Tokyo-based Nakaya was an early video vanguard artist and created her first fog sculpture over 35 years ago. For her Toronto site, she chose Philosopher’s Walk, a winding path that sits on top of an ancient creek bed in the heart of the University of Toronto. Shaped by the shifts in wind and temperature, this “atmospheric sculpture” transported people out of their everyday lives. Enveloped in luminous shadows, blurry whispers and camera flashes, people were slip sliding into a lost vortex of time and space. It felt like slow dancing inside an artist’s imagination.

Standing alone in the misty fog, arms outstretched, was an unidentified man in a suit with a paper bag over his head. Not officially a part of the night’s programming, Hugman was there for the hugging. Such a “simple” performance exemplified the true spirit of Nuit Blanche. No walls, no theory, pure art with heart. Throughout the night, everyone was commenting on the energy; there was a feeling of playfulness in the air, of fun and adventure. “It was like a giant slumber party,” adds Goodwin. One of Amiand’s favorite pieces was Darren O’Donnell’s Ballroom Dancing where hundreds of coloured balls were being tossed around a big room filled with dancers. “It was so nice at the beginning of the evening, there were all these children playing DJ, choosing the music and playing with the balls…it’s very rare for little children to be able to participate in an art event.”

The timing of Nuit Blanche echoes discussions taking place in lecture halls, PR firms and coffee houses around the city and queries being explored in articles and anthologies: “What is Toronto’s cultural identity?” As it sheds its long-held persona of being stuck in the shadow of New York City (which Torontonians resent yet covertly cling to), catch phrases are popping up like “coming-of age,” and “Toronto finally grows up.” Renovation and construction remain an endless pastime, always in frame. But while big cultural institutions spend a billion-plus in “transformations,” these giant architectural explosions can feel more obtrusive than cutting-edge. For a lot less money, Nuit Blanche turned out to be more avant-garde than a new façade or exhibition space could hope to be because it was a gift of interconnectedness, a kind of “positive emotional activism.” To connect the final dot, Dostoevsky offers the last word, “His imagination is again stirred and at work, and again a new world, a new fascinating life opens vistas before him. A fresh dream—fresh happiness!”