Forty-five minutes outside Montreal in a small town called Pointe-Calumet lies a haven of hedonism, booze, and celebrity worship. Beachclub is the kind of venue one would expect to find in Ibiza or South Beach, only it's surprisingly situated in Quebec, Canada. The brainchild of owner Olivier Primeau, the venue has an impressive capacity of over 10,000 people, and it's known for raucous parties hosting the likes of Tiesto, Hardwell, and noted feminist Dan Bilzerian.
On July 30, Beachclub announced that it would host Kylie Jenner's 18th birthday party--a move undoubtedly motivated by Quebec's lax drinking age. Jenner, the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, has become a pop culture icon amongst teens and young women. Currently, she boasts an Instagram following of over 32.9 million fans, has started a line of hair extensions "Kylie Hair Kouture," and recently appeared in a campaign for French fashion house Balmain alongside her supermodel sister, Kendall.
Like her sisters before her, Jenner has secured her success as a teen icon through a smart combination of lifestyle envy and a fair share of controversy. Unlike her sisters, however, she's been able to do this all before her 18th birthday.
The day of Kylie's party was one of the hottest of the summer: Environment Canada had even issued a rare heat warning. But along with the suffocating humidity of the day, the air at Beachclub was thick with the hypermasculinity that thrives in such an environment. At first glance, the massive club is the kind of place where the goal isn't just to look like you consume EDM, but to look like you've also consumed the EDM DJ.
As I watched the growing crowd from a balcony above the main stage, I saw the telltale party characters emerge. There were the Euro bros in their matching neon swim trunks, perfectly chiseled and tanned. In a shady corner, there were three men crowned with man buns taking a nap despite the loud tech-house blaring only meters away. And intermixed among them all were young men with various phrases on their tank tops ranging from the classic "Boats and Hoes" to the less-classic "Team Jenner".
As the venue started to fill, the sense of anticipation was palpable. Every time a plane flew overhead, people would begin cheering and raising their phones in anticipation, hoping it would be the aircraft that would deposit Kylie among us. In the VIP section, people seemed slightly more relaxed and drank cocktails by the pool.
Just after 5 PM--90 minutes after her scheduled arrival time--Kylie arrived via helicopter, to the excitement of thousands of cheering fans. After a brief interaction with press, she disappeared for another half hour only to re-emerge with a new outfit. She stood around while reporters hungrily shoved microphones in her face and politely answered a few questions, before ascending to a raised cabana flanked by security.
It was almost surreal to see Jenner up close (I was mere feet away from her, among the other sweaty members of the media). Even in person, she appears perfectly coiffed and airbrushed, her movements precise and planned. From her private space above the crowd, she waived a few to fans but mostly interacted with the people permitted to be in her near vicinity. At one point, she leaned over the railing and grabbed a random girl's iPhone to take a selfie with the crowd before passing the phone back to its ecstatic owner. They seemed to exchange no words; a selfie says 1,000 of them.
As partygoers retreated to their respective enclaves, a few loyal fans stayed near the perimeter of Kylie's cabana. One such pair were Faith and Josh, both 24, who had traveled all the way from Nova Scotia to be a part of Jenner's birthday experience. "Kylie is really close to her fans," Faith told me. "She's always on Snapchat and using different media. I know she went through a lot, with her lips and stuff, but she wasn't afraid to own it and do what she wanted without caring what anyone thought."
Samantha and Amy, 21, agreed. "She's beautiful and from the beginning, she's always been unique from the other Kardashians. Even from the Jenners: She's had her own and she's kind of stuck with it. I really admire that she takes on her own and rocks it. She promotes herself well."
Still, some fans were disappointed in Kylie's lack of interaction with teeming crowd, particularly given her rumored profit of $200,000 for appearing at the event. "I was a little disappointed that she didn't do a little bit more of a 'Thank you for coming,' but I guess I understand how intimidating it can be. She seems shy. I guess it can be overwhelming," Samantha said.
When asked what they admired in Kylie Jenner, the young women I interviewed would continually key in on her unapologetic attitude and ease. Part of this is surely due to Kylie's use of Snapchat, where she shares seemingly mundane moments of her life--driving around Calabasas with her friends, goofing off in her walk-in closet, suggestively drinking a Starbucks Frappuccino while giggling. But the idea that Kylie's life is similar to those of the young women who worship her is a myth--something that's never been more apparent than it was at her party, where for two hours, she was stoic and unmoved as thousands of girls screamed her name, begging her to turn around and acknowledge them.
Kylie left the event shortly after 7 PM, disappearing to an unknown location, but it was clear that her presence had inspired an undeniable spirit at the venue. The party grew wilder as the sun set and turned into a scene much like a typical festival.
"We offer something for everyone," Beachclub owner Olivier Primeau said. "If you don't like it, stay at home."
As the sun began to set over the venue, tired dancers slowly filtered away from the party and toward the parking lot. A few devoted fans remained, most brandishing Kylie memorabilia the club had handed out for free. Some posed in front of an eight-foot birthday card that had been erected in her honor.