Pot laws have been in a state of flux. After a summer of hassle-free smoking, the potheads are back to huddling in alleys. Bar owners are still nervous about repercussions from officials, but they've become more tolerant of stoners and will continue the "see no evil, smell no evil" policy to some degree. Depending on what our wacky courts decide over the next few months, there may be some enterprising venue owners who will see how far they can push the envelope.
Tobacco company party sponsorship is technically no longer allowed, but sneaky corporations are still sponsoring events in subtler ways, keeping their logos out of sight until you get inside the club. This has kept a steady flow of big-name DJs coming into Toronto. That trend's unlikely to continue. Since the whole point of sponsorship is to get the brand identity out, tobacco companies will soon lose patience with the small amount of promotion they're now allowed to do at parties.
As a result, we'll see fewer big-name guests and a reduction in DJ fees for the superstar elite. Smaller independent promoters will gradually take up the slack, but in the short term things will seem a bit quiet.
The reorganization of biker gangs in Ontario has already started to have an effect on the clubbing scene, its late-night aspects in particular. While we can't yet rival the hedonism of Montreal, where a number of clubs stay open until noon or later, new legal after-hours clubs will continue to open as long as bikers supply the city with cheap stimulants. So far, violence hasn't been much of a problem, a trend we all hope will continue.
Musically, the only growth genres lately have been open-format DJing and semi-ironic concept nights. Because these types of events are cheap to throw and often more fun than bringing in some producer to play the top 20 house tracks of the moment, they will continue to draw new listeners and inspire DJs who feel limited by the endless sub-genres of dance music created over the 90s. The lines between underground rock and dance music will continue to blur, and we'll be hearing more dance songs with guitars and rock songs with beats chunky enough for DJs to play. Electro will continue to be an influence, specifically the chugging sounds of 80s Italo-disco and the darkness of industrial dance music. Scary music isn't just for goths any more.
The post-rave dance scene knows by now that the glory days of huge parties are gone and the genre segregation that worked when there was a large audience is no longer effective. Expect the remaining rave-type parties to start putting drum 'n' bass, trance, breaks and techno back in the same room again.