I nearly didn’t go out last night.
Toronto got its first real taste of winter for 2012 yesterday; negative “teen” temps, snow that needed to be shoveled, and a gusty wind chill. Earlier in the day I bundled up and made the trek across town to Bloor West Village as part of a culinary crash course in Eastern European food. Once there, I visited, smelled, and tasted my way through the strip’s notable delis, butcher shops and bakeries. Needless to say, by the the time I returned home I was wiped. Between the effects of the cold weather and the near-constant eating; I was seriously re-evaluating my decision to go out on Saturday night – let alone try to fit in my ambitious 3 party schedule.
Relaxing at home, the evening got away from me and the next thing I knew it was midnight and I was still in my basement. As I weighed my options, the only event still worth trying to catch – if it wasn’t at capacity – was the Hipnosis Loft party. Since it’s a short hop on the streetcar, I thought: “What the hell!? I’ve got the address in an email and they’re probably going to have a license and serve a little later than a “real”club. Besides, I’ve been meaning to get out to one of these for the past couple of years…” I wasn’t sure exactly what type of music I was in for but I had a feeling it was going to be a deep, acid, warehouse jack kinda vibe based on the lineup of: DJ Ali Black, Riviera, Le Freak C’est Keek & Paul Revered.
I arrived in the club district, the streets were oddly empty – “the cold must be keeping people home,” I thought – I found the door and went up an off-kilter set of stairs. Once at the top, I heard the distinct sound of dubby, deep, acid house and as I entered the dance space I was pleasantly surprised to see not only a packed floor but also a wonderfully diverse crowd.
I caught the tail end of Paul Revered’s set and watched him hand-off to Riviera, who opened her set with a looped acapella of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” layered on a pulsing throwback house beat. Her set was full of people-movers and as far as I can recall was kind of a bubbly/ deep / acid; warehouse jack, tech-house set with a couple of devastating disco/funk edits that had the crowd grooving hard.
During her set, I was able to catch up with Paul and chat a bit about the event. When asked about the lineup, Paul replied: “I’m looking for something interesting, music that is a bit more underground and deep than what you usually hear. It’s also all about the vibe. I don’t think we could have this in a typical club and that’s what makes these Hipnosis parties so special.”
Looking around, the crowd was mixed, into the music, and amazingly devoid of the post-last-call bar stars that can sometimes intrude on an underground/late-night party and, in the process, cause a ruckus with their belligerent, horny and thirsty behaviour. Somehow, the party managed to hover just far enough below the radar without attracting the Club district crowd without being so underground that it was in danger of caving in from lack of attendance.
Ali Black’s set was well programmed and while on the techier side of the spectrum, occasionally meandered into deeper and more dubby territory before re-surfacing with a jackin or a funky number. In fact, I was quite surprised at how receptive the crowd was to the more esoteric and retro sensibilities of the djs. Perhaps they had been primed by Paul and Ali’s weekly online radio show “Nite Beat” on https://dubplate.fm/, because I can’t recall the last time I saw a crowd groove so hard to the retro-vintage sounds of early and deep house. Dancing and chatting with old friends and new acquaintances at the party, the night flew by amidst a gathering of smiling, friendly strangers all grooving to a sound of House that first flexed itself back in the early 90s.
As the room eventually thinned, the djs (including Le Freak – who I missed earlier) took turns playing their jams and guilty pleasures. I couldn’t stop smiling when Paul dropped Lidell Townsell’s “Nu Nu,” and later Whitney Houston’s “How will I know?” or when Ali played a remix of Wham’s “Everything she wants“. All in all, a great night out and I’m glad to have made the effort. It’s truly heartening to see a bill of locals not only command the room musically but also have such a wide range of fans and supporters. I can’t wait for the next one!