Volume 176, Fall 2018, pp. 91-95

Choreographies of assembly are grounded in the relationship between urban design and collective, bodily modes of reproducing, inhabiting, and reimagining urban space. Through a case study of urban regeneration, culture-led development, and social movements in Montreal, this article examines the particular nocturnal spatio-temporal rhythms of gathering in public space. For a long time, the night was left in the shadows by urban development experts who focus their attention on daytime plans and activities. However, following the rise of nighttime economies, sleepless societies, and ‘24/7’ cities, the night has received increasing attention since the 1990s (Crary; Gwiazdzinski and Straw). Critical engagements with the night as an object of study have shed light upon temporality, rhythms, and links between space and time. Such perspectives rethink urban life in terms of rhythm. Drawing from Henri Lefebvre’s theory of “rhythmanalysis,” this article focuses on the aesthetic, bodily, and sensorial experiences of collective practices. This article takes up Lefebvre’s notion of polyrhythmia—the idea that the living body is an association of a multiplicity of rhythms—to study the polyrhythmic qualities of collective and bodily practices in urban space at night. This night-focused study draws out the complex relations between collectivity, movements, and urban design. Moreover, a rhythmic study of the city at night foregrounds the multimodal perception process, following James Gibson’s theory of ecological perception. Hence, this article asks: how does the night affect our collective experience of the city?