1 JASON PALMA Palma is one of the few locals playing house music who can lay claim to having his own sound and personality. His mammoth collection and superior mixing skills complete the package.
2 ADAM MARSHALL Marshall's the pick for best local techno DJ, for his eclectic selections and versatility -- you never know what he'll drop next. Check out the Hands Gruber EP on his Killer label if you've been liking Jacob Fairley's punk-rock techno experiments. (Hint: doggy style.)
3 MR. KICKS Mr. Kicks, the 14-year-old house prodigy, is the easy pick for up-and-coming DJ to watch. Having access to your father's 25 years of record collecting helps, but he's got the skills to stand on his own.
4 KENNY GLASGOW Glasgow's had a good year. Crowd favourite at the large clubs and still respected by the underground, he's in the enviable position of being able to define and refine his signature sound without having to pander to trends.
5 GROOVE INSTITUTE T.O.'s best local DJ team. They all have their own identities outside the group, but they truly shine when feeding off of each other. Their Solid Garage parties have been some of the year's best, but it's their late-night private loft parties that people won't stop talking about.
6 DENISE BENSON The most tireless promoter of all things dubby, weird and funky in the city. We take her for granted, but without Benson, much adventurous music would never find a fan base here.
7 DIVINE EARTH ESSENCE Her voice has been hard to avoid this year -- she seems to be the special guest at every soulful music event in town. Now, if only she'd settle down with her own band and give us an album.
8 FASE DJ Fase is T.O.'s best hiphop DJ, mainly because of his tendency to smile, dance and sing while DJing. If you're having fun, your dance floor will, too.
9 UKG It's been a tough year for D 'n' B. Many large events fell apart or were poorly attended. DJ Marcus has always been a mainstay in the scene, and his transition to UKG has opened more then a few ears to the emerging genre.
10 A MAN CALLED WARWICK Winner in the Dustiest-Record category. Many up-and-comers have jumped on the rare-record bandwagon, but his selections have less to do with impressing trainspotters and more with moving listeners.
Toronto has one of the most vibrant and diverse club scenes in the world and boasts a large core audience who are knowledgeable and serious about their music. Considering the huge number of clubs per capita, you'd think there'd be more variety on offer, but if you look at the dance club listings you'll find that most of them stick to the top-40 sound, with the occasional mid-week R&B and hiphop night.
Why have gay and straight house crowds started to separate? House was regarded as gay music for a long time. To gloss over that and promote house to a mainly straight crowd changes the meaning of the sound and alienates much of the original scene.
Designer drugs have long since moved from raves to the club scene and changed the way a generation of clubbers party. Thankfully, crystal meth is less popular than it was a few years ago, but GHB and cocaine seem to have filled the void of dangerous addictive drugs. Bouncers should stop dumping overdose victims on the sidewalk instead of calling an ambulance. Hiding your head in the sand won't make the problem go away.
As the audience for dance music has grown, hearing a DJ has become more and more like going to a rock concert. But most mixers aren't very interesting to watch, so why put them onstage and why stand in the middle of the dance floor and stare? Some promoters have tried to appeal to their patrons' need for a show by booking live acts, but just because someone is singing in Spanish or Portuguese doesn't make their music authentic. Remember the lambada craze?
Get Outta Town
Oh, yeah -- on the subject of booking trends, if you're going to book an out-of-town producer as a headlining DJ, find out if he's actually a good DJ first.