars posted around the main floor and basement offered the usual bar rail, unfortunately I neglected to look at the wine list, and your choice of Kronenberg or Kronenberg Blanc, not my favourite but an admirable attempt to class up the evening.

A highlight of the night was a performance by local DJ Gloria Guns (of Scary Bear Soundtrack). Guns gave new life to the old building with her playful set. She shared on Facebook after:

One of my favourite secret moments of this party was playing an audio sample that was a recording I made of myself reading out loud the findings of my (heavily dense and academic) research on governance issues in developing sustainable solid waste management practices in Nunavut, all set to electronic house music that I was creating. People really got into dancing to it, and I got a secret kick out of having people groove to my extreme nerdyness.”

The event was an excellent example of entertaining Ottawa nightlife and I would not hesitate to take my girlfriend again or suggest it for a night with out-of-town buddies. The atmosphere was inclusive, and the dance floor bumpin’.