a peek inside the fishbowl

28 Jan, 2013

A bit about Nature Nocturne

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa

ETA: Now with video!

On Friday night Mark and I went to check out the first Nature Nocturne event at the Museum of Nature. (Transparency alert: the Museum is a Fishbowl patron.)

Imagine a party, after hours, at a place you’ve been to dozens of times but with dancing, music, food, and oh, 2000 people. It puts a very familiar place (at least for many of us) into a whole new perspective, doesn’t it?

As Mark and I drove in we speculated WHO exactly would go to this kind of thing. Would it be:

  • older folks who secretly want to check out a dance floor again, especially at a place they’ve been to a MILLION TIMES with their kids (but without the kids)
  • younger folks who like to dance and see this as a unique addition to the club scene

Mark went with the former. Frankly, I had no idea what to expect.  I thought it was a great idea, but would many other people want to see what a museum looks like after hours? And dance? On a wintery night in Ottawa?

We pulled up around 8:30 p.m. to see – SURPRISE – a few hundred people lined up outside the door. (The doors opened at 8:00.) I couldn’t believe my eyes. I didn’t expect THAT kind of crowd so early in the evening, especially given the weather.

It was bitterly cold outside. I hopped out while Mark circled for parking. To my joy and relief I realized that the line was to buy tickets, so, as a lucky ticket holder I got to bypass the line and scoot into the (relative) warmth of the foyer to wait for Mark.

I knew I was going to love Nature Nocturne. And I did. After all, what’s not to love about a grand ol’ building filled to the brim with music?

I do love this building. Experiencing it while it's full of music is even better @museumofnature #naturenocturne

The music was fabulous, and it didn’t take long for the dance floor to fill up. The dancing took place in the “lantern” part of the building, right under the whale. We had a pretty good view of the action:

This was a prime people watching opportunity! I really enjoyed myself. And I even liked watching the people who were watching the people. :)

Here’s a snap I took right as the photographer fired his flash. Holy illumination batman!

Photographing the photographer

Here’s Trish, one of the hoopers.

Hooping action! @museumofnature #naturenocturne

The hoopers and non-dancing bystanders were standing on the different levels of balconies overlooking the floor, watching the action below. The whole place was electric.

The dance floor at Nature Nocturne

Ah, youth.

Just to put things into perspective, I should point out that us old folks were outnumbered 12 to 1. (A conservative estimate in my books.) Here we are! Make way for the old folks!

Me and Mark

Speaking of old, this is one of my favourite tweets from the entire evening. (By the way, “OH” is textspeak for overheard.)

OH at #naturenocture “It’s kinda fun that there are random old people here. I can’t wait to be that person.”

— Chloé Fedio (@cfedio) January 26, 2013

Ha ha!

As one of those “old people” I felt a little bit like Jane Goodall among the chimps, but it was all good. ;)

Speaking of tweets, the social media-related component of the evening was pretty cool. A huge screen displayed Tweets and Instagram pics that were tagged with #naturenocturne, and Museum staff were retweeting all night long. More events need to do this kind of thing. I thought it was pretty smart. Not only does this appeal to a very tech-friendly target market (I have never seen so many iPhones in one place before) but it created some great buzz.

Unfortunately, the event planners seemed to be caught under-prepared for the massive turnout. The lineups for drinks were long and there was some grumbling. There needed to be more places that served alcohol in the building, and more servers roaming the floor with trays of beverages.

I think part of the issue for some people was that there were multiple lines: one to get in, one for food and drink tickets, and another for the actual drinks, and this left many people – especially those who didn’t get there early enough – feeling impatient and out of sorts.

The food was a bit of a loss for me. It SOUNDED good. Fried mac and cheese balls? Cheeseburger spring rolls? Popcorn shrimp on spicy popcorn? The latter was what enticed me, but the shrimp was soggy and the whole thing (two servings in fact) went straight into the garbage. In hindsight I wonder what kind of foods could have been a better choice for munchy party-goers: Popcorn and candy floss? Hot dogs? BeaverTails? Hot beignets? They aren’t trendy or “cool” choices, but I think it would have worked.

I don’t think the food and drink availability will be an issue at future events. It’s the kind of thing that is easily remedied. I do hope that people go back, and that new people will check out the next Nature Nocturne coming up in February. It was a blast, and despite a few little speed bumps, I think the Museum of Nature is fast-tracking to the kind of event that’s totally world class.

Did you go? Would you go?

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7 Responses to "A bit about Nature Nocturne"

1 | coffeewithjulie

January 28th, 2013 at 10:39 pm


I was THRILLED to see the tweets (altho I missed that old folks one, haha! omg, that is sooo funny!) and photos from the event. I totally didn’t go. I am way too old :)

It looks like it was a huge hit! Thrilled for the museum at this success. I have to admit that I am slightly afraid for the collection though … I saw a photo that was tweeted out of a drunk guy humping the rhino :p

2 | val

January 29th, 2013 at 4:17 pm


I was there too and it was a blast! We got in early and tried the signature drink, but I can’t remember what it was called. It was tequilla, lemonade, and grenadine I think. My group and I all thought the drinks were expensive for what you got: small drink with barely any alcohol. I also went for the shrimp option. I found the popcorn too spicy,but the popcorn shrimp was really good. The half popcorn bag they served it in was flimsy and hard to carry along with my drink and clutch, and ended up throwing half away. The lines for drinks were very long and the bartenders slow. And at the end of the night the coat check area was a total disaster, with coats and belongings in jumbled heaps on the floor. Coat check attendants would solve this problem. All these issues are easy fixes. I think the turnout was much better than expected! Can’t wait for next month!

3 | binki

January 29th, 2013 at 4:52 pm


Pop music? Rave music? Old music? Mix of all? Was there anything intellectual about the event? Or just plain fun?

4 | andrea

January 30th, 2013 at 9:05 am


Binki: It was dance club music, with some Gangham Style thrown in for good measure. In terms of intellectual stimulation, almost all of the galleries were open for viewing, including the Nature Unleashed exhibition… which we saw recently and I do recommend. :)

5 | Jen_nifer

February 1st, 2013 at 7:09 pm


I’ve never attended an evening event at the Museum of Nature despite being a member for 2 years. You’ve convinced me to see if we can make it to the next one!

6 | Laura

February 13th, 2013 at 5:04 pm


The next Nature Nocturne is on Feb 22. Really recommend buying tickets in advance. http://nature.ca/nocturne.

The issues regarding coat check, long lineups, # of bars, etc. have been looked into. All the feedback has been really helpful for an even better Nocturne in 9 days. :)

7 | Samsung Galaxy Camera: my new social camera >> a peek inside the fishbowl

February 22nd, 2013 at 6:05 pm


[…] be thinking, who needs a camera that’ll upload to Facebook? Well, when Mark and I went to Nature Nocturne a couple weeks ago, I couldn’t help but notice that almost every single twentysomething had a […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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