Although this incident occurred over a year ago, it remains highly relevant as an indication of where rave culture is headed. Squat parties have been part of London’s underground scene for quite some time now (more on this in a future article). Shaftesbury Avenue is a well known theatre district and the venue’s proximity to the End nightclub (which I patronized before its closure in January 2009), makes this overt act of social rebellion all the more poignant. This just goes to show you that raving is more than just another passing fad – it’s a counter-culture movement with political undertones as it is very much anti-authority, anti-capitalist in its guerilla style approach to occupying abandoned edifices. Take away people’s access to safe, legal spaces to throw raves and they will always find other alternatives. The fact that the police were powerless to shut the rave down due to the sheer numbers of people inside the building speaks volumes.
To all the drum n bass headz out there, did you know Roni Size’s “Brown Paper Bag” video was shot in Toronto? You can see the streetcar at 1:22 and St. Osgoode subway station. Ain’t it trippy?!
Roni Size is a British Dj / producer who achieved tremendous success with his album, New Forms which debuted in 1997. It is considered to be one of the greatest drum and bass jazz fusion albums. I highly recommend a listen to the double LP. And Size is mentioned in my up and coming book on Toronto’s rave scene (see previous posting).
Something to be proud of Toronto!
Well folks, it’s time 4 another sneak preview of my up & coming e-book, set to be launched into cyberspace sometime next week. Yay! I’m excited! T.I.M.O. chronicles the hilarious shenanigans of self-professed rave junkie, Gemma “G-Fly” Anderson. Set in 1998 during the height of Toronto’s burgeoning rave scene, G-Fly is encouraged by her gorgeous supermodel friend, Katrina, to keep a journal for forty nine days as an exercise in artistic liberation. Get ready for a page turning, thrill addicting experience, guaranteed to leave you in stitches and jonesing for more!
Warning: This posting contains mature subject matter which some may find offensive. Of course, that only applies to uptight conservatives, religious fanatics and anyone who has never uttered the word “fuck” in their entire lives – you have been forewarned…
Thu Oct.1st – DAY 17
It’s 6:57 a.m & I can hear the wind gusting like crazy. It doesn’t sound very inviting out there. The only reason I’m up is I have to be at work for 9:15 a.m. I hate waking up early in the morning but at least I’ll have the rest of the day to myself & it does get busier at night than during the day. Mom’s quarrelling with Amir to wear a jacket cuz it’s cold out there. He insists his school blazer is enough to keep him warm cuz a big jacket’s gonna kill the style he’s trying to flex. I guess he’ll find out the hard way.
Last night I dreamt I was at a mini-rave. I was in this little room with a few floories who, as usual, were passed out on the floor. For some odd reason, I had my Roni Size c.d. & decided to put it on. When “Brown Paper Bag” dropped, the room was suddenly filled with ravers. They were swaying in trance-like fashion to the seductive jazzy intro, stepping & bopping their heads. I made my way to the front of the crowd, trying 2 feel the vibe. Everyone was on E except me. Then they all disappeared & the room was empty except for 1 girl sweeping the floor. House was pumping from the adjacent room. Guess that’s where everyone went. Two black transsexuals were in the house & 1 of them needed help with his-her bra. I helped him-her hook the bra around her ample bustline. She needed extra help with the front. I watched as he-she did some grotesque folding manipulation of her breasts, which were actually massive folds of loose flesh. When she was done, it looked like cleavage. “Now you know how it’s done honey,” she said, dropping a conspiratorial wink.
So much for anxiety dreams & all that crap. I gotta go now.
Sat Oct. 3 – DAY 18
Well, I’ve managed to skip yet another day but it’s not such a crime. At least it’s not as bad as robbing a liquor store for example. But enuf of that. Today is D-DAY. I’ve bought my ticket & WE ARE GOING!!! I got hyped up in bed this morning just thinking about it. I finally spoke with Shastri on Thursday night. His brother was supposed to be coming with us, but I found out later he was going 2 another rave – “Liquid Groove” – which featured hard techno. “Fusion” (which is the 1 we’re going to) is supposedly more well-rounded with drum & bass & jungle in da mix, as well as house & techno. Should be a rocking party!
Speaking of hyped up, DJ Hype tore shit up last month at the Warehouse for Syrous 5 year anniversary. The line-up to get in was insane but it was worth it. I was chilling with Da Undaground Crew, grooving to Mystical Influence & about to dose my E when some dork knocked it out of my hand. Before I could pick it up, he stepped on it. I was pissed! Luckily the pill was in a baggie but it got crushed to a powder. Blaine advised me to dissolve it in water. I then proceeded to lick the bag & tried not to gag on the supremely horrible taste. By the time Hype came on, I was out of my fucking mind & sweating like crazy. Almost bit the sides of my tongue off from all the grindage. It was amazing to see this geeky looking white dude having the time of his life grinning like mad, scratching & mixing, driving every1 nuts. Oh my God…I swear MC Fats & Rage were like the Dynamic Duo on da friggin mic, especially Fats. His hypnotic voice put me in a trance with the reverb heavy sound FX, tripping every1 right the fuck out. People were literally falling over as they tried to move around during a mindblowing, synth drenched interval of spectacular mindfuckery employed by the masterful Hype. Not only that but Fats had this amazing voice which blew me away cuz not a lot of MC’s can sing. That night was 1 of the best nights for jungle / dnb ever! Pascal was all up there in da mix too, spinning LTJ Bukem. Bukem was like a rainbow waterfall flowing through my mind. Pure bliss! Hype took shit to another level after wrecking pure devastation on the dance floor with Ice Cube’s “West Up” set to jungle, which sent all the junglists & hip-hop heads into a stepping frenzy. My jersey got all torn but I didn’t give a fuck – it was Animal Crackers up in that joint, especially with the high concentration of males jungle always seems to attract. “Front, back, side to side / we be givin’ it up til the day we die/ niggaz hit me up I’ma have to erupt – So MOTHERFUCKER WEST UP!!! Ya heard!!!
Yesterday I went to buy my ticket at Puff the Magic Dragon before I started my shift & guess who I saw as I was leaving the store!! Do I really need to say his name???! Needless to say, I was just as surprised & elated as he was. After all (& he said it too), what r the odds of us bumping into each other like this? Highly improbable I would say, since we move in different circles outside of raving. I had time to kill so we chilled for a bit. He did most of the talking & I did most of the gawking. I was just drinking him in, absorbing every aspect of his physicality; every blemish, each little strand of hair, inputting all the details into my demented database so I could pull up that file later & savor it lovingly, like a favorite dessert. His 6′ 3″ frame was draped in baggy sweats which couldn’t disguise the fact that he’s got broad shoulders & a killer body to boot. His sparkling, hazelish eyes r so expressive, being framed by delightfully thick, perfectly arched eyebrows. They remind me of dad’s eyes, except his are much lighter, like the color of champagne. He’s also got these juicy, mauve colored lips bracketed by the most adorable dimples & disgustingly straight, pearly white teeth. Shastri’s so friggin fine he oughta be locked up! Why oh why are mixed boys so damn hot?!! I picture him as a gold complected Adonis, batting sooty lashes & grinning shyly on an Olympic pedestal surrounded by screaming harpies. That gilded lily leaf would barely cover his formidable charms to be sure. I’m stunned almost speechless by his eloquent glory. His hands are shapely & well-manicured. I want to feel them on me. I can just imagine his pink tongue lapping up against my labia…OH THIS IS 2 MUCH!! Quite frankly, I would be genuinely surprised & MUCHO RELIEVED if he made a move (but not while under the influence of E). Anyways, we’ll see how this drama plays out.
Well Timo, I’m hooked up for tonight. I’ve got my E & later I’m gonna pick up some weed. It’s costing me a small fortune but I think it will be money well spent. This time I got a hugs & kisses. It’s a cute little thing. According to Eric, it’s supposed to make u feel “rushy rushy.” As long as it doesn’t make me sick, I don’t care. I’ve got to get my butt in gear as I have a busy night ahead of me. Still have to pick up some party favors – glo-stix & lollipops. So I’ll see ya tomorrow. Hope I’ll be coherent / co-ordinated enough to write (YEAH, WHATEVER!!!).
Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.
Raver of the Month
This month’s title goes to Johnny Cairns. Originally hailing from Toronto, Johnny recently opened up about his past experiences and the impact dance culture has made on his life. (This interview has been truncated to keep the article concise).
F: Can you define what rave culture means to you in one sentence?
J.C: One people under a groove.
F: Ok, that sounds familiar…I think that was Parliament!
J.C: (Laughter) That’s right. We’re all one, we’re under the groove and you could feel connected out on the dance floor, unlike anything today, especially in the ‘90’s, so between 91 and 90 and 2000 actually is when I did it, I did the whole decade and it was incredible. Connected.
F: Who or what got you into raving?
J.C: My little brother actually. When he moved back from Montreal in 1995, we moved in together and went to York University together and he was into psychedelics. I discovered psychedelics at that point and some of his friends who were a bit younger. He was 19, I was about 25, and so I went to a rave party with him down at Palais Royale… and it was at that rave in fact, the people I went with bailed, they actually bailed. It was the first time I felt that really profound peak in the heart, when it just started pumping and when we left the club I was like Nooo!!! cuz the girls got freaked out on psychedelics and they had to leave and I went with them. That was my second rave. After that I was like “See ya!” I’m out there. That’s how it rolled.
F: So psychedelics was your drug of choice?
J.C: Absolutely, that’s all I would do. Wouldn’t do anything but psilocybin, scientific term.
F: Yes, scientifically proven to trip you out without any major ill side effects. So what was your fondest memory from that era? And when we refer to era we’re talking from the era of ’95 onwards correct?
J.C: Yeah, ’95 onwards. I did go to raves in ’91. I went to a Nitrous party, in fact. Was offered some LSD at that party, turned it down and then proceeded to go into the drinking crowd and after that, only to come up in ’95 and actually do the psychedelics and go for it.
F: Wow, a Nitrous party in ’91. What sort of music were they spinning back then?
J.C: That was trance, that was a big trance party so that was DJ Dogwhistle, who was Chris Sheppard.
F: That’s right.
J.C: Chris Sheppard and Dr. Trance. Actually I was invited by Don Berns to the party, went with him, and he was Nitrous, he threw the party, he and Power and Don Berns and I were good friends, even though he was a bit of a pervert, a weirdo, liked boys but he and I were really, really cool.
F: Did raving kill any of your romantic relationships?
J.C: Absolutely, yeah. I wrote a book, it was 1000 days it became such a powerful spiritual thing and it wasn’t. There was this whole ethos of romance and sex when I was raving but I was almost like a monk in a way. A monk amongst thousands of hot girls, it was a really exciting thing. So yeah, it killed them all.
F: Do you think Ecstasy and M.D.M.A. should be legalized?
J.C: Yeah, absolutely, both should be. Why not? I think whether they’re legalized or not, kids are gonna do them and personally myself, I wasn’t a big Ecstasy fan and I’ve seen the results of Ecstasy on kids over the years. I knew people that did too much and they’ve got no memory, no brain left.
F: In your opinion, what sort of elements contributed to the overall demise of Toronto’s rave scene?
J.C: I think like all things it saturates, you know, it just saturates, it reached a peak and went down. There were other factors; the law started changing, the zoning started changing, they closed off most of our access to different warehouse spaces – they were gone suddenly and the wave crashed. I think a lot of us just got older too. A lot of us went into our mid and late 20’s and couldn’t do it all night.
F: In what year would you say raving officially died?
J.C: Oh, I remember the night well. My brother threw a party at Spadina in 1999, 2000. 2000 it was done. Over. I remember 2000, I clearly remember the feeling, I wept actually. I went back to help clean up my brother’s space and the vibe was just not there; it was really weird. That’s why I call it the 90’s vibe cuz 2000 came – gone. Like completely gone. It had already gone scenesterish already, like 99, 98, a little bit, but there was still some raving happening. It was becoming a bit more monocultured, you’d see ravers dressing the same whereas in the beginning, we were freaks. We were all dressed differently and it was wild.
F: I wanted to ask you about that. What sort of raver were you? What sort of fashions were you rocking back in the day.
J.C: I was like a psychedelic safari nut. For a while I was a space cowboy.
F: Space cowboy?
J.C: Space cowboy yes. I had a lot of cowboy shirts with polyester pants with four packet jackets and I had huge platforms, like Mad Max clear soled platforms, with those on I was about 6 foot 1. Freaked out people when they see me cuz I looked naturally deformed, like my head and hands and my body should be 6 foot tall so it looked right when I was 6 foot tall. Yeah, I actually had that experience once when I saw a girl in the Kensington Market area from a rave, she met me at a rave, she remembered me from a Mark Farina rave. And then she saw me, she goes, “Why are you taller?”
F: How relevant do you think raving, as we knew it in the 90’s is relevant to youth culture? Do you think it’s relevant at all in any way or do you think it was just relevant specifically for that time period.
J.C: I think it’s relevant, I don’t think one can say extremely relevant. The need to express yourself culturally is massive, right? And there’s a shining reflection of that that needs to come back. This kind of mono-cropped way of everybody dressing the same and acting the same is a really dangerous sign of where our society is going. We were in large part a rebellion against that and I think it’s important, it’s important for the youth to rebel against that, otherwise civilization is quite literally doomed.
F: True words. On a final note, how do you think raving has changed your life? Do you think raving has enriched your life in any way at all?
J.C: Absolutely. For whatever reason, I’ve always been into dancing, even in like the early mid 80’s, late 80’s when I went to it. It quite literally saved my life.
Somewhere in the early 90’s I was very big into drinking and was drinking myself right down into the gutter. And then I used to joke with people and say, “Raving saved my life.” I stopped drinking alcohol, I started eating well and I looked great. I was about 26, 27, and I looked 18, 19 years old, so baby faced. I started this rejuvenating thing to just drink water and dance all night. It really changed my view of reality itself as an energetic thing, not just a material thing. And I really got a profound sense of our interconnectedness, and a large part of that was due to raving. It’s changed the way I relate to others and has moved me forward in a lot of my projects, to today.
F: Wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about your experiences Johnny. I really appreciate it.
J.C: You’re welcome Frankie. You rock.