Last year saw some great venues like Sonic and Crosstown bite the dust before they even hit their stride, as well as the demise of established joints like the Queenshead and Gypsy Co-op. On the bright side, new clubs like Wrongbar and Circa have not only helped fill the void but are also poised to raise the bar.
So in 2008, expect many bars to step up their game by improving their sound systems and getting more creative and adventurous with their programming. This will be especially apparent in the underground scenes, but even the mainstream bars are going to have to rework their business model as suburbanites realize that paying for a VIP booth in a club full of VIP booths doesn’t actually make them very important. (Besides, real VIPs don’t pay for anything.)
Photo By Mark Coatsworth
Circa, with its appeal to both a straight and queer clientele, could syphon off clubgoers who usually party on Church.
The indie dance scene suddenly finds itself at the centre of club trends, going from alternative to establishment, and will be reinventing itself in response. With the coming expansion of the Social into the Spin Gallery space, the recent opening of Wrongbar and the ongoing success of Circa, this music is moving out of the appropriated dive bars, rundown lofts and eccentric restaurants where it’s thrived in the past. Let’s hope the cool kids don’t abandon what they’ve helped build just because it’s no longer their secret little scene.
Sonic’s too-brief run showed that a mixed club for gays and breeders can still make for a great party, and Circa has proven that this is even possible in the club district. The Beaver, Wednesdays at the Gladstone and Big Primpin’ demonstrate that the days of gays sticking to Church Street are long gone. Expect to see a more visible queer presence at other traditionally straight locations as people wise up to the cool factor diversity brings.
This was without a doubt the year of the Ed Banger sound (i.e., Justice and everyone who’s copied their formula), and a close runner-up was the explosion of the previously regional and obscure Baltimore club sound. It was lots of fun, to be sure, but there’s much more to dance music than buzzsaw synths and stuttered vocal samples. The backlash is beginning already, and in the new year we’ll see open format become genuinely open again. Along with that, we’ll likely see more specialized niche events focusing on less overexposed sounds. Expect live instruments to make a comeback, and the aggression to get toned down a notch.