This was a year of shakeups in the Toronto dance music scene. Una Mas and Roxy Blu both closed, leaving a big gap in venues for deep house; and System Soundbar will close after New Year's Eve, taking a bite out of the late-night scene. The two top DJ sets were both done using laptops controlled by vinyl, and live sets often outshone traditional DJ sets. Things are changing, but there are still plenty of opportunities to get sweaty on the dance floor.
1 STEVE BUG at Footwork (November 19) German tech-house wiz Bug has turned in some great sets here, but of the two last year this was by far the strongest. Machine funk never sounded sexier. The best night I've had at Footwork yet.
2 JAZZY JEFF at Roxy Blu (April 1) This was the kind of gig that's going to make us all miss Roxy Blu. DJ Jazzy Jeff had the sweat dripping from the rafters, dancers moving wherever they could squeeze their bodies. He could make the crowd scream with a flick of the crossfader.
3 FRANKIE KNUCKLES at Boa-Redux (March 12) If you're running a club built for house music, it figures that one of the best DJ hires would be the man whose name is most closely associated with the birth of the genre. He brings a unique touch of class to the decks.
4 DERRICK CARTER at Boa-Redux (March 11) Carter used to be such a regular in Toronto, it almost felt like he was a local. But even though he plays here less often now, he still knows how to turn the party out, delivering a seriously bouncy Chicago house set.
5 EXPENSIVE SHIT DJS (Captain Easychord and DJ Nunk) at the Boat (October 6) This was the final Expensive Shit party before Captain Easychord left town. For their last set together, both threw down a brilliantly fun eclectic mix of forward-thinking music and futuristic classics.
6 ESG at Lee's Palace (June 24) Not a DJ set but, rather, an all-girl family band, ESG have had such a formative influence on underground dance music that their raw and funky live set was as effective a dance-floor weapon as most DJs' crates.
7 I AM ROBOT AND PROUD at Stones Place (May 20) One-man electronic band I Am Robot And Proud isn't a DJ, and few people would dance to his wistful instrumental electro pop, but he's consistently turned in intimately emotional performances alongside DJs every time I've caught him this year.
8 DANNY TENAGLIA at the Docks (May 22) Tenaglia reportedly played until after 4 in the afternoon, making this possibly the longest DJ set ever. No one else does the marathon like he does, and no one else has his ability to make a huge room feel like a small, friendly party.
9 ANDY ROBERTS at Footwork (November 5) Replacing NYC legend Jellybean Benitez at the last minute, local house jock Andy Roberts turned in a smokin', technically strong set that quickly made everyone in the club forget about the no-show and get on with the dancing.
10 TORTURED SOUL at the El Mocambo (July 2) Again, this wasn't a DJ set, but DJs are generally the ones playing the songs of Tortured Soul, and the trio are better at working a continuous groove than many top record manipulators. They owned the crowd this night.