Monthly Archives: June 2012

Pride’s On!

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Summer is officially here and things are heating up in Toronto along with the temperature this weekend. Pride Toronto has taken over the streets of downtown Toronto, with the Dyke March in effect this afternoon. Rainbow flags and pink triangles in effect! It seems the average person thinks of Pride as an outlandish display of freaky transvestites and topless lesbians (my God! What about the children…). But really, it’s one of the biggest street parties in Toronto featuring electronic music by quality DJ’s. Over the years, Pride has delivered some of the best blockos I’ve ever attended – all free. Dirty Disco promises to tear shit up with sets by Pride veterans like Dr. Trance, Deko-ze, Jelo and Robb G. Brings back memories of Pride raves in the parking lots around Yonge and Wellesley; the vibe was seriously off da chain back then and I assume it hasn’t changed one iota after all these years. Damn…it’s freaking hot and sweat is pouring down my stomach as I make this entry. Time to get outta here and enjoy the party! Just thought I’d post some pics from Pride 2004 when the Eminent Party Animal aka Ed Mundo was in town. ED! WHERE ARE YA MANN?? WE MISS U!!!

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.  

OM Reunion Dazzles with Utopian Bliss

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OM Reunion Project is a gamechanger. Seriously. I don’t even know where to begin. It was absolutely fantastic! Without a doubt, ORP was one of the most beautiful festivals I have ever attended. Big ups to Tom for twisting my arm (read: non violent friendly persuasion) to come after I turned skittish and changed my mind at the last minute.

We spent one blissful week camping out in gorgeous Collingwood, Ontario, from June 19th to the 25th, in celebration of the summer solstice. I’d heard great things about OM, but refused to get my hopes up. “It’s like Club Med for hippies,” Tom postulated. Really now…I was a wee bit suspicious of hippie gatherings in the woods. After all, they might run out of food or something, right? I really didn’t think this was my kind of scene but decided to give it a whirl after it became apparent that two thirds of Kensington cool would disappear for a week.

After a scenic drive on a hot, sunny afternoon, we arrived at OM. As we pulled into the driveway, I spotted some rainbow children fresh from a swim, strolling about, smiling peacefully, while a naked bum flashed straight ahead to my left as its owner stepped into his pants. “Welcome to Om,” that act of casual nudity seemed to say. Indeed, nakedness was a natural state of being in these earthy surroundings. People were free to just let it all hang out without fear of reprisal or molestation. Though nudity was encouraged and embraced by the community at large, modesty prevailed throughout the festival. Why make things easier for the mosquitoes, eh?

With the help of our neighbours, Tom and I erected Chateau Bleu while rain threatened, thunder rolled, and bloodsuckers bled us in earnest. There appeared to be a few dozen tents with more to come on the weekend. Many had clever themes, such as “The Cozy Cactus.” Some revelers pimped their canvas to the max with handmade signs and coloured lights. One crew even built a treehouse for their tent, which made it easy to find ours from the main path. “Yeah, just turn right at the treehouse and you’ll see a huge blue tent with a ginormous tarp – can’t miss it!”

The beauty about spending a week at OM is you get the opportunity to explore acres of arable land, and bond with a community comprised of healers, teachers, massage therapists, ORP staff, psytrancers, hippies and ravers. All like minded souls seeking to transcend mundane reality through music, dance and psychedelics. As ORP’s welcome sign stated, “You Belong,” so I truly felt like I belonged to this colourful tribe of daytrippers. Seeing all the familiar faces from Kensington Market and the psytrance crew in this picturesque setting was like coming home. Pregnant mothers, children, families were all welcome. Different tribes from across the universe had all gathered here for this Lovefest. I left my cell phone in the car and never took it out again ‘til my camera ran out of juice. Time truly became irrelevant as seven daze and nights were compressed into one continuous stream of consciousness, ebbing and flowing to create one dynamic experience. Revelations became a part of my daily diet in addition to the vegan fare from OM’s kitchen. Although I’m not crazy about veganism, the food supply was adequate and I never went hungry. On the other hand, our carnivorous friends had to make the occasional trip into town for a steak as OM’s cuisine was seriously lean on protein. So for all you meat lovers considering a trip to ORP next year, make sure you bring along some beef jerky!

Ommmm the memories…of narrowly avoiding getting leeched in a murky pond, seeing the little bloodsucker swimming enthusiastically towards my leg as I bolted out, witnessing said bloodsucker flopping about on the mudbank, those rambunctious midnight drum circles, naked swimmers on a raft in sweltering 35 degree heat, river dipping with Sylvanna, Ian, Amy and Phil, getting drenched in a thunderous downpour while OMies hooted with joy and a naked hippie raced through the rain with a pack of delighted dogs, rusty orange skippers flitting through an early morning meadow, starting the day with a J and a brewsky watching the sun come up, the tantalizing taste of wild strawberries, strolling through superwarm woods at night without a jacket while music echoed in the distance. True, some nights were cold and challenging. Stumbling through the woods, stoned, with no flashlight is akin to begging for a blind date with a rock. True to form, I strayed away from the beaten path (illuminated with fairy lights, to boot) and took the road less traveled. Which meant I often found myself in a patch of inhospitable pine, batting away vindictive branches, wondering where the hell is my tent (by the way, those mini flashlights from Canadian Tire were a lifesaver – thanks Tom!). But nothing beats the sunrise viewed from a curtainless kybo overlooking the fields. Ahhhthe many blessings of OM. From the convivial generosity of joy dispensers to the carelessness of cavorting ravers, dropping goodies all over the ground, finding $20 was more than a stroke of luck. I considered it a just reward for all the hugs and smiles and good vibes shared with my fellow OMies. Hmmm…I could use it to buy one of Evil Wizard’s hellacious concoctions of dubious origin…. Actually, it went towards the purchase of, shall we say, medicinal mind medicine. Everyone unanimously agreed there was magic here in abundance. As a matter of fact, my volunteer shift date and time, which was inked on my wristband mysteriously vanished without a trace after my shift ended. So did Tom’s air mattress after a blissful afternoon by the pond…

Unexplained disappearances aside, OM is one of the safest, kindest festivals you will ever experience. It attracts an international audience, though the majority are based in Canada and the United States. Theft is rare as OMies sense instant karma wafting insidiously through the atmosphere. Don’t wanna mess with that. Stuff doesn’t really get stolen…just moved around, misplaced, borrowed, misappropriated. Wherever you come from, be prepared to lose something at OM, whether it be your wallet, inhibitions, or attachment to material possessions. Smiles are free and distributed copiously. Everyone smiles here. As a matter of fact, I smiled so much my face hurt. The beauty of the land and its gorgeous inhabitants provides plenty of room for the inward gaze. There is wisdom to be found in silence, especially at night. Anyone who’s been to the meadow and seen the fireflies winking in a fantastic display of bioluminescence can attest to that.

“If this is a dream, I don’t ever want to wake up,” I said to myself on Day 2. I thought one week was plenty of time to soak it all up, but Utopia soon came to an end in the blink of an eye. How could I keep this feeling alive in my heart? This feeling of peace, love and oneness with my surroundings? “Hold onto that feeling and don’t let go. Take OM with you and make it a reality,” said a wise comrade. If it’s one thing that OM Reunion Project has taught me, it’s that it is possible to create heaven on earth. Time to tune out the negativity and focus on creating sustainable communities based on harmonious balance with the environment. With just over 1,000 attendees, ORP embodies a gentle approach towards partying in the forest – eco-raving, if you will. This could easily be a much bigger event, but the cap on attendance ensures an intimate vibe is maintained throughout the festival.

Musicwise, it was a feast for the ears. During the week, there were drum circles and sporadic performances. I once spent several hours listening to some campers hopped up on shrooms giggling non-stop every minute (ear plugs are essential!). And then there was the “Untalent Show,” featuring a stellar line-up of, shall we say, untalented performers titillating the audience with bombastic displays of untalentness. Who could forget the off-key antics of the Ukeladies? Or the guy getting his pubes shaved (not to mention the dude who had a mankini skillfully sheared from his chesthair). And of course, the Shakespearean who made up for his “talented” recital by dropping his kilt upon request from the audience. What laid beneath was, like….super-talented. “You guys are a tough crowd!,” he exclaimed as the audience cheered its approval. A plethora of electronic sub-genres and live bands meant there was never a dull moment from Friday night onwards. Everything from dub, bass, techno, tech house, breaks, psytrance and more, ensured different tastes were all catered to. Outstanding sets by the likes of Brendan Lawless, Tom Kuo, Rollin’ Cash, Hadiman, Sara Dopstar, Transisco, Kadmon, d Boom, Soren Nordstrom, Gavin the Bass and more, made the weekend memorable. Catching Snappy Home Fry playing with an acoustic band at The Hive while I rolled around in the hay was sheer bliss. If you plan on attending ORP next year, I strongly suggest you go for a week (or longer) to get the full experience. You won’t regret it! When it comes to eco-raving,OM is where the heart is.  

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.  

B.C. Doctor Admits Pure Ecstasy can be Safe for Adults

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/06/14/bc-ecstasy-adults-safe-health.html

(Please refer to link for news article. Source: CBC News)

Back in February, I blogged about the so called Ecstasy deaths in Calgary and how the culprit was not Ecstasy but PMMA, a dangerous compound which mimics some of MDMA’s effects. Last week, Dr. Perry Kendall, health officer of British Columbia made headlines when he admitted that pure Ecstasy can be safely consumed by adults in a clinical setting, though he does not condone recreational use. Initially, there appeared to be some confusion as to whether Dr. Kendall was calling for the legalization of Ecstasy, which he denied. He later clarified his position, stating that he believes if MDMA is ever legalized, it should be regulated and sold through government run outlets. “(If) you knew what a safe dosage was, you might be able to buy ecstasy like you could buy alcohol from a government-regulated store,” Kendall said in an interview. “We accept the fact that alcohol, which is inherently dangerous, is a product over a certain age that anybody can access. “So I don’t think the issue is a technical one of how we would manage that. The issue is a political, perceptual one.”   

Even while the RCMP are adamant that Ecstasy is dangerous, Dr. Kendall asserts that the problem arises when Ecstasy is mixed with other dangerous compounds and sold on the black market with no quality control standards. “Unless you are getting it from a psychiatrist in a legitimate clinical trial, at the present time you can’t guarantee what’s in it, how much of it there is, or its safety, so I would say as we have said in the past — don’t take it,” Kendall told CBC News. The good doctor, along with other medical practitioners even compared the tainted Ecstasy dilemma to alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s. “Methyl alcohol led to huge rates of morbidity and mortality in the United States under alcohol prohibition because of illicit alcohol manufacturing,” said Dr. Evan Wood, a lead researcher at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and internationally-recognized expert in drug addiction and related policies.

“PMMA is a natural and expected consequence of the prohibition on ecstasy.” No kidding. If health care professionals admit that MDMA is safe when administered in the correct dosage in clinical settings, why won’t the government legalize it, at least for psychiatric use? They are certainly not the first to put forward these astute observations. The Shulgins, Leo Zeff and other well respected psychiatrists have used MDMA in therapeutic sessions with numerous patients from the 1970’s up until it was criminalized. Several reports have been published about the benefits of Ecstasy in helping people to overcome emotional blockages that conventional therapy was unable to accomplish. In spite of the aforementioned personalities’ valiant efforts to keep MDMA legal, the DEA placed it in Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act in 1985.

So what it boils down to is this: a relatively harmless drug that promotes togetherness and peaceful behaviour is criminalized. In the meantime, alcohol, which makes wretched assholes out of its abusers, encourages violent and reckless behaviour and claims millions of lives worldwide is perfectly legal. Something is definitely amiss. So much that the Canadian government is contemplating suing the tobacco industry for billions of dollars in healthcare costs.  Doesn’t that indicate that they know this shit is lethal? Why won’t they place alcohol and tobacco in Schedule 1 then? As the saying goes, money talks and the bullshit tangos all over the gotdamn place. Kudos to Dr. Perry Kendall (and his colleagues) for having the guts to speak out on the demonization of MDMA. He presents an unbiased perspective on its usage and effects; something the establishment doesn’t want to hear, no doubt. I strongly recommend you watch the video of his press conference, where he brilliantly defends his position whilst shredding commonly held misconceptions about MDMA. Let’s hope that one day, good sense will prevail and Ecstasy be given the respect that it deserves. 

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.

DJ Blend Takes YouTube by Storm

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If you don’t know who DJ Blend is by now, you definitely will after watching this video. So far, this clip has racked up over 56 million views on YouTube – a staggering success for a rising star. This uber-young upstart is changing the game in a huge way. Said to be originally from Texas and of Mexican descent (rumour has it he might be British), Blend is taking DJ’ing to another level. His jaw-dropping mixes combine ol skool acid house with dubstep, synth pop, hip-hop and electro to create hugely entertaining sets. Not to mention, his energetic dancing in a Chucky style dolly mask in a variety of settings. There are clips of him mixing in a bedroom and kitchen, obviously enjoying the hell out of himself. Simple concept, brilliant marketing strategy.

Love him or hate him, you have to give the man props for innovation. DJ Blend apparently took matters into his own hands after being shunned by clubs when he tried to get some exposure as a 15 year old. Since then, he started streaming his sets online, and the rest as they say is history.  In this interview excerpt taken from http://www.theindiechannel.com, Blend states, “I’d get one to four viewers per day. It was kind of sad, but I was happy for my four viewers. I started watching YouTube videos to improve my skills, but I noticed they would just focus on the turntables and hands, and the videos weren’t  that entertaining. So I found this mask – I wanted to be as crazy as I wanted without people knowing my identity.” It’s a strategy that’s working in his favour; think Daft Punk and Deadmau5. Notice how Blend was not discouraged by the small number of views he started off with; he was grateful for what he got. Therein lies the key to success – an attitude of gratitude. The fact that Blend is mixing vinyl in this video is commendable in this age where laptop DJ’s have become the norm. I can easily envision a stadium filled with tens of thousands of ravers throwing their hands up to Blend’s stimulating sets. Anytime this guy decides to swing by Toronto, I AM SO THERE >>>

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.

 

Ladies First starring Denise Benson, Nicole Moudaber, Madame Zu, Hellen Angelucci

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For the longest while, disc jockeying has been the virtually exclusive domain of men. It’s a man’s, man’s world I tell ya. In the 90’s, it was extremely rare to see a woman on the decks. Since then, significant strides have been made as female DJ’s are becoming more prominent. There’s still a lot of progress to be made though. The dance music industry is fiercely competitive, and so we find the world of DJs is still very much a boys’ club. Don’t get me wrong – I have mad love for all the men holding down the fort, but let’s face it; female DJ’s generally receive less recognition for their contributions. For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate this posting to female DJ’s. Nothing can stop the Return of the Divine Feminine – not even the pope. I guess the Holy See failed to realize if you ban a book on sexuality written by a nun, it’ll only encourage more people to read it. Booyah. So my dear Benedict, if you’ve somehow managed to stumble across this article whilst surfing for kiddie porn, tune in – you  might be enlightened…

DENISE BENSON

In my humble opinion, Denise Benson is a legend. This Toronto resident has been DJ’ing for over twenty years. Surviving that long in the biz takes brains and some serious ladyballs. I have fond memories of her hosting CKLN’s Mental Chatter, where she spun a variety of eclectic music ranging from electro, ambient, synth pop, rock, indie and trip hop. Benson lasted an incredible 20 years on CKLN, where she volunteered her time and expertise to bring fresh, interesting vibes to thousands of listeners. Her live sets at Andy Poolhall, alongside Andrew Allsgood used to be da bomb on a Friday night. To some extent, Denise was also involved in the 90’s rave scene. I remember her spinning in the parking lot of The Guvernment, back when they used to have those wicked Sunday sessions on the roof. Come June 23rd, Benson will be celebrating 5 years of Cherry Bomb, an all female DJ showcase which she started several years ago with her partner in crime, Cozmic Cat. This queer friendly event will be going down (no pun intended :)) at Andy Poolhall, just in time for Pride Toronto.  

NICOLE MOUDABER

This rising star recently wowed Adam Beyer with her demo so fantastically that he tweeted praises. Nicole Moudaber’s tracks have been included in mixes by Carl Cox and Digweed, and have been picked up by Drumcode, Kling Klong, Waveform Recordings and other forward thinking independent labels. My personal fave is her funky remix of Carl Cox’s Chemistry, which won an award at the Miami Winter Music Conference for “Best Minimal / Techno Track.” Nicole spins techno with an edge like a flaming shot of Sambuca, but unlike other men, Moudaber has no moustache to burn. With the bouncy feel good flavour of “Chocolate Love” and the aesthetically pleasing “Toe Cleavage,” Nicole is obviously a very talented producer with a discerning ear and superb mixing skills. She originally started off as a raver in early 90’s NYC before becoming a promoter for the scene in Beirut and at Turnmills in London. And if that wasn’t enough, she also ran a record label (Southeast Recordings) before she decided to try her hand at DJ’ing. Needless to say, that was a career move in the right direction. Since then, she has earned accolades from industry heavyweights such as Pete Tong and Danny Tenaglia, among others.  Carl Cox once described her as “the most underrated DJ of 2009.” Her recent appearance at Electric Daisy Carnival in NYC should put this talented, beautiful lady firmly in the spotlight – where she belongs.

MADAM ZU

Anyone who’s been lucky enough to hear Madam Zu spin in the 90’s knows this lady is effing hardcore. Famous for her no holds barred hard house/ techno setlists, Madam Zu was still going strong up until 2006. An active participant in U.K. rave culture since the early 90’s, she has earned distinction as a music journalist and producer, famously collaborating with John Does on classic rave anthem, “Red Pill.” She doesn’t seem to be active on the decks at the moment, but it would be great to see her resume her wallbanging sessions in the near future.

HELLEN ANGELUCCI

Not much is really known about this mystery lady…accessing her bio link nearly crashed my damn computer, but whoever you are, Hellen, you rock!!!

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.

 

Deko-ze spins Donna Summer @ Guvernment

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Guvernment’s Glow Party was disappointing to say the least. To be honest, I had lowered expectations for this event, judging from the horror stories I’d heard about The Guvernment’s slide into the abyss of commercial drudgery over the years. The days when proper raves actually occurred on their premises were looong gone. Now it’s all about $$ and newjacks sorely lacking in party etiquette…but I won’t waste a whole lot of space bewailing the loss of Toronto’s foremost underground juggernaut. Just as I was about to pronounce the entire thing a write off (what with cheesy techno and commercial dubstep), something rank and nasty ripped through the airwaves, reeking of da underground. Instantly, I was affected with a serious case of happy feet, as I  bounced around gleefully.

I looked towards the stage, wondering who was playing this hardcore shit…and saw the buffed out torso of the one and only Deko-ze, looking like the Amazing Circus Flea. But of course!!! Who else could it possibly be? As if to prove me right, Deko-ze dropped a searing remix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and it was over. All the hassle and hideous behaviour I endured throughout the night was redeemed by this act of grace. Thank God we still have DJ’s like Deko-ze in Toronto. All is not lost!