Throwing parties is a thankless task!!!” said one promoter dubbed “the saviour of the Toronto scene” a few months back.
“There are only two places to throw events”.
While I rarely agreed with her, I couldn’t help thinking she was partially right at the time. Yes, people only remember to praise the performers and rarely thank the promoters. Unless you remind them over and over again who you are and then they begin to trust brand recognition.
I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum.
It also depends on why you choose to throw events.
It’s been 25 years promoting events at almost every conceivable club, gallery and after hours location in the downtown core. I like to think that I will be remembered fondly for contributing to culture during my time. I know others will take my place and in 10 or so years will be completely forgotten. That’s the cultural cycle.
Maybe in 30 years, someone will wheel me out or drag my corpse back for a “special appearance”.
On the second statement about locations. Yes it was true. The only locations to hold an electronic event were Bambi’s and 500 Keele: either over booked or dominated by a few select promoters. Gone were available bookings at 76 Geary, Double Double Land, Cinecycle: popular after hours locations.
Traditional bars like The Boat, Round, Wrongbar, The Garrison, Luanda House, Rivoli, Revival, Bundha Lounge, & May who serve til 2 AM are either too expensive to book, cater to pop nights, or are considered “over”.
This is a limited view however, restricted to a certain type of dance music, ignoring locations where virtually any other music or art scenes take place.
Most crowds in the dance electronic scene consider themselves worldly. “Jacking” all day and night in clubs and festivals New York, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Lisbon, South America, South Africa, Australia, etc. etc,.
Anywhere but in Canada.
Wanting, expecting a party to go beyond the curfew of 2 AM has become an essential part of our culture now.
Ignoring Canada’s conservative nature, this is not the fault of the venues proprietors. Most, if not all of the after hours spots are not owned by the bookers, rather leased from unseen property owners who decide to sell the pace for market value, raise the rental price leaving the last renters a sizable debt in construction and repairs.
To pay rent, local bars cater to popular music themed nights; retro and current hip-hop still the dominant trends, no matter the attempt to be “cool”.
This also effects live music, film, video, dance, and traditional art gallery events. Over the course of 10 years, parties keep moving further and further away from the city centre.
This isn’t be a major problem in other countries. The history of after hours and squatting residences tells stories about locations off the beaten path and in abandoned structures. Our transportation system doesn’t allow for easy access shutting down by 2 AM, just in time to get there when it starts but leaves one with “No Way Back”.
So where does this leave DIY communities. Settle our difference? Pool our money? Hire staff? Apply for grants? Appeal to the Ontario government to catch up? Cross our fingers the police don’t come?
Maybe we just wait til the cycle passes. Go back to the small bars. Throw a house party. Build a following. Talk to people one on one.
Maybe we forgot how fun it was, to be a little naughty and skirt the law. To roam the margins.To be different. I know that’s why I did it in the first place.
– Andrew “Andycapp” Hicks
This post was inspired by the story below.
Written By: Lawrence Burney